Monastic Wealth and the Social Order

John McManners

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

Published in print July 1999 | ISBN: 9780198270034
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600685 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 Monastic Wealth and the Social Order

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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

Chapter.  14922 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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