History, Department of


Date of this Version

Winter 2008


Published in Renaissance Quarterly, Volume 61, Number 4, Winter 2008, pp. 1366-1367; DOI: 10.1353/ren.0.0269 Copyright © 2001 Renaissance Society of America; published by The University of Chicago Press. Used by permission.


Sharon Jansen is a historian who has published a number of fine books, including Dangerous Talk and Strange Behavior: Women and Popular Resistance to the Reforms of Henry VIII and, of particular interest to this review, The Monstrous Regiment of Women: Female Rulers in Early Modern Europe, a book that examined the strong women who ruled in a variety of fashions, as regnant or regent. She begins her current book, Debating Women, describing being in the British Library in 1996 doing research on her Monstrous Regiment book. For background she read widely on the debate about nature and ability in the early modern period. More than a decade later, as Hillary Clinton began her run for the presidency and people today began to wonder about the question of could a woman rule, Jansen decided to go back to that research and write a book that centered on the gynecocracy debate and what it meant for questions of politics and power in early modern Europe. As she points out, though John Knox wrote his First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women centuries ago, people today still debate the question of women and power. ... Jansen’s book is beautifully written and accessible not only to scholars but to a general readership. Its greatest use would be to students, so we can only hope that an affordable paperback edition becomes available.

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