ShareThe nuns taught the girls how to examine their consciences and recount their faults to a confessor. The priest had the power of absolution, but it was the nuns who ensured that the sacrament of penance took place and was effective. In my novel, the heroine, Claire Donet has made a vow to a dying girl to become a nun and worries much about the penance she may be required to pay because of her feelings for the handsome Captain Simon Powell. But, as the Mother Superior taught Claire, the Ursulines believed that holiness was achieved not be retreating from the challenges of an imperfect world, but by going into that world and meeting those challenges armed with knowledge.Since the convent schools in France were primarily for the daughters of the French nobility and the wealthy, the girls might have been taught some mathematics along with reading, writing, Bible instruction, needlework, art and music. Art would have included art appreciation, not just learning to draw and paint. Writing classes would focus on not only on the development of a graceful hand, but the proper forms of address and the proper construction of well thought out and effective letters.
At all times there would have been an emphasis on deportment, etiquette and the social graces. In the formal sense of education, this would have been extended to include development of menus, the proper way to set the table and other things a lady would be expected to know to run her own household. (At one point, the hero in my story is disappointed to learn the heroine cannot cook.) (Read more.)