Publication Date



Tudor England, women, sex and gender bias


In Tudor histories, perhaps more than in other histories, writers have failed to distinguish, as Judith Shapiro has pointed out with reference to anthropological literature, "consistently between the sex bias emanating from the observer and the sex bias characteristic of the community under study.” The sex and gender bias of early modern society was, of course, pervasive and ubiquitous. Prescriptive works instructed women to confine their activities to domestic and family matters. Even as litigators in the courts of law, they were disadvantaged. Generally defining women as the inferior sex, their male contemporaries judged women’s worth by their chastity, silence, piety, obedience, and household efficiency and accused them of being garrulous, materialistic, and driven by lustful intentions.