Katherine of Aragon : a "pioneer of women's education"? : humanism and women's education in early sixteenth century England : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand

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In 1548, Eaton School headmaster Nicolas Udall stated that “it was now a common thing to see young virgins so trained in the study of good letters, that they willingly set all other vain pastimes at naught, for learning sake.”1 What led to English women becoming educated enough to garner such an observation? The purpose of this study is to consider the changing attitudes towards the education of women that began with a proliferation of works written on the subject, by humanist scholars in 1520s England. It will be shown that during the 1520s a burgeoning number of works featuring theories on female learning were produced primarily in reaction to the need to educate Princess Mary as the only heir to the throne. As the driving force behind the writing of many of these works, Katherine of Aragon has been called “a pioneer of female education in England”. It will be considered whether this label is accurate and what other influences affected female education. This research will also provide an overview on the effects of these flourishing views on female education and how women were showing their learning in practice through iconography, book ownership and the writing activities that women engaged in.
Catharine of Aragon, Queen, consort of Henry VIII, King of England, 1485-1536 Influence, Women, Education, History, 16th century, Social life and customs, England