Devotional violence and emotional governance in a seventeenth-century French female religious house
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Between 1618 and 1632, the prestigious thirteenth-century royal Cistercian Abbey for women at Maubuisson (near Pontoise, northwest of Paris) became a battleground over the use of penitential mortification. Mortification was one of the chief sites of interpersonal politics over governance at the abbey. This essay will examine the place of the emotions in relation to the two divergent trajectories of Catholic reform and spiritual revival evident in this case: those which emphasized the benefits of physical mortification, and those which emphasized a more interior path of approach to God. The emotions were at the centre of debate about what kind of devotional activities posed the greater risk of harm, the physical or the contemplative.