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Capital WomenThe European Marriage Pattern, Female Empowerment and Economic Development in Western Europe 1300-1800$
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Jan Luiten van Zanden, Sarah Carmichael, and Tine De Moor

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190847883

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190847883.001.0001

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Living Single and Safe

(p.199) 8 Beguines
Capital Women

Jan Luiten

Oxford University Press

The beguine movement is a most remarkable phenomenon in the history of the Low Countries, but it still remains to be explained. The skewed sex ratio, diminished access to convents, and religious revival of the late Middle Ages seem insufficient to explain the movement in the long run. This chapter argues that the specific attitude toward women in the Low Countries that originated with the emergence of the European Marriage Pattern created a fertile and unique basis for the beguinages to develop: the beguinages may have offered women in the Low Countries safety and security if they chose to remain single.

Keywords:   beguine, nun, religious institutions, single woman, Low Countries, early modern period, European Marriage Pattern

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