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The Early Reformation on the Continent$
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Owen Chadwick

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198269021

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198269021.001.0001

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Monks and Nuns

Monks and Nuns

(p.151) 8 Monks and Nuns
The Early Reformation on the Continent

Owen Chadwick (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Many early leaders of the Reformation were monks or friars, especially friars who had more contact with the people, and this was ‘not a sign of decadence but its opposite’. Luther's attacks on the monastic state were influential, but the movement against monks had wider origins in the belief that they were among the oppressors of the poor and the opinion of town governments that they could only provide adequate social provision by confiscating monastic endowments. Dissolution of religious houses in Germany and Switzerland created disturbances, especially in divided communities and around secluded monasteries in the countryside. Many monks left of their own free will; those who wished to continue in the contemplative life had to move to southern Germany or abroad; and it was easier for monks than nuns to make a new life as pastors, scholars, or in the printing industry. In the Protestant world, there was no feeling that anything valuable had been lost. Reformers thought that by abolishing nunneries they were freeing women, but some recent feminist scholars have argued that the Reformation created a more patriarchal society.

Keywords:   monastic endowments, religious orders, women

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