Secretaries of God

Secretaries of God

Women Prophets in Late Medieval and Early Modern England

Diane Watt





A history of women prophets from medieval saints to radical Protestants.
Diane Watt sets aside the conventional hiatus between the medieval and early modern periods in her study of women's prophecy, following the female experience from medieval sainthood to radical Protestantism. The English women prophets and visionaries whose voices are recovered here all lived between the twelfth and the seventeenth centuries and claimed, through the medium of trances and eucharistic piety, to speak for God. They include Margery Kempe and the medieval visionaries, Elizabeth Barton (the Holy Maid of Kent), the Reformation martyr Anne Askew and other godly women described in John Foxe's Acts and Monuments, and Lady Eleanor Davies as an example of a woman prophet of the Civil War. The strategies women devised to be heard and read are exposed, showing that through prophecy they were often able to intervene in the religious and political discourse of the their times: the role of God's secretary gave them the opportunity to act and speak autonomously and publicly.

Winner of Foster Watson Memorial Gift for 1998.

Professor Diane Watt is Head of the School of English and Languages, University of Surrey.

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November 1997
7 black and white illustrations
200 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780859916141
Format: Paperback
BISAC LIT011000, BIO018000
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Conceptually elegant and sharply focused book... Not onlyly modern ground-breaking, but also accessible. NOTES AND QUERIES

A powerful contribution in the general field of women's studies for thenew light it casts upon the tradition and perception of female prophecy. RECUSANT HISTORY
Sheds light on a neglected aspect of late medieval and early modern English (literary) history, that of female prophetic writings. It...represents a significant contribution to the expanding field of female religious and textual practice... Excellent account. ENGLISH
The best of the recent works on [its] subject. SIXTEENTH CENTURY JOURNAL

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