Category Archives: Women’s history

Books History Politics Women's history

Notes from How Was It For You: Women, Sex, Love and Power in the 1960s by Virginia Nicholson


P. 89 – 1962

“Pain, humiliation, pride, regret, liberation, confusion: for women they were all part of the package, at a time when the sands were shifting fast, and a tide of sexual change was threatening to submerge the familiar moral landscape. 

And – here too – bias, intolerance, hatred, exclusion and injustice came with the deal. It wasn’t till later in the decade that someone found a word that summed up these attitudes: sexism.”

[Pauline M Leet, who contributed a paper entitled ‘Women and the Undergraduate’ to a student forum held in a Pennsylvania college, appears to have originated the term ‘sexism’, in November 1965.”

P. 105

Cuban missile crisis

“Sophie’s sense of apocalyptic hopelessness is echoed in many other accounts, such as that by Zena, a Cardiff schoolgirl:

“I was 14 at the time.. Someone burst into the classroom, exclaiming ‘Russia and America are at nuclear war!” In the hubbub that followed, I sat silent and can now recall the desolation I experienced that my family and friends (and I) would perish, with lives unlived and words unexpressed…”

P. 190 1965 “the traditional understanding of of sin and virtue was on the wane. The rising motion was that centuries of guilt, repression, shame, prohibition, stuffiness and double standards were being replaced by a new age of honesty, openness, spontaneity, empowerment and sexual freedom. In the era of op art, and the Wilson government’s ‘white heat’ of technology from which would emerge a newly forged Britain, the new freedoms appeared to be correspondingly black, white and streamlined.”

P. 192 “The Knack, also 1965, starring Rita Tushingham, was the tawdry, slapstick tale of Nancy, an out of town ingenue who became the object of desire for three misogynistic flatmates. The films ends with a disturbing sequence in which Nancy is portrayed as an unhinged singleton having rape delusions; the blokes, of course, are merely having ‘a bit of fun’. ‘Girls don’t get raped unless they want it,’ said one of them. The Knack’s director won the 1965 Palme d’Or at Cannes… Woody Allen’s hugely successful male wish fulfilment screenplay for What’s New, Pussycat? – a fantasy about a man besieged by lust-crazed females who all want to trap him into marriage – could have won an Oscar for its commodification of women.”

P. 193 Shrimpton’s public appearance at the Melbourne races, bare-legged in a mini-dress with no hat or gloves, provoked a press furore”

P. 210

“A glance through almost any generic women’s magazine mid-decade reveals the social aspirations of the mainstream middle-class wife… dinner parties were a minefield of taste and taxonomy: what cutlery to use for your avocado vinaigrette, which glass to drink your whisky from, what to talk about; how to serve coq au vin, trifle or Camembert with crackers… social rigidities were as coagulated as the chocolate mousse… Since it was first introduced into the UK in 1962, the Tupperware party had been a fixture on the young-wife circuit.”

P. 220

Jenny Diski; “Most women who lived through the early and late Sixties whether as political molls or psychedelic chicks can recall that they were mostly of ornamental, sexual, domestic or secretarial value to the men striking out for radical shores. The Left was never known for its willingness to embrace gender equality, but no more were the ‘heads’ r the entrepreneurs of the counterculture.”

P221 

The culture of male control was not confined to rich, powerful celebrities. The divorce courts highlighted extreme cases like that of a Mr Kenneth Cox who objected strenuously when his wife Dorothy became involved with a local Girl Guide and Brownie group. Having already prohibited Dorothy from getting a job, the dictatorial Xoc now refused to let her anywhere hear the Girl Guides. He also tried to force her to have sex. But both parties’ pleas for a divorce on the grounds of cruelty were rejected by the judge. Male jealousy and ownership of women were seen as legitimate.”

P. 222 “The journalist Virginia Ironside… “For women, it was absolutely grisly… I remember the sixties as an endless round of miserable promiscuity. It often seemed easier and, believe it or not, more polite, to sleep with a man than to chuck him out of your flat.’ And worse was to come. But in 1965 there was no solidarity, no channel and no vocabulary with which to express discontent. The sexual power struggle was still in its infancy.”

