The goal for Matrix is to collect and provide access to all existing information regarding professional Christian women in Europe between 400-1600 CE. Primary and secondary sources comprise the majority of this multilingual collection, which focus on unpublished archival materials. It is a collaborative project, with an international and multidisciplinary assembly of editors, contributors, and board members.
The heart of Matrix is the "Monasticon," a database of religious community profiles. "Monasticon" documents not only traditionally defined communal institutions and high profile figures, but embraces trends in historiography and incorporates voluntary and informal structures as well. To fully capture the range of women's religious communities Matrix's founders expanded the definitions beyond examples set by male religious communities, which failed to capture the entire history or experience for medieval women. Communities in the "Monasticon" vary from nunneries, beguinages, and congregations to hospices and spiritual groups. Profiles vary in depth of coverage, providing alternative names, medieval and modern locations, dates founded and ended, notable heads, and founding members. Contributors and record modification dates are included. By expanding beyond traditional definitions of religious communities, the "Monasticon" is the first systematic attempt to document the variety of women's communities in the pre-modern period.
Three areas of Matrix elaborate on the "Monasticon," supplying hundreds of years of research and documents. "Bibliographia," a growing database of primary and secondary source citation, incorporates entries from several standard bibliographies as well as recent contributions from scholars. "Commentaria," also under development, provides citations (some with links to full text) to secondary materials. A number of these papers are not available anywhere or have not been published yet. Matrix also includes a glossary of terms, an image database, and a biographical database of important figures in Christianity, medieval Europe, and religious women.
Navigating this site is not difficult. Each page within Matrix has a sidebar menu, listing all sections of the site, highlighting the chosen page, and displaying the browsing or searching choices (varies from section to section). Matrix has improved since last reviewed (Choice, Sup1999) with search tips screens, easier navigation, and the ability to truncate terms when using the search option.
Although Matrix's intended audience is upper level undergraduates, graduate students, and scholars, it is an excellent resource for anyone with an interest in medieval, religious, or women's studies research. Much of this material is not available in other formats, making this site invaluable. Highly recommended.
University of Wisconsin Parkside