Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Makowski, “English Nuns and the Law in the Middle Ages Cloistered Nuns and Their Lawyers, 1293-1540”

 This November, Boydell & Brewer will publish English Nuns and the Law in the Middle Ages Cloistered Nuns and Their Lawyers, 1293-1540 by Elizabeth Makowski (Texas State University). The publisher’s description follows

In late medieval England, cloistered nuns, like all substantial property owners, engaged in nearly constant litigation to defend their holdings. They did so using attorneys (proctors), advocates and other “men of law” who actually conducted that litigation in the courts of Church and Crown. However, although lawyers were as crucial to the economic vitality of the nunneries as the patrons who endowed them, their role in protecting, augmenting or depleting monastic assets has never been fully investigated. This book aims to address the gap. Using records from the courts of the common law, Chancery, and a variety of ecclesiastical venues, it examines the working relationships without which cloistered nuns could not have lived in fully enclosed but self-sustainingc communities. In the first part it looks at the six mendicant and Bridgettine houses established in England, and relates the effectiveness and resilience of their cloistered spirituality to the rise of legal professionalism in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It then presents cases from ecclesiastical and royal courts which illustrate the work of legal professionals on behalf of their clients.

Is a Nun an Employee?

An Orthodox Christian nun in Canada is suing her former convent for wrongful constructive dismissal. The ex-nun alleges that she worked for the convent for 14 years, providing services that included sewing, caring for elderly sisters, and hosting guests, until she quit, allegedly because of mistreatment by the other nuns. She now seeks back pay and damages. The convent argues that nuns are not “employees” in the civil-law sense, but volunteers who vow to live with other nuns in poverty, chastity, and obedience. “Monastic work is for God and not for people,” the convent argues. “It is not a career.” An article from a Toronto newspaper about the lawsuit is here.