P. 257

“Far from being a hotbed of clever talk about feminism and the sisterhood, social life at university was … a cut-and-thrust competition to attract men. Sophie felt alienated by the idea of equality for women: … I thought about women as rivals and enemies and I actually thought that women were slightly inferior. The cool people to be with were the men. I didn’t want to be hanging around with a load of women…. I learnt to be quite good at pretending to be stupider than I was. So, I could still get high grades, and at the same time I could flirt with the blokes and seem unthreatening.”

P. 263 Juliet Mitchell wrote The Longest Revolution when she was 25 years old… draws on historical, anthropological and sociological strands of Marxist thinking to question and explain women as workers, as family members, as mothers, as partners and as fully contributing human beings: one half of the human race. Women were not, she reminded her readers, a minority, but fundamental to human existence… The ‘true’ woman and the ‘true family are images of peace and plenty: in actuality they may both be sites of violence and despair.”

P. 360 “The starry, romantic egotisme-a-deux of the 1960s is permeated with the ideal of coupledom… By the mid-1960s, 96% of women aged 45 were married. Almost half of those women had found a husband by the age of 21. And the days of parental intervention in their daughters’ choices were over, with comedienne Joyce Grenfell catching the 1969 mood: “Daddy and I are delighted that you are going to marry a middle-aged Portugese conjurer, darling. Bur are you sure he will make you happy?”

P. 409 1970 “the Family Planning Association finally changed its rules to allow contraceptive advice to be given to unmarried women. They also, in 1970, commissioned the poster that brought fame to everyone concerned, portraying a man in a jersey whose repentant expression and swollen tummy hardly needed its inspired caption: “would you be more careful if it was you that got pregnant?”

At the beginning of the decade, nearly 60% of girls who had been asked their opinions of pre-marital sex in a psychological survey considered that it was ‘Always wrong’. By 1970 that figure had dropped to under 15%.

Books History Women's history

Notes from Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700-1839, by Briony McDonagh

p. 25 “there is considerable uncertainty about the actual scale of women’s property ownership. A handful of studies have used rentals and leases to examine female landholding within small groups of manors or parishes. Jane Whittle, for example, demonstrated that female tenants rarely made up more than 10% of landholders on her four north-east Norfolk manors in the 15th and 16th century. Other studies of medieval landholding suggest that women made up between about 12 and 18% of tenants. Amanda Capern has demonstrated that women – most of women were widowed or single – made up 15% of leaseholders on the Jervaiux lands in North Yorkshire between 1600 and 1800, while Sylvia Seeliger has suggested that female tenants held up to 1/5 of the land in many Hampshire parishes between the mid-16th and mid-19th centuries. Yet far less is known about the proportion of land owned – as opposed to tenanted – by women.

It is exactly this deficit that the remainder of the chapter sets out to remedy, exploring the issue of women’s landownership using a large sample of date from the parliamentary enclosure awards.

p. 26/7 “of the 250,000 acres catalogued here, almost 26,000 acres were owned by female landowners, that is 10. 3% of the land in the sample owned by a woman, either alone or jointly with one or more other parties. Female landowners were, moreover, a relative commonplace within rural communities up and down the country. As the data makes, clear, not only was more than one in 10 acres owned by a woman, but female landowners existed in the vast majority of the sample parishes….it seems likely that somewhere in excess of 3 million acres in England were owned by women in the later 18th century and more than 6 million acres in Great Britain as a whole. The tally of female landowners – great and small 0 almost certainly ran into the tens of thousands and perhaps reached upwards of six figures.”

p. 40 While the involvement of middle-class women in business accounting has been increasingly acknowledged in recent years, the contribution of elite women to estate accounting has received far less attention. Yet some elite women kept very detailed estate accounts, rentals and ledgers. One such woman was Lady Elizabeth Dryden, a moderately wealthy widow who managed the Canons Ashby estate in Northamptonshire between 1770 and 1791. Despite an avowed dislike of writing letters, the accounts are written in her hand and cover the entire period of her management. In one book she recorded her annual outgoings against her yearly income, including her tenants’ rents and the sums she raised from the sale of underwood, bark and hay from the home farm and woods. Another book for the same period was organised by tenant rather than by year, and recorded the rents paid to her on a half-yearly basis, along with various memoranda concerning their tenancies. Her writing became increasingly untidy as she grew older … we know from a letter written to her niece that she suffered a stroke in 1790 and the shaky, almost illegible handwriting of the final year’s entry demonstrates that she wrote it after her stroke. This is testimony to Dryden’s sheer determination to record and audit the estate finances, but also definitive evidence that she kept her own accounts rather than relying on her steward.”

