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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Who Got to a Nunnery?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0140  Tuesday, 25 January 2005

From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Monday, 24 Jan 2005 15:39:07 -0000
Subject: 16.0128 Who Got to a Nunnery?
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0128 Who Got to a Nunnery?

Todd Pettigrew asks ...

 >... how often did early modern women
 >actually get sent off to nunneries? Does this dramatic convention
 >correspond to any real practice? If so, how common was it? Though I'm
 >thinking of more than England, I must admit that I'm not entirely
 >certain how many such English institutions, if any, remained after Henry
 >VIII.

After Henry and Thomas Cromwell looted and destroyed the two main
pilgrimage sites in England - St Thomas a Becket's shrine in Canterbury
and the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham (Cromwell himself publicly
burned Our Lady's statue in Chelsea), Pope Paul III retaliated by
excommunicating Henry in December 1538.  Feeling he now had nothing to
lose, Henry looted and destroyed the remaining monasteries and nunneries
in England and Wales. Between 1536 and 1540, a total of 850 religious
houses were closed down and confiscated by the Crown.

Shakespeare's generation would've therefore only met ex-nuns.

Peter Bridgman

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