Browsing History and Archaeology by Publisher "Duke University Press"
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Writing a Spiritual Biography in Early Modern France: The 'Many Lives' of Madeleine de LamoignonIn the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, four different spiritual biographers wrote the "life" of the recently deceased lay dévote, Madeleine de Lamoignon (1609-1687). Each of these authors was seeking to compose a spiritual biography - an account of Madeleine's devotional life - and they were all penned with the distant prospect of beatification or canonisation in mind. This article analyses these four retellings of Madeleine's life in order to excavate the process of writing vitae, and situates this within the broader context of lay spiritual biography in early modern France. It is argued here that a comparative exploration of Madeleine de Lamoignon's "lives" reveals different, and sometimes competing, conceptions of lay female sanctity in the Counter-Reformation era. Ultimately, the article contends that by turning our attention to neglected biographies of lay women, scholars might better understand how a life outside of the cloister could be reconciled with saintliness.