p. 41 “Elizabeth Hood of Butleigh Wootton (Somerset) kept the accounts for her modest estate not just as a widow but also as a young unmarried woman and a wife. Aged just 18, Wood inherited the Wootton estate from her father John Periam (d. 1788) and later married Alexander Hood, a captain in the Royal Navy who was killed in command of the HMS Mars six years later. The estate was a relatively small one: in 1806 the rentals brought her just over £1,000 a year, plus smaller sums for bark, corn and livestock and regular dividends from her funds in stocks. The core of the estate inherited from her father amounted to no more than 600 acres in 772, but Hood spent more than £11,000 purchasing land and houses in the neighbourhood, and her son’s portion of the estate amounted to nearly 1,700 acres in 1846. She was thus at the lower reaches of the gentry. .. Entries in the account book suggest that she had begun to keep the accounts prior to her father’s death in late 1788 … probably reflects her father’s failing health, but presumably also the desire by an elderly estate owner  – Periam was then 74 – to ensure his young heiress knew how to manage the estate… Her only brother had died before her own birth and Hood was brought up as the heiress to the estate, but we can only guess exactly what lessons her father provided for her. She was sent to Wells School from the age of 10 .. sometime later Hood wrote on the front cover of the account book, perhaps reflecting the lessons taught her as a young women:

Keep your accounts clear,

Throughout the year;

Let no mistake be made,

Either in paying, or pay’d.”

p. 79

“Lady Elizabeth Monoux was said by Arthur Young to be responsible for introducing improvements following the enclosure of wastes and warrens on an estate belonging to her husband at Sandy (Bedfordshire). The parish was enclosed in 1804 under an act of 1798, and both the act and the award recognised Sir Philip Monoux as the landowner. Yet [Arthur] Young attributed the improvements to his wide, noting that Sir Philip’s estate was ‘entirely under the management of Lady Monoux, who takes much pleasure in husbandry’. She had planted several parcels of the newly enclosed warren with oats and achieved excellent yields with the need to marl, limr or manure the land. In the previous year, Young also reported that she was growing Lucerne on portions of the the new enclosures, again with good results. The Lucerne was used as fodder for horses and was said to be ‘a very fine crop’ which over 20 weeks produced a yield valued at more than £9 n acre after the labour. Young praised ‘the agricultural talents on the intelligent farmeress” and her “very great exertions”.

p. 89 Elizabeth Illive, wrote at least one article for the Annals of Agriculture. “Also known as ‘Mrs Wyngham’, Ilive was the mistress of the third earl of Egremont, chatelaine at Petworth House (Sussex) and later countess of Egremont. Her origins are obscure and nothing is known of her early education, though she certainly had access to the large library of agricultural periodicals at Petworth House and probably also discussed agriculture with the earl – himself a keen agricultural improver – and his many visitors. In her 1797 article in the Annals, she described her experiments growing potatoes on land she had rented, making a careful study of the effect different methods of planting had on yields. Her work was underpinned by rigorous scientific method and demonstrated the value of planting the shoots removed from the chitted potatoes. The article appeared anonymously, the earl apparently having refused to allow her name to appear, though it is unclear if this was because of her gender or her unusual social position as his live-in mistress. [Arthur] Young commented specifically on Ilive’s piece, noting that she as an ‘ingenious lady’ and the article was ‘highly satisfactory, and proves clearly that the method detailed is of real importance.

The potato trials were not Ilive’s only scientific venture. Young – a regular visitor of the earl’s – also brought her equipment for the laboratory at Petworth House and taught her how to use it. In early 1796 she wrote to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce describing a new method of using levers to raise large weights. Her letter – which included both a diagram and a model – outlined how the workmen on the estate ‘all approve of it very much,’ though she also hinted there had been some laughter at Petworth about her invention, at least initially. Her letter was apparently well received at the Society and the Mechanics Committee awarded her the silver medal in May 1796, the first woman to receive a medal from a scientific section of the Society, though others had previously won for Polite Arts. She was by then heavily pregnant with her seventh child and did not receive the medal in person, instead nominating the Society’s president Samuel More to collect it for her.”

