Negotiating Earthly and Spiritual Duty: Female Martyrs and their Families in Tudor England

Szeptycki, Charlotte (2016) Negotiating Earthly and Spiritual Duty: Female Martyrs and their Families in Tudor England. Masters thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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The institution of the family was integral to the identity of all women in Tudor England. Yet the familial duties of some of the most noteworthy women have been neglected. These include sixty women who perished in the flames of the Marian persecution. This thesis offers a new insight into women’s roles, in this era, by treating female martyrs and confessors as wives, mothers, daughters and sisters. These radical and unruly women would never have been accepted as God’s witnesses if their martyrologist, John Foxe (1516/17-1587), had not moulded them into unremarkable but dutiful housewives. The families of female martyrs could be greatly affected by a female relative’s willingness to die for her faith. Children of martyrs could be inspired to follow in their mother’s footsteps and husbands to stay steadfast in their beliefs. Some of the consequences of a mother and wife’s religious deviance could also be fatal for their family and forever tarnish their reputation. Such women were cast as the new Eves of society by their confessional adversaries. Familial bonds could operate as support networks for female martyrs. By analysing Foxe’s Protestant martyrology alongside martyr’s letters, family advice manuals and Catholic critiques, this thesis demonstrates that a persecuted woman’s familial roles and relationships had to be carefully balanced alongside her spiritual obligations. Women forced to prioritise their devotion to a reformist religion over their familial duties could only do so because they were invested with God’s power. A woman’s martyrdom could be enhanced if she could be proved, in Foxe’s Acts and Monuments, to have cared for her family to the best of her ability before being called to martyrdom.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Female martyrs, England; Religious martyrs, England; Tudor England
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2017 14:02
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:55

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