Fordham University

 

Home | Ancient History Sourcebook | Medieval SourcebookModern History Sourcebook | Byzantine Studies Page
Other History Sourcebooks: African | East Asian | Global | Indian | IslamicJewishLesbian and Gay | Science | Women's


Modern History


Full Texts Multimedia Additions Search Help


Selected Sources Sections Studying History Reformation Early Modern World Everyday Life Absolutism Constitutionalism Colonial North America Colonial Latin America Scientific Revolution Enlightenment Enlightened Despots American Independence French Revolution Industrial Revolution Romanticism Conservative Order Nationalism Liberalism 1848 19C Britain 19C France 19C Germany 19C Italy 19C West Europe 19C East Europe Early US US Civil War US Immigration 19C US Culture Canada Australia & New Zealand 19C Latin America Socialism Imperialism Industrial Revolution II Darwin, Freud 19C Religion World War I Russian Revolution Age of Anxiety Depression Fascism Nazism Holocaust World War II Bipolar World US Power US Society Western Europe Since 1945 Eastern Europe Since 1945 Decolonization Asia Since 1900 Africa Since 1945 Middle East Since 1945 20C Latin America Modern Social Movements Post War Western Thought Religion Since 1945 Modern Science Pop Culture 21st Century
IHSP Credits
Modern History Sourcebook:
Radical Women During the English Revolution

One of the most interesting aspects of the English Revolution of the 17th century was that it allowed popular ideas and discontents to come to light, and better, be published in forms that are still available.

Women's Petition (1649)

The Humble Petition of divers well-affected women of the Cities of London and Westminster, etc. Sheweth, that since we are assured of our creation in the image of God, and of an interest in Christ equal unto men, as also of a proportional share in the freedoms of this Commonwealth, we cannot but wonder and grieve that we should appear so despicable in your eyes, as to be thought unworthy to petition or represent our grievances to this honorable House.

Have we not an equal interest with the men of this Nation, in those liberties and securities contained in the Petition of Right, and the other good laws of the land? Are any of our lives, limbs, liberties or goods to be taken from us more than from men, but by due process of law and conviction of twelve sworn men of the neighborhood?

And can you imagine us to be so sottish or stupid, as not to perceive, or not to be sensible when daily those strong defenses of our peace and welfare are broken down, and trod under foot by force and arbitrary power?

Would you have us keep at home in our houses, when men of such faithfulness and integrity as the FOUR PRISONERS our friends in the Tower are fetched out of their beds, and forced from their houses by soldiers, to the affrighting and undoing of themselves, their wives, children and families? Are not our husbands, ourselves, our children and families by the same rule as liable to the like unjust cruelties as they? . . . Doth not the Petition of Right declare that no person ought to be judged by Law Martial (except in time of war) . . . ? And are we Christians and shall we sit still and keep at home, while such men as have borne continual testimony against the unjustice of all times, and unrighteousness of men, be picked out and delivered up to the slaughter . . . ?

No.... Let it be accounted folly, presumption ... or whatsoever in us ... we will never forsake them, nor ever cease to importune you . . for justice . . . that we, our husbands, children, friends and servants may not be liable to be thus abused, violated and butchered at men's wills and pleasures . . .

From J. O'Faolain and L Martines, Not in God's Image (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), pp. 266-267.

Some of the radical groups were the religious sects which held that women could be preachers and ministers. Mary Cary was associated with the "Fifth Monarchy" sect.

From Mary Cary. The New Jerusalem's Glory

And if there be very few men that are thus furnished with the gift of the Spirit; how few are the women! Not but that there are many godly women, many who have indeed received the Spirit: but in how small a measure is it? how weak are they? and how unable to prophesie? for it is that that I am speaking of, which this text says they shall do; which yet we see not fulfilled.... But the time is coming when this promise shall be fulfilled, and the Saints shall be abundantly filled with the spirit; and not only men, but women shall prophesie; not only aged men, but young men; not only superiours, but inferiours; not only those that have University learning, but those that have it not; even servants and handmaids..

From M. Cary, The New Jerusalem's Glory (London, 1656), p. 238.


This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.

(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997
halsall@murray.fordham.edu