ALMYGHTY God the maker & nou­risher of all thyn­ges, the Father and goodnesse of both male and fe­male, of hys great bountyfulnes, hath create mankynde lyke vnto hym selfe, he made them man and woman.Gen. 1. The diuersitie of which two kyndes, standeth onely in the sondry situation of the bodily partes, in whiche the vse of generati­on requireth a necessary differēce, He hath giuen but one similitude and lykenes of the sowle, to bothe male and female, betwene whose sowles there is noo maner dyffe­rence [Page] of kynd. The woman hathe that same mynd that a man hath, that same reason and speche, she gothe to the same ende of blysful­nes, where shall be noo exception of kynde.Luc. 20. For after the euangeli­call truthe,Marc. 12. they that ryse in theyr owne proper kynde,Matt. 22. shall not vse the offyce of theyr kynde, but the lykenes of angelles is promysed vnto theym. And thus betwene man and woman by substance of the soule, one hath no higher pre­emynence of nobylytye aboue the other, but both of them natural­ly haue equall libertie of dignitie and worthynesse. But all other thynges, the which be in man, be­sydes the dyuyne substance of the sowle, in those thynges the excel­lente and noble womanheed in a maner infynytely dothe excell the [Page] rude grosse kynd of men, the whi­che thyng we shall playnly proue to be true, not with counterfayte and fayre flatteryng wordes, nor also with the subtyll sophimes of Logike, wherwith many sophi­sters were wont to blynde and de­ceyue men, but by the auctorytye of moste excellent auctours, and true writers of historys, and with manifest reasons, yea with the te­stimonies of holye scrypture, and by the ordynances and constitu­tions of lawes.

¶Fyrst to enter into this matter the womā is made so muche more excellent than man, in howe mo­che the name that she hathe recey­ued, is more excellente than hys. For Adam soundeth Erthe, but Eua is interpretate lyfe: and as moche as the lyfe doth excel erth. [Page] so moche the woman is to be pre­ferred aboue the man. Nor there is no cause why this shulde be called a feble argumēt, to gyue iugement of thynges by the names.

For we knowe, that the hyghe ar­tyficer and maker of thinges and names, fyrst dyd knowe the thyn­ges, before he named them, which for as moch as he could not be deceyued, for thys purpose he made the names, that it myght expresse the nature, propertye, and vse of the thynge. For the trouthe of antyque names is suche, as the veraye Romayne lawes testyfye, that the selfe names are consonāt to the thinges, and manifest significations of them. Therfore an argument of the names of thinges amonges dyuynes and lawyars, is of greate weyghte. As we rede [Page] written of Nabal, after his name is a fole, and folyshenes is with him. Of this Paule in hys Epi­stle to the Hebrewes,Hebr. 1. purposynge to shewe the excellency of Chryste vseth this argument, sayeng: that he is made as moch more excellēt than the aungels, as he hath enherited a name more excellente than they. And in an other place, God hath gyuen hym a name,Phil. 2. the whi­che is aboue al names, that in the name of Iesu, euery knee shall bowe both of thynges in heauen, of thynges vpon earth & of thyn­ges vnder theearth. Further (this thynge to approue) there is no smal strengthe of lawes, compre­hended and conteyned in the bon­des of wordes, in signification of wordes, in conditions and demonstrations, in conditions annexed, [Page] and suche other kyndes of dyspu­tations, and highe poyntes, and tytles of the lawe, as in the same tytles, and other lyke, a man may perceyue. For soo we make argu­mente and reasons in the lawe of the interpretation of the name, also of the strength of the word and vocable. Moreouer, of the inter­pretation of the name, and also of the dyfynytion, and composition and order of the worde. For the lawes theym selfes do quyckelye and sharpely consyder the signifi­cations of the names, that of thē they myghte some thynge inter­pretate.

¶Also Cyprian againste the Ie­wes argueth,Cyprl. de montibus Syna et Syon that the fyrste man, Adam, receyued hys name of the iiii. princypal partes of the world, that is, East, weast, North, and [Page] Southe, and in the same boke he dothe expound the same name, A­dam, because erth was made flesh, althoughe suche exposition dothe dyffer from the tradition and tea­chyng of Moses, sens among the Hebrewes it is not wrytten with foure but with .iii. letters. Yet for all that, this exposition in so holy a man is not to be dyspraysed, for as moche as he was not lerned in the Hebrewe tongue, the whiche verye many saynctes and exposy­tours of holye scrypture, to theyr small blame knewe not. But if I can not haue lyke leaue and liber tye for the prayse of womanheed, after my mynde and iugement, to vse lyke etymologie and declara­tion of the word and name of Eue, at the leaste lette me be suffered to speake this one thynge out of the [Page] misticall decrees, and agreeable wylles of the Cabalistis, the very name of a woman to haue more affinitie with the ineffable and in enarrable name of the diuine po­wer almyghtye, called Tetragram­maton, than the name of man, the whiche with the name of god, nei­ther in letters nor in figure, nor in nombre doth agree.

¶But nowe we wyll leaue these thynges, for they be redde of few, and of fewer vnderstande & they requyre a longer processe than is mete to be spoken of here. In the meane season, we wol serche oute the excellencie of womanheed, not of the name onely, but of the very thynges, dueties, and merites.

Therfor let vs (as they say) serch the scriptures and takynge oure grounde at the fyrste creation, let [Page] vs dispute and reason, what dig­nitie woman obteyned aboue mā, whanne she was fyrste made. We knowe, that whatso euer god al­myghty made, do chiefely differre in this point, that certain of them shuld abyde and remayn for euer more incorruptible and withoute putrifaction, and certaine shuld be subiecte vnto corruption, mu­tabilitie and change. And in crea­tynge those thynges, god proce­ded forwarde, after thys order he beganne at the more noble and excellente of one thynge, and ended at the most noble of an other. And thus he created incorruptible an­gels and soules: for so doth saint Augustyne dispute & reason,Aug. sup. Gen. li. 7. that the soules of our fyrste parentes, were created with angels, before the bodyes were made. Further­more [Page] he created incorruptible bo­dies, as the heuēs, the sterres and the elementes incorruptible, but subiecte to dyuers mutations: of the whiche he made al other thin­ges that be subiecte vnto corrup­tion. From the more vyler by se­uerall degrees and orders of dig­nitie, agayne ascendynge and go­inge vp vnto the perfection of the hole worlde. Firste he made mine­rals: thanne thynges vegetable plantes and trees: after that thin­ges lyuinges,Gen. 2. than brute beastes, some crepynge, some swymmyng, some fleynge. Fynally he created two creatures lyke to hym selfe, fyrst the male, and last the female: in whiche female, the heuens, the erthe, and al the goodly ornament of the same, were perfeyted and fully finished. For the maker com­mynge [Page] to the creation of woman; rested at her, as hauynge before his handes nothynge more hono­rable to be made, and in her al the wisedome and power of the crea­tor came to conclusion and ende: after the which there can no crea­ture be found or imagined. Than seing a woman is the last of crea­tures, the full ende, moste perfect of all goddis workes, and of the same the very perfection: who woldeny a woman to be the most worthy & moste excellent of all creatu­res? without whom ye very world, nowe beynge fynished, and in all thynges moste perfectely accom­plysshed, shulde haue ben vnper­fecte, the whiche coude none other wyse be perfyted, thanne with the mooste perfectest of al creatures. For it were ageynst reason and a [Page] thynge, vnsemely to thynke, that god wold finish sogret a worke in any vnperfect thing. But bicause the world it selfe, as the absolute, hole, and most perfect cyrcle, was created of god, the same cyrcle must nedes be ended in that lyttel parte, whiche myghte couple and ioyne within it selfe the fyrste of all thynges with the laste of all thynges with one knotte. So a woman, whanne the worlde was made, was the laste in tyme, and laste made: and the same woman partly in auctoryty, but chefely in dignitie, was the fyrst of all thin­ges, conceyued in the mynde of god as it is wrytten of her by the prophete: Before the heuens were made, god dyd chose her, and he chose her, before all other creatu­res. For this is a common con­clusion [Page] among philosophers (if I maye vse theyr wordes)Arist. vl. 8. de auditu. The ende alway is in the fyrst entētion, and in the dede is the laste. So a wo­man was the laste worke of god, formed into thys world as quene of the same, into her prepared pa­layce, garnyshed with all pleasu­res plentyfully. Therfore euerye creature worthely loueth reueren­ceth & serueth her, and worthyly is subiect, and obeyeth vnto her, which is of al creatures the abso­lute quene, ende, perfeccion, & glory by al ways and meanes. Wherfore the wyse man saythe,Sapi. 8. Who so hath god with him, reioyseth, and in harte cōmendeth the gentil na­ture of woman, ye and the lord of all thynges hym selfe loueth her.

