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Nova Contra Mulieres/
A New Argument Against Women

Editorial Director

Maurice Hindle

Mellen Critical Editions and Translations is a new series that makes

historically significant but neglected texts available to the research

community in a fuUy annotated scholarly form. Each work, which will

have originated usually before 1900, is prepared and presented by

scholarly specialists.


Proposals for volumes in this series, which are invited from scholars

working in any field of the humanities and the human sciences, should be

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Wales, United Kingdom SA48 8LT.



Nova Contra Mulieres/

A New Argument Against Women
A Critical Translation from the Latin

with Commentary, Together with the Original

Latin Text of 1595

Clive Hart

Mellen Critical Editions and Translations

Volume 1

The Edwin Mellen Press

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Disputatio nova contra mulieres = A new argument against women : a

critical translationfrom the Latin with commentary, together with
the original Latin text of 1 595 / Clive Hart.
p. cm. -- (Mellen critical editions and translations v. 1) ;

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-7734-8280-6 (hardcover)
1. Woman (Christian theology)— Early works to 1 800. I. Series.
BT704.D56 1998
261.8' 344-dc21 98-25020
This is volume 1 in the continuing series
Mellen Critical Editions & Translations
Volume 1 ISBN 0-7734-8280-6
MCET Series ISBN 0-7734-8292-X

A CIP catalog record for this book is available from the British Library.

Copyright © 1998 The Edwin Mellen Press

All rights reserved. For information contact

The Edwin Mellen Press The Edwin Mellen Press

Box 450 Box 67
Lewiston, New York Queenston, Ontario

The Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd.

Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales

Printed in the United States of America

Gentlemen, I would advise you as a Friend, take Quarter whilst 'tis to be
had, or at least accept of such Articles as the Honour of the fair Sex

offers you, before your obstinacy and unfaithfulness to your ancient

Governesses force them to exclude you from any hopes ever more to be

admitted to their good Grace and Favour.

Anon, The wonders of the female world (1683?) Preface.


Foreword ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgements xiii

1 Introduction: do women have souls? Opinions from the

middle ages to the nineteenth century. 1

2 The Disputatio nova: a history of its publication and

reception 2

3 The Disputatio nova: first complete translation into English 43

4 The Disputatio nova: commentary, with identification of

allusions and sources 71

5 Essai sur I'ame des femmes: translation into English of the

anonymous essay of 1744 117

6 The Disputatio nova: Latin text, with bibliographical

introduction and textual notes 131

Bibliography 179

Index 189

This book explores a controversy about the nature of women which surfaced

from time to time during the middle ages, came to a head in the late sixteenth

century, and was still being discussed in the late nineteenth century. The issues

were succinctly expressed in a little tract with the paradoxical title Disputatio

nova contra mulieres, qua probatur eas homines non esse (A new argument
against women, in which it is demonstrated that they are not human beings).

The Disputatio caused a stir out of proportion both to its size and to the cogency
or originality of its arguments. It was reprinted many times, translated into

several languages, and countered by a variety of treatises, some solemn, some

frivolous, some by men, some by women. There is no question of reprinting all

of this very large body of material, much of it repetitive and some of it of

inferior quality. This book offers a complete translation of the Disputatio nova

together with a commentary in which I include extracts from other treatises

either written in direct response to it or addressing similar issues. To these I

have added a complete translation of an essay published two and a half centuries

later as an addendum to Anne Gabriel Meusnier de Querlon's French version of

the tract. Chapter 6 includes the Latin text of the Disputatio, edited from a
copy of the first edition partially collated with the first two reprints and a
manuscript now in the Library of Congress.

Clive Hart s insightful, provocative, and often amusing book, the product of
careful research backed by sensitive awareness of the issues and sound linguistic
knowledge, will enable modern readers
to understand more clearly what lay
behind the many feminist and antifeminist disputes of the seventeenth and

eighteenth centuries.

Brian Willis

The University of Western Australia



For advice on points of detail I am grateful to Leon Burnett, C. Benton Klein,

Angela Livingstone, Neil O'Sullivan, Rabbi Shaul Robinson, Kay Gilliland
Stevenson, and Brian Willis. I am also grateful to the Department of Literature,

University of Essex, for grants towards the cost of research; to Denison Beach,

of the Houghton Library, Harvard University; to James Davis, Rare Books

Librarian, University Research Library, UCLA; and to the Bodleian Library,

Oxford, for assistance with access to materials. The courteous staff of the Rare
Books Room, Library of Congress, took great care to ensure that their

manuscript of the Disputatio was readily available on the occasions of my visits

there; I thank them warmly.

For permission to quote a passage from Luis Diez Merino, Targum de Salmos,

1 am grateful to the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cienti'ficas, Madrid.

For permission to quote from my transcription of MS Rawl. 421, ff. 2^-4^ and
65'-66'', I am grateful to the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Dr Philip Gaskell, sometime Librarian and Tutor of Trinity College,

Cambridge ("admirable translation"), and Dr Elaine Jordan, of the Department

of Literature, University of Essex ("a very lively, succinct, and informative

survey . . . extremely useful bibliography ... a publication of considerable

interest"), have been kind enough to recommend this book for publication.

Except where otherwise indicated, the translations of passages originally

published in languages other than English are my own.



Introduction: do women have souls? Opinions from the middle
ages to the nineteenth century

The Disputatio nova contra mulieres, qua probatur eas homines non esse

(1595), first published anonymously with no note of place, appeared at a time

when the quarrel about women was well advanced.' Christian teaching had long

confronted theologians and philosophers with a paradox concerning women's

status. On the one hand it commonly stressed that in the eyes of heaven there

was no inherent difference between men and women: "there is neither male nor

female" (Gal. 3.28); male and female saints were equally worthy of veneration,

while in heaven men and women would enjoy complete equality. On the other

hand, women must in their earthly life accept the submissive status ordained for

them by Saint Paul. The distinction between the proper attitudes to physical and
heavenly life was far from clear. Saint Paul had elsewhere contradicted himself

by insisting on important areas of equality between husbands and wives: each

could, for example, call on the other for sexual intercourse and the partners

must be equally ready to accede (1 Cor. 7.3-4).

Those wishing to attribute an inferior, even subhuman status to women

frequently relied on negative or ambiguous responses to two related theological

difficulties of long standing and of central significance: first, whether women,

who differ physically from men, can be said to be made in the image of God;
second, whether women are endowed with souls and, if so, whether their souls

For furtlier comment on dating, see chapter 6.

are identical to those of men. What is meant by the image of God? "So God
created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him" (Gen.
1.27). Who, or what, is created in the image of God? Does the concept of

image refer to the visible body— in which case should we think of God as having

both a masculine and a feminine appearance?’ Or is only the male body in

question, in which case womankind was not made in the image of God?^ Or
does the image rather inhere in the soul which, unlike the body— and assuming
that women are indeed blessed with souls— may be free from sexual

differentiation? This last solution, normal after the high middle ages, was
clearly enunciated by Saint Augustine (354-430) and further clarified by Saint
Thomas (c. 1225-74), who stressed that the image of God was to be found in the

rational soul: tarn in viro, quam in muliere invenitur Dei imago, quantum ad id,

in quo principaliter ratio imaginis consistit, scilicet quantum ad intellectualem

naturam (the image of God is found in men as in women in respect of that in

which the quality of the image mainly consists, that is to say in respect of

intellectual nature); imago Dei utrique sexui est communis, cum sit secundum
mentem, in qua non est distinctio sexuum (the image of God is common to both

sexes, since it concerns the rational soul, in which there is no distinction of

sexes)." Other authorities, expressing other views, were nevertheless widely

quoted. Making a statement to support women's subjection to men, Gratian

(twelfth century) had unequivocally declared in causa 33, quaestio 5, canon 13

of his Decretum that woman is not made in the image of God.^ Although

Gratian’s canons were never officially adopted, they were highly influential.

^ See Caroline Walker Bynum, Jesus as mother (Berkeley 1982).

^ by many commentators, translates "man" as homo. As Hertz
In this passage the Vulgate, used
points out, the Hebrew
uses Adam, meaning human being. See J. H. Hertz, The Pentateuch and
Haftorahs (Oxford 1929) lln. The understanding of /tomo rests at tlie heart of tlie controversy
revived by the Disputatio.
" Summa theologica 1.93, esp. 1.93.4, 6. The opinions of Saint Thomas did not resolve the
question for everyone; for centuries tlie matter of tlie sexual differentiation of die soul remained
controversial. See chapter 4, conmientary on die Disputatio, thesis 38. See also Saint
Augustine, De For a general discussion of woman as the image of God, see
trinitate VII. 12.
Nancy Tuana, The less noble sex: scientific, religious, and philosophical conceptions of
woman's nature (Bloomington and Indianapolis 1993) 53-78.
^ Haec imago Dei est in homine, ut unus
factus sit quasi Dominus, ex quo ceteri orirentur,
habens imperium Dei, quasi vicarius ejus, quia onwis rex Dei habet imaginem, ideoque mulier
non est facta ad imaginem Dei (PL 187.1654). (This image of God is man, who was
in die
made unique as the ruler, from whom others might be born, having die power of God as his

Following the rediscovery of Aristotle in the thirteenth century and his

amalgamation into Christian philosophy, a resolution of these tensions grew still

more difficult since Aristotle had insisted that women were inherently inferior

beings. Giving his attention more to their physical structure and function than
to their moral or spiritual nature, he had gone so far as to call them monsters,
mistakes of nature, and had implied that they were more akin to the higher

animals than to men. In De generatione animalium he says that "the female is,

as it were, a mutilated male" a view quoted with approval by Saint

Thomas, but with the qualification that a lesser, passive creature responding to

the active principle of the male is a necessary part of creation. Since her

existence is required by the order of nature she can be rescued from the category

of mutilated things; per comparationem ad naturam universalem foemina non est

aliquid occasionatum, sed est de intentione naturae ad opus generationis

ordinata (with reference to universal nature, the female is not something
mutilated but is ordained by the intention of nature for the work of generation).*

A lesser creature, woman is nevertheless equally necessary.’

As only her corporeal nature is inferior, can woman therefore expect total

equality in heaven? Does equality imply identity? If there is no sex in heaven,

what will the redeemed look like when clothed first in their celestial bodies and,

later, when they recover their physical bodies at the resurrection of the flesh?

vicar— for any king has die image of God; and therefore woman is not made in the image of
‘ Summa theologica 1.92. 1.

’ Although Aristotle's opinion was frequently reiterated by physiologists and doctors of the
renaissance, it was often called into question. Dr Helkiah Crooke, notorious for his copious
description of sexual matters in the vernacular, deplored the Aristotelian belittling of women:

. . . the female sexe as well as the male is a perfection of mankinde; some diere bee that
call a woman Animal occasionatum, or Accessiorum, barbarous words to expresse a
barbarous conceit; as if diey should say, A Creamre by the way, or made by mischance;
yea some have growne to that impudencie, that they have denied a woman to have a
soule as man hath. The truth is, that as the soule of a woman is the same divine nature
with a mans, so is her body a necessary' being, z first and not a second intention of
Nature, her proper and absolute worke not her error or prevarication. The difference is

by the Ancients in few words elegantly set downe when they define a man, to be a
creature begetting in another, a woman a Creature begetting in her self.

Helkiah Crooke, \Mikrokosmographia.\ A description of the body of man

(1615) second edition, enlarged (London 1631) book V, Of the principles of
generation, &c., chap, i, p. 258.

