This article argues that specific features among the early Jacobean Catholic community enabled a reevaluation of the obedience owed by wives to their hus- bands and of the household-state analogy. At the forefront of this development was a new category of Catholic “collapsed ladies” who actively rejected state Protestantism. Such women were potentially disruptive in a period in which the stability of the household-state analogy was being tested by recusancy and by scrupulous interpretations of the Oath of Allegiance. From a loyalist perspective, and building on Catholic understandings of reason, conscience, and humanist education, it was possible in 1609 for a female-voiced manuscript to corrode the idea that a man’s status in the state depended on how he governed his wife, and that a wife was subject to her husband in matters of conscience. The manuscript writer’s assumed location in St .-Omer suggests a possible connection with Mary Ward and her circle.
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