Anyone who has been researching or simply been interested in female monasticism in medieval England must have noticed a frustrating scarcity of primary sources which has resulted result in relatively meagre secondary literature. Paradoxically, we know more about the spiritual life of medieval nuns than we know about more mundane areas of their life.
Chocolate, writes Emma Robertson in the introduction to her monograph, ‘has been invested with specific cultural meanings which are in part connected to … conditions of production’ (p. 3). At the heart of this study is a challenge to existing histories:
Gemma Allen’s well-conceived and meticulously researched first book explores the ways in which themes of education, piety and politics interacted and impacted on the lives of the Cooke sisters in late 16th-century England.
The past two decades have seen a flourishing of scholarship devoted to female Catholic piety in early modern Europe, which has helped to balance the substantial historiography on women and the Protestant Reformation.