p. 118 The most substantial programme of activities aimed at improving the lives of the poor was probably that undertaken by Elizabeth Prowse at Wicken (Northamptonshire) from the late 1760s onwards.. involved in a range of charitable activities both on her estate and beyond it. Some of this giving was irregular and ad hoc. Examples include providing five of her tenants with medicine after they were bitten by a rabid cat in 1776, helping one of her gardeners get sober and repay his debts, and finding apprenticeships and jobs for her coachman’s seven children when he suddenly left after being discovered ‘making money in what he had no right to do so’. She also made small gifts of money and clothes to villagers, local children and unnamed paupers, all of which were recorded in her pocket expenses. Such charitable acts were primarily reactive rather than proactive, but Prowse was also involved in a number of philanthropic projects which aimed to improve living conditions and educational achievements amongst the poorest Wicken residents in a much more systematic way… while undoubtedly a committed agricultural improver… Prowse was neveretheless uneasy about some of the things her predecessors on the estate had done in the name of progress. She was also aware that the social and economic costs of enclosure and estate improvement were often borne disproportionaely by the poorest in society. Her religious upbringing, staunchly Anglican beliefs and contacts with London Evangelicals and anti-slavery campaigners though her brother Graville Sharp no doubt played a part in shaping her attitudes towards farming, improvement and the poor, as did a close reading of Nathaniel Kent’s General View of the Agriculture of the County of Norfolk. Like Kent – whose Hints to Gentlemen of Landed Property she bought in 1775 and whom she probably met in Fulham in the winter of 1791 – Prowse seems to have recognised agricultural labourers as the very ‘nerves and sinews’ of rural society without whom ‘the richest soil is not worth owning’.

“Soon after acquiring the estate, Prowse embarked on a programme of repairs and improvements to the estate cottages. She paid for the cottages to be rethatched and glazed, and may also have installed water pumps in some of the cottages, as she did in the tenant farms … Prowse was paying for the cottagers’ children to attend a school in the village from at least 1768. She may have founded the school and certainly contri8buted significant sums to the running costs: in the mid-1770s she spent more than £30 a year on the schoolmasters’ wages along with clothes and shoes for the children, which together accounted for between about a third and a half of all spending in the cottage accounts. There were then at least 12 ‘charity boys’ in attendances, as well as several girls who were taught to make lace and cloth.. Prowse was also involved in establishing an early Sunday school at Wicken, which was first held in the spring of 1788. .. she continued to support both the day and the Sunday schools postmortem with the gift of a share in the Grand Junctions Canal Company, which by the 1830s contributed about £10 a year to the running costs.

p. 119 “Prowse … was concerned to provide locally available and affordable foodstuffs to her tenants … very little of the produce from the home farm was sold at the market. Instead, most of it was used in the house or sold locally, either to the village butcher or direct to the tenant farmers and labourers… sold meat and cheese to the poor at a subsidised price.. She sold a beef cow to the poor every winder at 2d a pound and in 1783 gave them the meat for here ‘it having been a hard winter for them’. She also sold firewood from the estate woodlands to the village poor, presumably again at a subsidised rate. Much of this activity was focused in the winter months, when conditions were at their harshest. Importantly, this was also the season Prowse spent in London and it is clear that she sought to improve conditions for the poor even whilst in the capital, something which Jessica Gerard argues was unusual amongst country-house women whose charitable hand-outs were not normally a year-round benefit to the rural poor.”

p. 123 “elite women .. might actively involve themselves in parliamentary politics, whether by controlling voters on their estates, by directly canvassing for particular candidates or by hosting political meetings and debates. One of the most straightforward ways … was to canvas their tenants and attempt to control their votes, either by only installing tenants whose political allegiance was already known or by evicting – or threatening to evict – those who voted against their wishes. Anne Lister worked hard to try to establish an interest at Halifax, suggesting names for Tory candidates to the head of the local selection committee, directly canvassing voters – both by letter and in person – and refusing to let her land to anyone but ‘blue tenants’. ”Regardless of their sex, most landowners expected to direct their tenants’ votes. Yet the moral case for tenants complying with the landowner’s wishes was arguably greater in the case of propertied women: as Lister wrote in her diaries, the tenants of properties women were doubly obliged to vote with their landlady, who was herself unable to vote and whose political views ‘would otherwise not be represented at all’.

