Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

What is apostasy?

Apostasy is the term for when monks and nuns leave their religious houses without permission. Watch Dr Sethina Watson explain more.

When a monk or a nun left their religious house without explicit permission, this was called ‘apostasy’.

In this video, Dr Sethina Watson explains how the laws of the medieval Church condemned apostasy, the serious consequences for apostates, and some of the reasons why nuns chose to risk those consequences by leaving their nunneries.

Over to you

If you were in the position of a nun in late medieval York, would you choose to stay in your nunnery or take the risk of being an apostate, and why?

Please share your comments with colleagues using the Comment function

This article is from the free online

Discover the Hidden History of York

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now