Living Single and Safe
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.
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