Books History Women's history

Notes from Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War

p. 34 It is, moreover, notable that women appear to have played a significant role in literature and learning throughout the period, whether as recipients of complex and challenging Latin works, such as Aldhelm’s twin work in both prose and verse on virginity, sent to the nuns of Barking, or as teachers of ppetry and producers of their own verse, such as Eadburh, abbess if Minister-in-Thanet (d. 751) and her younger contemporaries Leofgyth and Berhtgyth, both of whom have left poems associated with Boniface’s mission to Germania. Powerful women in the late 7th century also fostered learning and literature in the north, notably Abbess Hild of Whitby (614-680), whose monastery was the setting, Bede says, of the first Christian poetry in traditional Old English metre, by the illiterate cowherd Caedmon. Bede is uncharacteristically shy  about asserting that Caedmon reported his first faltering verses to Hild herself, and it seems likely that the supposed event took place in the time of her successors, Eanflaed (d. c. 685) or Aelflaed (654-714), respectively the sister and niece of King Aldfrith of Northumbria (r. 685-705), who himself had a well-documented interest in verse in several languages, including both Latin and Irish.”

Books Environmental politics History Politics Women's history

Notes from Reproduction: Antiquity to the Present Day

Fascinating, broad-ranging study

p. 67 “Aristotle … the crucial contrast between ancient and modern here is one of approach, not invention, as the Politics expounds an essentially ‘open’ form of population thinking, which emerged from a world comprising a multiplicity of autonomous city-states of varying size and constitution, unlike the ‘closed’ model of the 19th-century European nation-state. Fertility and mortality, the two cornerstones of modern demography, play a minor role in Aristotle’s considerations because, for him, mobility and shifting patterns of membership were the main shapers of any community.”

p. 71 “Plato decreed that his ideal polis should contain 5,040 citizen farmers, male heads of landed households….Aristotle’s Politics … took exception to the size of Magneia’s population. The territory required to sustain such a multitude of people is impossibly vast, he alleged. But Aristotle’s objections .. were not just practical. A key point of his programme is that in measuring the greatness of a polis, biggest is not best. Greatness is about happiness and prosperity, which is produced by effectiveness, not numbers.”

Exhibit 3

“one of the most influential and enduring ideas in the history of generation and reproduction: that one’s birth circumstances can shape the course of one’s life. This powerful and alluring concept developed in Babylonia and eventually spread far across Eurasia thanks to influential proponents such as Ptolemy in the Roman Empire, al-Biruni in the medieval Islamic world and Sacrobosco in the Latin West .. Babylonian scholars began reading the gods’ intentions in the night sky in the third millennium BC. For around 2,000 years after that, celestial divination was exclusively a method for ruulers to check that their actions and intentions met with divine favour; the gods did not concern themselves with the fate of individuals. However, in 484BC, the Persian king Darius severed royal ties with the Babylonian intelligentsia after a political revolt, and scholars had to find new clients, new sources of income and prestige. Over the next few decades, a radical reconceptualization of the night sky took place that enabled individual destinies to be foretold. The two earliest extant horoscopes both date to 410BC, and by 400BC, give or take five years, the constellations on the eclipse – the path of the moon – had become 12 zodiacal signs of exactly equal sizes. They bear essentially the same names today as they did then.”

p. 253 In the era before the 19th-century rise of national statistics, we find a conception of population that was more attentive to the heterogeneity of sub-populations and its importance. Early modern population thinking did not standardize populations, nor pretend to treat them equally. Distinctive histories and political, cultural and religious differences were recognized to shape what numerical information should be collected, on which groups, and its interpretation. From the 16th or the early 19th century, balancing the heterogeneity of memberships making up the population of a state was a fundamental ground of the form and legitimacy of government, and of arguments for democracy…it reminds us of a fruitful way of thinking about aggregate properties of societies and states, different from the one we now take for granted. Its open, bottom-up reasoning about human numbers focused on how sub-populations are formed, sustained and compromised in relation to others and to wider forces.”