¶By reason of the place also, in whiche the woman was created, [Page] howe farre she passeth man in no­blenesse, holy wrytte doth witnesse vnto vs mooste plentifullye. For where the woman was made in Paradyse, a place mooste noble and pleasaunt, amonge aungel­les: the man was made withoute Paradyse, in the wyelde fyelde a­monge brute beastes. Afterward, to thintent, that woman shuld be created, he was brought into Pa­radyse. And therfore the woman, endowed with the peculyar gyfte of Nature, as she were accusto­med to be in the hyghest place of her creatiō, though she loke down ward from neuer so high a place, yet she neyther suffreth nor feleth any whitling or swimming in her heed, ne her eies dafyl not, like as it is wonte to chaunce to men.

¶Furthermore, if it chance a woman [Page] to be in lyke peryll of drow­nynge with a man, she without a­ny outwarde helpe, swymmeth a lofte longer than the man, whiche soner synketh, and goth downe to the bottom.

¶And that the dygnytie of the place maketh moche to the noby­litie of manne, the ciuill lawe and humaine constitutions do playn­ly affirme, and the custome of all nations doth chyefly obserue this thynge, not onely in men, but al­so in other beastes, yea and in the estimation of thynges hauyng no lyfe: For the more worthye place, that any thing is born or brought vp in, the more noble it is iudged. Wherfore Isaac commanded his sonne Iacob, that he shoulde not take a wyfe of the lande of Canaan, but of Mesopotamie in Sy­ria, [Page] beynge of better estymation. And vnto this, is not moche vn­lyke, whiche is spoken in the gos­pell of Iohn,Io. 1. where Philip said: We haue founde Iesus the sonne of Ioseph of Nazareth. And Nathanael said to hym: What good can come oute of Nazareth? But now let vs speke of other matters ¶A woman doth passe a man in the materiall substance of her cre­ation. For she was not made of any creature wantyng lyfe & soule, or of the vyle clay or dyrte, as the man was, but of a matter purifi­ed and lyuely, hauyng a reasona­ble soule, and a godly minde. Furthermore, god made manne of the erthe, whiche naturally bryngeth forthe all kyndes of beastes and lyuely creatures, by the working togither of the heuenloy influence: [Page] but the woman, aboue al heuenly influence and promptues of na­ture, and without any other ope­ration & power, was onely made of god, full stedfast and perfite in all thinges, the man in the meane season losynge one of his rybbes, of the whiche she was made, that is to say, Eue of Adam sleping, and that so soundly, that he could not fele his ribbe plucked away. And thus, man is the worke of nature, and womanne the worke of god. And therfore the woman is many tymes more apt and mete then the man, to receyue the heuenly light and bryghtnes, and is ofte reple­nyshed thet with: whiche thyng is easy to be sene, by her clenlynesse, & marueylous faire beautye. For seyng that beautie it selfe is none other thyng, but the clere bright­nes [Page] of goddes visage naturallye sette in thinges, ryght fayre shy­nynge in the beautifull bodies of creatures: he therfore hath chosen women before men, to be far more endowed, and moste abundantly replenished therwith. The propre body of a woman in syght and fe­lynge, is moste delicate and plea­sant: her fleshe softe and tender: her colour faire and clere: her skin softe and slyke, her head comelye, and decked with heare softe lyke sylke, long, and shynyng lyke the golde wyre: her countenaunce so­bre: her loke and chere merye and pleasaunt: her face moste fayre of all creatures, her necke white as milke: her forhed large and high: her eies rollyng and shyning like cristall, verye amyable gladsome and gratious: her browes aboue [Page] them, wel sette togyther in propre thyn circles, with a comely playn­nesse, deuided equally with a feate distaunce, betwene the which, out of the middest, discendeth the nose strayghte and treatise: vnder the which is her ruddy mouthe, with soft and tender lyppes, ful proprely proporcioned: within the whi­che, whan she smyleth, her teeth do shyne forthe, beinge but lyttell ones, and sette in egall order, as white as the yuory, and not so many in numbre as a man hath, for she is nother greatte eater, bytar, nor gnawer: And rounde aboute them ryse vp her iawes, & chekes, with tender softnes, as ruddy as rose, and replenyshed with sham­fastnes: her chynne rounde, with a prety pyt therin. Under this she hath a small necke, somwhat long [Page] and streighte vpryght frome her rounde shulders, with a delycate wesande, whytely, and meanlye thicke and bigge: her voyce smal and shrylle: her speche lowe and swete: her breaste brode and well sette out, clothed with euen fleshe and hardnes of her pappes, whi­che are round and euen as her be­ly is: her sydes are softe and ten­der: her backe playn and streyght her armes long and ful: her han­des white and softe, with fingers longe and small, stretched forth a length from the ioyntes, and pro­prely set and knytte to gither: her hyppes, thyes, and legges, well brawned fleshy and full: her fin­gers endes and toos are propre & rounde, lyke a lyttel circle, and al the partes of her body well furni­shed with humour. More ouer, [Page] her pace and going is right comely: her mouynge honest: her port and chere very cōmendable: and in the order of al the body, in shap figure proportion and disposition aboue al other she is farre the fairest creature. In al the hole heape of creatures, there is noo thynge so wonderfull to see, ne noo miracle so maruaylouse to beholde. In so moche, that there is no man, ex­cepte he be starke blynde, but he maye see, that god hym selfe con­iested and heaped togyther in woman, what so euer was beautiful in all the holle world: which cau­seth euery creature to be astonyed and amased at her: yea and many wayes they louen and worshyppe her: in so moch that we se it chance ofte tymes, that the bodiles spiri­tes and diuels are ardently taken [Page] and rauyshed with the beautie of women, out of al measure: which opinion is not false, but the truth by many experyences is notablye knowen. And to passe ouer those thynges, that the poetes haue left to vs in wrytynge, of the loue of the goddes, and of theyr louers & coneubines, as of Apollo, Daph­nes, Neptunus, Salmonea, Her­cules, Hebe, Iole, Omphale, and of the other goddis louers, ye and many of Iupiters him self: This gyfte of beaute so diuine, so belo­ued of god and man, holye wrytte in many places doth hyghly com­mende and prayse, aboue al other gyftes and qualities.Gen. 9. For it is red in Genesis, That the chyldren of god, seinge the daughters of men that they were faire, did chose and toke vnto theym wyues, suche as [Page] they liked. We rede also of Sa­ra, the wyfe of Abraham,Gen. 12. that she was fayre, yea the fairest of al women on the erthe. Soo whan the seruant of Abraham,Gen 24. had sene Rebecca, a maide of excellēt beautye, he said secretly to hym selfe, This is she, whiche god hath prepared for Isaac the sonne of Abraham. And Abigail, the wyfe of the wic­ked churle Naball, was prudente wyse and fayre: wherby she saued the life and goodes of her husbād from the furye of kynge Dauid.1. Reg. 15. and the yuell man was saued by the fayre woman, for Dauid sayd to her these wordes: Go peasably into thy house: loo, I haue harde thy voyce, and honoured thy face. For seynge that all beautie is, ey­ther spirituall, vocal, or corporal, Abigail was all fayre, in pruden­cy [Page] of spirite, in eloquēce of spech, and beautie of body: whiche cau­sed Dauid, after the dethe of Na­ball her husbande, to take her to his wyfe.2. Reg. 11. And Bathsaba, was a womanne of so excellent beautie, that Dauid, beinge rauished and taken with her loue, after the deth of her husband, exalted her aboue all other, to be his wyfe & queene. Also Abisag,3. Reg. 1. a Sunamite, by reason she was a mayden most faire, was chosen out, to lye with kyng Dauid, waxinge very olde, to re­store his naturall hete. Wherfore the aged kynges wyll was, high­ly to aduance her in honour. And also after the dethe of this migh­ty kynge, she was enterteyned as a queene.Hester. 1. et. 2, We rede of the excellent beautie of queene Vasti and also of Nester, which was preferrid be­fore [Page] the other, bycause she was more goodlye and fayre of face. We rede of Iudith,Iu. 8. et. 10. whose fayre­nesse god so moche encreased, that all that behelde her, were wonder­fully amased.Dan, 13. And shortly to speke we rede that Susanna was ve­ry delycate goodly and beautiful. We rede also,Iob vlt. in fine. that after Iobs dy­uers temptations, vexations, and greuous troubles finyshed, besy­des all other thynges, whiche his gret pacience deserued, god gaue vnto hym three daughters fayrer than the three Charites, yea there were found no where so fayre wo­men. More ouer, we maye rede histories of holy vyrgins, doubt­les to our gret wonder, howe far, howe beautyfull they were aboue al other the childrē of men, whose laude and prayse the catholyke [Page] churche dothe solempnely synge: but specially the prayse of the im­maculate and vndefiled princesse, the mother of god, the virgin Marie: whose fayre beautie the sonne and moone wōder at, from whose moste fayre visage, so great clere­nes of beautie, with chastitie and holynes dyd shyne, that although she moued the myndes, and lyke­wyse the eies of all men, yet for al that, no mortall man at any tyme, was allured or inticed by her beu­tie, ones to thynke amysse.

