The Wisdom of the Beguines: The Forgotten Story of a Medieval Women’s Movement
Hardback: Bluebridge, 2014
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Reviewed by Michelle Wilbert
In this well researched, accessible, and highly readable short history, Laura Swan, professor of religious studies at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington, has opened the door to an exploration of a little known spiritual movement that flourished in the medieval period across Europe. Notable for its vigor, clarity of vision, and vocational integrity, it is made remarkable by the singular fact of gender: this was a woman’s movement that aspired to provide its members with real options at a time when virtually none existed. It gave women ownership of their spiritual development and expression, a considerable level of economic and social independence, and a passionately expressed sense of community and purpose.