Will all signs of sexual differentiation be expunged? Or, if the male body is

superior to the female, will everyone in heaven be male?* This last possibility

provided rhetorical ammunition for women's adversaries, among whom one of

the most virulent was Gratien Dupont. An author of whose life little is known,
he published in 1534 Les controversses des sexes masculin et femenin.^ Written

in a variety of verse forms, sometimes highly experimental, it mounts a

powerful attack on women from every possible angle. The arguments, ranging
from the most sophisticated to the obscene, include discussions of sexual

difference from the time of the creation of the angels. The angels, says Dupont,

were, and still are, all masculine; woman's inferiority makes the idea of a

female angel unthinkable. When he wishes to condemn women as Satanic, this

point proves less than helpful. Since the devils in hell are fallen angels they

also are all male. Dupont resorts to sophistry. Although they have nothing to
do with angels, fallen or otherwise, women may appropriately be called

diablesses because, like true demons, they are placed on earth to torment and

punish men (ff. 12'^'- 14''). At best women are no more than beautiful animals

created to give pleasure to men and to serve them with their bodies and goods
(39'^). As for life in heaven, Dupont invokes the biblical assurance that after

death our bodies will be restored to perfection: “It is sown in corruption; it is

raised in incorruption” (see 1 Cor. 15.35-58). It follows that the rib that Adam
lost when Eve was created will be restored to him, as will its equivalent in all

other men.'® Women will therefore disappear entirely, leaving only men in


* These questions were endlessly discussed. See chapter 2, commentary on die Disputatio. See
also Clive Hart and Kay Gilliland Stevenson, Heaven and the flesh (Cambridge 1995) 109-26.
In his The renaissance notion of woman (Cambridge 1980), Ian Maclean misleadingly states that
"Renaissance commentators . . . seem unanimously to agree that woman will be resurrected as a
woman" (14). Statements that in heaven women will become as men or that all sexual
differention will disappear remained frequent.
’ Gratien Dupont, Les controversses des sexes masculin etfemenin (Tholose 1534).
Two clauses of die Gospel of Philip (third century, but little known until the twentieth), make
similar points: "In the days when Eve was was no death.
in After she was
Adam, diere
separated from him, death followed. If she enters again into him and if he takes her into

himself, there will be no more death" (clause 71). "If woman had not separated from man, she
would not have died with the man. Her separation was the origin of deadi. That is why Christ
came to put right once more the separation which had existed since the beginning, to reunite
them two by two, and to give life to those who died in the separation, and to unite them" (clause
78). See Jacques-E. Menard, L'evangile selon Philippe (Montreal and Paris 1964) 88, 90.

fault que femme retourne

Et par ainsy au monde terrien

La pouvre femme doncques ne sera rien

Par consequence: qui bien y pensera

Jamais au monde plus femme ne sera. (40'')

(In this way woman must return to the terrestrial world. Poor woman
will thus, in consequence, be nothing. If you think about it, there will

never be a woman in the world again.)

Might a case for women's lower status be based less on bodily inferiority than

on the premise that, although she may have a vegetable and a sensitive soul, she

altogether lacks a rational soul? Although the early fathers seem usually to have
assumed that women had souls, the origin and status of those souls generated

much commentary. While the Bible's accounts of the creation of Adam and Eve
are barely distinguished in the first version (Gen. 1.26-27), they differ markedly

in the second. In Gen. 2.7 God forms man from the dust of the ground and
then breathes a soul— "the breath of life"— into his nostrils. In Gen. 2.21-23,
where Eve is created from Adam's rib, there is mention neither of the breath of
life nor of anything else that could reasonably be thought to refer to a soul. If,

despite the absence of explicit testimony, she has a soul, what is its origin?

Commentators proposed a variety of solutions, among which the most

commonly adopted were (1) that the divine activity on the sixth day of creation
should be understood to mean that God created not the bodies described in Gen.

2 but individual souls for the first man and woman, and that perhaps at the same

moment he also created— at least in potential— the souls of the whole human race
to come (an interpretation commonly known as "preexistence"); (2) that Eve's

soul was derived from that of Adam, as was her body, a process repeated in all

subsequent human beings by a quasigenetic process which needs no further

divine intervention ("traductionism"); (3) that Eve's soul was created by God at

the moment of the creation of the body and that the same is true of everyone

else in later generations ("creationism")." As scripture provided no clear

" Although the doctrinal point has never been unambiguously formulated, this last is the view
adopted by the modem catholic church.

guidance, many, including Augustine, remained undecided.'- Uncertainty

opened the way for the heretical view that the silence of scripture might be
interpreted to mean that in fact women had no souls at all. This doubt was

further increased by the different verbs used in Hebrew for the creation of

Adam (Gen. 1.27) and for the making of Eve (Gen. 2.22), where the first verb

implies creation ex nihilo while the second means built from physical materials
in the same sense as that in which one builds a house.'’ A woman might after

all be no more than a fleshly machine.

Long before the Disputatio was written the essential soullessness of women
had grown proverbial. In Lewis Wager's morality play The life and
repentaunce of Marie Magdalene (1566, 1567), the personified figure of The
Lawe speaks to Mary, urging her to obey God's commands:

Yea woman, God doth not onely prohibite the dede.

But he forbiddeth the lust and concupiscence,

Therfore thy heart hath great occasion to blede.

For many lustes and dedes hath defiled thy conscience.

To which Infidelitie replies:

Body of God, are you so madde him to beleue?

These thyngs are written to make folkes afrayde.

Will ye to him or to me credence geue?

Or to your frends, by whom you wer never dismaid?

And I put case that the wordes nowe were trewe.

He speaketh of men, but no women at all.

Women haue no soules, this saying is not newe;

Men shall be damned, and not women which do fall.

The Lawe then explains the true meaning of "man":

See, especially, Augustine’s De genesi ad litteram X, in which he takes issue with the views
of Tertullian; Augustine, De genesi ad litteram 2 vols, text witli French trans, by P. Agaesse
and A. Solignac (Paris 1972) vol. 1, 110-14, 530-41; Tertullian, De anima ed. J. H. Waszink
(Amsterdam 1947) 52, 419-22.
See Hertz, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs 23; see also chapter 4, commentary on thesis 12.

By this terme man, truely in holy Scripture,

Is vndertake both man, woman, and child in dede.

Yea as many of both kyndes as be of mans nature,

Whiche procede of Adam the first parents sede.'"'

Lewis's use of the word "saying" both indicates that the belief was a
commonplace and, by implying that Infidelitie’s argument depends on popular
lore, subtly undermines the attempted seduction.
The development of neoplatonism in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries
offered a more attractive point of view encompassing both body and soul: in

addition to being the spiritual equals of men, women in their mortal life reflect

through their physical beauty the beauty of divinity. Men may appropriately

seek heaven through loving relationships with them. Several of the women's
advocates explicitly defended their right to be thought of as in all respects

complete human beings. Having asserted early in his La nobilta delle dome
(1549) that the word huomo includes the feminine (f. S'^), Lodovico Domenichi
goes on to write:

whatever substance a thing is made from does not admit of being "more"

or "less." Just as no stone can be more perfectly stone than another in

respect of its essence as stone; just as no wood can be more perfectly

wood than another; so a man [huomo] cannot be more entirely man than

another, and in consequence the male will not be more perfect than the

female in respect of their formative substance because both the one and

the other are made under the species man and the difference between the
one and the other is an accidental not an essential matter, (f. IS'')

Participants in the querelle des femmes often went further, advancing the more

extreme argument that women are not merely the equals of men but their

superiors in both body and soul. In the year before the Disputatio appeared, the

Huguenot poet and chronicler Alexandre de Pont-Aymeri, Sieur de Faucheran,

published his Paradoxe apologique, ou il est fidellement demonstre que la

Lewis Wager, The life and repentaunce of Marie Magdalene (1566) (London 1567) Eiv'’ ( =
lines 1173-88).

femme est beaucoup plus parfaite que I'homme en toute action de vertu.

Written in persuasive language, his tract combines the qualities of a serious

philosophical argument and a gentleman's jeu d'esprit. An English translation,

perhaps by the antipapist dramatist and pamphleteer Anthony Munday, was

edited in 1599 by Anthony Gibson. In places it is eloquent to the point of

blasphemy. For Pont-Aymeri heaven itself is female:

As (according to Anaxagoras) the body of Nature is heaven, and the

influence thereof her soule: even so, the body of a woman is the heaven

of humane perfections, and her soule the treasurie of celestiall and divine


The goodly heavens might not compare with the ornament and graces of

a woman, if nature had not made them of longer continuance: but by her

death she doth so much the more enrich their beauty encreasing their

fairenesse in no meane measure, and yet to our unspeakeable losse. . . .

Womens beauty ... is above all else most marvellous: It is the

excellencie of the Divine workemanship, or rather the chiefest thing of

this heavenly labour: It is the modell, not onely of things that beautifie

the world, but the very especiall of all formes: It is the table of the

celestiall powers: the gadge of natures alliance with the world, and the
onelie mirrour of perfect Ideaes: . . . The man that will enter but into

consideration thereof, shall in that one book read all perfections

whatsoever, and . . . will unfainedly confesse, that the body of a woman

is a true Temple, and her soule the very image of God, or figure of his

blessing. . . . Hee will likewise confesse, that woman was given him for

his eternall good, and that the house is not blessed where she wanteth.'^

Alexandre de Pont-Aymeri, Paradoxe apologique, ou il est fidellement demonstre que la

femme est beaucoup plus parfaite que I’homme en toute action de vertu (Paris 1594) 7, 139-40,
152-54, trans. Anthony Munday (?), ed. Antliony Gibson, as A womans woorth, defended
against all the men in the world, prooving them to be more perfect, excellent and absolute in all
vertuous actions, then any man of what qualitie soever (London 1599) P, 55*^, 60''-61''.

Although in general accurate, the translation sometimes heightens the tone.

This is especially evident in the closing lines, in which Pont-Aymeri focuses on

domestic happiness:

. . . elle est nostre recours. C'est le Dieu familier de nostre habitation,

c'est nostre repos, & nous sommes son soucy. (She is our refuge. She
is the familiar deity of our household, she is our repose, and we are her

care.) (155)

By developing the final clause of the original, the translator shifts the attention

away from the total passivity of the male with which Pont-Aymeri closes.

Rather than speak of a man's being cared for by a loving wife or mistress acting

as a divine protectress, he substitutes a vision of happiness which may well

include a state of future connubial bliss in heaven;

. . . she is our meanes of comfort to God the Father, the cause of his

blessings to us in this life, and by her we are made sure of all happinesse

in the life to come, (bl'^)

For Pont-Aymeri and his translator there is clearly no question of a woman's

needing to abandon her femininity before she may hope to attain a state of


The contrary opinion continued to tempt misogynist preachers and ironists. In

An almond for a parrat, a pamphlet published in 1590, an anonymous author—

perhaps Thomas Nashe— casually mentions an attempt made by a preacher at

Lichfield to demonstrate that women are soulless. He makes the point in the

context of a wider controversy about ecclesiastical matters, the pamphlet war

known as the Martin Marprelate controversy. The dispute, in which many

eminent people were involved, concerned the spreading by Puritans of scurrilous

gossip about bishops. The pamphleteer urges women to take an active part,

assert themselves with their husbands, and “leade them like good soules up and
downe the streetes by the homes.” Prompted by his own metaphorical use of

the word “soul,” he goes on to attribute women’s vigour to their full spiritual


let it be seene by your courages in scolding, that women have soules,

which a balde eloquent brother of yours, denide not long since in his

Sermon at Lichfielde.'®

A little later— and perhaps almost simultaneously with the writing of the

Disputatio— i\\t young John Donne amused himself by including, in a series of

"Problems," an attempt to answer the reverse question "Why hath the Common
Opinion afforded Women soules?" The tone of Donne's long catalogue of
proposed answers suggests that the common opinion was still unsure about the


It is agreed that wee have not so much from them as any part of either
our mortali soules of sense, or growth', and wee deny soules to others
equall to them in all but in speech for which they are beholding to their

bodily instruments: For perchance an Oxes heart, or a Goates, or a

Foxes, or a Serpents would speake just so, if it were in the breast, and

could move that tongue and Jawes. Have they so many advantages and
meanes to hurt us (for, ever their loving destroyed us) that we dare not

displease them, but give them what they will? And so when some call

them Angelis, some Goddesses, and the Palpulian Heretikes make them
Bishops, wee descend so much with the streame, to allow them Soules'}

Or doe we somewhat (in this dignifying of them) flatter Princes and

great personages that are so much governed by them? Or doe wee in

that easinesse, and prodigality, wherein wee daily lose our owne soules
to wee care not whom, so labour to perswade our selves, that sith a

woman hath a soule, a soule is no great matterl Or doe we lend them

soules but for use, since they for our sakes, give their soules againe, and

their bodies to boote? Or perchance because the Divell (who is all soule)

doth most mischiefe, and for convenience and proportion, because they
would come neerer him, wee allow them some soules, and so as the
Romans naturalized some Provinces in revenge, and made them Romans,

Thomas Nashe (?), An almond for a

parrat, or Cutbert Curry-ktiaves almes (London 1590)
(6). The works, revised with corrections and supplementary notes by F. P.
In his edition of
Wilson (Oxford 1957) IV. 464, Ronald B. McKerrow confesses that he knows nothing of the
matter, nor does Wilson offer additional comment. The preacher and die sermon remain


onely for the burthen of the Commonwealth', so wee have given women
soules only to make them capable of Damnationi'^

Did the common opinion afford women souls? Probably so; but some men
may have chosen to make a show of doubting it, if only for hedonistic reasons.'*
If women are indeed no more than physical beings, men need never feel guilty

about leading them into sin, whatever they may make them do, nor will women
ever suffer damnation. At the end of his Problem Donne twists the argument,

wrily suggesting that men may rather prefer to think of women as endowed with
souls because the pleasure derived from the idea of their damnation may be still

greater than that to be gained by debauchery.

