Elfthrith (fl. 7th c.)

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Elfthrith (fl. 7th c.)

English abbess and scholar. Name variations: Aelfthrith; Aelfthryth; Aethelfryth; Elfthryth; Ethel-fryth. Flourished in the 7th century.

Elfthrith was a renowned English scholar and abbess. Like the first monasteries, early convents were not only places of cloistered worship and pious contemplation, but also centers of learning and manuscript production. Elfthrith was one of many abbesses of the early Middle Ages who were highly educated and influential outside their convents. Under her direction, the Abbey of Repton became renowned for the education of its nuns and for the superior schooling given there to lay pupils.

Laura York , freelance writer in medieval and women's history, Riverside, California

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