Fortress Press

Women Reformers of Early Modern Europe: Profiles, Texts, and Contexts

Women Reformers of Early Modern Europe

Profiles, Texts, and Contexts

Kirsi I. Stjerna (Editor)


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Women Reformers of Early Modern Europe provides an expansive view of women negotiating their faith, voice, and agency in the religious and cultural scene of the sixteenth-century reformations. Women from different geographic contexts (Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Holland, and Scandinavia) and from a broad spectrum of vocations and social standings are highlighted along with examples of their original writings in English translation (in some cases brand new).

An international, interdisciplinary cohort of over thirty scholars provide cutting-edge scholarship on women, religion, and gender in the sixteenth-century reformation context. Chapters interpret historical sources relevant to the women in question and provide original material for a deeper understanding of each woman's specific negotiations about her faith and religious preferences, as well as about her specific options--as a woman.

Most of the women in the book left a written record, providing a valuable window into women's spirituality and theology. Gender questions are engaged throughout the chapters that provide irrefutable evidence of women's essential roles in the reception and implementation of the Protestant confessions. An important voice comes from women who defended their right to profess Catholic faith.

Thematic articles enhance the analysis of the roles, experiences, and contributions of individual women in different contexts and positions vis-à-vis reformation teachings. Women stand out as writers, theologians, historians, biblical interpreters, publishers, hymnwriters, rulers, pastoral care givers, defenders of justice, "heretics," rebels, midwives, mothers, and friends.

The tone of the volume is scholarly but invites a broad spectrum of readers who have varying levels of background knowledge. It is especially suitable as a textbook or as a reference guide in different disciplines (reformation studies, church history, theological history, gender scholarship, early modern and sixteenth-century studies; and language studies).

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506468716
  • eBook ISBN 9781506468723
  • Dimensions 7.25 x 9.25
  • Pages 395
  • Publication Date October 4, 2022


"Women Reformers of Early Modern Europe is a superb introduction to the way women shaped and were shaped by the Reformation. Its interdisciplinary approach and its broad chronological and geographical scope combine to shed new light on how women actively supported--and in some cases vigorously opposed--Protestant teachings. This volume will be the new starting point for anyone interested in the role of women in early modern religious reform."

Amy Nelson Burnett, Varner Professor of History, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

"Several decades after the Great Realignment began--the project of integrating women's voices into our history--we now see the harvest for the era of the Reformation: a full and complex portrait of women's participation in the Protestant movement in all its principal European centers. With his characteristic wisdom and energy, Roland Bainton launched the endeavor with three volumes on Women of the Reformation (1971, 1975, 1977). Now Kirsi Stjerna, assembling an impressive international cast of thirty-four experts, has completed that enterprise. The contributors to Women Reformers of Early Modern Europe, in brief but meaty biographical and thematic studies with accompanying textual excerpts, splendidly bring to life women readers of the Bible, challengers (and some defenders) of orthodoxy, wives and mothers, and leaders and rulers, in one indispensable volume."

Margaret L. King, professor of history emerita, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, and editor in chief, Oxford Bibliographies Renaissance/Reformation (Oxford University Press)

"Women Reformers of Early Modern Europe brings women from the periphery to the center of Reformation studies, as prominent scholars from an array of disciplines provide insightful analyses of women's contributions and complex reactions to the Reformation. Chapters include biographical information, thoughtful analysis, translated texts, and up-to-date bibliographies that make this collection accessible and useful to students and scholars alike."

Allyson M. Poska, professor of history, University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia, and the author of four books, including Gendered Crossings: Women and Migration in the Spanish Empire (University of New Mexico Press, 2016), winner of the 2017 best book prize from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women

"A hidden history detected: Spread over Europe, women wrote for reformation, fought for it, and also resisted. Some of them are well known, some known only by specialists. This volume presents them all, name by name, in articles, profound and vivid, written by leading experts. It's a treasure chest for all who are eager to gain a consummate view on the Reformation."

Volker Leppin, Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology, Yale Divinity School, and author of Martin Luther: A Late Medieval Life

"Kirsi Stjerna has brought together a group of top-notch scholars in this exciting volume that pushes the field to continue the process of seeing the Reformation as more than the work of the best-known male leaders and should be a must-read for students and scholars alike. The essays reflect the rich developments that have shaped our understanding of women's participation in the Reformation since Roland Bainton's Women of the Reformation volumes of the 1970s. Based on deep knowledge of their sources and subjects, the contributors to this volume bring individual early modern women to life for readers and demonstrate that without the contributions and experiences of women, our story of the Reformation is incomplete."

Karen E. Sperling, professor of history and Inaugural John and Heath Faraci Endowed Professor, Department of History, Denison University

"An excellent and much-needed collection for everyone interested in the European Reformation."

Scott Hendrix, emeritus professor of Reformation History, Princeton Theological Seminary