In his maturity Donne himself appears never to have doubted that women have
souls as men do. Female souls abound in both his secular and his divine poetry
while in his sermons he makes two positive statements, setting aside quibbles

about the absence of an express passage in scripture:

Wee are sure Women have Soules as well as Men, but yet it is not so

expressed, that God breathed a Soule into Woman, as hee did into Man.'’

No author of gravity, of piety, of conversation in the Scriptures could

admit that doubt, whether woman were created in the Image of God, that

is, in possession of a reasonable and an immortali soul.“

John Donne, problem 6 in Juvenilia: or certaine paradoxes, and problemes (London 1633)
G2' -(G3’^1. Palpulian is evidently an error or misprint for Pepuzian or Peputian (the form used
in Donne's sermon of 30 May 1621; see below). The Pepuzian heretics were closely allied to
the Montanists of the second and third centuries. According to Saint Epiphanius (fourth
cenmry) they ordained women and made them bishops, citing as their authority Gal. 3.28: "there

is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Jesus Christ." See D. Epiphanii episcopi
Constantinae Cypri [or. rather. Saint Epiphanius] , Contra octoaginta haereses 49 (Basileae
1542) 197-98. The notion that women are no more than bodily instruments is developed in the

Disputatio, theses 8-10, while a version of the argument concerning speech and animals appears
in thesis 49.
Some references demonstrating the proverbial namre of this view are gathered in Maurice
Palmer Tilley, A dictionary of the proverbs in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
(Ann Arbor 1950) W709.
” Doime, Fifty sermons (London 1649) 399. Delivered 5 November 1622. For a modem
edition, see The sermons of John Donne IV ed. George R. Potter and Evelyn M. Simpson (New
Haven and London 959) 24 1 1

^ LXXX sermons (London 1640) 242. Delivered Easter Day 1630. The sermons IX (1958) 190.
In Paradise lost Milton gives a sophisticated answer to the question of angelic sexuality.
Raphael assures Adam that he and Eve may become as angels and, when pressed about

Donne here takes issue with the views of "Ambrosiaster," the author of

commentaries formerly included with the works of Saint Ambrose and identified

as spurious by Erasmus (c. 1466-1536). Glossing 1 Cor. 11.7, "man ... is the

image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man," Ambrosiaster


There is a great difference between the glory of God and the glory of a

man. For man was made in the image of God but not so woman. She is

rather the image of God in the man.^'

In an earlier sermon Donne had coupled the views of Ambrosiaster with a

further reference to the Pepuzians:

Between the denying of them souls, which S. Ambrose is charged to have

done, and giving them such souls, as that they may be Priests, as your

Peputian hereticks did, is a faire way for a moderate man to walk in. To
make them Gods is ungodly, and to make them Devils is devillish; To
make them Mistresses is unmanly, and to make them servants is unnoble;

To make them as God made them, wives, is godly and manly too.“

Although Donne allows that women have souls, he seems here to attribute their

social subservience, insisted on by Saint Paul, to their spiritual inferiority.

One brief passage in his poetry may indicate that while Donne may have been
in no doubt that women had rational souls, he was aware that the silence of
scripture could be a trouble to others. His crabbed verses of flattery "To the

Countesse of Huntingdon," probably written c. 1615, begin

Man to Gods image. Eve, to mans was made.

Nor finde wee that God breath’d a soule in her.

affectionate relations in heaven, blushingly states that the angels can adopt either sex at will
{Paradise lost VIII. 618-29). I owe the identification of tlie passages in Donne's sermons to

Helen Peters, ed., John Donne, Paradoxes and problems (Oxford 1980) 99-101.
Ambrosiaster in Saint Ambrose, Opera V ed. Johannes Costerius (Basileae 1555) 274. He
makes a similar comment on 1 Cor. 14.34. See p. 285.
Donne, Fifty sermons (London 1649). Delivered 30 May 1621. The sermons III (1957) 242.

Canons will not Church functions you invade.

Nor lawes to civill office you preferre.^

He goes on to celebrate the countess as a miracle, a woman exceptionally gifted

with a virtuous soul. The impact of the poem depends on the reader's initial

awareness that in some quarters women were thought to lack souls.

Speeches taking both sides of the question are found in Elizabethan and

Jacobean plays. The anguish of male characters troubled by sexual relationships

may be assuaged by the belief that women are merely physical beings. Young
Freevill in Marston's The Dutch courtesan (1605), V.iii, ends a scornful speech

in familiar colourful language:

O thou comely damnation.

Dost thinke that vice is not to be withstood?

O what is woman meerely made of bloud!^

The rhetoric is strengthened by the choice of "bloud" rather than flesh, or earth.

Here, as commonly in the period, blood is a synonym for active sexual desire.

The snarling tone grows stronger in a later play in which Marston had a hand.
The insatiate countess (1613). Women's soullessness is there explicitly stated

on two occasions. Count Guido concludes Act III with a soliloquy reviling

womankind in equally conventional language. Now, however, the image of

blood undergoes a transmutation, placed first in the sexual context but evoked

later in a prediction of murder:

Man were on earth an Angell but for woman.

That seaven-fold branch of hell from them doth grow.
Pride, Lust, and Murder, they raise from below.
With all their fellow sinnes. Women were made

Donne, Poem (London 1633) 90. For a modem edition, see The complete poetry ed. John T.
Shawcross (Garden City, NY, 1967) 234. In thesis 49 the author of the Disputatio also makes
the point that women were debarred from ecclesiastical and civil office by botli canon and
secular law.
^ John Marston, The Dutch courtesan in Tragedies and comedies (London 1633) Dd3'' (
V.iii. 47-49).

Of blood, without soules: when their beauties fade,

And their lust’s past, avarice or bawdry

Makes them still lov’d: then they buy venerie.
Bribing damnation, and hire brothell slaves.

Shame's their executors, Infamie their graves.

Your painting will wipe off, which Art did hide.

And shew your ugly shape in spite of pride.
Farewell Isabella poore in soule and fame,
I leave thee rich in nothing but in shame.

Then soulelesse women know, whose faiths are hollow.

Your lust being quench’d, a bloudy act must follow.

Towards the end of the play, Signior Claridiana indulges himself by cursing

women at comparable length. He ends by saying "And lastly, may the opinion

of Philosophers/ Prove true, that women have no soules" (12'' = V.ii. 39-40).

While he appears, along with Gratien Dupont, to enjoy the prospect of women's

annihilation after physical death, freeing him from their presence in the next

life, he also seems to miss Donne's awareness that eternal damnation may be a

worse fate than annihilation.

Shakespeare's characters are more inclined to assume that women are endowed
with immortal souls and that they are the spiritual equals of men. When Hamlet

enquires whose grave he is standing by, the first gravedigger answers "One that

was a woman sir; but, rest her soul, she’s dead" (V.i. 131-32). More pointedly,

Othello assures Desdemona that although he intends to kill her body he does not

wish to deprive her of eternal life: "I would not kill thy soul" (V.ii. 34). At the

end of Macbeth, V.i, the doctor grows aware that Lady Macbeth is more in

need of spiritual than of physical help. Cleopatra predicts that when her body

dies, her soul will ascend to heaven (V.ii).

After the early seventeenth century the topos of women's soullessness survived

more readily in jests and squibs than in serious creative literature. In his The
scourge of folly (1611) Sir John Davies included a section entitled "Upon
English proverbes." Of proverb 25 he writes

John Marston and others. The insatiate countesse (London 1613) F3' (= 111. iv. 219-33). For
a modem edition, see that by Giorgio Melchiori (Manchester 1984) 111. iv. 176-90.
“ “


"All women have no soules:" but spirits they have:

To say who saies it, is a foole or knave.

The couplet is teasingly ambiguous. A man who quotes the proverb may prove
a fool if spirited women attack him, as indeed they sometimes did— even

physically on one occasion.^ Perhaps he is both fool and knave if he attempts

to justify it by appeal to authority, as did the writer of the Disputatio.

Among his "Miscellaneous thoughts" Samuel Butler attributed women’s

proverbial wilfulness to their having souls that are so reduced as to be out of


The Souls of Women are so small.

That some believe th'have none at all;

Or if they have, like Cripples, still

Th'ave but one Faculty, the Will;

The other two are quite laid by

To make up one great Tyranny;

And though their Passions have most Pow'r,

They are, like Turks, but Slaves the more
To th'abs’lute Will, that with a Breath

Has sov'rain Pow'r of Life and Death,

And, as its little Int'rests move.
Can turn 'em all to Hate or Love,
For nothing in a Moment turn

To frantic Love, Disdain, and Scorn;

And make that Love degenerate

T'as great Extremity of Hate;

And Hate again, and Scorn, and Piques

To Flames and Raptures, and Love-tricks.

At the end of the seventeenth century the belief that women might be no more

Sir John Davies of Hereford. The scourge of folly in The complete works II ed. Alexander B.
Grosart (Edinburgh 1878) "Upon English proverbes" 42.
See chapter 2.
^ Samuel Butler, The genuine remairis in verse and prose 1 ed. R. Thyer (London 1759) 246-47.

than mechanical automata, useful and attractive to men, appears still to have
been widespread in the populace at large. It is mentioned in passing, as if it was
a commonplace, in John Dunton's popular weekly The Athenian gazette.
Published between 1691 and 1697 and known in its later issues as The Athenian
mercury, the Gazette devoted most of its space to readers’ queries. As in a

modern newspaper, it is never clear how genuine the queries are nor how much
they have been modified and refined by the editor. Among the many dealing

with the differences between men and women and their personal relationships is

a suggestion that women are concerned only with earthly existence; ”Why
Women, if meer Machines, might not answer all other ends, except that

principal one of serving God immediately?" As often, Dunton and his

collaborators offer an amusing and vigorous answer. Immediately denying the

assumption, they wonder what might be said if men, rather than women, were
treated as machines:

should we cross the Cudgels, and a Woman ask the same Question

concerning Men, how would the Querist answer it? To come still closer,

its plain that God made nothing in vain, much less so Noble a Being as a

Soul; now there being the self-same Arguments that Women have a

Principle of Action in them distinct from Body, which we can produce

for Man, it follows that they could not answer the ends of their Creation

without it, because they are made with it; and what those Ends are 'twill

be requisite to enquire, the chief whereof, as Sacred Writ and common

Experience tell us, is Society, since even in Paradice it self— was not

good for Man that he should be alone: Now if even as things are, even

while Women are indu'd with rational Souls as well as we, the great

Objection which some who would be thought Masters of very much

Sense have against them, is— that their Conversation is generally mean
and trivial, that they are not worthy a Thought, and that they can't

entertain their Reason-, how much more might this Argument be used,

had they only been created meer Machines, as the Querist would fain

have them? But here's still a further unavoidable inconvenience and

absurdity arising from such a Supposition: Even Man, that Noble

Creature Man, who struts and looks so big upon himself and all about

him, must degenerate into at least half a Machine in the next

Generation— for the Birth takes after the Mother at least as much as the

Father, and if the Parent were only a Machine, a Soul-less piece of

Clock-work, it's impossible but the Child must strike after her, and

accordingly, which is very Pleasant and Philosophical, one Clock

produces another to the End of the Chapter.”

