Dangerous Talk and Strange Behaviour

Women and Popular Resistance to the Reforms of Henry VIII
Jansen, Sharon L.
Date published: 
October 1996

Dangerous Talk and Strange Behaviour focuses on the cases of several women charged with treason, while exploring the roles women played during the religious, political, institutional and social turmoil of early sixteenth-century England. Despite their differences, each of these women's 'crimes' might best be called 'dangerous talk and strange behaviour': Margaret Cheyne was executed for the part she played in a failed rebellion; Elizabeth Barton, for her prophecies against the King's divorce; Elizabeth Wood, for spreading 'treasonous rumours' about the King; and Mabel Brigge, for a 'black fast' she somehow directed against the King. Because many of the extant records for women's political activities are incomplete, the wider discussion of the types of political activities women undertook is organized around the particular stories, used as detailed case-studies, of these 'criminal' women. The book explores particular women's acts of protest and resistance and analyzes how, why, and when these sorts of actions were judged to threaten the peace and order of the realm.