Session 105: Gendered Lives
Monday 3 July 2017, 11.15-12.45
|Moderator/Chair:||Amy Brown, University of Sydney|
|Paper 105-a||Illness and Disease in the Anchorite's Cell|
Index terms: Archaeology - Sites, Architecture - Religious, Ecclesiastical History, Medievalism and Antiquarianism
|Paper 105-b||Heloise: A Modern Woman in the Middle Ages|
Index terms: Language and Literature - Latin, Medievalism and Antiquarianism
|Paper 105-c||Outstanding in Their Field: How Otherness and Liminality Wrote Christine de Pizan, Margery Kempe, and Joan of Arc|
Index terms: Gender Studies, Literacy and Orality, Women's Studies
The majority of anchorite cells were attached (or ‘anchored’) to churches. However, there are some that have been recorded in churchyards, cemeteries, and in the countryside away from town or village centres. The anchorite’s previous life would cease to exist. They would be symbolically, and in some cases physically, sealed in their cell into irreversible enclosure for eternity in a ‘living tomb’, in which it was expected they would die and be interred. They were completely cut off from the world. The only true connection to the outside world was a small window in which food and supplies where received. Through this same window refuse was disposed of, people came to seek spiritual guidance and prayers from the anchorite, and the recluse’s confessor came to offer spiritual support and forgiveness of their sins.
Regardless of gender, permission was required for the anchorite to leave their cell. This was given, at times, but the reasoning and required justification differed vastly between genders. It is understood that a anchorite who did not possess such permission, ‘… who left their enclosure could be forcibly returned by the authorities, and faced damnation in the hereafter’ (Jones:2010). Male anchorites could request or be asked to pastor to the community, or be given various other religious duties, and therefore be able to leave their enclosure in order to carry out these responsibilities. This was not the case for female anchorites.
Faced with little fresh air and sun light, coldness and damp, many cells having no source of heating, and basic toilet and washing facilities, the recluse would have been left unprotected against many illnesses and disease. Although conditions within their individual cells may have been much the same for both genders, the male anchorite, with the ability to request or be given duties outside his cell, may not have been affected by as many illnesses or diseases as his female counterpart. Consequently gender surely would have influenced the health and well-being of the recluse.
This paper investigates and analyses gender related health problems and disease which anchorites may have been exposed to, due to the conditions in which they lived, and how this may have affected their daily lives and indeed contributed to their deaths.