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Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 1: The Clerical Establishment and its Social Ramifications$
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John McManners

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198270034

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198270038.001.0001

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Monastic Wealth and the Social Order

Monastic Wealth and the Social Order

Chapter:
(p.472) 16 Monastic Wealth and the Social Order
Source:
Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 1: The Clerical Establishment and its Social Ramifications
Author(s):

John McManners

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198270038.003.0017

The monastic houses of France were immensely wealthy, and the crown used its powers of appointment and the system of holding abbeys in commende to benefit the aristocracy. The nobility gained for its children, the use of the wealth of the religious houses and, while life in the great houses was only rarely scandalous, it was comfortable and easy‐going. Bourgeois families were equally anxious to place their children in the less wealthy abbeys and convents. For boys, becoming the abbot of one or more houses represented one opportunity among many, but for girls of noble birth, the convents were indispensable establishments for the provision of security, lifelong if necessary, and the only available outlet for useful activity. Forced vocations of women were rare, but informal pressures within the family made many girls enter religion as a matter of family policy.

Keywords:   abbeys, aristocracy, convents, women

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