Women’s experience of violence and suffering as represented in loyalist accounts of the English Civil War

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Abstract

This paper investigates attitudes to gender and agency engendered by the English Civil Wars, by considering the depiction of women’s responses to violence in letters describing the experiences of loyalist clerical families during the wars. Although most were written by men, by embracing a concept of authorship including both written accounts and oral narratives by women embedded in male-authored accounts, over a hundred accounts are found to have some female attribution. In male-authored accounts, the persecution of loyalists is often purposefully articulated via women’s experiences, with a focus on the sufferings of mothers linked to contemporary depictions of the English church as a mother. These accounts promote ideas of female passivity in the face of violence. Female authors place a more positive construction on women’s experiences, often reversing the balance of power between males and females and rarely depicting women as victims, preferring examples of successful female agency and resourcefulness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0
Pages (from-to)1136-1156
Number of pages21
JournalWomen’s History Review
Volume28
Issue number7
Early online date6 Jun 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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