Among other tracts in similar vein was one by an English "Gentleman" written
in response to Woman not inferior to man,^ a short treatise by "Sophia, a Person

of Quality," which caused a minor stir for a few years following its publication

in 1739.’’ The attention given to Sophia’s book was attributable at least in part

to the vigour and freshness of her style, which evidently piqued the Gentleman.
Amusing himself by speaking of women as subhuman dross, and perhaps
alluding to the different verbs used in Genesis to account for the origins of men
and women, the Gentleman warns against

the vulgar Error of imagining that Woman was created at all; Whereas,
any Understanding, even inferior to that of Woman, if such a Being

could exist, would be capable of discerning, that the Production of that

weak Sex was no distinct Creation from that of Man; but only a mere
Refinement of his noble Composition, by purifying and separating it

from its Dross. So that tho' Woman be, with Regard to Man, a Sort of

after-produced Being, Man is still the last compleat Creature which

issued from the Hands of God. And therefore, tho' the Authority of

Man over the rest of Creatures may be deduced from the Circumstance

of his being created last, this Circumstance can by no Means be wire-

drawn to countenance any Superiority over, or even Equality to us, in

the Women, who can be at best but mere half-Creatures. ... we can

” Quoted from tlie compendium which Dunton edited some years later; The Athenian oracle
11. 551-52 (1708). Other relevant comments from among the answers to readers' questions are
included below, chapter 4, commentary on the Disputatio.
^ Sophia, a Person of Quality, Woman not inferior to man: or, a short and modest vindication
of the natural right of the fair-sex to a perfect equality of power, dignity, and esteem, with men
(London 1739).
” She returned to the attack with Woman’s superior excellence over man (London 1743) in
which she treats the Gentleman with scorn.

look upon the most perfect of their Sex in no better a Light, than as a
Kind of amphibious Thing, between a Creature and no Creature at all.“

Woman: sketches of the history, genius, disposition, accomplishments,

employments, customs and importance of the fair sex in all parts of the world,
an anonymous book of 1790, nominally in praise of women but ambiguous in

tone, quotes a more unusual argument to show that, lacking souls, they have no

part in the resurrection. A chapter "On the Idea of Female Inferiority" begins

with the sentence "It is an opinion generally established, that in strength of

mind, as well as of body, men are generally superior to women." The writer

gives evidence:

The idea of the inferiority of female nature, has drawn after it several

others the most absurd, unreasonable, and humiliating to the sex. Such
is the pride of man, that in some countries he has considered immortality

as a distinction too glorious for women. Thus degrading the fair partners

of his nature, he places them on a level with the beasts that perish. (141-


There follows an account of the beliefs and attitudes of the Asians and
Mahommedans, after which the author quotes a passage from another unnamed
writer, described as "one whose wife was a descendant of the famous

Xantippe."^’ In this he finds support for the idea that women do not enter

Paradise (142-43). The disgruntled husband had cited Revelation 8.1 where it is

said that after the opening of the seventh seal "there was silence in heaven about

the space of half an hour":

Now I appeal to any one whether that could possibly have happened, had

there been any women there? And, since there are none there, charity

forbids us to imagine that they are all in a worse place; therefore it

“ A Gentleman, Man superior to woman: or, the natural right of the men to sovereign authority
over the women, asserted and defended. Being an answer to that celebrated treatise intitled.
Woman not inferior to man, &c. (1739) (London 1744) 9.
” (London 1790) 140-41. I have been able to identify neither die audior of this book nor the
name of the quoted husband.

follows that they have no immortal part: and happy is it for them, as

they are thereby exempted from being accountable for all the noise and

disturbance they have raised in this world. (143)

Although by the nineteenth century the idea had been largely forgotten, it

continued to receive occasional mention. In sharp contrast to the frivolity of the

writer of Woman: sketches, Louis Aime Martin adopted a tone of cloying, pious

solemnity in his undeservedly popular book De I' education des meres defamille,

ou de la civilisation du genre humain. First published in 1834 and crowned by

the Academie, it was expanded and reprinted many times thereafter. In the

course of a sentimental celebration of women he reminds his readers that Dans

des temps qui ne sont pas encore tres-eloignes, de graves docteurs leur
refusaient une ame (In times not far distant grave doctors denied that they had

All of these differing opinions are either addressed or implied in the Disputatio

and in the controversies generated by it. The anonymous author pretends to

think that while men were created by God, women were not truly created at all

but merely assembled from pre-existent material. Christ's mission in no way

concerned women, who will never enter heaven. Far from being a physical

embodiment of divine beauty, they are not made in the image of God and are
little better than the other living creatures over whom Adam has dominion; the

author even calls them dogs (thesis 22). If, not being human, women are little

better than higher animals, social and sexual equality are out of the question and
men will find it psychologically easier to treat them as sources of temporary,

earthly pleasure having relevance neither to their serious concerns on earth nor
to their expectations of future life in heaven. Although writers frequently
debated these propositions in the spirit of a social or scholarly game, the

Disputatio nova contra mulieres was perceived by most of its early readers as

either a serious exercise in theology or a very bad joke. The energetic

refutations of Gedik, Sister Arcangela, and others reveal how disturbing its

arguments could be.

” Louis Aim6 Martin, De ['education des meres de famille, ou de la civilisation du genre

humain (1834) 4th edition (Paris 1843) 45.
The Disputatio nova: sl short history of its publication and

The Disputatio nova contra mulieres was at first attributed to the philologist,

Valens Acidalius (1567-95). Born in Wittstock, Acidalius spent some years

studying medicine in Bologna but otherwise lived and worked in east Germany,
not far from the Polish border. His only connexion with the book seems to have

been that, having acquired one of the several manuscript copies that had

circulated for some years, he passed it on to an unscrupulous printer called

Osthaus who issued it in 1595. The authorities rapidly identified Osthaus, who
admitted the immediate provenance of the tract, implicating Acidalius and

attempting, it seems, to divert attention from himself. Despite his vigorous

denials, Acidalius was believed to be the author— an attribution that is

occasionally found in catalogues even today.' In the last months of his life, ill

and profoundly distressed by the accusations against him, he wrote to the

calvinist scholar Jacob Monau (1546-1603) giving an account of the

circumstances of the publication.^ Reminding Monau of his good opinion in the

past, Acidalius appealed for help. The several repetitions and pitiful notes of

selfjustification reflect his troubled state of mind.

An account of its early history is given by J. Christian Bay in "Women not considered human
beings," The library quarterly 4 (1934) 156-64. See also Johann Christian Leuschner, De
Valentis Acidalii vita, moribus et scriptis (Leipzig und Liegnitz 1757).
"Epistola apologetica ad cl. uirum lacobum Monauium," Christianus Acidalius, ed., Valentis
Acidali epistolarum centuria I (Hanoviae 1606) 339-44.

In these times almost no one approves of jocular writing but finds in the

most lighthearted matter a cause and occasion for unjust accusation. For
I, indeed, thought these theses to be in the highest degree ludicrous and

facetious, nor, assuredly, did I find that they contained impiety or

blasphemy, for truly if I had in the least suspected as much I would have
abhorred them when I saw them and have burned them after I had read
them. I would certainly never have been so insane as to have

communicated them to anyone, much less to think of issuing them in an

edition for the public— I who nevertheless am now thought to be their

author and am said by some natural wantonness to have intentionally

ridiculed the other sex, to whom we owe ourselves, our propagation

along with that of human society, and the conservation of humanity. I

beg you to believe in me, Monau! This shamefulness falls upon me,
whose modesty in all things you have observed and of whom you often

predicted great things. But the publisher in question has named me and
consistently declares that he had the book from me. This, indeed, he

cannot in truth speak of otherwise, and I myself do not in the least deny

it. But does he not also add that I urged him and begged him to print it?

And if he says that also, he does injury both to me and to truth itself. I

nevertheless think one may easily say this, that if the odium is

transferred to me he will himself be less culpable and will the more

easily avoid punishment if punishment there is to be. I am as little

responsible for publishing the work of that author (whoever he may be)

as I was of writing it. I believe that there is no one, indeed, so insane as

he who would think me to be that man. I sent him the book that I

received from another— and for what reason, upon what advice? Listen

to the truth from my innermost conscience and you will understand the

whole matter entirely. You know that he published my notes on Curtius,

and, since men of that kind are greedy for money, when the returns from

his publication did not answer sufficiently to his avarice, he continually

complained about his financial loss, which I soon promised to make good
to him by another kind of book from the readier sales of which he might

make money more plentifully. Now, what I was doing just then was

writing out my notes on Plautus, which I had recently finished, and of

which at that time I had been thinking— if this calamity had not

intervened— that I would send him the last part. Since, however, I was
then keen to find other means of making my peace it proved convenient
(or perhaps 1 should rather say inconvenient) that these Theses, which

because of their theatrical nonsense had fallen over a long period into

many hands, had by ill luck reached mine. And in truth they had for

long fallen into the hands of a great number: nor can I name all the

select, good, great, and prominent men from many places, but most of
them seeming to come from Poland to begin with, who years ago saw
the Theses after they had appeared, read them, thought of them as an
amusement, passed them around among themselves, copied them, caused
them to be copied. Nor, as far as I know, was any one of them shocked
by the wantonness of the text, nor again did any attempt to show that it

was itself a doctrine of impiety. And now, after all this time, these men
are doing so, perhaps because of too fragile a sense of piety, too subtle a

sense of taste and too sharp a concept of judgement. I do not myself

censure those whom one might call womanly, wifely, and effeminate; I

like their criticism when it is accurate; I praise it when it is circumspect

and prudent. Nor did I ever approve of that excessive licence in the

misrepresentation of sacred scripture, which I then merely received; and

now, in truth, moved by that authority, 1 also begin to detest its

unbridled temerity. But, indeed, when the manuscript was shown to me

as a jest, and when I laughed at it upon first reading it, I myself took
care to copy it out, not giving great thought to it nor having examined it

closely; nor, in truth, have I ever reread it since. And, indeed, I wanted
a copy of it not for my own amusement but, since it had attracted so
much attention and had been damaged by being copied by so many, it

occurred to me that, if it were printed, not a little income might accrue

to the publisher. And thus since I wished Osthaus well and sought, as I

have said, to satisfy his needs, I calculated that by my actions I might be

able to compensate him for some part of his losses. On consideration

and in my inner judgement, but without reference to you (to whom, for a

reason that I cannot explain, I did not communicate the affair), I silently

and immediately decided that this could be put to his use. With the

knowledge of some trusted friends 1 let him know that I was in

possession of a certain book which might prove lucrative, and which, if

he were able to publish it and wished to do so at his own risk, I would

send him. That is to say, I let him know the whole thing, but did not

immediately send the manuscript; but I also warned him that the book
might perhaps be troublesome because of its excess of libertine

facetiousness, which I also fear will now provoke evil rumours, even
though then I did not at all fear such a tempest of disgrace. I therefore

also added this, that I had no part in the matter, nor wished to have any.

