Sunday, June 03, 2012

UMKC conference to celebrate Medieval nuns’ literary contributions

The letter to Eadburga expressed thanks for the previous goods sent from Minster-in-Thanet and asked for yet another favor — a special copy of the Epistles of St. Peter.

 Along with Bishop Boniface’s “thank you” was a quantity of gold, to be pounded flat or powdered by the clever fingers of the monastic scribes, for gilding the hand-written book’s Latin letters. When trying to convert the “carnally minded” Germans in the early 700s A.D., it paid to be a little flashy. 

 This Anglo-Saxon bishop/missionary to the pagan tribes was not writing to a house of Kentish monks, however. Eadburga was an abbess, one of hundreds, if not thousands, of nuns involved in copying books throughout the Middle Ages. In our collective cultural misconception, fed by clever advertising (remember the “It’s a miracle” Xerox ad?), cartoons and movies (“The Name of the Rose”), this job is largely thought of as a monk’s — read, “man’s.”

 Yet cloistered women also underpinned European civilization, noted medievalist Virginia Blanton, “another part of the past which, when I was in school, did not appear in our history books.”

Click here to read this article from The Kansas City Star

Click here to visit the Nuns’ Literacies in Medieval Europe II website