p. 321 “forceps, according to Aveling, prompted a sudden increase in man-midwifery, including lecture courses on obstetrics for male practitioners, lying-in hospitals staffed by men; and men attending route births. The boom was swiftly met by criticism, often centred on the threat to women’s modesty… upon closer examination cannot bear the full weight of the shift from female to male birth attendants. Sarah Stone, practicising in Bristol in the 1720s, complained about all the anatomically trained man-midwives in business. “For dissecting the Dead, and being just and tender to the Living, are vastly different.” The Chamberlens had no disciples in the city in this period, so forceps were not the reason that Bristol matrons started routinely hiring man-midives. Second, man-midwives did not always advocate the new technology.. Third .. the Camberlen family mobilized not one new technology, but three: the Vectis, the filley and the forceps… Wilson suggests that the most fundamental shift was not technological but mental: the idea that a surgeon had a role in the delivery of a living baby.”

p. 332 – suggests part of a shift of a number of professions from female to male, e.g. alewives, as economic opportunities developed and also “a somewhat peculiar version of a bigger project: the Enlightenment attempt to improve the life chances of mothers and babies.”

p. 345 “During the 18th-century debates about population, doctors, clergymen, mathematicians, government bureaucrats and others developed methods which drew on a wide range of public and private records to quantify features of populations. These numerical techniques were part of a general effort to ameliorate suffering and death, and they stimulated comparisons, which in turn contributed to the new statistical idea of population and the role of reproduction in determining its size. At the beginning of the 19th-century, in the wake of the French Revolution and Malthus’s Essay, governments began to institute civil registration of births, deaths and marriages, as well as regular census, thus providing more uniform and inclusive accounts of the national population.”

p. 633 “Often misread as a technological determinist who overstated the role of biological sex difference in her call for ‘control of human fertility’, Firestone is more accurately understood as a theorist of consciousness. Among the first to articulate the principle that reproduction is neither outside history nor inside the body, Ifrestone argued that the social organisation of reproduction, rather than biological destiny, determined not only female but human potential.”

p. 635 Far from becoming free individuals within a new economy of contractual labour, modern science and medicine reinforced women’s subjugation to a sexual division of labour allegedly based in natural fact. Activities which have never been inherently debilitating – pregnancy is not a disease, childcare can be shared and maternity if not incompatible with paid employment – were redefined for many (not all) modern women in terms of biological destin6y, thus justifying their sequestration as wives and mothers within the timeless sphere of domesticity.”

p. 637 “from a feminist point of view, the possibility of theorizing identity, status, classificatory systems, kinship, ritual, language and group organisation as social technologies offered the important possibility of accounting for reproductive causality by means other than physiology… social organisation not only plays a causal role in the determination of reproductive outcomes, but must be seen as constitutive of reproductivity itself.”

p. 350 “The story of the ‘nuptiality valve’ in western Europe before 1850 is now familiar, with a sizeable component of women’s reproductive capacity under-exploited or unexploited because of the relatively late age of marriage, and a significant number of women never marrying. It has frequently been asserted that this nuptiality pattern acted as a safety vale in the creation of demographic homeostasis… if mortality is assumed to have been unstable… nuptiality must e the principle ‘driver’ of fertility. France in the period c. 1650-1800 exemplifies such n interrelationship. A demographic equilibrium continually re-established itself, despite disturbances large initiated by epidemics… for much of the late 17th and 18th centuries, the number of hearths in the Paris basin barely changed at all… demographers use the concept of an agricultural holding or craft workshop as fulfilling a function analogous to that of a territory in a bird population in which a new breeding pair I allowed to establish itself only once a next is vacated”

Books Early modern history History Women's history

Notes from Queenship at the Renaissance Courts of Britain: Catherine of Aragon and Margaret Tudor: 1503 to 1533 by Michelle L Beer

Page 60  in the summer of 1520 Catherine of Aragon had to navigate one of the most difficult ceremonial events of her political career,  the Field of Cloth of Gold. this famous meeting of the English and French monarchs and their royal Courts in a field in Northern France  was designed by Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII’s chief minister, to cement the Anglo-French alliance that formed the heart of his planning for a European-wide peace.  Catherine however the meeting with the French as a threat to English friendship with her own dynasty, headed by her nephew Charles V King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor.  As queen, she could not publicly oppose her husband’s intentions to meet the French, so she had to work within the ritual framework of court spectacle in order to express her opposition and propose an alternative alliance …  clothing and appearance took on a heightened importance during this event, especially as the French and English courts to outdo each other by displaying their taste, wealth and ingenuity.”