At the same time I begged that he should not speak of me publicly, that I

did not wish my name to be associated with trifling fables and wished to

be safe and protected from all vanity. In addition, I expressly said to

him at that time that I would send the book for no cause of my own but

for his own convenience, and that I left to his judgement entirely the

decision as to how it might be used for his own good. He replied and

asked for the manuscript, which 1 sent to him shortly afterwards. That

these matters were so conducted and expressed will be shown by my

letters to him— to which I appeal; let him bring them forward, and if he

can show from them that I urged him or sought the publication, then let

him pass the guilt on to me. For what reason would I press that such

things should be printed? And how would I have benefited? Why would
I urge as much, unless because of my advice he might receive some part

of his money? I strongly reiterate that I handed the whole matter over to

his Judgement and capacity. For I openly wrote "if he wishes and is able

to do so." In this it was for him to consider his affairs in his own way
and to decide from the opinion of others what was needed for the matter,

especially in that place where nothing unseemly may be done secretly

without punishment.’ And in truth I believe that I immediately informed

others; if they were convinced, why should odium be cast on me? But I

also believe this, that in that place there is the same custom as is found

everywhere, that nothing should be printed without censorship and

’ Acidalius was writing from Neifie, Silesia, having recently moved there from Breslau

approval. Now if he showed the edition to the censor and produced it

for him, what difficulty in law has resulted from it, what danger has
been created? If he acted secretly and furtively with the printer, why am
1 drawn into the matter? Let them defend their own cause; if they can,

let them leave me out of it; they force me to be involved with them in

vain. Nothing of mine was sown in that ground with them, nor do I seek

any part of the harvest.'* (339-43)

If Acidalius is not exaggerating to assist his case, the wide circulation of the

Disputatio in manuscript provoked a lively commentary, both oral and written,

most of which seems not to have survived. Acidalius's statement of surprise at

the change of attitude after the tract appeared in print is naive, confused, or

disingenuous. Although he says that he warned the printer of possible

difficulties which might follow, he writes as if unaware of the different

responses generated by the private circulation of a titillating or outrageous text

and its subsequent dissemination in printed form, which puts the potential

readership beyond the control of the judges and makes the arguments seem more
dangerous. At least one strong objection was in any case recorded before
Osthaus's edition appeared. As noted below in the introduction to chapter 6, the

fiery theologian Aegidius Hunnius is said to have taken pains to refute the
claims of the Disputatio in or before 1594. In May 1595 Acidalius died.
A cursory reading of Acidalius's acknowledged works reveals the

improbability of his also having written the Disputatio. While he could

doubtless have composed a tract in its plain, workaday Latin, he would have
been writing in what was for him a quite alien manner. In addition to being a

young man proud of his scholarship, he shows himself, when writing free of

anxiety, to have been a selfconscious stylist who delighted in using a wide

variety of rhetorical graces. He quotes poetry in both Greek and Latin, includes

Greek words and phrases, and makes many allusions to classical myth. A
collection of his letters, published in 1606 by his brother Christian, reveals

many aspects of his personality. Most characteristic of their bravura style is

Acidalius’s play with contrasts of sentence length. Occasionally he follows a

simple, brisk statement with a long breathed, well cadenced sentence which he

In the last sentence of the passage quoted here, Acidalius uses a familiar Latin idiom.

takes evident delight in spinning out.^ Nothing of the kind is found in the

Disputatio which, although in no sense a letter, has more in common with the

epistolary method than with discursive works of classical scholarship/ The

author of the Disputatio writes in the first person, on many occasions

rhetorically seeking the agreement of an imaginary reader or readers. The style

of Acidalius's letters leaves little doubt that if he had composed those passages

of direct address he would have done so with his customary panache. The
writer of the Disputatio was an unremarkable man of modest talent, never

demonstrating relish for stylistic display. Although sometimes quietly

outrageous, inviting the reader to laugh with him, he is more often covertly

dishonest, as Acidalius appears never to have been. The tract seems destined to

remain anonymous.
Evidently written in Acidalius's native east Germany, the Disputatio opens

with an attack on the Socinianism centred in neighbouring Poland. In the later

decades of his life, the Italian theologian Fausto Paolo Sozzini (1539-1604)

lived in Poland, where his heretical views became highly influential. Among
the most important of his radical beliefs was the notion that, although acting by

grace of the Father as a God on earth, Christ was merely God's vicar, purely

human rather than essentially divine. Sozzini supported this and other opinions

by close examination of the scriptures. It is now usually assumed that the

Disputatio was written with tongue in cheek, making sophistic use of a literal

reading of scripture to prove that women are not human beings in implicit

imitation of the Socinians' demonstration that the scriptures nowhere prove

’ Praising the value to him of Antonio Riccobono's correspondence, he writes:

. . . Optatius quidem nihil obtingere mihi posse scio. Quid enim uel ad animi mei
uoluptatem iucundius, uel ad fructum studiorum utilius, quam humanitatem primum
illam beneuolentiamque tuam, cuius dulcedine coram saepe intimos mihi sensus
perfundi, animumque penitus liquescere memini, denuo in literis regustare &
persentiscere, deinde a quo in sermonibus olim bona plurima didici, eiusdem epistolis &
scripturis uicissim erudiri?

Christianus Acidalius, ed., Valentis Acidali epistolarum centuria /, 64.

Tlie parallelism in the two sentences of quidem and quid enim is a further example of Acidalius's
stylistic bravura.
‘ Acidalius edited and wrote about many Latin authors, including Ausonius, Quintus Cunius,
Plaums, Pliny the younger, and Tacims. Much of his work was published postliumously.

Christ to have been divine.’ That this view of the tract was adopted early is

suggested by the alternative title given to later editions: Disputatio perjucunda,

qua anonymus probare nititur mulieres homines non esse (A most amusing
argument in which an anonymous author attempts to demonstrate that women
are not human beings). In the commentary and notes I have called the author of
the Disputatio the Disputant.

The Disputatio is a small tract of 51 numbered paragraphs. The Disputant

calls the first fifty paragraphs theses although in fact they are not always based

on a single quotation from scripture nor do they always offer separate and
identifiable arguments. The rhetorical sequence is carefully worked out, with a

neat return at the end to some of the terms with which the Disputatio begins.
The last paragraph is a conclusion. The tone varies: orotund solemnity is

sometimes followed by facetiousness, outrage by moral ambiguity. The

penultimate sentence includes a startling shift of tone. However much he may
despise women, the Disputant seems, in the first part of the sentence, to ask

their forgiveness for his having written a vigorous but far from serious
rhetorical exercise. In the second part he turns to snarl viciously at them once
again. Despite his protestations, he may harbour a real animus against women:

I . . .
plead with the unwise little women that with the benevolence and
love which they possessed in former times they may embrace me; which
if they do not so wish, may the beasts perish for all eternity.

The most notable characteristic of the tract is its intentional and skilful misuse
of sources, sometimes quoting accurately but, by omission of the context or by

ignoring counterstatements from elsewhere in the Bible, managing to give

wholly the wrong impression. On at least one occaision a phrase of the

Disputant's own is silently smuggled into a passage of scripture. In defence of

his arguments, the Disputant appeals to a number of well known authorities:

Cicero, Luther, Castalio, Cornelius Valerius. Among the sources from which
he silently quotes and paraphrases is one that might be thought least likely to aid

’ Sozzini wrote copiously on this theme. See, for example, De Jesu Christo servatore ([Basel]
1578), De Jesu Christi filii Dei natura sive essentia (Racoviae 1588) and, more generally. Opera
omnia 2 vols (Irenopoli 1656).

his cause: Agrippa' s De nobilitate et praecellentia foeminei sexus. The most

widely read and discussed of renaissance defences of women, it was reprinted
and translated many times, quoted, paraphrased, and absorbed into other books,

some of which fleshed out almost every sentence.® Although Agrippa is

extravagant in his praise of women, the Disputant is able to use his celebration

of their courage and enterprise to support a contrary case. None of the

Disputant's early critics appears to have noticed his extensive borrowings and

adaptations, which in places amount to a rewriting of Agrippa's tract. Some of

the most significant of those passages are noted in the commentary. The
Disputant did not use either of the early editions of Agrippa (1529, 1532) but an

edition, without note of place or date, published late in the sixteenth century.’

Two examples of women forgiven for their misdemeanours— the daughters of

Lot, and Tamar— are quoted almost verbatim from a passage in that edition

which does not appear in the earlier texts and is probably spurious.

Within months a printed refutation followed. The north German theologian

and counsellor Simon Gedik (1551-1631) wrote a vigorous counterblast.

Defensio sexus muliebris, opposita futilissimae disputationi recens editae, qua

suppresso authoris & typographi nomine blaspheme contenditur mulieres

homines non esse (A defence of the female sex, in opposition to the ridiculous

argument, recently published anonymously and without the name of the printer,

in which it is blasphemously contended that women are not human beings).

This was published in Leipzig in the same year as the Disputatio, on 10

February 1595/96, with the author's and printer's names boldly indicated. In

his dedication to Joachim Frederick, administrator of the archbishopric of

Magdeburg, Gedik mentions that the Disputatio, "a notorious and blasphemous
pamphlet," was published "at the start of this year" (1595 o.s.), indicating a

* Henricus Cornelius Agrippa, De nobilitate et praecellentia foeminei sexus (Antverpiae 1529).

For the history of the book and its influence, see the critical edition, with French translation, by
R. Antonioli, Charles B6n6, Mme 0. Sauvage, and M. Reulos (Gendve 1990). For a modem
English translation, see Agrippa, Declamation on the nobility and preeminence of the female
sex, trans, and edited by Albert Rabil, Jr (Chicago 1996). For an example of its extensive
absorption into another and longer work, see Lodovico Domenichi, La nobilta delle donne (In
Vinetia 1549). Newman, "Renaissance feminism and esoteric theology: the
See also Barbara
case of Cornelius Agrippa," From virile woman to WomanChrist: studies in medieval religion
and literature (Philadelphia 1995) 224-43.
’ The Disputant's use of this version of Agrippa establishes a terminus post quern non
for its

publication. The editors of the critical edition describe it as sans doute de la fin du sidcle (41).

maximum of about ten months between its publication and the response. The
absence of the author's name and silence as to the place of publication reveal,

says Gedik, how wicked and miserable are the offspring of Satan. During the
next hundred years, both tracts were frequently reprinted."

Gedik's reply shows signs of having been written both in haste and in anger.

Vulnerable points are overlooked, and the refutations are not always well

argued. In many cases his quotations from the Bible are so loose as to be little

more than paraphrases, indicating, perhaps, that he was quoting from memory
or translating, currente calamo, from Luther. The rhetoric is nevertheless of

interest. Gedik's method is to cite or paraphrase passages from the theses, in

most cases seriatim from beginning to end, answering each in turn. While he
usually makes the obvious points, he is sometimes idiosyncratic or rhetorically
colourful. Most of Gedik's replies rely on the familiar tactic of citing other

passages from scripture which appear to demonstrate the contrary of what the

Disputant alleges. Although the Disputant is a competent latinist and biblical

scholar, Gedik shows himself to be superior both in his command of rhetoric

and in his scholarship. His replies include Greek and Hebrew words and

phrases, always relevant to the argument, whereas the Disputant uses only a

single conventional Greek phrase in his second thesis. Gedik's Latin also

displays a wider range of grammatical and syntactical devices and his vigorous

style conveys the impression of a selfassured man used to showing off his

learning. His mixture of registers ranges from the most scholarly to an almost
distasteful invective. While he is aware that the Disputant might have been
writing for amusement, he defends himself against a possible charge of

heavyhandedness by saying that even a joke, if it is as bad as this one, deserves

censure. The emotional energy with which Gedik wrote generates a strong plea
in favour of women and in support of their right to be thought the equal of men.

The violence of his language has sometimes been adversely criticized. Christian

Bay calls it "far more reprehensible than the book against which it was
directed."'^ It is nevertheless wise to react with caution. Such invective.

In commenting on the speed with which Gedik's reply was published. Bay (158) evidently
failed to take note of old style dating, still current in the late sixteenth century in protestant
regions of Germany.
" See chapter 6.
Bay 163.

coupling serious argument with scurrilous namecalling, a recognized style of

scholarly flyting, was more common and more readily accepted at that time than

it is in our tamer days when to write offensively is often to break the law. A
celebrated example of the style had appeared a few decades before Gedik's tract

when Julius Caesar Scaliger published the violent Exercitationes in which he

attempted to demolish the views of Girolamo Cardano.

Soon after its publication, the Disputatio enjoyed wide circulation. In a note

to his Masque of beautie, performed in January 1608, Ben Jonson makes what

appears to be a direct and dismissive allusion to it. In a song towards the end of

the masque, the women dancers are extolled:

Had those, that dwell in error foule.

And hold that women have no soule.

But seene these move; they would have, then
Said, Women were the soules of men.

So they doe move each heart, and eye

With the worlds soule, true harmony, (lines 369-74)

In a dry marginal note to "hold" Jonson comments: "There hath beene such a

profane paradoxe published."'"'

In 1618 there appeared an anonymous German dialogue book called Ob die

Weiber Menschen seyn, oder nicht?'^ In a short address to the reader, the

printer mentions the several tracts on the subject that had recently been
published, evidently referring mainly if not entirely to the Disputatio and to

Gedik's reply. The titlepage says that the book was written in 1617 by a "Lover

Julius Caesar Scaliger, Exotericarum exercitationum liber quintus decimus De subtilitate ad

Hieronymum Cardanum (Lutetiae 1557).
Ben Jonson, The masque of beautie The workes (London 1616) 901-10 esp. 910.
Supporters of women commonly speak of them as the souls of men.
in the seventeenth century
In William Congreve's The old batchelour (London 1693) IV.iii, Belinda repeats the
unAristotelian idea that woman is soul while man is flesh: "Well, a Lover in the state of
separation from his Mistress, is like a Body without a Soul." In Congreve's The mourning
bride (London 1697) III. i. 222-25, Osmyn describes a woman as made in the image of God:
"This Woman has a Soul,/ Of God-like Mould, intrepid and commanding,/ And challenges in
spight of me my best/ Esteem."
Grund- und probierliche Argument urui Schluss-Articul, sampt bygefiigten aussfuhrlichen
Beantwortungen: belangend die Frag Ob die Weiber Menschen seyn, oder nicht? lustig . . .

verfasset und publiciert (n. p., 1618). It was reprinted in Frankfun in 1721.

of love and modesty." Based on the Disputatio and Gedik, Ob die Weiber

Menschen seyn, oder nicht? introduces two clerics. Brother Endres of the

Benedictine Order, labelled Weiberfeind (enemy of women), and Father

Eugenius, an "emeritus Jesuit," called Weiberfreund (friend of women).

