Essay by Erin Lambert @ Medievalists on The Role of Medieval Women as Monastic Patrons:
Studies of the medieval world reveal a deeply hierarchical society in which wealth, freedom, and piety were among the marks of an individual’s status. An analysis of the ways in which people expressed their piety and used their material wealth reveals an age in which spiritual and worldly matters were closely intertwined. In addition, it sheds light on medieval ideas of class and gender, which were significant in determining an individual’s opportunities for the possession and disposal of wealth.For example, those with the resources to do so often ensured their salvation through the patronage of religious institutions. While both men and women became patrons, the role of women as patrons must be considered separately because of the social and legal restrictions placed upon them. Despite the often-limited sphere in which they operated and the challenges of carrying out a benefaction, many women were devoted to the support of religious institutions and emerged as important patrons of monastic activity.