The Cloister and the Garden: Gendered Images of Religious Life from the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries

  • Janice M. Pinder
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter compares the Speculum virginum to the De claustro animae [Cloister of the Soul] of Hugh of Fouilloy, a treatise addressed to male religious, and the anonymous De modo bene vivendi [On the Manner of Living Well], addressed to a religious woman but also extant in a version adapted to religious men. It observes that the Speculum offers an essentially solitary model of the religious life, unlike the De claustro animae, which employs much more public imagery. The contrast between these two treatises illustrates the gendered quality of theorizing about the religious life. By contrast, the De modo bene vivendi, a treatise influenced in part by the Speculum, has much less emphasis on virginity and on bridal imagery.This suggests that the Speculum virginum did not provide the only way in which monks could think about the religious life.


Thirteenth Century Religious Life Religious Woman Male Audience Wine Cellar 
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  1. 12.
    Bridget Morris, “Birgittines and Beguines in Medieval Sweden,” in New Trends in Feminine Spirituality: The Holy Women of Liège and their Impact, ed. Juliette Dor, Lesley Johnson, and Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, Medieval Women: Texts and Contexts 2 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1999), p. 162.Google Scholar
  2. 26.
    See Jane Schulenburg, “Strict Active Enclosure and Its Effects on the Female Monastic Experience (500–1100),” in Medieval Religious Women 1: Distant Echoes, ed. John Nichols and Lillian T. Shank, Cistercian Studies 71 (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1984), pp. 51–86.Google Scholar

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© Constant J. Mews 2001

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  • Janice M. Pinder

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