In the past there has been a tendency among monastic historians to ignore or marginalise female participation in monastic life, but recent scholarship has begun to redress the balance, as the great contributions made by women to the religious life of the Middle Ages are attracting increasing attention. This interdisciplinary volume brings together scholars from Spain, Italy, France, the Low Countries, Germany, Transylvania, Scandinavia, Ireland, Wales and England who work on aspects of the history, art history and archaeology, and on the religiosity and culture of medieval religious women. The different chapters offer a comparative view of the emergence and spread of houses of nuns in diverse geographical, political and economic settings, their artistic achievements, their interaction with secular and ecclesiastical authorities, as well as with their neighbours, and on their spiritual lives and their interpretations of the locus symbolicus. The essays address issues such as the nature of Cistercian observance and identity among female houses, the role of male authority within houses of religious women, patronage and relations with the outside world, and organisational structures and ideas of continuity. Although there were many differences in size, wealth, recruitment, location, and affiliation, from rich, powerful and grand royal abbeys, to small, impoverished priories on the margins of society and barely sustainable, there were shared aspects and experiences. These chapters uncover both the divergences and the commonalities.