‘“Not without teares on our Neighbor’s side:” The Spatialization of Music in Exiled English convents 1624-1724’

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


17th-century Paris was the centre for French royal culture, as well as larger European religious developments and the development of salon culture. In turn, it was a city defined by cultural exclusion and notions of divinely ordained prestige, resulting in a soundscape defined by audible expressions of invisibility. This was in no small part facilitated by the large presence of cloisters and monastic houses within the city, particularly the female monastic houses. The 17th century in France saw the establishment of an extraordinarily large number of female monastic houses, often closely intertwined with French female nobility. Nuns in 17th-century Paris, who were required by the post-Tridentine edict of enclosure to remain behind convent walls and refrain from admitting outsiders (barring exceptional circumstances), became key agents in defining the city’s most holy and exclusive places, in large part due to their ability to gender space through their voices.

Paris at this time was also home to a wealth of religious exiles, particularly those of the English Catholic persuasion in the wake of both the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution. This unique circumstance resulted in the development of highly politicised musical rituals at convents of exiled English Catholics. These rituals can be understood as reflections of power struggles undertaken by England and France’s ruling elite to establish religious authority. This paper will examine one of these rituals - the night-time procession of the relics of St Justin the Martyr undertaken by the nuns of the English Augustinian Monastery of Our Lady of Syon - in the context of Jacobite endeavours in the late 1690s. It will interrogate how the nuns used their voices, their music, darkness, and movement to establish the ritual as a politically charged act of exclusion, one that regularly marked the convent as a place of prestige, and a way of influencing political events in France and England. It will contextualise this ritual undertaken by a displaced religious community of English exiles in the wider context of other similar rituals undertaken by neighbouring Parisian convents.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 17 Jul 2021
Event19th Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music - Online (hosted by the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire)
Duration: 15 Jul 202117 Jul 2021


Conference19th Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music
Abbreviated titleBiennial Baroque
Internet address


  • baroque
  • early music
  • musicology
  • convents
  • Musical Institutions
  • Early Modern Music
  • early modern women
  • soundscape

Cite this