Feminist abbesses in France
From the wonderful 18th-century email list, Jim Chevallier posts on new resources on Gallica. I'm just going to quote directly, since I'm not feeling up to searching the French tonight:
The earlier volumes [of Journals Des Savants] also show a sneering contempt for anyone who deviates from Catholic orthodoxy, nicely typified by an index entry on abbesses (1703) who "ont voulu se mesler de confesser" - literally, "wanted to get mixed up with confession" or "wanted to involve themselves with confession", but with a strong nuance of "stick their noses into" confession. The article itself -
review of a larger work (661) - tells of abbesses who either asked to confess their own nuns and were refused or simply went ahead and did it and even appeared in the pulpit, "but Pope Innocent III found this feminine zeal quite ridiculous" and ordered his bishops to stop it.