¶Those thynges (all thoughe some what at lengthe) I haue re­hersed vnto you, and that almost the very selfe same wordes out of holy scripture, where mention of beautie is so ofte made: to the in­tent we shulde playnely perceyue, that the beautie of women is not [Page] onely among men, but also of god hyghly estemed and honoured.

¶In an other place of holy scripture we lyke wyse rede,Num. 31. that god commanded all the men, and men children, to be slayne: but the faire women to be saued.Deut. 21. In the booke of Deuteronomy it was permyt­ted to the chyldren of Israell, eche to chose hym a fayre womanne to wyfe, of those that were taken prysoners.

¶And besydes this wounderfull beautie, woman is endowed with a certaine dignitie and worthines of honestie, whiche is not gyuen to man: for the heare of her head hangeth downe soo lowe, that yt wyll couer and hyde all the pryuy partes of her body. Farther, it is not nedefull for a woman, to han­dle these partes of her body, in the [Page] workes of Nature, whiche man customably vseth to doo. Finally Nature hathe soo wounderfullye wrought for the comelynes of woman, that her priuie partes nr not so apparant as mans, but set in a place more secretely. And nature hath gyuen more shamfasines to woman than to man. Wherfore it hath ofte chanced, that a woman, greuousely dyseased in her prime partes, hath chosen rather to dye, than to abyde the syght and hand lynge of the surgian, to be cured and healed. And this shamefaste honestie they obserue and kepe, both in dyenge, and after they be dead: as it appereth by them that be drowned. For as Plinie and experience witnessen, a woman ly­eth grouelyng whan she is deade by the fauour that nature bereth [Page] to her shamefaste honestie: but a man swymmeth vpryghte on his backe. Farther, the most worthye parte of man, wherby we chiefly differre from other brute beastes, and doo represente the dyuine na­ture, is the heade, and in it chiefly the countinaūce. Truely a mans heade is deformed with baldnes, and contrary, a womanne by the great pryuilege of nature, is not bald. Moreouer, the countinaūce and face of man is (by the bearde to hym hateful) so oft defiled and hyd with filthy heares, that scarse from brute beastes he may be dis­cerned, in woman contrary wise, the face doth alway remayn pure and comely. Wherfore it was decreed in the law of the .xii. tables, that women shuld not scrape nor shaue theyr chekes, leaste at any [Page] tyme the bearde shuld growe out, and shamfastenes be hyd. Alsoo of the clennes and puritie of wo­man, this maye be to all men the moste euydent argumente and to­ken: That a woman ones washed clene ouer, as ofte as she is was­shed afterwarde in cleane water, that water receyueth no spotte of vnclennesse: but a man, be he ne­uer so clene wasshed, as ofte as he washethe agayne, troubleth and fouleth the water. Furthermore, Nature hath so ordeyned, that women auoid superfluous humours by secrete partes, that men auoide by the face, the moste worthy part of mannes body. And where it is graunted to man aboue all other beastes to haue the face and con­tinaunce lokynge vppe to heuen: Nature and fortune haue prouy­ded [Page] so wonderly for woman, and shewed so great fauor, that if she chaunce to fall, she seldome or ne­uer falleth on her head or face.

¶Shall we ouer passe, the pre­ferrement of nature to woman a­boue man, in the procreation of mankynde? Whyche thynge is thus very well perceyued. For on­ly the womans seede (as wytnes­sen Galen and Auicen) is the matter and nourishment of the chyld,Galē. 2. de Sparmate &. 14. de vtilitate particularum. Aui doc. S Fen. 1. pri­mi. and not the mans, whiche is but an accident to the substance. For as the lawe sayth, the greattest & chiefest offyce and duetye of wo­man, is to conceyue, and to saue that is conceyued. For which cō ­sideration we se very many to be lyke theyr mothers, by reson they be begotten of their bloudde: and this lykenes is very oft well per­ceyued [Page] in the proportion and ma­kyng of their bodies, but it is al­wayes in their maners. For if the mothers be foolyshe, the chyldren proue foolysshe also. If the mo­thers be wyse, the chyldren shall haue a sent thereof. But contra­rye wyse it is in the fathers. For thoughe they be wyse, ye manye tymes they gette folyshe children. and foolysshe fathers gette wyse chyldren, so that the mothers be wyse. And there is none other re­son. why mothers more than the fathers, shuld loue theyr children, but that the mothers perceyue, that theyr chyldren haue, and soo they haue in dede, in theym more of theyr mothers substance, than of theyr fathers. For this cause, that I haue shewed you: I sup­pose it naturally grafte in vs, to [Page] be more kynde and louyng to our mothers, than to our fathers. In so moch, that we seme to loue our father meanely, and to loue oure mother hartelye. And for this cause, Nature hathe gyuen vnto women, milk of so great strength and vertue, that it not onely nou­rissheth infantes and babes, but also restoreth such as ar brought lowe by sycknes, and is a suffici­ente foode, to preserue the lyfe of those, that are of perfecte age.

As we rede an example in Vale­rius Maximus,Val. li. 5. cap. 4. of a certain yong woman, whiche with the mylk of her breastes norished her mother in prison, that otherwyse shoulde haue famysshed for hunger. For the whiche pietifull dede, her mo­ther was deliuered out of pryson, and vnto them bothe a perpetual [Page] lyuynge was gyuen. And of that prison, they made a Temple, and called it, The temple of Pitie.

¶It is well knowne, that for the more parte, a woman hath alway more pite and mercy than a man. Whiche thynge Aristotle doth at­tribute to womākynd,Arist. de anima. as a thing appropried therevnto.Eccle. 36. Wherfore Salomon sayth: Where as is no woman, there the sycke man wai­leth: eyther bycause, that in ser­uynge and helpynge the sicke, she is full diligent, orels by reason of her mery chere, she is full comfor­table: or els bycause that womās mylke is the chiefe and principall reliefe for such as be feble & weke, yea beynge broughte to deathes doore, they are therby restored a­geyne vnto helthe. And the phisi­tions say: That the heat of a wo­mans [Page] breastes and pappes, layde and ioyned to the breastis of feble olde men, consumed a way by age styrreth vp encreaseth, and con­serueth in them lyuely heate.

Whyche thyng was well knowen to Dauid, that in his olde aege chose the mayden Abisag, a Su­namite, with her collynges & clip­pinges to hete & kepe him warme. Also woman is rather redye and more prompt to the holy offyce of generation, than man, as it is wel knowen.

¶Further it is a wonderful my­racle of Nature, that a womanne bredynge chylde, sore longyng for it, hathe eaten rawe fleshe, rawe fyshe, coles, erth, stones, mettals, poysons, & many suche other lyke thynges, which without hurt she doth digeste, conuerte, and turne [Page] into the holsome nutrimente and substance of the body. Now great myracles and maruailes, that na­ture hathe endowed woman with, shal he fynd, that redeth through­ly the volumes and bokes of philosophers and phisitions: whiche for brefenes we here ouerpasse.

¶Nowe let vs speake of speche and langage, whiche is the gyfte of god, and by whiche one thing we passe and are better than all o­ther brute beastes: Trismegistus Mercurius iudgeth it to be of as great pryce, as moch worth, and as good a thynge, as immortali­tie. And Hesiodus nameth it the chiefest treasure of Mankynde. And is not a womā better spokē, more eloquent, more copious and plentyfull of wordes than a man? Do not all we, that be men, lerne [Page] first to speke of our mothers, or of our nources? Truely nature her selfe, the former of thinges, sage­ly prouidyng for mankynde, gaue this gyfte to womankynde, that scarse in any place ye shall fynde a dumme womanne. Is it not right faire and cōmendable, that women shulde excelle men in that thing, in whiche men chiefly passe all other beastes? But from pro­phane mattiers, lette vs retourne home agein to holy scripture, and begynne at the verye fountaynes of our relygion.

¶We know surely, that god blessed man for womans sake whiche blessynge the vnworthye man de­serued not to haue, tyll the womā was created and made, wherwith Salomon in his prouerbes agreeth:Pro. 18. Who so fyndeth a good wo­man, [Page] fyndeth a good thinge, and receyueth an holsome benefite of the lorde. And it is written Ecclesiastici. 26. Happy is the man, that hathe a vertuous wyfe:Eccle. 26. For the number of his yeres shall be dou­ble. And no man may be compa­red to him in dignitie, that for his worthynes hathe a good woman. For as Ecclesiasticus saythe:Ibidem. A good woman is a gyfte aboue all other gyftes. And therfore Salo­mon in his prouerbes calleth her,Pro. 12. the crowne of her husbande: and Paul,1. Cor. 11. the glorie of man. For glo­rie is defined to be the accomplishment and perfection of a thinge, restyng and delytyng in his ende: that is to say, when nothing more may be added, to encreace or amēd the perfection thereof. A woman therfore is the ende, perfection, fe­licitie, [Page] benediction, and glorye of the man: and as Augustin sayth: the fyrste societie and company of mankynde in this morall lyfe. Wherfore of necessitie euery man loueth her, whome who soo euer wyl not loue, but hate, is a stran­ger not only to all humanitie and gentylnesse, but also to all vertue and grace. And to speake agayne of the Cabalisticall mysteries,Gene. 17. A­braam was blessed of god by the woman Sarah, and takynge the letter H, from the womans name and puttynge it to the mans, cal­led hym Abraham.Gene. 17. &. 28. Also the bles­synge of Iacob was gotten hym, by a woman, his mother. There be many suche examples in holye Scripture: but not to be shewed in this place.

