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Women and the Reformation

ISBN: 978-1-4443-5904-6
280 pages
September 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Women and the Reformation (1444359045) cover image
Women and the Reformation gathers historical materials and personal accounts to provide a comprehensive and accessible look at the status and contributions of women as leaders in the 16th century Protestant world.

  • Explores the new and expanded role as core participants in Christian life that women experienced during the Reformation
  • Examines diverse individual stories from women of the times, ranging from biographical sketches of the ex-nun Katharina von Bora Luther and Queen Jeanne d’Albret, to the prophetess Ursula Jost and the learned Olimpia Fulvia Morata
  • Brings together social history and theology to provide a groundbreaking volume on the theological effects that these women had on Christian life and spirituality
  • Accompanied by a website at www.blackwellpublishing.com/stjerna offering student’s access to the writings by the women featured in the book
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Acknowledgments viii

Introduction 1

The Vision and the Scope of the Book 1

The Term “Reformation” and Inclusivity Concerns 3

Visionary Studies on Women and the Reformation 5

Women in this Book 7

Part 1 Options and Visions for Women 9

1 Prophets, Visionaries, and Martyrs – Ursula Jost and her Publisher Margarethe Prüss 11

Introduction – Medieval Women Visionaries 11

Anabaptists and Martyrs 14

Prophets in Strasbourg and their Publisher Margarethe Prüss 17

Prophet Ursula Jost and her Visions 19

Conclusion 22

2 The Monastic Option – The Struggle of the Convents 23

Introduction – The Drama of Closing the Convents 23

An Excursion – Monastic Calling 24

Nuns’ Fight for Freedom 26

Conclusion 30

3 Marriage and Motherhood – The Preferred Calling 32

Introduction – Marriage Only? 32

The Holy Marital Vocation 33

Pastors’ Wives 35

Motherhood, Prostitution, Divorce 37

Conclusion 38

4 Learning and Power – An Elusive Option 40

Introduction: The Impetus and Obstacles for Theological Writing 40

Writing with and without Visions 42

The Education Factor 43

The Educated Women 46

Part 2 Women as Models, Leaders and Teachers of the Reformation 49

5 “Herr Doktor” Katharina von Bora, 1499–1552. The Lutheran Matriarch 51

Introduction 52

Katharina – From a Nun to the Ultimate Reformer’s Spouse 52

Conclusion 67

A Word about Sources and References 69

6 Argula von Grumbach, 1492 to 1563/68? – A Bavarian Apologist and a Pamphleteer 71

Introduction 72

Argula as a Defender of Faith – A Valiant Christian, or a Devilish Woman? 73

Conclusion 83

A Word about Sources and References 85

7 Elisabeth von Brandenburg, 1485–1555, and Elisabeth von Braunschweig, 1510–1558 – Exiled Mothers, Reforming Rulers 87

Introduction 88

Elisabeth von Brandenburg née Elisabeth of Denmark – A Reformer in Exile 89

Elisabeth von Braunschweig-Lüneburg (Calenberg) 96

Conclusion 107

A Word about Sources and References 108

8 Katharina Schütz Zell, 1498–1562 – A Publishing Church Mother in Strasbourg 109

Introduction 109

A Church Mother, a Pastoral Care Provider, a Writer, Even a Preacher 110

Conclusion 130

A Word about Sources and References 131

9 Marie Dentière, 1495–1561 – A Genevan Reformer and Writer 133

Introduction 133

Marie Dentière – A Feminist Reformer and Biblical Interpreteter 135

Conclusion 146

A Word about Sources and References 147

10 Marguerite de Navarre, 1492–1549, and Jeanne d’Albret, 1528–1572 – The Protectors of the French Reformers 149

Introduction 150

Marguerite d’Angoulême/de Navarre – The Illustrious Queen, Writer and Spiritual Mother 150

Jeanne d’Albret, a Protestant Queen and a Huguenot leader 158

Conclusion 173

A Word about Sources and References 174

11 Renée de France, 1510–1575 – A Friend of the Huguenots 175

Introduction 176

Renée – A French Protector of Huguenots in Italy and France 177

Conclusion 195

A Word about Sources and References 196

12 Olimpia Fulvia Morata, 1526/27–1555 – An Italian Scholar 197

Introduction 197

Olimpia Fulvia Morata, a Classicist Huguenot Teacher 199

Conclusion 210

A Word about Sources and References 212

Conclusions and Observations on Gender and the Reformation 213

Reformation and Gender, Changes and Losses 213

Individual Choices and Women’s Experiences 216

The Options for Women 217

Reformers’ Ideas about Women 219

Sola Scriptura, Education, and Legal Matters 219

Conclusion 221

Bibliography 223

Options and Visions for Women 223

Women as Models, Leaders and Teachers of the Reformation 232

Index 259

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Kirsi Stjerna is Associate Professor of Reformation Church History and Director of the Institute for Luther Studies at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. She is the editor of The Role of the Bishop: Changing Models for a Global Church (2001) and Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective (1998).
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  • Explores the new and expanded role as core participants in Christian life, that women experienced during the Reformation
  • Gathers historical materials and personal accounts to provide a comprehensive and accessible look at the causes and effects of changing status of women in the church
  • Examines diverse individual stories from women of the times, ranging from biographical sketches of the ex-nun Katharina von Bora Luther and Queen Jeanne d’Albret, to the prophetess Ursula Jost and the learned Olimpia Fulvia Morata
  • Brings together social history and theology to provide a groundbreaking volume on the theological effects that these women had on Christian life and spirituality
  • Accompanied by a website at www.blackwellpublishing.com/stjerna offering student’s access to the writings by the women featured in the book
See More

“Stjerna writes in a style that will be accessible to undergraduate students, and her sophisticated analyses draw on her extensive theological training and wide reading, so that the book will be useful for more advanced students and non-specialist scholars as well.” (The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, April 2010)

“This work should be viewed as a very welcome teaching resource: it provides novice undergraduate students of the early modern with the means to be informed about and inspired by the Reformation, whilst offering ample resources for postgraduates to develop ideas.” (Journal of Theological Studies, April 2010)

"Concise descriptions summarize basic biographical information and analyze the leadership role of these women in the larger reformatory movements. ... A thorough bibliography (thirty-six pages) offers wide possibilities for further reading. The book succeeds in its goal." (Religious Studies Review, December 2009)

"The text is fairly described as ground breaking. An extensive bibliography and a full index are provided. The price for such an academic study is refreshingly modest." (History, October 2008)

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