Feroli 2006

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Feroli, Teresa. Political Speaking Justified: Women Prophets and the English Revolution. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2006.


the women prophets are not, as they are sometimes portrayed, a group of unhinged and freewheeling ecstatics. They did not write into a void, but, like so many writers before and since, they sought to remake their world and themselves using the materials of received literary traditions. Theirs is a radicalism born not of 'an irruption of female speech' but of a reconfiguring existing literatures to serve their political agenda." (17-18)
"Perhaps the most significant indicator of the strength of this movement is the number of texts the women prophets produced. According to Elaine Hobby, well 'over half the texts published by women between 1649 and 1688 were prophecies.'" (18)

300 active female visionaries in 1640s and 1650s according to Phyllis Mack

between 1641 to 1660, 50 women prophets produced roughly 156 published treatises (19)

"Given that only 39 female-authored first editions of any genre appeared in the first forty years of the seventeenth century, the women prophets' publishing record represents a major milestone in women's literary history. ... Simply put, the position of women prophets within the history of women's writing in England is pivotal." (19)

female prophets consulted by rulers

"The female visionaries were both the first major group of women to insist on their right to participate in political discourse and the first socially diverse group to do so." (20)
"Given women's general exclusion from the public sphere tout court, what enabled a significant number of women to prophesy and publish their visions? The first answer is that they could. In 1641, the Long Parliament eased censorship restrictions and thereby made it possible for both male and female visionaries to publish their words." (21)
"Beyond the legal changes that gave women the opportunity to publish tracts on issues of political import, the revolutionary era created a sense of urgency that spurred many women to assume non-traditional roles." (21)

In the Name of the Father: Divine Right and Women's Rights

"The idea of divine right together with Lady Eleanor's admiration for James plays a central role in the way she constitutes her prophetic identity. This is most apparent in her early tracts of 1625 to 1641. Representing a small but crucial part of her oeuvre, Lady Eleanor's early trats illustrate how she invokes James to create her political signature as a prophet. She begins by amenting James's death and memorializing him as a prophet-king who shares with her an intimate tie to the Word. Over time, however, she makes his the voice that calls her to prophesy. James i no longer merely an inspired king but the embodiment of divinity itself. So powerful is the memory of James that it plays a second role in shaping her prophetic authority. By identifying his daughter Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, and not Charles as James' heir, Lady Eleannor begins to imagine herself, the dauggher of a noble father, as the heir to the power and privilege associated with her patronymic. In so doing, she counters her contemporaries' dim view of female inheritance rights and confers the capacity to share in the power of the father's name on the broad category of daughters as well as the daughters of kings." (37)
"Aligned with patriarchy yet advancing a model of female authority, her work marks the earliest stages in the emergence of female political self-consciousness." (37)

"catalogues the multiple sins of her enemy Archbishop Laud" (39)

"repeatedly returning to and developing furhter images she has used previously" -- like Harmonies (39)

"Lady Eleanor's mourning for James resembles that of the Hebrew prophet Isaiah who replaces the secular presence of a beloved king with a vision of the face of God." (40)

James as "ideal muse of his son's reign. She holds James up to his newly crowned heir, Charles, as an example of the best kind of monarch and dedicates her exegesis of the last six books of Daniel to the new king in the hopes that he, like his father, will serve as the 'Defender of the Faith'." (40)

A paraphrase upon the revelation of the Apostle S. John -- conflating the voice of the king and the apostle

"By appropriating the 'I' of John as a means of interpreting Revelation, James links prophetic and monarchical authority to assert, effectively, that his 'Paraphrase is the oney trew and certaine exposition of' John." (42)
"While Lady Eleanor imagines the roles of prophets and kings as overlapping, she still maintains that each accedes to power through distinct means. Kings, in her view and that of James, receive authority through lineal descent." (42)

anagram JAMES, CHARLES, -- ARE MICHAELSS; without James, Charles does not become Michael

Eleanor hopes Charles will be the "Pure Image" of his "Maker"; "Ultimately, Charles will fail her, but she will transfer her portrait of his noble paternity to herself to claim that her father's aristocratic status underwrites her prophetic authority." (43)

Charles as Christ

"Although she marvels at the potential capacity of the 'Arts' of printing and navigation to convert the heathen, she implies that the achievements of 'expert men' pale before hers which marks 'the time of the end.'" (45)

Eleanor self-presents as an inspired reader of Scripture (45)

scriptural exegesis, numerology, anagrams; "total immanence of God in language"

"Because Lady Eleanor was clearly devoted to close study of the Word, her use of anagrams can also be seen as linking her to radical Protestant modes of legitimation." (47)
"The paradox of Lady Eleanor is that although she holds fast to traditional forms of apocalyptic writing and political authority, she emerges as one of the most truly visionary prophets of her generation." (48)
"AS someone who reworks old materials, Lady Eleanor can hardly be deemed an innovative thinker yet it is for precisely this reason that she so eloquently articulates the temper of her times." (48) -- bricoleur
"In All the kings, she responds to the censure she received in the years following the publication of 'Warning by aligning her prophetic authoirty with both the word of God and the word of the deceased monarch, James. SHe comes to denounce Charles's authority by representing her calling as filling the vacuum of power created by his father's death. Because she fails to find James's likeness in his son, she makes his daughter, Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, the dedicatee of her commentary on the visions of Daniel and the legatee of the dead king's theological agenda." (49)
"By 1633, the optimism about the new king's reign, that in Warning had found her celebrating her special knowledge of Daniel as one of the great achievements of her age, had been replaced by the suffering such knowledge brings." (52)
"In her role as the daughter of a powerful father, Elizabeth serves as a medium for bringing Lady Eleanor to James. Through Elizabeth, Lady Eleanor effectively expands James's paternity by mergin it with divine fatherhood. As a result, James is no longer her colleague but the inspiration for her career." (53)
"Once Lady Eleanor ascribes James's image to God, she can begin to imagine her prophetic authority in political terms. Charles may have recieved the right to rule from his father, but Lady Eleanor acquires the right to prophesy from the amalgamation of a kingly and heavenly father. Although James may not have wanted a female prophet to authorize herself through him, he certainly would have appreciated Lady Eleanor for so strongly identifying his power with that of God." (54)

justifies her prophetic authority in political terms (56)

"identify her prophetic authority in terms of her father's name" (56)

"However, in a seemingly counterproductive act, she politicizes her prophetic authority in terms of aristocratic privilege in a text that denounces the king's legitimacy." (57)
"For Lady Eleanor, Charles's reign must end in order that Christ's reign might begin." (59)
"Lady Eleanor's account of her all flies in the face of orthodox Protestantism first by creating a space for women among Revelation's chosen and second by denouncing the virtues of matrimony. ... Again and again, Lady Eleanor appeals to essences and origins because she views female power as residing in woman's essential and originary bond to the father." (65)
"Within the context of the divine command, virginity emerges as a trope through which women can lay claim to the sacred authority inherent in the 'Father's name written in their foreheads'." (67)
"Lady Eleanor produces a notion of virgin power that paradoxically couches hostility toward male authority in patriarchal terms. By identifying herself as her father's daughter, she appears to be paying a kind of homage to George Touchet. Yet her antipathy toward her first husband Davies's authority over her articulates an unwillingness to obey the man her father has selected to govern her." (67)
"By identifying herself through the trope of virgin daughterhood, Lady Eleanor attempts to choose her subjectivity to patriarchal power. She repudiates her status as an object to be exchanged between two men, opting instead to view herself as one who can inherit power and property. Ultimately, she celebrates her father's name and her virgin daughterhood in order to resist the ways patriarchy, through marriage, subjects women." (67)