¶Thus blessyng was gyuen for [Page] the woman, and law for the man: The lawe I say,Gen. 2. of anger and of curlynge. For why, the fruyte of the tree was forbydden to the mā. but not to the woman: which was not than created. For god wolde her to be fre from the begynning. Therfore the manne sinned in ea­tynge, not the woman. The man gaue vs deathe, not the woman. And all we synned in Adam, not in Eua. And we toke orygynalle synne of oure father the man, not of our mother the woman. And therfore the olde law commanded all the malekynde to be circumci­sed, but the females to remayne vncircumcised: that is to witte, he ordeyned the originall synne to be punyshed onely in that kind, whi­che had trespassed. Furthermore, god rebuked not the woman, for [Page] that she had eatē, but bicause she gaue occasion of yuelle vnto the man, and that dyd she vnwarely, intyced therto by the dyuell. The man knew well he dyd amisse: but the woman being deceyued, erred ignorātly. For she was fyrst tempted of the dyuell, whom he knewe to be moste excellent of all creatu­res. And as Bernarde saith: The dyuell, seing her wonderful beau­tie, and perceyuynge her to be su­che one, as he had knowen before in the godly lyght, whiche aboue all aungels, shoulde reioyce with the speche of god: conceyued en­uye onely ageynst the woman for her excellencye. Wherfore Christe borne into this worlde most hum­ble and lowe, to thende he woulde with his great humilite make sa­tisfaction for the synne of pryde, [Page] cōmitted by our forfather: he toke vpon hym manhode, as the more humble and lower kynde, and not womankynde, the more hygher & noble. Furthermore, bycause we were condemned for the synne of the man, and not of the woman, god wolde, that in what kynd the synne was committed, in the same shulde be the purgation of synne: and by the same kinde, whiche ig­norantly was deceyued, we shuld also be reuengid. Therfore it was said vnto the serpent, that the woman, or more truly, the sede of the woman, shoulde breake his head, and not the man, nor the seede of the man. And perchaunce, hereof it came, that the order of prieste­hode is of the churche rather committed to the man, thā to the wo­man, bycause euerye prieste dothe [Page] represent Christe, and Christe, the fyrst man, that is to wite, the syn­ner Adam. To this purpose, we vnderstande the Canon, that be­gynneth, Haec imago, whiche sayth that a woman was not made to ye ymage of god, but to the simyli­tude of Christe. Yet for all that I say, that he beynge verye god) I speake of Christe (wold not be the sonne of man, but of a woman, the whiche he so hyghly honored, that of a womanne onely he toke fleshe and bloudde. For onely for the woman, Christ was called the sonne of man, and not for the mā.

¶This is that great myracle,Hier. 31. at the whiche the prophete so moche meruayled: that a woman com­prehended manne, whan a virgin conceyued mankynde, and bare Christe in her body.

[Page] ¶Also Christe risynge vp ageyn from deth to lyfe,Ioan. 20. appered first vnto women, not to mē. And it is not vnknowen,Mat. 16. that after the death of Christe, men fell from the faythe: but it was neuer knowē, that women slypte and fell from Christen fayth and religion. Farther, there was no persecution of the faythe at any tyme, no heresye, no errour in the faythe, that arose and came by women, but by menne. Christe was boughte and solde, accused, condemned, scourged, hanged on the Crosse, and at the last putte to cruell deathe onely by men. Yea, he was denyed of his owne Pe­ter, forsakē of his other disciples,Luc. 24. and only accompanied wayted v­pon and folowed of women vnto the crosse and graue.Matt. 27. Also the ve­ry wyfe of Pylate, an hethen wo­man, [Page] went aboute, and laboured more to saue Iesus than any mā, yea any of these men, that beleued in hym. Furthermore almost the hole schoole of diuines afferme & say, that the churche dyd than re­maine only with the woman, that is to say, with the virgin Marye. And therfore woman kind is wor­thyly called relygyous, deuoute, and holy. But yet if any man wolsay with Aristotle,Arist. de anima. that among al beastes and lyuyng creatures, the male kynd is more valiāt, strong, wise, and noble: Vnto him, a more excellent man, the great doctour, the holy apostel saint Paule woll answere and say:1. Cor. 1. Those thynges that be folyishe before the worlde, god hathe chosen, that he myghte confounde wise menne: and those thynges that be feble and weake [Page] in this worlde, he hathe chosen to confounde the mighty: & the vile and dispised before the world god hath chosen: yea & those thynges, which be nothing, & of no reputa­tion: that he myght destroy those thinges, which be in price & moch set by.Gene. 2. For who amonge men, in all gyftes of nature and of grace was higher than Adam? yet a woman brought him low.Iudic. 14. &. 16. Who was stronger than Sampson? A wo­man ouercame his strength.Gene. 19. Who was more chast than Loth? A wo­man inticed hym to inceste. Who was more religious than Dauid A woman disturbed his holynes..2. Reg. 11 3. Reg. 11. Who was more wyser than Sa­lomon? a woman deceyued hym. Who was more paciēt than Iob. whom the dyuell stryped out of al his goodes, kylled all his family, [Page] and chyldren, and filled al his bo­dy full of boyles and soores, and yet for all that he coulde not pro­uoke hym from the olde symplici­tie of his mynde: but the woman intyced hym (and in that she was more hygher and constaunt than the dyuell) and so vexed hym, that he cursed god. And if it myght be leful to make any cōparison with Christe, who is most myghtyfull and moste wyse, for he is the eter­nall and euerlastynge wysedome and power of god:Matt. 15. dydde he not suffer hym selfe to be ouercome of that poore woman of Chanaan? sayinge hym selfe. It is not good to take the chyldernes breade, and cast it to dogges. She answered and sayde, Trouthe lorde, neuer the lesse, the dogges eate of the crommes, whiche fall frome their [Page] masters table. Now whan Christ perceyued, that he could not ouer come her with that reasonne, he blessed her, sayenge: Be it vnto the as thou desyrest.

¶Who was more hotte and fer­uent in the faythe of Christe,Ioan. 18. than Peter?Matt. 20. A woman made hym,Marc. 14. so greatte a Mynyster of Chrystis Churche,Luc. 22. to denye Christe.

Lette the Canonistes crake what they wylle,Plaut. 8. that theyr Churche can not erre, a woman pope mo­ked her by a goodlye imposture and deceyre.

¶But nowe some men wyll say, that those thynges redounde ra­ther to the dysprayse than prayse of women. Vnto whome women shall make this aunswere: If it were so, that one of vs two, must nedes lose eyther goodes or lyfe, [Page] I had leauer to lose the, than to be loste my selfe: And that by the example of Innocētius the thyrd, whyche in a certayne pistle decre­tall, writen vnto a cardynall am­bassatour, sent frome the See of Rome, sayth: If one of vs twain muste nedes be confounded, I wold rather chose to haue the confounded.

¶Moreouer, it was prouyded by the Cyuile lawes, that women might lawfully loke to their own profit, to other mens hinderance. And in holy writ, is not the iniquitie of a woman praysed more then a mans wel doing? is not Rachel preised,Gene. 31. whiche by a proper sleight deceyued her father sekynge vnto ydols?Gene. 27. Was not Rebecca lauded, whyche by crafte gotte her sonne Iacob the blessyng of his father? [Page] And afterward by polycie caused him to escape the anger of his brother. The harlotte Raab deceiued those,Iosue. 2 whyche soughte for the ser­chers and spies of Iosue: and it was imputed vnto her for rygh­tuousnes. Iahel went out to mete Sisar,Iudic. 4. and sayde vnto hym: My lorde, come into me. And askynge water, she gaue hym to drynke of the bottell of mylke, and couered hym, as he laye sleapynge. And whyle Sisara laye and slepte, she entred in priuyly, & strake a nayle in his head, and slewe hym, which had put his truste in her promyse and fidelitie, to be saued. And for this notable treason, the Scrip­ture saith: Blessed is Iahel amōg women, and Iahel shalbe blessed in her tabernacle.

¶Rede the story of Iudith, and [Page] marke her wordes vnto Holofer­nes. She said: Syr take and vnderstande the wordes of thy hand mayde. For if thou wylte folowe & do after these wordes, the lorde shall make the perfite, and shall brynge thy mattier to prosperous effecte. I shall come and shewe althynges vnto the, so that I shall leade the throughe the myddes of Hierusalem, and thou shalt haue all the people of Israell, lyke as shepe without a shepeherde, and not soo moche as one dogge shall barke ageynst the. For those thin­ges ar shewed me by the wisdom and prouidence of god. And thus by her flattering she stroke of Holofernes head, as he lay and slept. I pray you, what wyckedder coū ­sell, what crueller deceytes,Pro. 18. what craftier treson could be inuented? [Page] And yet holy Scripture blesseth, praiseth, and extolleth her, and the iniquite of the woman is reputed farre better, than a mans wel do­inge. But nowe lette vs retourne to our pourpose.

