'Partner in his calamities': Pastors' wives, married nuns and the experience of clerical marriage in the early german reformation

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8 Scopus citations

Abstract

This essay examines what factors led the first clerical wives to marry former Catholic clergy and nuns to marry in the first decade of the Reformation in Germany and seeks to explain the difference that social class, geography and gender made in those decisions. In contrast to the later Reformation, when pastors married same or higher social status women, the majority of women who married former priests and monks during the 1520s were often lower or, in the case of nuns, significantly higher social status than their husbands. Women married clergy for a variety of reasons that were counterintuitive to typical marital strategies for economic security and social networking, since clergy had neither in the 1520s. While sharing a common experience, clerical wives' reasons for marriage to a pastor varied greatly depending on class, local decision about the Reformation and numerous personal factors. Using a variety of sources including letters, civic records, court testimony and published pamphlets, this article demonstrates that these women did exhibit a limited agency that ultimately helped shape larger social and political acceptance of clerical marriage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-227
Number of pages21
JournalGender and History
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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