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Women Letter-Writers in Tudor England$
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James Daybell

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199259915

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199259915.001.0001

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Letters of Petition

Letters of Petition

(p.229) 9 Letters of Petition
Women Letter-Writers in Tudor England

James Daybell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter, based on over 1,000 letters of petition or suitors' letters, outlines the range of patronage suits made by women, contributing to the re-examination of women's political roles in early modern England. Focusing on women's rhetorical and epistolary skills in petitioning for favour, this chapter examines the kinds of strategies employed by women in their letters of petition that are distinct from men's letters: tropes of female weakness and fragility for strategic effect; emphasis of the plight of widows; and the duty of wives, mothers and kinswomen to intervene on behalf of family and friends. Moreover, it posits a distinctly ‘feminine’ mode of petitioning — a ‘scripted’ female voice that could be appropriated by both men and women. It is argued that correspondence of this nature indicates women's easy familiarity in using a language of patronage and ‘political friendship’, suggestive of the confidence and authority with which women operated as patrons and intermediaries.

Keywords:   letters of petition, suitors' letters, women and patronage, women's political roles, rhetorical strategies, women as patrons, women as intermediaries, scripted female voice

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