Scholars have fiercely debated the causes of the English Civil Wars and the rise of anti-monarchical and republican thought a century before the American Revolution. This ambitious and highly original book is the first to argue that women played a significant role in formulating and enacting English republican precepts. Even as feminists contend that republicanism's division of the private from the public sphere excluded women from political power, Gillespie demonstrates how seventeenth-century Englishwomen articulated republicanism's key insight: meaningful action, political or otherwise, does and should take place outside the purview of government, in spheres that not only include women, but that women helped construct. Drawing on the works of six women writers of the period, the book examines their writings and explores the key themes and concepts that they build upon.
Katharine Gillespie teaches at Miami University and is a pioneer in studies of seventeenth-century English women writers who participated in religious and political dissent from the crown and established church. Gillespie's research demonstrates the need to work across such disciplines as literature, religion, economics, and political philosophy in order to fully take the measure of early modern women writers' contributions to social movements and intellectual histories.
Introduction; 1. Eleanor Davies, fifth monarchism, and the early liberal critique of tyranny; 2. Brilliana Harley, neo-stoicism, and republican motherhood in the Civil Wars; 3. Isabella Twysden and Hobbesian skepticism in the Commonwealth; 4. Anne Bradstreet's humoralism in the New England; 5. Anne Venn and seekerism in the late English republic; 6. Lucy Hutchinson, hermeticism, and republicanism in the Restoration; Conclusion.