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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Loretta

Date of birth unknown; d. circa 1266, Hackington, England

Loretta, the daughter of Baron William de Briouze, became the countess of Leicester in 1196 through marriage. She was widowed in 1205. A few years later, her family took a precipitate fall from royal favor. Her mother and brother were imprisoned in Windsor Castle, where they starved to death, and her father died a political refugee in France. In 1207, Loretta’s estate was confiscated by the king and she seems to have exiled to France. Upon her return to England in 1214, her land was restored on the condition that she not remarry without the king’s consent. To retain a modicum of independence, in 1219 she took a vow of chastity and retired to the abbey at Hackington near Canterbury, where she lived as an anchoress (recluse) until her death.