Date of Completion


Embargo Period


Major Advisor

Kenneth Gouwens

Associate Advisor

Judith Meyer

Associate Advisor

Brendan Kane

Field of Study


Open Access

Campus Access


This study examines how the intellectual culture of English and Spanish women was shaped by the warfare and bellicosity pervasive in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe. In addition to holding highly belligerent worldviews, English and Spanish women writers expressed militaristic ideals and war-related imagery and rhetoric in complex and multifarious ways in their writing. Their conception of warfare itself was also multifaceted. While they certainly understood and described warfare in national and international contexts, they conceptualized war and militarism in both confessional and spiritual terms as well. These women’s notions of warfare, along with their militant perspectives, inspired them to shape some of the most important events and developments in early modern England and Spain: the English Reformation, religious reform in Counter-Reformation Spain, and the Anglo-Spanish conflicts of the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries.

To evaluate English and Spanish women’s ideas about war, their thoughts concerning their own roles in war, and the extent of their militancy in certain contexts, I conduct a comparative analysis of all their writings, concentrating on those texts that have war-related imagery and language and that express martial values. Specifically, I examine the writings of four women: Queen Katherine Parr (1512-1548), St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), and Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza (1566-1614). All four women were prolific writers who wrote extensively about war, and each played an active and critical role in the broader religio-political conflicts of the sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries.