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Carme Font Paz

‘The Cure of the Kingdome’:
Defending Female Authorship in Elizabeth Poole’s A Vision (1648)


A Vision: Wherein is Manifested the Disease and Cure of the Kingdome (1648) is Elizabeth Poole's account of the prophecies she delivered before Cromwell and the Puritan Army's General Council as they debated the regicide of Charles I at the end of the first English Civil War in 1648-49. In her "message", Poole invokes the analogy between king and husband to advise the Army officers not to execute the "head" of their "body"; however, she gives this analogy a radical twist when she adds that the Council should divorce the king instead since he'd violated the terms of his "marriage" by behaving abusively and tyrannically. While the circumstances surrounding Poole's participation in the Whitehall deliberations are unclear, her appearance represents a rare case of a woman's direct involvement in the mid-seventeenth-century discussions of the scope and legitimacy of government.

My paper will discuss the reception of Elizabeth Poole’s text by her contemporaries, as seen in her own defence of her right to writing and relaying her divinely inspired opinion in print. Poole’s friend Elizabeth Pendarves, who also supports Poole in print against the charges of female "impropriety", constitutes an early example of female networking and the articulation of a modern notion of (female) authorship.

At the same time, this paper will interrogate the channels of transmission and reception of early modern women’s writing by looking at the Calendar of State Papers, which informed of Poole’s public appearances, as well as Baptist Sectarian writing and the independent press, which commented on prophetic writing and Poole’s appearances and written tracts.

AsK, September 2012

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