PhD Student in the School of History
Thesis title: Creating sacred space beyond the convent: Women of the Franciscan Third Order in the Italian city
Supervisor: Professor Miri Rubin
For my doctoral thesis I am investigating early female members of the Franciscan lay order (Third Order) and primarily studies Angela of Foligno (1248-1309), Margherita of Cortona (1247-1297), Umiliana de’Cerchi (1219-1246), and Rosa of Viterbo (1233-1255) within the urban landscape they occupied. Marginal, in the space they occupied and their societal positions, these women are celebrated figures within Italian history and the history of the Franciscan Order globally. Between the laity and female monastics, these women re-invented the landscapes of their home cities – Florence, Foligno, Cortona and Viterbo – into spaces of spiritual transformation and future pilgrim sites. This was particularly significant given that, from 1298 onwards, various edicts and councils launched by the papacy sought to impose strict regulation on female convents. In light of this trajectory, my research provides important and fresh understanding of how early female tertiaries understood and experienced their urban freedom, and how later scribes re-imagined these spaces. This allows for an analysis of both contemporary attitudes and issues of memory and remembrance, ensuring that their short and long-term legacies are understood and properly contextualised. It also contributes to wider discussions around the changing priorities and internal discord within the early Franciscan order, as well as the broader history of regulating female space both within and outside the convent.