The Nun's Story, which escaped from the monastery in the XIV century
About the monasteries of medieval Europe and the lives of their inhabitants, we know mostly from the films and literature. But recently, Western scholars of the Middle Ages found in the archives of the University of York startling data. This is a true story about how one of the nuns staged their own sickness and death, to leave the walls of her hateful abode. Moreover, its performance turned out very successful: the sisters nuns did not suspect a trick.
The scandal at the monastery
About this incredible story is mentioned in one of the memos, written in Latin, and is stored in the archives of the official papers of the archbishops of York 1304-1405 period.
"Warn Jeanne Lida recently is the nun monastery of St. Clement in York, that she should go back to his house," - says the document written by Archbishop William Melton and dated 1318. The word "home" means the monastery, from which it escaped.
The note said that the Benedictine nun Jeanne (Joan), being in a monastery, while imitated his physical ailments, and then pretended to be dead, "without worrying about your soul." Convince others that she died, a nun "with the help of numerous accomplices-villains" produced a dummy which everyone took for her dead body, and "misled the faithful believers." Melton laments that "the lost lamb" was not ashamed of the fact that the dummy was buried as a nun in a sacred place among the true servants of the church.
A fragment of archival documents.
The document also notes that, secretly left the monastery after his own funeral, Jeanne entered the "path of carnal lust," and now "roam at large, knowing about the risk to their souls, and that the scandal, which brought on himself and the Order."
It is not known how Joan managed to hold sisters-nuns. Historians have put forward the version that she anointed her skin by some means, to appear sick, and her "dead body" was likely to tightly closed shroud filled with dirt or sand. As can be seen from the note Melton, in the monastery she had accomplices - Jeanne alone is unlikely to be able so deftly to hold members of her Order.
The same paper tells about misconduct by nuns. / Photo: York Archbishops' Register
This story shows how painful and unbearable was a young woman in a monastery, because to decide on such a person could play, driven to despair. As can be seen from the text, we could not make his escape Jeanne secret: if not immediately, but the deception was discovered. However, the archives do not indicate whether it has fulfilled the order of the bishop to go back to the monastery, there was brought to the monastery by force or had not returned there.
to serve the church was the work of a dangerous
Historians studying ancient archives York, hoping to use them to shed light on the life of society in the XIV century - from peasants to nobles and monks on to the bishops and vicars. Much of the archive in the future will be digitized.
- In the XIV century, the Archbishop of York had very broad responsibilities, - explains Professor Sarah Rhys Jones, a historian of the Middle Ages York University and principal investigator for the project. - On the one hand, they were diplomatic activities in Europe and Rome, dealing with high-ranking officials. On the other - they had to settle disputes between ordinary people "on the ground", instructing and inspecting the monastery on the right path erring monks and nuns. That's why these old papers provide a rich record of people from all walks of the fourteenth century - an interesting and very turbulent period. For example, William Melton, the author of the notorious memos, known for having called on the army of priests and citizens in the battle to protect the city of York the Scots in 1319. Unfortunately, Melton and his army of clergy could not win the battle. Their lack of military training has led to the deaths of four thousand men on the battlefield, and thousands more are believed to have drowned in the river Swale, trying to escape.
Gary Brennan and Sara Rhys Jones exploring one of the file registers. Photo: york.ac.uk
You can also find information about the "black death" in the archives, which swept across Europe in 1347 on 1351 and destroyed 60% of the UK population. As a result of the plague is completely emptied monasteries and entire villages. Whereas to serve the church was deadly in Europe as members of the clergy visited the sick and the sacraments performed at the bedside of the dying. As for the nuns, they worked in hospitals and leper colony.
As the nuns lived
Among the nuns of medieval England, the faithful and genuinely willing to devote themselves to God it was not so much. On the one hand, as in England at that time there was a shortage of suitors, the monastery was a comfort to those who, having reached the age of maturity, and could not get married. On the other - due to the fact that a significant proportion of births in those days ended in death for women, some young girls went to the monastery to avoid this dismal fate.
At the same time, among the nuns there were many of those who have given to the abode of the parents as a teenager by force. These girls are dreaming to run away from the convent to enter into relations with men and, perhaps, a good marriage. The life of the nuns did not differ diversity and consisted of only three occupations: prayer, reading spiritual literature and physical labor. Every day had to attend several mandatory church services, the first of which usually begins at 2 am, and the last - 7-8 pm. All activities took place in monasteries together, personal belongings from the nuns, too, almost was not.
It is clear that such a life could be like a woman who sincerely and consciously choose the path of detachment from all worldly things for God's sake. But that's for the person who turned in the monastery for very distant from religion reasons, staying there was torture.
I must say, the case with Jeanne - is not the only such incident. Attempts to secretly leave the monastery (and sometimes quite successful) in the period and undertake other novices. For example, the history of York County tells the story of how in 1301 the nun monastery of St. Clement Cecilia met at the monastery gate "some men" who have prepared for her a saddled horse, and "dropping monk's robe, put on other clothes and went with them Darlington, where she waited for Gregory de Thornton, with whom she lived for three years or more. "