This paper studies a shift in conceptions and responsibilities of maternity during the English Reformation, 1550-1650. A focus on interpersonal family life pushes against and complicates traditional views of the Reformation, and a social historiographical lens furthers this agenda and grants perspective to how certain aspects of religious reform changed the rules of motherhood. In seeking to answer questions about the effects of this new religion on women and family life, it becomes evident that there was an obsession with correcting and directing maternity from a wide variety of authorities, including mothers, medical intellectuals, and members of the clergy; what they all had in common was use of scripture and Biblical virtues to direct and justify their arguments. There becomes apparent a new emphasis on the intersection of family and religion during this time period, beginning with the abandonment of Catholic celibacy ideals and resulting in new pressures on maternity and the family, and their interactions with questions of morality and female agency.

First Advisor

Professor Poppy Fry

Second Advisor

Professor Katherine Smith

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in History

Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2017