Dissolutions of Monasteries

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2024 | Viewed by 416

Special Issue Editor

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of History, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QH, UK
Interests: monasticism; Benedictines; reformation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The purpose of this Special Issue is to extend and enhance comparative perspectives on the experience of the suppression of monastic life and its impact in the society in which it occurs, most conspicuously on religious and cultural practice, but also on the economy, the environment and the governance of regions and the state itself. Moments of ‘dissolution’ and ‘de-monasticisation’ in time periods from antiquity to the modern era have been examined in many national historiographies, but typically the focus of enquiry has been on their part in the making of a polity and its dominant identity. By contrast, the objective here is to better understand the rejection of monasticism as a social, cultural, economic and environmental experience: both the forces that shaped it and the immediate and lasting impact of the loss of monasteries and their customary practice on the neighbourhoods and landscapes in which they were situated. The intention is also to establish a wide field-of-vision that extends from the European heartland of Latin monasticism to the eastern territory of Orthodox Christianity and to the regions of South Asia touched by Buddhism. Key themes for discussion are the impulses, political and popular, to challenge either the principle or the practice of monasticism; the means of suppression, judicial–legal, fiscal, martial; de-monasticisation as an agent of measurable and permanent change and its particular significance in shaping subsequent developments in culture, economy and industry, social relations and landscape.

This proposal responds to a rising critical interest in comparative approaches to religious change and confessional coercion and their capacity to catalyze societal transformation. Classic accounts fixed these experiences within a frame of national political history, but recently, researchers have reached out for transnational and intercontinental perspectives (e.g., Petts, 2011; Terpstra, 2019, 2021; Elawa, 2020). This Special Issue will meet a particular need to extend the knowledge and understanding on the significance of monastic communities and cultures in this common and recurrent experience of religious change. Since 2000, a number of new and revisionist studies of dissolution, in particular regarding eopolitical contexts and time-periods, have been published (e.g., Beales, 2003; Berntson, 2003; Bodinier, Congost, Luna, 2009; Derwich, 2014; Bisgaard, Seesko Kallestrupp, 2019; Clark, 2021). For the first time, this proposal opens a wider enquiry that extends beyond northern Europe and the era between the Protestant Reformation and Enlightenment to incorporate the case-studies of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, as well as the 19th and 20th centuries and the contemporary world.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400–600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the guest editors (j.g.clark@exeter.ac.uk) or to the Religions editorial office (religions@mdpi.com). Abstracts will be reviewed by the Guest Editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer-review.

Tentative completion schedule:

  • Abstract submission deadline: 1 February 2023
  • Notification of abstract acceptance: 1 March 2023
  • Full manuscript deadline: 30 September 2023


Beales, D. 2003. Prosperity and plunder. European Catholic monasteries in the age of revolution, 1650-1815. Cambridge University Press.

Berntson, M. 2003. Klostren och reformationen: upplösningen av koster och convent i Sverige, 1523-1596. The dissolution of monasteries in Sweden. Skellefteå.

Bisgaard, L. Seesko, P., Kallestrupp, L (ed.), 2019. The Dissolution of Monasteries: the Case of Denmark in a regional perspective. University of Southern Denmark Press.

Bodinier, B., Congost, R., Luna, P. F. (ed.) 2009. De la igelsia al estada. Les desamortizaciones des bienes ecclesiásticos en Francia, Espagña y América Latina. Zaragosa University Press.

Clark, J. G., 2021. The Dissolution of the Monasteries. A New History. Yale University Press.

Derwich, M. (ed.), 2014. Dissolutions of monasteries in the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Silesia against the background of secularization processes in Europe. 4 volumes. Wrocławskie Towarzystwo Miłośników Historii.

Elawa, N. I., 2020. Understanding religious change in Africa and Europe. Springer.

Petts, D., 2011. Pagan and Christian. Religious change in early medieval Europe. Bloomsbury.

Terpstra, N. (ed.), 2019 Global reformations. Transforming early modern religions, societies, cultures. Routledge.

Terpstra, N. (ed.), 2021 Global reformations sourcebook. Convergence, conversion and conflict in early modern religious encounters. Taylor & Francis.

Prof. Dr. James Clark
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • monasteries
  • secularisation
  • anticlericalism
  • comparative history

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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