'Blessed, Self-denying, Lambe-like'?

The Fifth Monarchist Women

in Critical Survey
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  • 1 University of Sheffield m.nevitt@sheffield.ac.uk
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For those early modernists who come to the millenarian culture of mid seventeenth-century England via Bernard Capp’s seminal The Fifth Monarchy Men, it may be some surprise to discover that, of all the non-aristocratic women writing in England at this time, it was actually those associated with the millenarian Fifth Monarchist movement who received most contemporary attention. Anna Trapnel and Mary Cary are among the most prolific writers of the late 1640s and 1650s, who (according to all short title catalogues) have some thirteen extensive printed works to their names, a figure virtually unmatched by any writer of the same sex, or from the same non-aristocratic social background in the period. Despite being a less-famed figure than Anna Trapnel, Mary Cary’s exegetical works were widely read and accordingly went into numerous editions. In 1649, the anonymous author of The Account Audited claims to have seen the title page of the first edition of Cary’s The Resurrection of the Witnesses (1648) ‘posted up’ at a bookseller’s in London. When the author acquires the treatise, it is read with ‘much greediness and expectation’, only for disappointment to follow due to the work’s historical inaccuracies. These aside, the fact that the author felt it worthwhile to offer the account as a response to Cary’s pamphlet, attests to Cary’s growing – if largely unacknowledged – popularity at the end of the 1640s.

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