About the The Authority of Women Mystics course
The medieval Church was dominated by men.
Male popes, bishops, abbots and founders controlled many aspects of the ways Christians were told to worship, pray and live out their theology. Even those women who were able to exert their authority often did so under the control of men. University masters of theology such as Thomas Aquinas claimed that women couldn’t and shouldn’t teach theology.
However, from the thirteenth century onwards, we see lots of examples of women who often lived outside the Church’s expectations for women by leading semi-religious lives often called beguines or tertiaries. Many of these women also took advantage of the new possibilities of writing theological texts in vernacular languages. In the texts they produced they often made daring claims about the authority they had as writers and theologians.
This course will look at these women and their claims, particularly in the works of Angela of Foligno and Marguerite Porete, to explore how they set these out as well as the responses to these claims which, as the history books tell us for Angela and Porete, often had very varied outcomes.