Arthur Capel, 1st Baron Capel, and his Family
(c. 1641). Cornelius Johnson.
Lady Mary Wroth, with archlute, artist unknown.
The image represents the poet Mary Wroth (
8, 1.1451) in a conventional pose and role, holding the archlute, which indicates that she has been educated in the graceful arts (besides instrumental music, singing, dancing, French, fine needlework) that an aristocratic woman was expected to know. But the massive archlute, emblem of song-making, also points to her Sidney heritage — as niece of the poets Sir Philip Sidney and the Countess of Pembroke, and as daughter of Sir Robert Sidney of Penshurst, also a poet — and to her own distinctly unconventional role as female poet. In short, the image points to the normative gender and social roles for women and men, and the contests about those norms, that loom large in the literature of the early seventeenth century.
From George Wither's
A Collection of Emblems
The image of the husband beating his wife with a rod is from a French engraving by Abraham Bosse (ca. 1640). The wife kneels before the husband as a penitent, and her children do also, as if begging mercy for her.
A lady of Caroline England. From Wenceslaus Hollar's
A countrywoman. From Wenceslaus Hollar's
(1658) by Michael Wright.
From an early seventeenth-century collection of costumes at the time of James I. Here, as the gentleman and the lady of the household play cards with their guests, a servingman brings them dishes of food.
Portrait of Robert Sidney (1563), circa 1588. Artist unknown.
Portrait of Lady Sidney and six of her children. Marcus Gheeraerts.
Penshurst Place, Kent (South Front).
The West Front, Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent. The country house of Richard Sackville, Earl of Dorset, and his wife Anne (Clifford).
Belcamp, The "Great Picture" of the Clifford Family.
The formal picture of Elizabeth Cary is a wash drawing by Athow, from a painting by Paul Van Somer.
Milton's views on Divorce became an object of persistent attack in his own day, and he was sometimes satirized as the founder of a sect, Miltonists or Divorcers. This engraving, from
A Catalogue of the Severall Sects and Opinions
(1646), associates a sect of Divorcers with other notorious heresies and moral outcasts of the day. The image represents as a cruel driving out what Milton represents as a charitable relief of psychic suffering.
Top of page
Religious and Legal Norms
The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony,
The Book of Common Prayer
T. E. (?),
The Law's Resolutions of Women's Rights
John Dod and Robert Cleaver,
A Godly Form of Household Government
The English Hus-wife
The English Gentlewoman
The Servant's Duty
A Plain and Familiar Exhortation of the Ten Commandments
The Mother's Blessing
The Sidneys of Penshurst
Lady Sidney and Her Children
Letters from Robert Sidney to Barbara
The Sackvilles of Knole
The Clifford Family "Great Picture"
Anne Clifford's Diary for 1616–19
Contesting Cultural Norms
Education of Women
- The Lady Falkland
- The Life of Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson
John Milton, The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce
Women's Public Speech
- The Petition of Divers Well-Affected Women
- Margaret Fell,
Women's Speaking Justified