Page 73  Henry VIII and James IV were masters of royal spectacle and the reigns were high points for the participation of women in court entertainment and sociability.  while both promoted royal power through magnificence spectacle and pageantry the most successful expressions of majesty required the Queen to be by their side…..  as young active monarchs both kings were frequently at the centre of these entertainment often featuring in pageants, dances and tournaments designed to exhibit the kings’ own skill as well as  entertain ambassadors and noble visitors at their courts. Catherine and Margaret participated in these revels as the honoured audience for their husbands’ exploits, and the rivers were important in forming a strong royal partnership.

page 74  in May 1517 Katherine and Margaret performed a public and deliberately staged into session before Henry VIII when they pleaded for the lives of a group of London Apprentice Boys who were about to be executed for the part in the evil May Day riots full stop this act may have earned Catherine lasting Fame as a champion of the London poor,  and it was certainly a calculated decision by Catherine and Margaret to adopt a more active role on this occasion. years earlier, Margaret had repeatedly tried to intervene with her husband before the Battle of Flodden, pleading with him not to lead his forces in person. Both Queen’s understood how to modulate their public roles- active and passive –  to suit their own agenda

page 75 the adoption of the Burgundian-style tournaments in England and Scotland  in the later years of the 15th century been became important opportunities for queens like Catherine or Margaret to contribute to the magnificence of their husbands’ monarchy.  in particular, the fashion for a lovely stage tournament requires a new degree of participation by the Queen and her ladies. developed at the courts of Rene of Anjou and the dukes of Burgundy in the fifteenth century,  tournaments featuring a dramatic plot and elaborate costumes were favoured by monarchs across Europe, including Henry VII, Henry VIII and James IV. Above all, these Productions require the presence of a lady (the queen)  in order to fulfill their dramatic plots, which were ‘ a predetermined romantic Saga which was always to find its hero and heroine in the King and his consort’.

page 76  Catherine’s important role is the inspiration and validation of her husband’s chivalric prowess was publicly noted and celebrated at the English court.  a Tudor Carol written in Catherine voice proclaims the Kings prowess in the tournament and demonstrates the relationship between between the Queen and her Lord in the chivalric tradition:…  although the author of the lyrics and the census of its performance is unknown, the addressee of the poem is the King and the speaker is Catherine. the song may have been performed as part of the festivities after the tournament perhaps even by Catherine or,  more likely, buy one of her ladies.”

Page 81  the Queen and her ladies …  it was crucial that they understood how to participate in games of courtly love and chivalric play. … lack of participation in such events,  either through disinterest or misunderstanding, could seriously damage the relationship between the King and his wife. Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne of Cleves got off to a rocky start when he visited her in disguise before the wedding,  and she ignored him. During his marriage to Catherine, Henry frequently wore a mask to hide his identity while participating in court entertainments, and Catherine’s correct identification of him as the king proved his natural superiority.”

Page 100  in pre-modern Europe queens had access to patronage available through their own not in substantial resources and through the relationship with their husbands.  for instance, Anne of Brittany, independent ruler of Brittany and queen consort of France, is an extreme example of the dual opportunities available to Queen’s as patrons,  Esso patronage could be accomplished through the independent Resources as Duchess of Brittany or who royal access as Queen of France…. in the 17th century Henrietta Maria, consort of Charles I of England,  collaborated with her husband over the artistic patronage for which he is famous.

Page 112  Catherine and Margaret also use gifts of clothing to reward members of their husbands’ households.  Margaret seems to have been particularly fond of William Dunbar, James’s court poet who celebrated her marriage in 1503 with the poem “The Thrissil and the Rois”.   Many of Dunbar’s poems are set in the Queen’s chamber or in the company of the Queen, and they paint a lively picture of life in the Queen’s household. it is therefore unsurprising that Margaret would wish to reward the poet with the gift of a doublet from her Wardrobe.

Page 117 as the New King Henry VIII wrote to his new father-in-law Ferdinand,  it was ‘ very desirable’ to unite English and Spanish families through marriage.  Henry was referring to The Marriage of one of Catherine’s ladies, Ines de Vanegas( sometimes anglicised to Agnes),  who married William Blount, Lord Mountjoy, in 1509.Ines had served Catherine since 1500, and probably knew the Queen for far longer through her mother,  who has been Catherine’s nurse since 1495. … she was likely an asset to Mountjoy in his diplomatic service to Spain.”

