The religious and political spheres of the later medieval and early modern periods were tightly and indisputably interwoven, as illustrated by the papal schism, the Hundred Years War, the Reconquest of Spain, and the English Reformation. In these events as well as in the larger religiopolitical systems in which they unfolded, female saints, devout lay women, and monastic women played central roles. In Women of God and Arms, Nancy Bradley Warren explores the political dimensions of the religious practices of women ranging from St. Colette of Corbie to Isabel of Castile to English nuns exiled during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Just as religious and political systems were bound up with one another, so too were the internal and external politics of England and several continental realms. Blood and marriage connected the English dynasties of Lancaster and York with those of France, Burgundy, Flanders, and Castile, creating tangled networks of alliances and animosities. In addition to being linked through ties of kinship, these realms were joined by frequent textual and cultural exchanges.
Warren draws upon a wide variety of sources—hagiography, chronicles, monastic records, devotional treatises, military manuals, political propaganda, and texts traditionally designated as literary—as she examines the ways manifestations of female spirituality operated at the intersections of civic, international, and ecclesiastical politics. Her exploration breaches boundaries separating the medieval and the early modern, the religious and the secular, the material and the symbolic, the literary and the historical, as it sheds new light on well-known figures such as Joan of Arc, Isabel of Castile, and Elizabeth I.
Nancy Bradley Warren teaches English at Florida State University. She is the author of Spiritual Economies: Monasticism in Later Medieval England, winner of the Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities and also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.