Gemma Betros

Gemma Betros

WSRP Research Associate 2012–13

Home institution

Australian National University

Research project

Sacred Liberty: The Nuns of Paris, the French Revolution, and Napoleon

This project examines the suppression of female religious communities in Paris during the French Revolution and their revival under Napoleon. Based on extensive archival research, it reconstructs the development and impact of revolutionary policy to offer crucial new insights into the relationship among politics, religion, and gender.

WSRP lecture

Gender and the Suppression of Convents during the French Revolution, 1789-1801


HDS 2110: Power, Politics, and the Female Religious Life (Spring 2013)


Gemma Betros is Lecturer in Modern European History at the Australian National University. She graduated from the University of Queensland with first-class honors in history and completed her master's and PhD at the University of Cambridge, where she was a student at Peterhouse. As a graduate student, she was awarded the Clare Evans Prize by the Women's History Network and the Michael Kennedy Prize by the Ecclesiastical History Society for work based on her PhD research into the suppression of convents during the French Revolution. Recent research interests include representations of Catholicism in the work of French novelist Adélaïde de Souza (1761-1836) and the Parisian convent of the Nouvelles Catholiques, dedicated to the conversion of Protestant women in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France. She is also working on a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte for Routledge's Historical Biographies series.

During her time as a Research Associate with the Women's Studies in Religion Program, Betros will be adapting her PhD for publication as a monograph. This book will examine the suppression of female religious communities in Paris during the French Revolution and their partial revival under Napoleon Bonaparte. Based on an extensive range of archival material, it reconstructs the development, implementation, and impact of revolutionary and Napoleonic policy concerning female religious communities and their members, offering new insights into the relationship between politics, religion, gender, and society in this period.

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