Books History Women's history

Notes from Female Authorship, Patronage and Translation in Late Medieval France, by Annelise Pollock Renck

p. 29 To highlight their roles in the creation of these texts while again asserting their authority, medieval writers called attention to their talents as readers, In so doing, these medieval writers not only reinforced their reliability as interpreters of ancient auctores and thus used the weight of these earlier writers’ auctoritas, but also established individual identities, by effectively saying ‘I, personally, am a better reader than others’.

For example, Deborah McGrady’s discussion of Christine de Pizan shows how a 15th-century writer laid out her interpretative prowess as a reader of the Roman de la Rose and beyond in order to prove herself worthy of being read. Asserting one’s greater skill as a reader broke from Christian churchly tradition based on Augustinian truth, wherein all interpretations were accepted, because all of them were readings of the truth that comes directly from God. This emphasis on readerly skill worked, paradoxically, to establish writerly mastery: not of original texts, per se, but of texts made by individuals rather than by the ancients, the Christian community, or by God himself.

Vernacular writers deployed multiple textual and visual cues to assert this individuality. For example, a writer might use the frist-person pronoun ‘je’ to underline personal agency. By saying ‘I wrote’. ‘I compiled’ or ‘I read’, writers highlighted their existence and their participation in the process of reading, interpretation and finally writing…. A common trope in the Middle Ages was that of the author’s nightly writing, based on the vern ‘verillier’, many authors claim that they worked on their texts all night, thus underlining their personal role in its creation. This claim is not so much a way of asserting originality, but rather brings to the fore the many hands at work in medieval textual creation.”

p. 57 the iconography in 15th-century medieval Books of Hours advance an image of Mary as a reader that linked female religious devotion with the act of reading. These manuscripts contributed to a socialization of the viewing subject that asserted the acceptability and even desirability of female readership as well as female literacy and education.”

p. 64 “It was Christine de Pizan who constructed one of the first conceptions of female authorship. She did so by constantly calling attention to her own identity as female writer, crafting her own literary authority, and positioning herself in the pose of reading or writing in the numerous manuscripts whose production she oversaw. Throughout all three of these processes, Chrstine drew upon Christian doctrine repeatedly, tapping into the cultural background between female literacy and devotion already at work in the Book of Hours.”

p. 77 [Antoine Dufour’s Vie Des Femmes Delebres – which used Boccaccio’s c. 1362 De mulieribus Claris and Jacopo Filippo Foresti’s De pluramis Claris selectisque mulieribus of 1497] ]  “Antoine Verard’s 1493 printed edition ultimately reveals three aspects of the context in which famous-women biographies were printed. First, the anonymous translator, like Antoine Dufour after him, specifies that his text is meant for women, thus indicating that there was a substantial female readership in late medieval France – or at least that either the anonymous translator or Verard believed this to be the case. Second, we can infer that either the publisher Verard or the anonymous translator (or perhaps, both) viewed Anne de Bretagne’s political and social influence on their intended audience to be expansive enough to motivate the dedication of their edition to her. Third, by stating explicitly that his text is meant to defend women, the writer of the dedication enters into a dialogue about the virtues and vices of the female sex, thereby underlining for us the debate’s cultural relevancy at the turn of the 16th century. Finally, we can note the shift from Boccaccio’s writing to instruct women in 1392 to the Verard translator’s claim to defend them in 1493.”

p. 169 Anne de Graville is known to have read both male-authored querelle texts and Christine de Pizan’s works, assimilating these rhetorical and visual models into her own literary output.. Marguerite de Navarre read Christine de Pizan and grew up under the tutelage of her mother, Louise de Savoie… represent a contingent of women  who became authors in no small part due to their educational milieu and their exposure to Christine de Pizan’s works and those of the male translators studied in this book. … Pernetter du Guillet and her work reach outside of court circles and into a context of print readership in Lyon… Louise Labe, like Pernetter, also stood outside the more royal milieu surrounding Anne and Marguerite; yet, she also assimilated Christine’s call to write into her own address to female readers and the works of 15th-century male translators into her poetic voice.”