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Type: Journal article
Title: Exiled children: Care in English convents in the 17th and 18th centuries
Author: Walker, C.
Citation: Children Australia, 2016; 41(3):168-177
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Issue Date: 2016
ISSN: 1035-0772
Statement of
Claire Walker
Abstract: England's Catholic religious minority devised various strategies for its survival in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including the establishment of seminaries and convents in continental Europe, predominantly in France and the Spanish Netherlands. These institutions educated the next generation of English Catholic clergy, nuns and lay householders. Although convent schools were usually small, the nuns educated young girls within their religious cloisters. The pupils followed a modified monastic routine, while they were taught the skills appropriate for young gentlewomen, such as music and needlework. While many students were placed in convents with the intention that they would become nuns, not all girls followed this trajectory. Some left the cloister of their childhood to join other religious houses or to return to England to marry and raise a new generation of Catholics. Although we have few first-hand accounts of these girls’ experiences, it is possible to piece together a sense of their lives behind cloistered walls from chronicles, obituaries and letters. While the exiled monastic life for children was difficult, surviving evidence points to the vital role of convent care in Catholic families’ strategies, and the acknowledgement of their importance by the girls placed there, whether temporarily or permanently.
Rights: © The Author(s) 2016
DOI: 10.1017/cha.2016.19
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 7
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