Syon Abbey and its Books

Syon Abbey and its Books

Reading, Writing and Religion, c.1400-1700

Edited by E. A. Jones, Alexandra Walsham


Boydell Press



Essays on the turbulent history of Syon Abbey, focussing on the role played by reading and writing in constructing its identity and experience.
Founded in 1415, the double monastery of Syon Abbey was the only English example of the order established by the fourteenth-century mystic St Bridget of Sweden. After its dispersal at the Dissolution, the community survived in exile and was briefly restored during the reign of Mary I; but with the accession of Elizabeth I, some of the nuns and brothers once again sought refuge on the Continent, first in the Netherlands and later in Lisbon.

This volume of essays traces the fortunes of Syon Abbey and the Bridgettine order between 1400 and 1700, examining the various ways in which reading and writing shaped its identity and defined its experience, and exploring the interconnections between late medieval and post-Reformation monastic history and the rapidly evolving world of communication, learning, and books. They extend our understanding of religious culture and institutions on the eve of the Reformation and the impulses that inspired initiatives for early modern Catholic renewal, and also illuminate the spread of literacy and the gradual and uneven transition from manuscript to print between the fourteenth and the seventeenth centuries. In the process, the volume engages with larger questions about the origins and consequences of religious, intellectual and cultural change in late medieval and early modern England.

E. A. Jones is Senior Lecturer in English, University of Exeter; Alexandra Walsham is Professor of Reformation History, University of Exeter

Contributors: E. A. Jones, Alexandra Walsham, Peter Cunich, Virginia Bainbridge, Vincent Gillespie, C. Annette Grise, Claire Walker, Caroline Bowden, Claes Gejrot, Ann Hutchison

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June 2010
9 black and white illustrations
288 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Modern British Religious History
ISBN: 9781843835479
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

Introduction Syon Abbey and its Books: Origins, Influences and Transitions - E.A. Jones and Alexandra M Walsham
The Brothers of Syon, 1420-1695 - Peter Cunich
Syon Abbey: Women and Learning c.1415-1600 - Virginia Bainbridge
Syon and the English Market for Continental Printed Books: The Incunable Phase - Vincent Gillespie
'Moche profitable unto religious persones, gathered by a brother of Syon': Syon Abbey and English Books - C Annette Grise
Continuity and Isolation: The Bridgettines of Syon in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries - Claire Walker
Books and Reading at Syon Abbey, Lisbon, in the Seventeenth Century - Caroline Bowden
The Syon Martiloge - Claes Gejrot
Syon Abbey Preserved: Some Historians of Syon - Ann M. Hutchison
Appendix: Syon Abbey's books at the University of Exeter


A fine collection of essays. SPECULUM

An excellent compilation of current research on the Bridgettine house of Syon Abbey, its history, and its books. [...] Researchers in this area will find this to be important reading and research material. JOURNAL OF RELIGIOUS & THEOLOGICAL INFORMATION

This lovely collection is an elegant proof that the history of Syon Abbey, and its post-Reformation peregrination across Europe, constitutes many stories in one. [...] This is a rewarding collection nicely put together, which succeeds well in its aim to encourage a closer association between book history and monastic history. THE LIBRARY

Make[s] a worthy contribution to the area of Birgittine scholarship. JOURNAL OF THE EARLY BOOK SOCIETY

A most welcome addition to the Syon corpus. LIBRARY & INFORMATION HISTORY

An excellent contribution to studies of Syon, both as an English house of the Bridgettine order and in relation to gender, manuscripts, and print. [...] This is a valuable and, indeed, seminal work. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the Bridgettine house of Syon Abbey, or, more generally, in European female communities in the late medieval and early modern periods. The editors and contributors must take pride in an excellent work of scholarship. It gave me immense pleasure to read it, and I learned much from it. REVIEWS IN HISTORY
An enjoyable collection, with several contributors achieving the rare feat of being easily accessible without 'dumbing down', Syon Abbey and its Books is a timely reminder of a now sadly neglected history. THE CATHOLIC TIMES

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