“With the development of women’s history over the last twenty- five years, a number of texts by women in the early modern period have been discovered, edited, translated, and published. This has deepened our understanding of women’s experience in the past, and also allowed us to view major historical changes such as the Renaissance and the Reformation in new ways. The present volume is a contribution to this growing body of literature.
The four texts in this volume are all by women who resided in convents or similar institutions, or who had recently left convents, in Germany in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They allow us to hear - with some filtering by their male editors and publishers - women’s opinions about the merits of clerical celibacy and convent life. None of these works has been previously translated into English, and only one of them has been published in German since the early modern period. The primary purpose of this book is to make these texts available in English, but a secondary purpose is to make the German text available in a modern edition with a modern type font. In the German text, the orthography has been modernized, but the spellings have not; punctuation has occasionally been added for clarity, for early modern authors used extremely long sentences punctuated by slash marks rather than commas and semicolons.” — From the Foreword by the Editor, Merry Wiesner-Hanks
One of the texts has been reprinted in a modern edition:
Ursula of Münsterberg. “Christliche Ursachen des verlassenen Klosters zu Freiberg.” In Dr. Martin Luthers Sämmtliche Werke. 2nd ed. Edited by Johann Georg Walch, 19:1694-1723. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1907.
Three of the texts are available only in early modern editions, and are held in the collection of the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel, Germany:
[Rem, Katherine]. Antwurt Zwayer Closter frauwen im Katheriner Closter zu Augspurg/an Bernhart Remen. Augsburg: P. Ulhart, 1523. Herzog August Bibliothek shelfmark 77.2 Theol. 4 (13).
Anna Sophia, Abbess of Quedlinburg. Der treue Seelenfreund Christus Jesus/mit nachdenklichen Sinn-Gemahlden. Jena: Georg Sengenwald, 1658. Herzog August Bibliothek shelfmark 915.2 Theol. (3).
Zitter, Martha Elisabeth. Grundlichen Ursachen welche Jungfer Martha Elisabeth Zitterin bewogen das Franntzosiche alias Weiss-Frauenkloster in Errfurt/Ursuliner Ordens/zuverlassen/und sich zu der waaren Evangelischen Religion zu bekennen. Jena: 1678. Herzog August Bibliothek shelfmark K104 Helm 8 (4).
The texts by Katherine Rem and Martha Zitter are also held in the Lutheran Brotherhood Foundation Reformation Research Library, a microform collection of primary sources dealing with the religious and social aspects of the Reformation movement from 1500 to 1650. It is housed in the Rare Book Room on the campus of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota. Access to the collection is through the Research Library Information Network (RLIN: Library identifier MNLT).