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Æbbe [St Æbbe, Ebba] (d. 683?), abbess of Coldingham, was the daughter of Acha, queen of Northumbria, and uterine sister of kings Oswald and Oswiu. According to late and unverifiable traditions preserved mainly in a life ascribed to the twelfth-century hagiographer Reginald of Durham...

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Ælfflæd [St Ælfflæd, Elfleda] (654–714), abbess of Strensall–Whitby, was the daughter of Oswiu, king of Northumbria (d. 670), and his wife, Eanflæd. She was dedicated to religion when scarcely a year old, in fulfilment of a vow made by her father before his victory at the battle of the ...

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Æthelburh [St Æthelburh, Ethelburga] (fl. 664), abbess of Barking, was the sister of Earconwald (d. 693), abbot of Chertsey and bishop of London. Nothing certain is known of her family background, though she may have originated among the Kentish aristocracy: Æthelburh shares her name with the Kentish princess who became ...

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Æthelthryth [St Æthelthryth, Etheldreda, Audrey] (d. 679), queen in Northumbria, consort of King Ecgfrith, and abbess of Ely, was the daughter of Anna, king of the East Angles (d. 654?). Her immediate kindred was dominated by women in religion, later venerated as saints, including three sisters, ...

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Bailleul, Matilda de (d. 1212), abbess of Wherwell, was the daughter of Baldwin (I), lord of the Flemish town of Bailleul, north-west of Lille. Her brother, Baldwin (II), and successive members of the family became castellans of Bailleul, Ypres, and Oudenburg. Obits of many of them are recorded in the calendar of a surviving psalter which eventually came to ...

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Balthild [St Balthild, Balthilda] (d. c. 680), queen of the Franks, consort of Clovis II of Neustria, was a Saxon, almost certainly born in England, probably in the early or mid-630s. She became a Frankish queen and founded the convent of Chelles, to which she retired during the last years of her life. There she was revered as a saint soon after her death. Her life, written before 690–91 by someone at ...

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Barking, Clemence of (fl. 1163–c. 1200), Benedictine nun and hagiographer, of Barking Abbey, was responsible for an Anglo-Norman life of St Catherine of Alexandria which is the only life of this saint known to have been written by a woman in medieval ...

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Barton, Elizabeth [called the Holy Maid of Kent, the Nun of Kent] (c. 1506–1534), Benedictine nun and visionary, is of obscure origins. Nothing is known about her early life or family. Barton is unlikely to have received any sort of formal education during her childhood, and she was almost certainly illiterate. By the time she first entered the public arena, at the age of nineteen, she was working as a servant in the household of a certain ...

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Berners [Bernes, Barnes], Juliana (fl. 1460), supposed author and prioress of Sopwell, cannot be authoritatively identified. The biography of Dame Juliana Berners has grown from a brief note on sig. f3jr of The Book of Hawking, Hunting, and Blasing of Arms (also known as the ...

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Bohun, Margaret de [née Margaret of Gloucester] (c. 1121–1196/7), heiress and monastic patron, was the daughter of Miles of Gloucester, earl of Hereford (d. 1143), and Sybil (d. after 1143), daughter and sole heir of Bernard de Neufmarché (d. c. 1125)...

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Bolebec, Isabel de, countess of Oxford (c. 1164–1245), magnate and monastic patron, was the eldest daughter of Hugh de Bolebec (d. c.1165), lord of Whitchurch, Buckinghamshire, and a patron of the order of Friars Preacher in England. She appears first in the records as the widow of ...

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Boughton, Joan (c. 1414–1494), Wycliffite heretic, is known only from accounts of her death. The fullest of these, in the great chronicle of London, records that she was a widow and mother, and describes her as 'an old cankyrd heretyke that dotid For age', being at least eighty years old. The chronicle's bitterly hostile account reports that she was a disciple of ...

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Bugga [Hæaburh] (d. 759x65), abbess, had the full name Hæaburh and was related to the Kentish royal house. She is first known from a letter she sent to Boniface, early in his career in Germany, with her mother, Eangyth, who was abbess of a Kentish monastery, to which ...

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Bugga (fl. late 7th–early 8th cent.), abbess, was the daughter of King Centwine of Wessex (r. 676–85). She is known chiefly from a poem written by Aldhelm to celebrate a church she had built dedicated to the Virgin Mary; her nunnery is the earliest recorded in the kingdom of the West Saxons. The poem gives some interesting information on the operation of the mixed community of monks and nuns over which ...

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Burton, Catharine [name in religion Mary Xaviera of the Angels] (1668–1714), Carmelite visionary and prioress of the English Carmel, Hopland, was born on 4 November 1668 at Beyton, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, the daughter of the devout recusant yeoman Thomas Burton...

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Carpenter, Christina (fl. 1329–1332), religious recluse, was the unmarried daughter of William, a carpenter who lived in the tiny Surrey village of Shere in the second and third decades of the fourteenth century. Of humble birth, Christina was seemingly destined for an unremarkable and historically invisible life. However, in the summer of 1329 she took the serious step of applying to the bishop of ...

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Christina (fl. 1057–1093), princess and Benedictine nun, was the (perhaps younger) daughter of Edward Ætheling (d. 1057), son of Edmund Ironside (d. 1016), and Agatha (d. in or after 1070), a kinswoman of the emperor Heinrich II or Heinrich III. She was born in ...

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See Lollard women

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Cowper, Christabel (b. c. 1495, d. 1562?), prioress of Marrick, is of uncertain origins. She may have been related to the Margaret Cowper recorded in 1533 as a tenant of the house in which Christabel became a nun. She was the sister of ...