By the start of the early modern period, female spirituality in most of Europe was criminalized (Elliott). As stark as this statement is, Elliott supports it through her narrative about Chancellor John Gerson from the University of Paris. Gerson's mission was to discredit female mystics, and to appropriate mysticism through the discourse of spiritual discernment to the institution of the university itself. Gerson was highly successful, and soon spiritual expression manifested by a woman was criminalized as a form of witchcraft (Elliott). Later in his life, Gerson was asked to defend Joan d'Arc at her trial. Despite his best efforts and sincere desire to see her acquitted, he was unsuccessful in defending her largely because of his earlier success; there was no longer any acceptable means by which a woman could express her spirituality (Elliott).
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