Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Dangerous Talk and Strange Behavior: Women and Popular Resistance to the Reforms of Henry VIII

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Dangerous Talk and Strange Behavior: Women and Popular Resistance to the Reforms of Henry VIII

Article excerpt

Dangerous Talk and Strange Behavior: Women and Popular Resistance to the Reforms of Henry VIll. By Sharon L. Jansen. (New York: St. Martin's Press. 1996. Pp. viii, 232. $39.95.)

This is a series of case studies of women involved in opposition to Henry VIII's proceedings in the 1530's. The particularly thorough investigations ordered by the government in these years makes such an investigation unusually possible. Margaret Cheyne, alias Lady Bulmer, was the only woman to be executed for direct involvement in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Elizabeth Barton, the "Nun of Kent," already well known as a visionary was hanged in 1534 for prophetic warnings against Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn. A Norfolk woman, Elizabeth Wood, was executed for lamenting the failure of the 1537 "Walsingham Conspiracy," and for wishing for a popular rising "with clubs and clouted shone." Mabel Brigge undertook a three-day fast, allegedly to bring about the death of the king. Professor Jansen also mentions in passing several other cases. Particularly poignant is the story of nine Cumberland women who cut down and buried the bodies of their husbands, left hanging on the gallows for several weeks;Thomas Cromwell was particularly insistent that the men he assumed to be behind this should be punished.

Jansen concludes that women of all social groups were ready to express views on religion, politics, and social issues. …

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