¶Of the excellency of so happy a kynde of women, this also may be to euery man an argumēt most euident, that the most excellent of all creatures, than whyche neuer was, nor neuer shalbe a more worthy, I meane the most blessed vir­gyn Mayre, was conceyued with out originall synne: and she was not inferiour to Christe, touching his humanitie.

¶This is a stronge argumente of Aristotle: Of what kynde the beste is nobler thanne the beste of an other kynde, that kynde muste needes be nobler thanne the o­ther. [Page] In the Femynyne kynde, the best is the vyrgyn Marye, in the Masculyne, there arose none greatter thanne Iohn Baptiste: but howe farre doothe the holye vyrgyn excelle hym, whiche (as euerye Catholyke man knoweth) was exalted aboue all the orders of aungelles. Lykewyse a man maye reasounc. Of what kynde the worst is warse than the worst of an nother kynde, that kynde is lower than the other.

Nowe we knowe, that the most vyciouse and worste of all creatures, is a man, whether it be Iu­das, that betrayd Christ, of whom Christe sayth: It had bene good for that man, yf he had not bene borne: or whether any Antechrist shal come herafter, warse than he, [Page] whyche shall be endowed with all the power of Sathan. More o­uer, holy writ sheweth many men to be condemned to euerlastynge turment: but we rede in no place, of any womanne so condemned. Farther, as a witnesse to our purpose, there is a certayne pretoga­tiue gyuen to the brutalle nature. For the queene of all birdes, and the most noble, is the Egle, whi­che is alway found of the female kynde, and not of the masculyne. Also this is clere, that the byrd of Egypte, calid Foenix, wherof there is neuer but one at oones, is a fe­male. But contrary wyse, the ser­pent Regulus, called also Basiliscus the most pestilent of al venimous beastes, is only masculine, of whiche kynde it is not possible to find & female. Farther the excellencye [Page] of this kynd, the vertue & innocē ­cy, is by these argumentes and resons abūdantly inough declared. For the begynnynge of all yuelle commeth by men, and not by wo­men. Certaynely the fyrst man A­dam,Gene. 3. boldely breakynge the com­maundement of god, dyd shut vp the gates of heauen,Gene. 4. and made vs all subiectes to synne and deathe. For al we haue synned (and must dye) in Adam, not in Eua. Whose fyrste begotten sonne opened hell gates. Man was fyrst enuious, fyrst a murderer, fyrste the slear of his parentes, the fyrste dispayrer of the mercy of god:Gene. 9. the first that hadde two wyues, Lamech: the fyrste drunkarde Nohe: the fyrste that discouered the fylthynesse of his father,Gene. 10. Nohes sonne Cham: the fyrst tyran and idolater Nem­broth: [Page] the fyrste aduouterer: the fyrst defouler of his kynswomen: Men also fyrste made confedera­cyes with fyndes, and inuented cursed wytchcraftes.

Certayne menne,Gene. 37. the sonnes of Iacob, fyrst solde theyr owne bro­ther Ioseph:Exod. 1. Pharao, the Egyptian, fyrste slewe chyldren. Men fyrste synned ageynste Nature, as wytnessen Sodoma and Go­mora,Gene. 18. the whyche sonke for the synnes of menne, somme tyme be­ynge most famouse and noble cy­ties. We rede in euery place, that menne, for theyr tasshe voluptu­ouse pleasure, hadde two wyues, manye wyues, many lemmans: they were aduouterers and forni­catours. Of this sorte, that hadde many wyues, many concubynes, were Lamech, Abraham, Iacob, [Page] Esau, Ioseph, Moses, Sanson, Helcana, Saul, Dauid, Salo­mon, Assur, Roboam, Abia, Ca­leph, Assuerus, and innumerable other, the whiche had euery oone, many wyues, harlottes, and con­cubines. Nor beynge contente to marye many, to fulfull theyr luste & pleasure, but also medled with their maydens. And we rede not, that any woman (except only Batsabea) was contente to haue any mo, but alway one husband. Nor ye shall not fynde, that anye wo­man maried two husbādes. if she had a childe by her fyrst husband. For women in clennesse of liuing and chastitie, are farre more con­tinct than men: the which (as we rede) bycause they were bareyne, haue abstyned from lyenge with theyr husbandes, & haue brought [Page] in other, to lye with their husban­des, as Sara, Rachel, and many other vnapt to generation, which brought in their hande maydens, that their husbandes myghte get chyldren to succede thē. But what man I pray you, were he neuer so olde, colde, bareyn, and vnapt for generation, was euer of so greate pitie or myld stomake toward his wyfe, that he wolde substitute another manne in his place, to sowe fruitefull sede in his wyues plen­tifull gardeyne? And althoughe we rede, that kyng Lieurgus and Solon made lawes in olde tyme, that is to wyte, if any man beinge ouer aged, vnmeete for mariage, or otherwise vnlusty to do the de­des of Venus, had maried a mai­den, it shoulde be laufull for his wyfe, to chose a goodly, and a tall [Page] younge manne, to dalye and play with her, and the chylde gotten betwene theym, shoulde be ascri­bed to her housbande, and not to be called a bastarde: and though those lawes were made and esta­blyshed, yet we rede not, that they were kepte, not so moche through the sturdynesse of the men, as by the chastitie of the womenne refu­synge those lawes.

¶There be innumerable excel­lent women,Arist. de anima. whiche with notable clennesse of lyfe, and perfet wiue­ly loue, haue farre passed al men: as Abigail, the wyfe of Naball: Arthemisia, the wyfe of Nauso­leus: Argia,1. Cor. 1. the wyfe of Polici­nis, a Chebane. Iulia, the wife of Pompeius: Portia, the wyfe of Cato: Cornelia the wife of Grac­chus: Messalina, the wife of Sulpice: [Page] Alceste, the wyfe of Admetus: Hypsicratea, the wife of Mi­thridates, kynge of Pontus: and also Dido, the buylder of Car­thage, and the Romayn Lucrece: and Sulpitia, the wyfe of Len­tulus. There be innumerable o­ther, whose hartes were so fyxed on vyrgynitie and chastitie, that the very dethe coulde not remoue theym: of whom thexamples are manyfest and playne: as Athlanta, Calidonia, Camilla, Volsca, Iphigenia of Grece, Cassandra, and Crise. With these gone the Vyrgynes of Lacedemonye, of Spartane, of Milesia, & of The­bes, with other innumerable, of whome the storyes of the Hebre­wes, of the Grekes, and of other Macyons, doo make mencyon, the whyche estemed vyrginite a­boue [Page] kyngdomes, yea and aboue theyr very lyues.

¶If the examples also of pitie and louing kyndnes be required, amonge al other Claudia Vesta­lis towarde her father, and that poore yonge woman (of the whi­che we spake afore) towardes her mother, are wonderfull.

¶But here some enuious felow wyl obiect ageinst those thynges, the deadely mariages of Samp­son, of Iason, of Deiphebus, of Agamemnon, and such other tra­gedies, on whyche (as saythe the prouerbe) if a man loke through­ly, with clere eies, he shall fynde, that theyr wyues are falsely bla­med, of the whyche neuer chaun­ced vnto a good man one yll. For yll wyues neuer chaunce, but to ylle husbandes: vnto whome all [Page] though the good somtyme chāce, yet their husbandes vyces make them naught.

¶If it had bene laufull for wo­men to make lawes, too wryte hi­stories, how gret tragedies (trowye) wolde they haue writen of the inestimable malice of men, amōg whom many ben murtherers, the­ues, rauishers of vyrgins, periu­rers, robbers, burners of houses, traytours:Iusue. 7. of whome also,2. Reg. 19. in the tyme of Iosue,3. Reg. 4. & Dauid the king so greatte a multitude were mur­therers & robbers, that they were able to make princes capytaynes ouer theyr companies. Yea and at this day there is an infinite num­ber of them. For all prisons be fil­led with men, and al the galowes in euerye place be loded with the carcases of men. But contrarye [Page] wyse, womenne were the fyrste in­uentours of all honest craftes, of all vertue and benefittes. Whiche thyng the very names of sciences and vertues, beinge of the femy­nine gender, do playnly specifye. Whereof this is a notable profe, that the circuite of the hole world is callyd by the names of women: that is to say of the Nymph, Asia. of Europa, the doughter of Age­nor, of Libia, the doughter of E­paphus, the whiche is also callid Aphrica. And finally to recite all kyndes of vertue, a woman shall euery where obteyne the hygheste place. For the vyrgin Mary was a woman, the whyche fyrst dydde vowe her vyrginitie to god, and thereby deserued to be the mother of god. The womenne prophetes were euermoore inspyred with a [Page] more diuine spyrite, than the men, Whiche thynge is welle knowen, by that Lactātius,Lactā. lib. insti. Eus de p̄p. Euangel. August de ci. dei. Eusebius, and Augustine wytnessen of the Si­bylles.

