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Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (HIST376)

This guide seeks to help students locate resources that will help them examine the history of women’s (and men’s) experience in early modern Europe through multiple perspectives (e.g. social, intellectual, and religious history) as they conduct research i

Suggested Primary Sources for women in early modern Europe

Note: Most of these titles can be found through the library catalog at

A series of primary sources by and about early modern women:

  • The series “The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe” contains over 100 primary sources written by and about early modern women. Calvin own over 100 of these titles, and the others are available through MELCAT or ILL. [note: many of the MeLCat titles are electronic, therefore not loanable]. To see the titles Calvin owns, select “Other Voice in Early Modern Europe”
  • For a complete list of all titles in the series (unfortunately in two separate parts), see and (The link in Wiesner, 49, seems faulty.)

Anthologies of primary sources by and about women:

Social and legal history (anthologies of legal and documentary sources):

Sources on women on trial:

Witch trials and Inquisition trials are some of the richest sources for early modern social history. Tempel Anneke, which you have, is one great source. The collections below feature multiple trial documents.

For anthologies of sources on the witch trials, see the list on Wiesner, p. 273.

Early modern arguments about women’s roles and women’s nature:

(Also see others listed in Wiesner, 49.)

Sources by women religious thinkers and reformers:

Other Protestant women: see primary sources listed in Wiesner, p. 249. Many of the anthologies of English women listed above also contain works by Protestant women.

Sources by women in (and around) court politics:

  • Elizabeth I, Collected Works, ed. Leah Marcus (not only a great monarch, but a brilliant writer)
  • Marie and Hortense Mancini, Memoirs (from the court of Louis XIV), ed. Sarah Nelson.
  • Other French memoirists: Catherine de’ Medici; Marguerite de Valois; Charlotte Arbaleste de Mournay
  • María de Guevara, Warnings to the Kings and Advice on Restoring Spain. ed. Nieves Romero-Díaz. (ebook)

Learned women and proto-feminist authors (most of these women wrote multiple works):

  • Elisabeth of Bohemia (1618-80, granddaughter of James I of England, Princess of Bohemia), amateur philosopher and correspondent of René Descartes—see her correspondence with him, ed. Lisa Shapiro)
  • Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1624-74), memoirist and amateur scientist
  • Ana Maria van Schurman (1607-78), polymathic Dutch scholar, first woman to attend university
  • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651-95), Mexican nun, poet, playwright, social critic Reply to Sor Filotea:
  • Mary Astell (1666–1731), English philosopher and advocate of women’s education
  • Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97), mother of Mary Shelley, antagonist of Rousseau)
  • María de Zayas y Sotomayor (Spanish novelist, challenged “Golden Age” gender conventions)
  • Olympe de Gouges (Marie Gouze, 1748-93), advocate of female political rights in French Revolution

Miscellaneous (other interesting memoirs on various female lifestyles):