Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (4.08 MB)

Elizabeth of Hardwick and epistolary negotiations : | author: Madeline Chatfield.: noblewomen and sixteenth-century English politics

Download (4.08 MB)
posted on 2022-03-29, 02:50 authored by Madeline Chatfield
This thesis analyses the ways in which English noblewomen used epistolary conventions and letter-writing to engage as agents in the political sphere of sixteenth-century England. It provides a long-term historical context to current discourses, both public and scholarly, about the place and function of women as actors in the political sphere. This thesis presents a case study of one English noblewoman, Elizabeth of Hardwick, whose life marked a gradual ascent from the landed gentry to the heights of the English aristocracy, and who remains one of Tudor England’s most prolific letter writers. Through a close reading of Elizabeth’s correspondence, this thesis will demonstrate how it was possible for noblewomen toact as political agents in sixteenth-century England while simultaneously being historically disenfranchised individuals. I argue that Elizabeth of Hardwick utilised epistolary conventions such as gendered appeals to motherhood and textual structures based on the Ciceronian tradition of public political language in letters to members of her social network to maintain powerful political connections and to exert influence upon institutional political processes.


Table of Contents

Introduction. “Experience hath declared them to be…lacking the spirit of counsel and regiment”: the question of women and politics -- Chapter One. “Nature doth paints them to be weak, frail, impatient, feeble and foolish”: Elizabeth of Hardwick, homosocial relationships and the institutional sphere of Tudor politics -- Chapter Two. “To my very goode frend”: client-patronage networks of authority, noblewomen and the informal political sphere -- Chapter Three. “Charles Cavendishe hath so good & loving a wife, a rare & precious Iewell”: marriage, a currency of political power -- Conclusion. Onwards: the arbitrary divide between gender history and political history.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 67-70

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Department, Centre or School

Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Nicholas Scott Baker


Copyright Madeline Chatfield. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (iii, 70 pages)

Former Identifiers