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Journal > Volumes > 41 (2010) / 1 (Spring)
Gender, Obedience, and Authority in Sixteenth-Century Women’s Letters
James Daybell
University of Plymouth, UK

This article examines obedience and authority through the lens of sixteenth-century women’s correspondence as a way of unlocking the gendered nature of deferential behavioral codes and social attitudes in early modern England. Above all, it is interested in looking at women’s status and place within the household, the ways in which familial relationships (and indeed the writing of letters) could encourage the formation of habits of submissiveness and furnish individuals with a language of subordination as well as sponsor ties of familial loyalty which privileged the collective interests of the family over those of the individual. Conversely, it demonstrates how social position might bequeath women significant power and influence both within the family and on the wider political stage and generate respect for legitimate female authority more broadly.

Pages: 49 - 67