Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2017

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation examines the intersection of local community, women, and religious reform in the early modern Basque Country. Basque women had a third option outside marriage and monasticism: they could become seroras, or devout laywomen hired by the parish. Licensed by the diocese and entrusted with carrying for the parish property, seroras took no vows and were free to leave the religious life if they chose, meaning they enjoyed considerable more freedom than other women of their time, either wives or nuns. Following the introduction of religious reform in the sixteenth century, most non-monastic female orders were suppressed – yet the seroras survived. As I argue, Basque communities were well informed about the goals of reform, but they saw practical value in maintaining this female religious vocation and they communicated this value to diocesan reformers to reach tacit compromise. Placed within a broader European context, these patterns of local compromise challenge ideas of top-down reform, instead favoring a model dependent on the involvement and approbation of local communities.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Daniel Bornstein

Committee Members

Lu Ann Homza, William Christian, Stephanie Kirk, Mark Pegg,


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Available for download on Saturday, May 15, 2117