Female religious, especially holders of benefices, made significant contributions to aristocratic family strategy and fortune in early modern France. This study of members of the wider Montmorency family in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries demonstrates the financial and political benefits derived from female benefice holding. Abbey stewards and surintendants of aristocratic households collaborated in the administration of religious revenues. Montmorency control of Sainte Trinité, the Abbaye aux Dames, Caen, for over a century was associated with attempts to assert political influence in Normandy. Conflict ostensibly over religious reform could have a political dimension. Yet reform could be pursued vigorously by those originally cloistered for mercenary or political reasons.
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