"Verie needfull for this time" : representations of women in sixteenth-century English prayer manuals.




Mazzola, Taylor A.

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Using three texts written by different authors, this thesis argues that sixteenth-century English prayer manuals set rigid boundaries for women by representing them in limited ways. Analyzing and comparing Thomas Becon's The Flour of Godly Praiers (1550), Thomas Bentley's The Monument of Matrones (1582), and Anne Wheathill’s A Handfull of Holesome (1584) highlights the various ways scripted prayer could confine women readers. In the intimate arena of prayer, women using these manuals would have encountered narrow categories to occupy. Becon, Bentley, and Wheathill employed gender exclusive language, presented restrictive categories, and tailored biblical examples to be proper models for Englishwomen in a changing world. These manuals have been overlooked in the study of women and religion, and this thesis aims to emphasize the importance of prayer scripts as valuable sources that show how English writers perceived and portrayed women in the sixteenth century.



Sixteenth-century England., Women., Religion., Gender., Devotional literature.