Women and Politics in the 17th Century

Podcast
Professor Edward Vallance
The Resolution of the Women of London to the Parliament, 1642 - British Library

In this podcast Edward Vallance, Professor of Early Modern British Political Culture at the University of Roehampton, discusses women and politics in the 17th century. 

The podcast starts by looking at the general view during the Early Modern period that women's sphere should be limited to the home, owing to beliefs about the difference between men's and women's nature and physiology. It then goes on to show that in practice, many women were actually politically involved at this time, for example by petitioning parliament. Professor Valance explores the contribution and consequences of the English Civil War in bringing about an increase to the involvement of women in politics. The podcast concludes by looking at the differences between these earlier petitioners and campaigners and their counterparts in the later suffrage movement.

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1. Why was it generally thought at this time that it was not appropriate for women to be involved in politics?
2. In what ways were women involved in politics in the early 17th century?
3. How did the civil war change women’s involvement in politics?
4. Were there any lasting consequences of their increased involvement?
5. Are there any problems with seeing these women as ‘proto-feminists’?