¶So Mary, the syster of Mo­ses prophecied: And whan Iere­mye was taken prysoner, his vn­cles daughter Olda,Exod. 15. rose vp and prophecied beyonde mans reache,4. reg. 22. to the people of Israell,2. Para. 34 atte the poynte redy to peryshe. Lette vs serche holy scripture, and we shall fynde, that women in constancye, in feythe, and in other vertues ar commended farre aboue men, as in Iudith, Ruth, Hester, the whi­che with so great glory and praise were celebrate and honored, that holy bokes beare their names.Rom. 4.

And all though Abraham,Genes. 15. &. 21. for the stedfastnes of his fayth, is called [Page] in scripture a iuste man, by cause he surely beleued in god: yet for al that, he muste submyt hym selfe to his wyfe Sara.Gene. 25. For by ye voyce of the lorde he was cōmanded thus: What so euer Sara saythe to the here her voyce. So Rebecca, bele­uyng stedfastly, went to aske god certayne questions, and she being reputed worthy, harde this oracle or aunswere of god. Two maner of folke are in thy bealy: and two maner of people shall be deuyded from thy bealy. And the wydowe Sareptana gaue credence to He­lias, all thoughe it were harde to beleue that he tolde her. So za­chary,Luc. 1. rebuked of the aungell for his incredulitie, was dumme: and his wife Elizabeth, with her wōbe and voyce prophecied: & is pray­sed, bicause she beleued faithfully. [Page] and she afterwarde, praysed the most blessed virgin Mary,Luc. 2. saying: Blessed art thou, whyche dyddest beleue those thynges, that were spoken to the of the lord. So An­na the prophetesse, after the reue­lation of Simeon cōfessed god, & spake of him to al that wold here, whyche loked for the redemption of Israel.Act. 21. And Phylip had foure vyrgins to his doughters,Ioan.. 4. which dyd prophecy.Matt. 15. What shall I saye of her the samaritan,Marc. 7. with whom Christe spake at the well:Mat. 9. and be­inge fedde with the faythe of this beleuing womā,Mar. 5. refused the meate that the apostelles broughte?Luc. 8. To these may be ioyned the faithefull woman of Chananee,Ioan. 11. and the womanMatt. 16. dyseased with the blouddyeLuce. 7. flyxe.Ioan 19. Was not also the faith and confessyon of Martha,Matt. 27. lyke theMar. 16. & 17. [Page] confessyon of Peter?Luc. 23. & 24. The Gos­pell wytnesseth,Act. 18. howe greate con­stācy of faith was in Mary Magdaleyn. For whyle the pristes and Iewes crucyfyed Christe, she we­peth, she bringeth oyntmentes vnto the Crosse, she seeketh in the Tombe, she asketh the gardyner for hym, she aknowledgeth god, she gothe to the apostles, and she­weth them, that he is rysen. They were in doubte therof, but she be­leued it verily. Ageyn, what shall I saye, of that holy woman Pris­cilla, the whiche instructed Apol­lo, apostolycke man, perfitely ler­ned in the lawe, and byshoppe of the Corinthians? Nor it was no shame for a postell, to lerne of a woman, what he shulde teache in the churche.

¶Moreouer, they that haue she­wed [Page] the stedfastnes of theyr faith by sufferyng of Martyrdom, and by the dispisynge of deathe, be no fewer in number than men.2. Mach. 7. Nor that wonderfull mother shuld be lefte vnspoken of, so worthy to be remembred, the whiche not onely behelde her .vii. sonnes putte to deathe, by most cruell martyrdom but also she boldly exhorted them stedfastlye to dye. And she aboue all thynges trustyng in god, was after her chylderne cruelly put to deathe, for the mayntenaunce of the lawes of her countrey.

¶Dyd not also Theodelina, the doughter of the kynge of Baua­rians, conuerte the Lumbardes to the fayth? And Greisilla, the sysrer of Henry the fyrste Empe­rour, conuerte the Hungarians? & Clotildis, the daughter of the [Page] kyng of Burgundia, conuert the Frenche men? And a certayn woman called Apostola, of a lowe degree, conuerted the Hiberians.

Eche of them turned innumera­ble people vnto Christis faythe. And fynally, this is the onely and speciall relygious kynd, in whom vnto this day the catholike faith, and the continual workes of ver­tue and goodnesse doo flourysshe and shyne.

¶But to the ende that noo man shuld doubt women to be as able to doo all those thynges that men can, let vs handle the matter with examples: and we shal fynd, that there was neuer noble nor wor­thy acte, in any kynde of vertue, doone by men, but that as noble hath ben done by women. In do­inge sacrifyce, as the paynyms in [Page] olde tyme vsed, Melyssa Cibeles was the Mynyster, after whose name, the other Goddesses, that vsed the priestes offyce, were cal­lyd Melyssae. Also Hypeccaustria was Mineruas mynyster, Mera of Venus, Iphiginia of Diana. And the mynysters of Bacchus, were very notable, as Thyades, Menades, Bacche, Eliades, Mi­mallonides, Eonides, Eubiades, Bassarides, Triaterides. Also a­monge the Iewes, Mary Moses syster, entred with Aaron into the Sanctuarie,Sanctua­ry, a place consecrate or halo­wed. and was taken as a mynyster or priest. And although women be forbydden in our reli­gion, to vse the order of presthod yet it appereth by hystories, that a woman on a tyme by counterfai­tynge her kynde, was bishoppe of Rome. There haue bene in Chri­stis [Page] churche, many abbasses and nunnes, whiche in olde tyme men disdayned not to calle holy myni­sters. There haue bene among all nations, that excelled in prophe­cienge, as Cassandra, the Sybil­les, Mary Moyses sister, Delbo­ra, Holda, Anna, Elyzabeth, the foure doughters of Philip, & ma­ny other holy womē of later time, as Brigida and Heldegardis.

Furthermore, in the inuyncible arte magyke, whether it came of good spirytes or bad. Circes and Medea wroughte farre greatter wonders than Zoroastes hym self whiche as many suppose, was the fyrste fynder of the sayde scyence. More ouer in phylosophye, many haue ben very excellent, as The­ano the wyfe of Pythagoras, and Dama his daughter was ryghte [Page] famous, in openynge and decla­ringe her fathers obscure & darke sentences. Also Aspasia and Dio­tima, Socrates scholers, & Man­tinea and Philesia Axiochia, both scholers to Plato. Finally Ploti­nus highly prayseth Gemina and Amphiclea, Lactantius Themi­sten. Christis churche reioyceth in saynt Caterine, which being but a lyttell mayde, dyd farre passe in lernynge, the wyse menne of that tyme.

¶Let vs not forget in this place the queene Zenobia, scholer to the phylosopher Longinus, whiche for her great vertue and cunning was called Ephenissa, whose ho­ly workis Nichomachus transla­ted into Greke.

¶Let vs speake of the oratours arte, and of poetrie, Behold here [Page] commeth Armesia, surna med An­drogenea, Hortentia, Lacera, Va­leria, Copiola, Sapho, Corinna, Cornificia the Romayne, Erym­na, Telia, or Thesbia, whyche was named an Epigrammatist, in Saluste Sempronia, in the law ciuyl Calphurnia: And were it not, that women in our tyme ar forbydden, to gyue theym to good lernynges, we shulde euen nowe, haue women more excellēt in wyt and lernynge than menne. What shulde we hereof say, that women onely by nature are sene to excelle the very artificers in all sciences? Doo not the Grammarians take vppon theym, to be the maysters of eloquence? And that do we far better lerne of oure nources and mothers, than of the Grammarians. Dyd not Cornelia fourme [Page] and fasshyon the tongues of her moste eloquent sonnes Gracchi? Dyd not Istrineus mother, teach Syles the sonne of Aripithus, kynge of Scythia, the Greeke tongue? Dydde not the chyldren borne of theym that were sente to inhabyte in straunge countreyes, alway obserue and kepe theyr mo­thers tongue, amonge strangers? Surely for none other cause Plato and Quintilian so diligentlye ordeyned a mete and conueniente nource for chylderne to be chosen, but that the chyldernes tongue & speche myght be ryghtlye and dis­cretely fourmed.

¶But nowe, be not the poetes in theyr trifles & fables, & the logiti­ans in their cōtentious talking o­uercome of women? Ther was neuer oratour so good or so happy, [Page] that in perswasyon coulde get the vpper hande of an harlot? What arithmetrician by false recknyng, coulde deceyue a woman in paye­ment of her det? or what musitian can compare with a woman in singynge and swetenesse of breaste? Be not these Phylosophers, these astrologians, in theyr diuynatiōs & forknowleges many tymes inferiours to the coūtrey wiues? yea & very ofttymes a sely olde woman excelleth the phisitian: Socrates hym selfe (aboue all other reckned the most wyse man) being very a­ged, dyd not disdain to be taught of the womā Aspasia. Lyke as A­pollo, a man so wel lerned in Christis doctrine, was not ashamed to be taught of the womā Priscilla.

