‘An Amazonian Heroickess’: The Military Leadership of Queen Henrietta Maria in Margaret Cavendish's <em>Bell in Campo</em> (1662)
During the English Civil War, Queen Henrietta Maria’s (1609-1669) active involvement in her husband’s, and therefore her own, political party’s defense served as both a model and mirror for Royalist women across the country. Some women were left alone to take defensive measures on the home front, while other women participated in more organized offensive fronts. The queen’s public example of female heroics during the Civil War put her at the head of a scattered league of women privately taking action in defense of their homes and towns and in support of their husbands. In the wake of important, yet I argue, potentially misleading recent scholarship on Henrietta Maria, this essay endeavors to broaden our understanding of her participation in the Civil War and the public’s reception of those efforts through the literary representation of the queen in the writings of Margaret Cavendish. First, the essay will examine Queen Henrietta Maria’s correspondence to find, what I demonstrate to be, the energetic presentation of herself as a true and willing Cavalier Woman, and second, this study will discuss how that public image and the fundamental Royalist political philosophy of divine patriarchalism are endorsed, rehearsed and revised in Margaret Cavendish’s page play Bell in Campo.
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