A new issue of the online journal Early Modern Culture is out. It contains a special cluster on early modern women, with contributions by Maureen Quilligan on women rulers of the sixteenth century; Margaret Ferguson on women’s illicit work in Aphra Behn’s “The Adventure of the Black Lady”; and Jill P. Ingram on Isabella Whitney and the mock testament tradition.
Maureen Quilligan’s article on female rulers of the sixteenth century asks whether the two female queens ruling England and France ever thought about the problems they shared as queens. “Is it possible to think of them not merely as women who happened, by dynastic accidents, to reign, but as women rulers who in the midst of those reigns carved out active political programs, knowing their shared royal female prerogatives depended, to some degree, on the achievements of each other?”
That this might have been the case appears from a fascinating quotation culled from a volume of poetry by Pierre Ronsard, sent in 1565 from Catherine de MÃ©dicis to Queen Elizabeth. The work is a clear rebuttal of John Knox’s earlier The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women:
For truly, that which the kings of France and England, powerful in arms, wearied by business, advised in council, did not know how to do by long war, surprise, faction and siege, two queens, most wise and virtuous, as if by a miracle, not only undertook but perfected: showing by such a magnanimous act, how the female sex, although denied rule, is by its generous nature completely worthy of command.