Although Eugenius takes the part of women throughout, he says at the end that

he will have to ponder the questions raised and weigh up the points for and

against. The propositions and responses are set out in a format reminiscent both

of Gedik's tract and of the many pedagogical master/pupil dialogue books of the

middle ages and renaissance. While with few exceptions Gedik consistently
follows the order of the Disputatio' s theses, the dialogue quotes theses and parts

of theses in a largely random order. Although in general the tract is highly

derivative, both speakers occasionally advance arguments of their own,

independent of the main sources. Some of those are reported in the

commentary. The frame situation of the dialogue shifts the emphasis to some
degree away from theological debate and towards human emotion: Endres
comments on Eugenius 's evident wish that, were it not for his ordination, he

might marry in the last years of his life. The defence of women's full humanity
is thus closely linked to their personal and sexual attractiveness— an idea far

from Gedik's mind.

In 1647 an anonymous author calling himself Horatio Plata published a slightly
abbreviated but generally faithful Italian translation under the title Che le dome
non siano della spetie degli huomini.'^ Evidently aware of the sensational

character of the tract, Plata distances himself from it both in his brief

introduction "To the reader" and in a postscript addressed to "Signora N. N."

He begins his introduction with an immediate and unqualified denial of the

Disputant's general thesis: "That women are of the human species is a truth so

infallible that its denial is both ignorance and impiety." The Disputant has

written the tract, he believes, merely to win applause for his great powers of
oratory as he upholds a proposition as far from the truth as the idea, still

(Lione [=Venezia?l 1647). Plata entirely omits theses 17 and 31. This was perhaps an
oversight, although the layout of the early editions does not suggest that eyesldps could have
occurred at these points more readily than elsewhere. There is nothing in the content of the
theses to indicate that they might have been especially unwelcome. In addition, there are a few
simplifications and abridgements, especially from the later parts of the theses. Details of his
translation show that he evidently used a reprint of 1638 or 1641 rather than the first edition of

supported by some moderns, that the heavens revolve around the earth ([iii]).

In saying so, he implicitly suggests that the Disputant's antifeminine

propositions belong to an ignorant past superseded by a more enlightened

modern world. As the acceptance of heliocentricity had, only a few years
before, been preceded by much intellectual and theological turmoil, Plata may
also be suggesting that the recognition of women's equality as human beings

was both recent and hardwon. In the postscript Plata reassures the lady that his

purpose in publishing the translation was not to disparage women's merits but to

use the text as a foil which might enhance "the glory of the female sex." If he

had had any other intention he would have been subject to "the thunderbolts of
your disdain, more terrible to me than death" (cxv). He nevertheless finds that

he needs to protect himself against a further possibility of misunderstanding: the

attribution of his praise of women to excessive sexual passion (cxvi-cxvii). He

ends by recognizing the likelihood that the Disputatio is not meant seriously and

even goes so far as to call it a panegyric of women rather than a satire (cxix)."

The Disputatio was again noticed in Germany in 1650, when Johann Beilin

published his Abigail, a translation of Agrippa with introduction and extensive

commentary.'® In his dedication to Maria Katerina, Duchess of Mecklenburg,

Beilin comments that

some years ago a disgraceful author published a blasphemous work

against the female sex in which he attempts to demonstrate that women

are not human beings and ends by asserting that for that reason they are

not capable of experiencing eternal life. (f. ^vi*")

He says that this view has often been expressed both inside the church and out.

Shortly afterwards he devotes several pages to a summary of the Disputant's

arguments, with brief attempts at refutation (ff. **ii^''[ix'’]). In the course of

doing so he mentions a young student in Cologne who tried to argue in public

that women are not human beings, whereupon the old women of the flea market
fell upon him and beat him to death with chairs (f. **iiii'^).

” By contrast, Agrippa’s tract, nominally in praise of women, has sometimes been thought a
disguised attack.
Johann Beilin, Abigail, das ist des lob-wurdigen Fraun-Zimmers Adel und Fortrdfligkeit
(Lubeck 1650).

Doubtless because of the Disputatio's plainly heretical nature, and despite the
denials that surround Plata's translation, the Vatican seems to have taken it

seriously: in 1651 it was placed on the Index. In the same year an excited
refutation of the translation appeared under the pseudonym Galerana Barcitotti,

an anagram adopted by Sister Arcangela Tarabotti, a Venetian nun. Born

Helena Tarabotti in 1605, she was placed in a convent against her will while
still a young girl. There she remained, with neither vocation nor genuine
interest in spiritual matters until her last years, when she professed an access of
faith. Vain, selfwilled, and often bitter, she wrote several tracts in which she

revealed her detestation of male domination— especially that of fathers— and an

urgent desire to promote the freedom and happiness of women. In 1660 one of

these, her posthumous La semplicitd ingannata (1654), was itself placed on the

Index. Her highly polemical and acerbic disposition colours her refutation of

the Disputatio, written shortly before her comparatively early death in 1652.

Sarcastic in manner, she often writes in a vein of invective recalling Simon

Gedik. She is nevertheless more garrulous and repetitious than he and rarely
tries to develop a substantial case to counter the Disputant's arguments. The
interest of her book lies in its rhetoric and its idiosyncratic reflexion of the

feminist ideas of her day.

Tarabotti's replies follow the same format as Gedik's. Each thesis,” headed
Inganno (Illusion), is quoted in its entirety while her replies are headed

Disinganno (Disillusion). “ Her defiantly catholic book is, however, more

loosely structured than Gedik's protestant tract. Addressed to the Disputant in

particular and to men in general, her opening pages are little more than a series

of general invectives, while in the main body of her commentary she repeatedly
paints scornful little vignettes of the Disputant and his procedures. Her tone
suggests that she mistakenly takes the book to be a recent production whose
author is still living. Although the Disputant appears to think of himself, she

says, as the fifth evangelist, he lacks originality:

You, to make yourself known as a true devil, act like an ape, imitating

the customs of the Sarmatians, paying no heed to whether you are

speaking well or ill. And you follow the example of goats who, when

” Sometimes the theses are subdivided into sections, each answered separately.
“ As she is responding to Plata's translation, she too omits theses 17 and 31.

one of their number runs to the precipice, jump to follow it without

thought.^' And thus you too follow the herd of heretics, running with all

speed to hell, without even noticing, (vi)

She is also aware that she speaks from the centre of another and finer culture.

The Disputant is a northern barbarian:

To speak ill of women you try to sow dissension in the most fertile field

of the Roman church, and, beside so many other prodigious heresies,

issuing from the north, attempt with an impiously pious spirit to

insinuate this false dogma into the heart of the faith, (v-vi)

Like her older contemporary, the poet Lucrezia Marinella (1571-1653), who in

1600 had written a warm defence of women,^ she is unmistakably serious in her

praise of women's worth while also angry that their relative lack of education

makes it difficult for them to compete in argument. Addressing the Disputant in

her introductory pages she complains that he sullies the reputation of a sex

"who, through lack of training cannot reply to your invented wickedness"; she
adds that with the venom of his character he tries to "assassinate the spirits of

the artless" (iii). A literate nun with tolerable latinity, she evidently thinks of

herself as exceptional, a leader among women.

Condemnatory tracts continued to appear. Mulier homo!, a short pamphlet of
fourteen pages, was issued in 1690, at the same time and in the same format as

a reprint of the Disputatio which had been given a new title; Mulier non homoF'
Even if the Disputatio is meant as a bad joke, the author finds it, as Gedik had
done, potentially dangerous. He warns against the "loose talking" and "jesting"

condemned in Ephesians 5.4 and is especially worried about young students.

She uses the ordinary Italian word for goat, capra, wlrich, being grammatically feminine,
causes her to use the feminine la for the individual goat that leads the herd. She might perhaps
have done better to use the masculine capro (buck goat).
^ Le nobilta, et eccellenze delle donne, et i dijfetti, e mancamenti de gli huomini (Venetia
“ A full (though umeliable) account of Sister Arcangela and the response of the Venetian
authorities to the question of women’s worth is found in Emilio Zanette, Suor Arcangela:
monaca del seicento veneziano (Venezia 1960).
^ Anon., Muller homo! (n. p. [Germany?] 1690). Tlie tract is not by Gedik, as is falsely stated
in the British Library Catalogue.

some of them impressionable, who enjoy scurrilous jokes and seize

opportunities to pester the female sex as if women did not belong to the order of

human beings, attitudes and activities that he associates with Satan. The
Disputant’s arguments are thus again linked to the possibility of sexual licence

and to the breakdown of good social order. The author accordingly believes it

necessary to warn young men that they should neither buy the book, nor read it,

nor communicate it to others to read, but should suppress and destroy any copies
they possess. The Disputatio is so filled with impiety that hardly any refutation

will prove sufficient. The author uses much of what he found in Gedik,

sometimes repeating whole phrases verbatim. He also imitates Gedik's

colourful use of invective, describing the Disputant as a wretch who "pisses on

his mother's ashes" (A2''-3^).

French readers showed a special partiality to the tract: at least three

translations were prepared in less than a century. The first, by Paul Lorrain,
was never published but in 1678 was offered in manuscript form as a New
Year’s gift to Samuel Pepys, for whom Lorrain worked as clerk. Complete
with titlepage, dedication, and epilogue, and written in an elegant copperplate, it

seems to have been prepared in the hope of eventual appearance in print. A few
blunders reveal that Lorrain occasionally had difficulty following the

Disputant’s argument. There are also omissions, short passages of paraphrase,

and some gallicisms. In general, however, the translation stays close to the

original. “ Lorrain’s dedication and epilogue are of greater interest than the

translation itself. He begins the dedication by echoing the passage in the

Disputatio about the Canaanite woman and the crumbs (theses 21-24), both

gracefully indicating his subservience to his patron and suggesting his own
sympathy with women. He continues with an account of the origin of his

interest in the tract:

“ Of Huguenot extraction, Lorrain later went on to take holy orders. He became well known
for compiling a series t)f confessions made by condemned prisoners. The broadsheets were
issued on die inorning of the execution.
Lorrain omits entirely theses 18 and 19, whose etymological discussion might have proved
difficult to capture in French. An eyeskip may account for the almost total omission of thesis
45. Perhaps wishing to create a snappier ending, he omits the concluding summary in the first
half of diesis 51. As often in manuscripts, die copying grows less tidy in the later pages. There
is no clear evidence as to which text of die Disputatio Lorrain used. A few details of the
translation indicate that it was not diat of 1595. Some idiosyncrasies, unattested in the printed
texts, may perhaps derive from manuscript copies still circulating in the seventeenth century.


Vous ne vous etonneres pas, si celuy, pour la Bouche duquel les Restes

de [2^] Votre Table sont un Veritable Festin, paroit ambitieux de se

servir, meme de vos Passetems, pour I'entretien le plus serieux de son

Esprit. C'est, Monsieur, ce qui m'a fait prendre la liberte de reflechir

sur les Discours, que j’ay quelquefois eu I’honneur de Vous entendre

faire avec Le Beau Sexe, touchant ce qu'Elles ne sont pas du [I''] Genre
Humain, ni susceptibles du Salut Eternel. Paradoxe, que je croyois

d'abord la Production de Votre Belle Humeur. Mais venant ensuite a en

considerer le fonds, je trouvay que c’etoit une Opinion, ni extravagante,

ni nouvelle, ayant ete souteniie il

y a plus de quatre-vints ans, par un
Auteur asses Celebre; Dont les Argumens [3^ semblent si fort

convainquans de cette Verite, qu'ils meritent bien, d'etre traduits de leur

Original Latin, en la plus douce Dialecte du Franqois, pour I'avantage

des Dames, dont les sages s'en pouront bien servir contre les efroyables

aprehensions d'un autre Monde; Et les Belles, contre les facheuses

contraintes de celuy-cy. Ce que mettant. Monsieur, sous [S''] la

Protection de Votre Generosite, (qui, je croy, ne dedaignera pas de

prendre, en toutes occasions, le Parti de cet Adorable Sexe) je Vous

I'ofre par bonne Etreine; Et en Vous souhaitant plusieurs heureuses
annees, je demeure avec un Respect infiny.

