Date of Award

9-1997

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Supervisor

J.D. Alsop

Language

English

Abstract

With the Reformation the female centres of worship, such as convents and beguine communities, disappeared in England; consequently focus was placed upon the household as an integral centre for the expression of early modem English women's devotion and piety. Primary sources categorize the manifestation of Tudor and early Stuart women's piety into public and private faces. Devotional, conduct, commemorative literature and their representations stress the inherent necessity of being pious. Employing examples of virtuous contemporary women and biblical figures, writers and clergy emphasised the necessary qualities for imitation. Diaries, autobiographical journals and godly correspondence underlined the virtues lauded in the prescriptive literature. Recording their godly regimes, women such as Lady Margaret Hoby stressed the inseparability between domestic/household responsibilities and acts of piety. A regime of piety furnished women with a legitimate means of expressing their religiosity. While personal meditations provided and individualised rendering of women's expressions of spirituality. These very personal invocations to God were self-reflective and pensive, capturing some early modem English women's desire and need to comprehend the intrinsic complexities of their intimate relationship with God. John Foxe's Act and Monuments, on the other side of the spectrum, affords a more active rendering of women's spirituality. His accounts portray obstinate, yet constant Protestant women willing to suffer the pains of martyrdom for their zealous devotion to God. Although sources are not representative of all early modem English women, they do allow historians a glimpse into the spiritual world of Tudor and early Stuart women, a growing field of interest.

McMaster University Library

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