Associate Professor of the History of Christianity



Ph.D., Princeton University

A.B., Smith College

Catherine Peyroux is a scholar of the cultural and social history of medieval Christianity, especially the history of Christianization, the history of women in Christianity, and the role of religious thought in social life. Before coming to Drew, Dr. Peyroux held positions at New York University, Duke University, the University of Chicago, and Princeton University.





The Governance of Women: Double Monasteries in the Early Medieval West. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, forthcoming.

“Double Monasteries.” In Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia, edited by Thomas Izbicki, Margaret Schauns, and Susan Stuard. New York: Routledge, 2006.

“Canonists Construct the Nun? Canonical Legislation about Women Religious in Merovingian France.” In The Transformation of Law and Society During Late Antiquity, edited by Ralph W. Mathisen, 242-255. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

“The Leper’s Kiss.” In Monks, Nuns, Saints and Outcasts, edited by Sharon Farmer and Barbara H. Rosenwein, 172-188. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2000.

“Lands of Women? Writing the History of Women in Early Medieval Ireland and Europe.” Review article, Early Medieval Europe 7, no. 2 (1998): 217-227.

“Gertrude’s Furor: Reading Anger in an Early Medieval Saint’s Life.” In Anger’s Past: The Social Uses of an Emotion in the Middle Ages, edited by Barbara H. Rosenwein, 36-55. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998.





Topics: Women and Gender in the Middle Ages (Chist 239)
This course concentrates on reading and writing the history of women and gender in the medieval church. It explores medieval texts and modern debates concerning the relationship between women and men within the Christian tradition and the larger social context in which this relationship evolved. Topics include the problem of writing women’s history; the question of a feminine voice; issues of medieval women’s speech as transgression; the construction of female spiritual personae and women’s authority in religious writing; and gendered inflections within medieval religious practice, expression, and teaching.

When Jesus Owned Nothing: Europe, ca. 1100-1350 (Chist 214)
High Medieval Europe witnessed two simultaneous revolutions: the birth of a commercial, proto-capitalist economy, and a popular religious awakening that drew on Biblical texts to mount a wide-ranging social critique of the emerging profit economy as well as established religious institutions.  In this course students will read both modern historical accounts and also medieval documents about heretics, saints, lepers, and moneylenders in order to trace the origins of an urban commercial culture and to examine its critical observers, the voices of both the “orthodox” and “heretical” evangelical poverty movements of the eleventh through the fourteenth centuries.  In considering both heretical and orthodox figures and beliefs as well as the changing conditions of profit-making and poverty, the course explores medieval Europeans’ notions of a rightly ordered society and the legacy left to us by their ideas about wealth and charity. Texts include biographies of such figures as Saints Francis, Dominic, and Clare; inquisitorial documents; debates on usury and moneylending; debates on the nature and demands of religious poverty; letters and documents relating to popular piety and the literacy of the laity; church rituals, folklore and hagiographical accounts relating to leprosy.

Christianization: History and Historiography (Chist 288)
This seminar explores a “true-truth” of most medieval history: that between 300 and 1400 CE, Christianity grew from its status as the belief-system of a persecuted minority to become the dominant and majoritarian religion of medieval Europeans.  This course will take as its subject the problematic notions of conversion and christianization in late ancient and medieval Europe and will try to understand both historically and historiographically the processes by which Christianity expanded.  The inquiry is organized around on-going debates concerning three historical moments: 1) the transformation of the late-antique church and the emergence of an organized, episcopally based hierarchy;  2) the dark-age “conversion” of  post- or extra-imperial Europeans (the “barbarians”) with the paradoxical conversion of Christianity to “barbarian” religious idioms; and 3) the emergence of an apparatus to enforce an exclusionary ideal of an (orthodox, Latin) Christendom.

Church History I (Chist 202)
The history of Christianity, emphasizing its social and theological development, from the first century to the end of the 15th century.

Medieval Heresy

Medieval Monasticism

Religious Violence in the Middle Ages






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