Votre tres-humble et tres-

soumis Serviteur.
P. Lorrain.

A Londres, ce premier de Janvier 1677/8. [4’’]^^

Sir: You will not be astonished if he for whose mouth the scraps from your table are a
veritable feast appears ambitious to make use even of your pastimes for the most serious
instruction of his mind. It is that. Sir, which has caused me to take the liberty of reflecting on
the discourses which I have sometimes had the honour to hear you address to the fair sex to the
effect that they are not of the human species nor susceptible of eternal salvation, a paradox
which at first I But, coming later to consider its basis, I
thought to be the product of your wit.
found was an opinion neither extravagant nor new, having been upheld more than eighty
that it

years ago by a quite celebrated writer whose arguments as to this truth seem so very convincing
that they thoroughly merit being translated from their Latin original into the softer French
language for the benefit of women, among whom die wise will be able to use it against the

Lorrain’s comment on the author as asses Celebre is tantalizing. He presumably

refers here to Acidalius, but it is unclear what the source of his information

might have been. His announced reason for preparing the translation is that he

wishes to be of service to women. The soft French language will appeal equally
to women of sense who will be freed from fear of damnation, while beautiful
women, also released from that fear, will be able to indulge themselves— and,
by implication, their male lovers.
No record of Pepys’ discussions with women about their humanity appears to

have survived. As he was frequently troubled by his many sexual liaisons, by

the strain these caused his marriage, by his wife’s return to the Catholicism in

which she had been brought up, and by her death a decade before Lorrain
presented the translation, Pepys' drawing room comments on the matter might

well have proved revealing.

Lorrain's epilogue includes an ambiguous attempt to placate women readers

who might feel offended by being classified as higher animals. He says again,

more explicitly, that as compensation for their loss of status they will be free to

enjoy all the pleasures of life with no fear of judgement or punishment. The
rhetorical insistence both here and in the dedication on the beauty and delightful

nature of women shows that once again they are being urged to feel free to

please men:


du Traducteur,
Aux Dames.

Je n'oserois pas laisser passer ce Discours, sans me purger de la

Conclusion trop severe de mon Auteur, qui semble si transports d 'avoir,

avec tant de succes, etabli sa Doctrine, qu’il [65'’] a oublie de se contenir

dans le Respect deu a 1' Adorable Sexe, dont il vient de parler, ne

considerant pas, que la meme Ecriture, qui traite la Femme de Chien, et

fearful apprehensions of another world, and the beautiful against the troublesome constraints of
this. Placing it, Sir, under the protection of your generosity (which, I believe, will not disdain
to take, on all occasions, the part of this adorable sex) I offer ityou as a new year's gift. And
in wishing you many happy years, I remain, with infinite respect. Your very humble and very
submissive servant, P. Lorrain. At London, this first of January 1677/78.

revet ailleurs rHomme du Noble Titre de Lion, dit aussi, que ce Chien
Vivant (et meme Exemt de la mort, comme la Femme) vaut mieux que

ce Lion perissable.

Vives done, Benites Creatures, sans Vous croire nullement

injuriees, ni rabaissees, par cette heureuse Dispute. Tournes-la plutot

(comme elle le doit etre) a Votre Avantage, puis qu'elle Vous met dans

le Privilege de jouir, sans rendre compte, de toutes les Douceurs, et

plaisirs de ce Monde, aux depens des Ennuis, des soupirs, des Helas! des
desespoirs, et meme de la mort, et perdition Eter[66nnelle du Genre

Humain, dont Vous etes maintenant si heureusement dechargees,

In 1744 Anne Gabriel Meusnier de Querlon published an altogether different

translation of the Disputatio to which he appended an anonymous Essai sur
I'ame des femmes (translated later in this volume).^’ In his preface he shows his

rococo sensibility, writing of women as pretty but dangerous toys. He begins

with an eloquent assertion that they are indeed creatures designed for the

pleasure of men:

There are few subjects that have exercised the human spirit as much as

women. This sex, which constitutes the delight of ours, which spreads

so much sweetness in life and which nature seems to have formed with
special kindness solely to make us happy— woman, in a word, the

masterpiece of her hands— has at all times been the object of our satires

and of our eulogies, sometimes showered with praise through our

weakness and placed above the human condition, sometimes humiliated

Epilogue of the translator to the ladies. I should not dare to let pass this discourse without
dissociating myself from the unduly severe conclusion of my author, who seems so delighted at

having, with such success, established his doctrine that he forgot to remain within the bounds of
the respect due to the adorable sex of whom he has just spoken, not considering that the same
scripture which calls woman a dog and elsewhere accords to man the noble title of lion, also says
that this living dog (even freed from death, as is woman) is worth more than this mortal lion. |

Live, then, blessed creamres, believing yourselves neither traduced nor debased by this amusing
argument. Rather use it (as it should be) to your advantage since it affords you the privilege of
enjoying all the sweetness and pleasure of this world without keeping account or concerning
yourselves with all the tediousness, the sighs, the cries of alas, the despairs, or even the death
and eternal damnation of the human race, of which you are now so happily discharged.
Details of the text of Querlon's translation show Uiat it was prepared from a copy of one of the
reprints, probably that of 1638 or 1641.

through our pride and degraded from her rightful rank. It is true that the

charms richly granted to women and refused to our sex are in some way
compensated for by faults which give us a hold on them, but for this

very reason one should at least in their regard keep a middle course
without falling into excess or idolatry or outrage. ([3]-4)

Later in his preface Meusnier de Querlon mentions Plata's Italian translation

and the reactions of Italian women. He quotes Vigneul de Marville (pseudonym

of Noel d'Argonne):

Some were angry at not having a soul and at finding themselves placed

so far below men who would thenceforth treat them as monkeys; others,

finding it a matter of indifference and thinking of themselves as no more

than machines, promised themselves that they would make their springs

work so well that they would infuriate the men. (14-15)^

Not wishing to adopt a solemn tone in response to the Disputatio, Querlon is

scathing about Gedik's attack, saying that its author tells us nothing we could

not find for ourselves and. that he seems to have dipped his pen in "the infected

filth of a privy" (15).

In 1766, the French doctor Charles Clapies, who was born and died in Ales

(Card), published an abridged, inaccurate, and modified translation. Aware that

the book was mildly sensational, translator and printer protected themselves by
issuing it anonymously and using a false imprint: Cracovie. In the introductory

pages Clapies addressed some simpering paragraphs to his women readers,

asking them to take in good part this "worn-out" paradox, in which he revives

"old rubbish":

Become Philosophers in your turn, for in our time women can be so

fearlessly. Predict the wonderful year when men shall become women to

these wicked men who would deny that you were of their species, prove
to them that, if there are examples of women metamorphosed into men,
it is not impossible that one of these days men will turn into women. As

“ Noel d'Argonne, Melanges d'histoire et de Unerature 1 (Paris 1725) 18-19.


for you, faint-hearted women, who will be alarmed by the doubts cast
upon your salvation, be reassured, you will be saved.

We trust our fair readers will show no severity against this theological

jesting. If the theory seem rather cruel to them they are not less the

most cherished part of the human race: we are nevertheless convinced of

the real advantages which they have over men, for we cannot deny that

besides beauty and the graces of the body, they possess a certain delicacy

of wit which men cannot attain by themselves. The man even who has

the most wit is but an uncut diamond if he has not been polished by the

fair sex.^'

In his final paragraph Clapies departs entirely from the original text,

substituting for the Disputant's comments on his own future reputation as a great

heretic a further appeal to women's tolerance:

We beg women to excuse our foolery, we shall believe ourselves damned

as heretics if we have lost their good graces. We protest that if we are

guilty it is with no wish to displease them, but simply to have beguiled

our time with a harmless piece of folly.^-

Clapies' female readers might well have wished to object, as Gedik had done,
that some jokes go too far, disguising culpable aggression.

The Sarmatian origins of the Disputatio may account in part for Dostoyevsky's

mention of such a treatise in Crime and punishment (1866). In book 2, chapter

2, Raskolnikov's friend Razumikhin suggests a way of making money by

translating. He scornfully dismisses a book dealing with women's claim to be

human. He shows Raskolnikov a short German text which Razumikhin

describes as disingenuous nonsense. A publisher had the idea, he says, of

Paradoxe sur les femmes, ou I'on tache de prouver qu'elles ne sont

Charles Clapids, trans.,
pas de I'espece humaine (Cracovie [or, rather, France) 1766) 7-8, 11-12. The translation is
taken from an English version of the Disputatio published by Charles Carrington in 1898: A
paradox on women, wherein it is sought to prove that they do not belong to the human species
(Paris 1898) viii, ix, xii. Carrington's book is an unacknowledged close paraphrase of the
version by Clapifes.
Clapies 75, Carrington 41.

bringing it out in translation as a contribution to the “woman question,” which

was much debated in Russia at the time. The length of the tract is given, in

terms more familiar to Russians than to anglophone readers, as “two sheets and

a bit.” Clearly, the book Dostoyevsky had in mind— if it was not entirely

imaginary— was not the Disputatio. If it was one of the derivative works that I

mentioned earlier, it may perhaps have been Beilin’s Abigail, which is of

appropriate size.”

” No specific work is identified in die notes to die Russian edition of the Collected works, VII
(Leningrad 1973) 371. For a translation of the passage and a brief commentary, see Crime and
punishment trans. David McDuff (London 1991) 154, 638.





The Disputatio nova: translation


Although the Disputatio was often reprinted, was translated into French and
Italian, and for centuries caught the attention of outraged commentators, no
complete English translation has ever been published. Before its appearance in
print, at least two variant versions circulated in manuscript. Some of the

differences may reflect catholic or protestant sympathies of the copyists. In the

introduction to chapter 6 I have listed the early printed editions that I have used
in preparing a text as the basis of this translation. The textual notes to chapter 6
include samples of one set of substantive variants found in a manuscript copy.

The original is written in plain, rather graceless renaissance Latin presenting

few difficulties. The translator is nevertheless confronted with one serious

problem, arising from the two Latin words for man, homo and vir. While vir

means a man, as opposed to a woman, homo can be used to indicate the whole
human species, both men and women. In the appropriate context, however, it

can also, and very frequently, mean "man" only. The primary intention of the

tract is to demonstrate that women do not belong to the human species,

expressed as homo. The word could therefore be rendered in many cases as

"human being," or "mankind." There are nevertheless occasions on which the

writer plays ironically with the double sense of homo, pretending to make the

foolish statement that "a woman is not a man." The ambiguity, already
familiar, had been used by the French jurist Jacques Cujas in a jocular passage
of his Observationes et emendationes in which he says, almost as an aside.


Femina item proprie non est homo.' Later it amused Pierre Bayle, who, under
the heading "Gediccus (Simon)," wrote in his Dictionnaire about

un petit livre dans lequel on avoit voulu prouver que les femmes
n'appartiennent point a I'espece humaine, mulieres non esse homines.

Cela s'exprime en Latin beaucoup plus heureusement qu'en Francois; car

autant qu'il est ridicule de soutenir en Latin mulieres non esse homines,

autant est-il ridicule en notre langue de soutenir que les femmes sont des


(A little book in which there was an attempt to show that women do not

at all belong to the human species: mulieres non esse homines. That is

expressed in Latin much more happily than in French, for while it is

ridiculous to maintain in Latin mulieres non esse homines, it is equally

ridiculous to maintain in our language that les femmes sont des hommes.)

No one word or phrase in English will cover all the possibilities. I have

chosen in most cases to use the word "man," without article, to indicate the

human species while also retaining some sense of an antithesis to "woman."