¶Nowe for prudency, you maye take for examples those women. [Page] Opis for her wysedome counted a goddesse: Plotina wyfe of Troia­nus themperour: Amalasuntha, the queene of Ostrogottes: Emilia the wyfe of Scipio: with whō recken Delbora, the wyfe of La­bidoth,Iudic. 4. a meruaylouse wyse wo­man, whiche (as we rede in Iudi­cum) was a certayn tyme Iudge ouer the people of Israel, and the chylderne of Israell came vp to her for iudgement in all causes.

And whan Barach refused to go ageynste their ennemies, excepte she wolde go with hym, Delbora was chosen capitayne of the host of Israell: and sleynge and dys­comfytynge theyr foes, she retur­ned home with vyctorie.

¶More ouer,4. Reg. 2. 2. Par. 22. it is redde in the fourth boke of kingis, that quene Attalia reigned, & was souerayne [Page] Iudge in Ierusalem seuen yeres space. And Semiramis, after the deathe of kynge Ninus, iudged the people .xl. yeres. And all the quenes of Ethiope, called Can­daces, were moste wyse, and reig­ned moste myghtely: of whomit is written in the actes of the apo­stels.Act. 8. And meruaylouse thynges of them speaketh the faithful writer of antyquytie Iosephus.3. Reg. 10. Also Nicania,2. Paral. 9. the quene of Saba,Matt. 12. cam from the ende of the world,Luce. 11. to here the wysedome of Salomon, and as Christ witnesseth, she shall condemne all the people of Hierusa­lem. And there was a certain wise woman of Thecoa,2. Reg. 14. whyche con­cluded kynge Dauids demaunde with a question,1, Reg 25. with a ryddle she taught hym,3. Reg. 1. and by the exāple of god, swaged his wrath. Nor here [Page] we shulde not forget Abigail and Bathsaba, of whiche two Abigail delyuered her husbande, from the wrathe of Dauid, and after the deathe of her husbande she was queene and wyfe of Dauid. The other, the mother of Salomon, by her prudēcy opteyned, that her sonne was kynge.

¶More ouer, in the Inuention of thynges, Isis, Minerua, Ni­costrata, be examples. In rulyng of realmes, and buyldynge of ci­ties women excelle: Semiramis was the souerayne gouernour of the vniuersall worlde: Dido was the buylder and queene of Car­thage: the Amazones were moste worthy in warre and polytyke in peace. In the bolde byckerynges of battayle, what a woman was Thomiris the queene of Massa­getaries? [Page] She ouercame Cyrus the gret conquerour and puissant kynge of Persians. Also Camil­la, of the Volscians, and Valisca of Boheme, were two most migh­ty queenes. We rede of many o­ther moste noble women, whyche by theyr wonderfulle power and polycie, in most extremytie, and whan there was no hope of helpe loked for, recouered theyre coun­trey, and restored it to wealthe a­geyne. Amonge whome is Iu­dith, whyche saynt Ierome hygh­lye prayseth with these wordes: Take Iudith the wydowe, the ex­ample of chastite, declare her with triumphant prayse and perpetual commendation. For god gaue her to be an example, not only for women, but also for men to folowe, whiche for a rewarde of her cha­stitie, [Page] armed her with suche ver­tue, that she vanquished him that was inuyncible to all menne, and subdued hym, that no man coulde ouercome.

¶Further,1. Reg. 20 we reade, that a cer­tayn wise woman called vnto her Ioab the capitayne, and delyue­red into his handes the heade of Siba, the ennemye of Dauid, to the intente to saue the citie Abela, from distruction, whiche was the chiefe citie of Israell.Iudic. 9. And a cer­tayne woman, threwe a piece of a myl stone vpon Abimelechs head and brake his brayne panne, exe­cutynge the vengeance of god v­pon Abimelech, bycause he hadde done yll before god agaynste his father, in sleinge .lxx. of his bre­ther vpon one stone.

¶So Hester,Hest. 7. 8. the wyfe of kynge [Page] Assuer, not only deliuered her people from the moste shamefull deth but also made theym ryght hono­rable.

¶Whanne Coriolanus with the Volscians, had besieged Rome, & soo sharpely assayled it, that the Romaynes were not able to de­fende them selues agaynste hym: an auncient woman Veturia his mother, soo handled the mattier, that she ouercame his rage and furye, and reconcyled hym ageyn to the Romaynes. Arthemisia, whan the Rhodians came fiersly vpon her, both disapoynted them of theyr nauye of shyppes, and conquered that Ilande, and sette vp her Image within the citie of Rhodes, as a perpetuall note of infamye vnto them.

¶Howe moche doo the Frenche [Page] men prayse a yonge damsell,Anno d̄ni 1428. whi­che beinge descended of a lowe li­nage, toke vpon her after the ma­ner of the Amazons, to leade the forward of the army: & she fought so valiantly, and hadde soo good chaunce, that the French men be­leued verily, that by her prowesse, they recouered the relme of Frāce out of the Englysshe mens han­des: And therfore, to the perpetu­all remēbrance of her, they made an ymage of a mayden to be sette vp in Orliaunce on the brydge o­uer the ryuer of Liger or Loier. I coulde yet reherce out of the hi­stories of the Grekes, of the Lati­nes, and other barbarous natiōs innumerable moste excellent wo­men, but to the ende this worke shulde not be to greate a volume, I studyed to be breefe. For Plu­tarche, [Page] Valerius, Bocatius, and many other haue writtē the praise of noble women: And therfore I haue spokē but lytel of their prai­ses, but ouer passed verye manye thynges. For why, I am not soo presumptuous, to thynke my selfe able, to cōprehend in few wordes, ye infynite nobylities & vertues of womē. For who is able throughly and perfectly to recyte the infinite prayses of women, of whome we take all oure lyfe and substaunce, and in whome is all the conserua­tion of mankynde, the whyche els shulde peryshe and decay in short tyme: on whome also euery fami­lye and common welthe depen­deth? This thynge was well kno­wen to the buylder of Rome, whiche bycause he lacked women, ra­uy shed and caried away the Sa­bines [Page] daughters, not doubtynge the cruel warre that shuld folowe thervpon. For he knewe, that su­che an empire wolde in short time perisshe, yf they wanted women. And at laste, whan the Capytoll was taken by the Sabynes, and that in the myddes of the market place, they foughte moste cruellye hande to hande, with the sodayne runnynge of the women betwene bothe the hostes, the battayle ces­sed: and at the laste a peace being made, and a truce taken, they concluded a perpetual amitie. For the whych cause Romulus regestred these womens names in the cour­tes and courte rolles. And it was by the Romaynes assente decreed and wrytten in the common ta­bles, that women shuld not grind at the quyrne, nor drudge in the [Page] kitchen: nor the husbande shulde not say: Wife, I giue the this: nor the wyfe: Husbande, I gyue you this: bycause they shulde knowe, that euery thynge betwene theym was cōmon. And hereof at length grewe a custom, that whan ye new wedded wyfe was brought home, she wolde saye: vbi tu, ego, that is where you be lorde, I am ladye: where you be maister, I am may­stresse. Moreouer, great honours tokens of high reuerence and di­gnitie were done to women by de­cree of the Senatours, as these: that in the way they shulde go on the vpper hane: and that men shuld ryse on their fete vnto them & gyue them place. Furthermore, it was graunted theym, to weare purple garmentes, embrowdred about with gold, ornamentes deeked [Page] with precyous stones, rynges at theyr eares, & chaynes of golde about theyr neckes. And it was at the last decreed by the emperours lawes, that as ofte as any statute was made in any place, forbyd­ding ornamentes or apparayle to be worne, women shoulde not be comprehended vnder that lawe. Also it was granted theym, to re­ceyue herytage and succession of goodes, & the funerals of women to be celebrate and honourablye kepte, as the funeralles of noble men were. For why on a time whā a gyfte shoulde be sente to Apollo Delphicus, as Camillus had vowed, and that there was not soo moche golde in the cytie: the wo­men of theyr owne good wylles, brought in the iewelles and orna­mentes of theyr bodies.

