In 1598, the first English convent to be founded since the dissolution of the monasteries was established in Brussels, followed by a further twenty-one foundations, which all self-identified as English institutions in Catholic Europe. Around four thousand women entered these religious houses over the following two centuries. This book highlights the significance of the English convents as part of, and contributors to, national and European Catholic culture. Covering the whole exile period and making extensive use of rarely consulted archive material, James E. Kelly situates the English Catholic experience within the wider context of the Catholic Reformation and Catholic Europe. He thus transforms our understanding of the convents, stressing that they were not isolated but were, in fact, an integral part of the transnational Church which transcended national boundaries. The original and immersive structure takes the reader through the experience of being a nun, from entry into the convent, to day-to-day life in enclosure, how the enterprise was funded, as well as their wider place within the Catholic world.
Michael Questier - Research Chair, University of Vanderbilt, Nashville
Christopher Highley - Ohio State University
John McCafferty - University College Dublin