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date: 19 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay considers women's involvement in the various reform movements of the central Middle Ages: papal reform, monastic revival, and the general movement for spiritual renewal that inspired laywomen and laymen to adopt a religious life within the world. Recent scholarship has constructed reform as having either opposed women (associating all women with threats to priestly chastity and unleashing a powerful clerical misogyny) or largely ignored them (concerning itself primarily with masculinity). Drawing important insights from both approaches, this article combines considerations of women's experience within reform with men's perceptions of women and sexuality. Women were not absent from reform, nor were they necessarily opposed by it; rather, they were omnipresent as reformers themselves, as supporters of reform, as its opponents, and as its objects. They were also omnipresent in the rhetoric of reform, which adopted the language of sexuality and pollution to express reforming goals and define perceived opponents.

Keywords: Herluca of Epfach, Pope Gregory VII, clerical marriage, nuns, monasticism, papacy, reform, double monastery, priest's wife

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