[Page] ¶And in the warre that Cyrus made agaynst Astiages, the Per­sians armye was by the castyga­tion of women reprehended, and being newely restored againe, op­teyned a right worthy vyctorye. For the whiche dede Cyrus made a lawe, that kynges of the Persi­ans entrynge into the cytie. shuld paye to euerye woman a piece of golde. The whiche thynge also kynge Alexander, entrynge twyse into that citie payd twyse. Ye and more ouer, he commaunded the gyft to be doubled to women with chylde. So from the moste aunci­ent kynges of the Persyans and Romaynes, yea from the very be­gynnyng of the citie of Rome and empire, women were hadde in all hygh honour and reuerence: and the very emperours theym selues [Page] estemed theym moste highly. For Iustynian the emperour, in ma­kynge of lames, thoughte it con­ueniente, to haue the counsaylle and aduyse of his wyfe. And in an other place, the law sayth, that the wyfe shyneth in the honour of her husbande, and the brightnes of his dignitie beautifieth her, for the higher the husband is aduan­ced in honour, the higher is his wyfe. Soo the Emperours wyfe is callid empresse, the kingis wife quene, the princis wyfe, the prin­cesse: and is therby enobled, howe lowe so euer she be of byrthe. And Vlpian the lawyer sayth. A prince that is to saye, the Emperoure or kynge, is aboue the lawes, and although the empresse is bonde by the lawes, yet the emperour frely granteth her as great priuileges [Page] as he hath hym selfe. Wherfore it is permitted vnto noble women, to iudge, to arbytrate and decyde matters, to doo and take homage and fealtie, to keepe courtes, and mynyster Iustyce amonge theyr tenauntes. And for this pour­pose, the woman may haue coue­nant seruauntes of her owne, as well as the man may: and a wo­manne may be iudge, yea amonge straungers. She maye also gyue name to her familie and kynred: so that the chyldren shalbe named after their mother, and not after their father. And in dyuerse pla­ces of the lawe cyuyle, womenne haue, touchynge theyr doweries, many great priuileges graunted them. Where amonge other thyn­ges it is ordeyned, that a woman of good name and fame, shall not [Page] be imprysoned for dette, and the Iudge, that commytteth her to pryson, shall lose his heed. If she be suspected of any faute, she shal be putte into a monasterye or se­crete place, or elles be delyuerid to womē, to be imprysonde by them. For the lawe saythe, A woman is of better state and condition than a man: and also in one selfe kynd of offence, the manne trespasseth more than the woman. Wherfore the man taken in auoutrie, loseth his head: but the woman aduou­terer is put into a monasterye.

Azo the Lawyer gethereth mo priuiledges for the womenne in his Summe and briefe Annotation vpon the title named, Ad Senatus consultum uelleianum, & Speculator vpon the title De renuntiationibus.

¶Also the auncyente lawe ma­kers [Page] and stablyshers of common wealthes, the moste graue, wyse, and prudent menne, Licurgus I say, and Plato, knowynge verye welle by the secretes of Phyloso­phy, that women were not inferi­ours to men, neyther in excellen­cye of mynde, nor in strengthe of bodye, nor in dygnitie of Nature, but lyke able vnto all thynges, decreed and made lawes, that wo­men shoulde exercise suche may­stries as men vsed, yea all feates perteynynge to the warre, in the bowe, in the slynge, in hurlynge of stones, in shotynge, in fygh­tynge in armour, as well on hors backe as on foote, in pytchyng of tentes, in settynge men in arraye, and couductynge of an hoste: and to be briefe, they ordeyned, that women shuld as cōmonly as men [Page] vse all maner exercyses. Lette vs rede writers of antiquitie, worthy to be beleued, and we shall fynde, that in Getulia, Bactris, and Galletia, the maner was, that menne gaue them selfes to ease and deli­cacy, and the women to plow and tylle the fieldes, to buylde, to bye and sel, to ryde, to go on warfare, and to do all other thynges, whi­che nowe amonge vs the men do. Amonge the Cantabrians, men gaue dowerye to the women, bre­therne were gyuen to mariage by theyr systers, doughters were ap­poynted to be heires. Amonge the Scythians, the Thracians, and Frenche menne, all worthy dedes were as cōmonly done by women as by men, and in matters concer­nynge warre and peace, women were called to councelle, to gyue [Page] theyr aduyse and sentence. Which thynge the Truce that the Celtes made with Hanniball, dothe well declare to be trewe, by these wor­des: If any of the Celtes com­playne, to haue had wronge of a­ny of the Carthaginences: of that thing let the rulers & officers of ye Carthaginences, or els the capy­taynes which shal be in Spayne, be iudges: If any of the Cartha ginences hath hadde any wronge done hym, by anye of the Celtes, lette the women of the Celtes be iuges, and determyne that thyng. But by the great tyranny of men, preuaylynge ageinst the lawes of god and nature, such libertie was gyuen to women.

¶Thou wylte saye, that is nowe forbydden by lawes, abolished by custome, extincted by education. [Page] For anon as a woman is borne e­uen from her infancy, she is kept at home in ydelnes, & as thoughe she were vnmete for any hygher busynesse, she is pmitted to know no farther, than her nedle and her threede. And than whan she com­meth to age, able to be maried, she is delyuered to the rule and gouernance of aielous husband, orels she is perpetually shutte vp in a close nounrye. And all offyces be­longynge to the common weale, be forbydden theym by the lawes. Nor it is not permitted to a wo­man, though she be very wise and prudent, to pleade a cause before a Iuge. Furthermore, they be re­pelled in iurisdiction, in arbiter­ment, in adoption, in intercession, in procuration, or to be gardeyns or tutours, in causes testamētary [Page] and criminall. Also they be repel­led frome preachynge of goddes worde, agaynst expresse and playn scripture, in whyche the holy gost promised vnto them by Iohel the prophet,Iohel. 8. saieng: And your daugh­ters shall prophecie and preache: lyke as they taught openly in the tyme of the apostles: as it is well knowen, that Anna the wydowe of Symeon, the daughters of Philyp, and Priscilla, the wyfe of Aquila dydde. But the vnworthy dealyng of the later lawe makers is so great, that breakyng goddes commaundemente, to stablysshe theyr owne traditions, they haue pronounced openlye, that women otherwyse in excellency of nature, dignitie, and honour most noble, be in condicion more vyle than all men: And thus by these lawes, [Page] the women being subewed as it were by force of armes, are con­strained to giue place to men, and to obeye theyr subdewers, not by no naturall, no diuyne necessitie or reason, but by custome, educa­tion, fortune, and a certayne ty­rannicall occasion.

¶Furthermore, there be somme men, whyche by relygion, clayme authoritie ouer women, and they proue theyr tyranny by holy scrip­ture: the whiche haue this cursed sayenge, spoken to Eue, contynu­ally in theyr mouth:Genes. 2. Thou shalt be vnder the power of man, and he shall haue lordeshyp ouer the. But yf it be answered vnto them, that Christe toke awaye that cur­sed sayenge: they wyll obiecte a­geyne the wordes of Peter, [...]. Pet. 3. with whome Paule agreeth,Ad col. 3. sayenge:Ad eph. 5 [...] [Page] Lette women be in subiection of theyr husoandes. Lette women in the churche kepe sylence. But he that knoweth the dyuers fygures of Scripture, and the effectes of the same, shall soone se, that these thynges be not repugnant but in the rynde.Rom̄. 2. For this is the order in the churche,Act. 10. that men in ministra­tion shall be preferred before wo­men: lyke as the Iewes in pro­myssion are before the Greekes: yet neuerthelesse God is not accepter of persones. For in Christ nei­ther male nor female is of value, but a newe creature. And manye thinges were permitted vnto mē, for the hardenesse and crueltie of theyr hartes ageynste women: as in times past diuorces were gran­ted vnto the Iewes, whiche for al that nothyng hurteth the dignitie [Page] of women: But whan men com­mytte offence and erre, the women haue power of Iudgement ouer theym, to the great shame and re­buke of menne. And that quiene Saba shall iudge the men of Ie­rusalem. Therfore they, whyche beynge iustifyed by fayth: are be­come the sonnes of Abraham, the chylderne I say of promyssion, be subdewed to a woman, and boun­den by the cōmandement of god, sayenge to Abraham: what so e­uer Sara saith vnto the, folow it.

¶Nowe at laste,Gene. 21. brefely to recol­lecte, Fyrste, I haue shewed the great excellency of womankynd, by her name, order, place, and matter, and what greate dignitie she hath obteined of god aboue man: Farther I haue declared it by re­lygion, nature, humayne lawes, [Page] by diuers authorities, reason and examples, myngling one with an other. And yet haue I not so mo­che sayd, but that I haue left mo­che more vnspoken. For neyther Ambition, nor the cause of myne owne commendation, but my du­tie and the very truthe moued me to wryte: lest that I, as one com­myttynge sacrilege (holdynge my peace) shuld seme priuyly to steale and bribe away by a certayn wyc­ked silence, from so noble a kynde, the laudes and preyses due to it, as it were, burienge in the groūd the talente that god hathe gyuen me. But yf anye man more cury­ous than I, shal fynde any argu­ment or reason, that hath escaped me, whyche he thynketh worthye to be added to this my booke, I woll not recken my selfe blamed, [Page] but rather holpen thereby, in that this my worke, by his wytte and counnynge, he wolle make better. There­fore leste this worke shuld growe to ouer great a volume, here I make an ende


A Londini in aedibus Thomae Berthe­leti typis impress Cum pri. nilegio ad imprimen­dum solum.




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