Although this sometimes results in rather stiff phraseology— "a woman is not

man"— and although it has the uncomfortable consequence of appearing to use

the verb "to be" to equate a plural with a singular— "women are not man"—
believe that it conveys a better sense of the original than do the alternative

possibilities.’ The grammatical oddity is, I believe, in keeping with the playful

linguistic spirit of the Disputatio and of other publications from the same

period, such as the familiar tracts Hie mulier and Haec vir.* Even so, as there

are passages where "man" also will not work, I have had to be flexible.

(Paris 1577) 137.The passage concerns suicide. A century later Cujas' comment was taken
seriously by Franciscus Henricus Hoeltich and Johannes Casparus Waltz as the basis of a
dissertation on legal questions: Foermna non est homo (Wittebergae 1672). The typography of
the dissertation imitates that of the first edition of the Disputatio.
’ Dictionnaire historique et critique 2nd edition, revised by the author, 3 vols (Rotterdam 1702)
II. See also Maclean, The renaissance notion of woman 70-71.
’ lost if "human being" or "mankind" were used
For a passage in which subtle echoes would be
throughout, see the commentary on thesis 9. Cf. also the play with antithesis in thesis 39: "If it
is only by grace that the son is God, why is it not only by grace that the mother is man?"
" See commentary on thesis 18.

At the cost of further clumsiness, I have aimed for a literal translation,

retaining the Disputant's repetitions of word and phrase and trying as far as

possible to reflect in English the rhetorical devices he employs. He is often

ponderous, sometimes careless, and occasionally illogical, characteristics that I

have not tried to disguise. It is not clear which versions of the Bible he used.

Sometimes he relies on the Vulgate, sometimes he refers to Luther, and

occasionally he appears to use something closer to the Old Latin versions.

Quotations or near quotations from the Vulgate have usually been rendered by

their equivalents in the Authorized Version (1611), but variations in the readings

have sometimes necessitated either a compromise or a note in the commentary.

Significant references to scripture are identified in brackets in the body of the

A new disputation against women, in which it is demonstrated
that they are not man.

Theses: Of women, that they are not man.

1. Since in Sarmatia, as though it were a region of virtually total licence, it is

allowed to believe and teach that, together with the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ,

the Son of God, saviour and redeemer of our souls, is not God, I believe I may
also freely believe and teach something much less serious— to wit, that women
are not man and what follows as a consequence: that Christ did not suffer for

them and that they will not be saved. If indeed in that realm those who
blaspheme the Creator are not only tolerated but are even granted rewards by
the great, why should I fear exile or punishment who am simply disparaging a

created being, especially since from scripture, using the same methods as those

by which they prove that Christ is not God, 1 can prove that woman is not man?

2. Doubtless all readers will be appalled at this point and will deem me fit,

before the evil spreads further, to be burned without delay together with these

my theses. But if these readers will choose both to consider and to weigh up the

matter dispassionately— not in the light of common opinion, as do the multitude,

but, as do philosophers, in the light of truth— they will find no reason at all why
they should rage at me.

3. If it happens that they are catholics, they will pardon my simplicity rather

than grow angry that I should be a heretic on the basis of the following

principle: nothing is to be believed unless it is expressly stated in scripture. Nor


can I believe that woman is man since that statement also is nowhere to be found
therein. If they are protestants, they are most impudent wretches to execrate me
whom they begat and from whom I learned that principle. This much 1 shall

certainly achieve; that they will have either to renounce their own doctrine or

agree with me. In this my heresy I shall in fact follow the same method of

interpreting scripture as they do in theirs.

4. But by what means will you demonstrate this? they will ask. Attend.

Scripture pronounces him accursed who adds anything to God's word; accursed
therefore will be all who add and believe that woman is man. For neither in the

New nor in the Old Testament is it found that woman is said to be man or is so

named. Certainly, if woman were man the Holy Spirit would have called her so

at some point, but it never did so call her. Therefore she is not man, and

anyone who asserts that she is man knows more than God himself knows.

5. Although in scripture Christ is quite often called God, and indeed the true

God, the Anabaptists pertinaciously deny that he is that one true God. They
nevertheless hold and believe that woman, who is not once said to be man—
indeed, is never so called— is man. O deceit, O insanity, O wickedness! Even
if it is the case, they say, that woman is nowhere expressly said to be man, there

are nevertheless many places from which it can be shown that woman is man.

What fanatical men these are: in a number of published books they earlier

proclaimed that nothing is to be believed unless it is to be found expressly stated

in scripture. And yet now they prate that we should embrace not what is

expressly stated but what can be elicited from express statements. What

6. But if it can be so elicited from express statements, what then follows? Will
it for this reason be permitted to them to call woman man? By no means! For

the prophets, Christ, and the apostles knew that this could be elicited from

express statements and yet they did not wish openly to call her so. And thus we
too ought to refrain from doing that unless we in our stupidity believe that it is

permitted to us today to do what was not permitted to the prophets, to Christ,

and to the apostles. In order, however, that all may understand that it is not

possible to elicit from the literal sense that woman is man, let us, I entreat you,

consider and examine those places which women's advocates commonly proffer

for their manification, if I may so put it.

7. 1 begin with those who, using this passage from the words of God, "let us

make a help meet for him," argue thus: Eve was made similar to Adam, the

man; she is therefore a man as Adam is. A plausible argument indeed, but

obviously false. God did not in fact say, "let us make him a man like himself,"

from which they might conclude that Eve was made man as Adam was, but he
said "a help"; nor did he say "similar to him," as those jejune scholars
understand "to him," but he said "for him," in a reciprocal sense.

8. So that this point may be better understood, let us consider the words of God
more accurately. "It is not good," he said, "that the man should be alone; let us

make a help meet for him." Here nothing else is said than that it is not good

that there should be only one man in the world; let us make for him a help by
means of which he may be able to procreate other men. Thus if by this help

other men were to be created so that he might not be alone. Eve was not man
since she was not made in order that Adam might not be alone, but so that, by
means of her, Adam might procreate men who would deliver him from solitude.

Eve herself said as much. As soon as she bore Cain, she exclaimed: "I have

gotten a man from the Lord" [Gen. 4.1]. What, I beseech you, was the will of

God in this? Nothing other, for sure, than that she should generate a man so

that Adam should not be alone. Therefore, and in common agreement, it is the

opinion of the doctors that for that reason Eve bore the twins Cain and Abel.

And notice how thoroughly consistent scripture is, and how Eve, that mother of
all living things, most fitly bears witness that this will of the Lord was first

fulfilled, not when she was as one flesh with Adam, that is, as one man— for a

man continues to be alone for so long as he continues to be unique— but when

she had seen that offspring were to swell the human race in the future.

9. Perhaps these things are obscure; let us bring clearer matters to bear.

Common experience shows us, and it is the agreed opinion of all people of

philosophical mind, that in all natural matters nothing can be done where these

two causes, efficient and instrumental, are not found together. A smith cannot

forge a sword without the help of a hammer; in the same way a scribe cannot

write without the help of a pen; a tailor cannot sew without the help of a needle;

a man cannot beget offspring without the help of a woman. Now, just as the

hammer is not the smith, the needle is not the tailor, the pen is not the scribe, so

the woman is not the man. If anyone denies that the woman is the instrumental

cause, let him suggest to us another; if he points to the privy members, saying
that it is they, he will be laughed at by all. For an instrument is never a natural

born part of the efficient agent, but is separate from it, just as, in the case of the

smith, the instrument is not his hand, but something separate, the hammer. So

also in this case, it is not the male members, but the woman.

10. I foresee that my adversaries will be troubled by this point "suitable to

him," but the solution is easy. And so, as an elucidation of the matter, let me
make use of the previous example: for the forging of a sword the smith does not

pick up a straw, but a help suitable to him, that instrument suitable for the

forging of a sword, assuredly a hammer. That which is convenient is suitable,

and that which is suitable is that which is convenient. For the mending of a

garment the tailor does not take an axe, but a needle: the appropriate help. And
thus for the procreation of man God did not wish to make for Adam a

quadruped, or anything else unsuitable from which man could not conveniently

be born, but a help "meet for him," that is, fitting: to wit, woman. Hence the

apostle said "Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the

man" [1 Cor. 11.9]. And the most sagacious Jewish rabbis testify that this is

the genuine sense of that passage: the words sibi simile are interpreted to refer

not to equality with the person of Adam, but to suitability for the future work.

Let any whom I do not satisfy in this read the most learned theologians of our
age and he will see them all teach unanimously that the words simile sibi have

been quite badly rendered from the Hebrew since nothing less is meant there

than that it was intended that a help should be placed there beside him as the
Blessed Doctor Martin Luther expounded this passage; or, "Let us make for him
a suitable yoke animal," as Sebastian Castalio put it in his version. What
objections could they utter against him?

1 1 . But if woman is indeed suitable for him or made in the image of man, what
follows? If for the Anabaptists Christ, who is both the substantial and the

incorporeal image of God the Father, is not God, we shall not grant them that

woman is man, even if she is said to have been created in the image of man.

12. Anyone who is not convinced by those points will certainly be convinced

by these that are to follow. God knew that he was to create Adam and make
woman. For he is omniscient. Now if he had wished that she should be man,
like Adam, he would not have said "Let us make man" [Gen. 1.26] in the

singular, but "Let us make men." Since, however, it is stated as it is, one can
draw from the word of God a quite clear statement that God did not wish that

woman should be man, but that he made only one man, not two.

13. What? Is it not only that which is created in the image of God that is man?
Yes, indeed! What impropriety it is then to teach that woman is man, since she
was not created in the image of God! Let anyone run through the whole Bible:

will he find anywhere written "Let us make her in our image," or find that she

was in any way made in the image of God? The divine Paul says expressly "he
is the image and glory of God: but the woman the glory of the man" [1 Cor.

11.7]. You see the apostle refusing to accord to woman the image of God,
denying that she is so endowed. Let us therefore take care not to blaspheme

against God and state that he who did not himself wish to dignify her with his

own image made her man, especially since even the Papists confess in their

canons that woman was not made in the image of God.

14. If it had been the case that the woman was similar to Adam, that is, to the

man, it would follow that two men had sinned in Paradise. For Eve sinned
equally with Adam. The apostle, however, said that through one man sin had
entered [Rom. 5.12], not through two. It is therefore evident that only one of

these two was a man, that is to say, Adam and not Eve. Besides, if two men
had sinned, two Christs would have been needed, of whom a man would have
suffered for men, a womanly Christ for women. For when two people perform
the same act that does not in fact amount to one and the same act. There came,
however, only one Christ, and that one indeed a man, and he was abundantly

sufficient for us. And therefore no one can deny that only the male, not the

woman, is man.

15. Some answer that by one man the apostle meant Eve, since it was she who
sinned first. But truly, if sin entered by Eve, it therefore did not do so by
Adam, or, if through both, the apostle Paul is a liar when he says "by one

man. " Others say that the apostle ascribed the sin to Adam because he was the

superior. But if Adam was superior to Eve, she was therefore not similar to

Adam nor is she more man than a beast by comparison with which Adam is the

superior. Thou shalt "have dominion," said God to Adam, "over every living

thing" [Gen. 1.28]; and hence perhaps that superiority. But since the man also

has dominion over the woman, who but a madman can believe that she is man
rather than beast?

16. At this point there are two matters that need to be resolved. One is the

place where it is said that God made man: "male and female created he them"

[Gen. 1.27]; the other the passage "they shall be one flesh" [Gen. 2.24]. Those

who depart from the express word of God need to argue by means of such
conjectures. As to the first, I concede that God made them, that is a male and

female man, but not that he made them men such that either of them is man.

Thus the singular number is to be carefully observed. This is confirmed by the

second passage, "they shall be one flesh," that is, male and female will be one
man. And the Anabaptists themselves give no other interpretation of this

passage, although they contradict themselves, believing that in marriage two

people are one man while they deny it to be possible that in the Trinity three

persons may be one God.

17. These same people write: "If it were anywhere clearly stated that Christ

was the eternal God, we should readily agree that the plural: ‘Elohim,' ‘let us

make,' ‘let us descend' [Gen. 1.26, 11.7], and similar phrases of scripture,

whence the trinitarians attempt to prove the divinity of the son of God, is to be

applied to the divine persons. But since this principle is nowhere to be found
expressly stated, nothing certain is to be deduced from these ambiguities." But

why do these sententious doctors not themselves observe this precept, wanting to

elicit from the plural number those two or more men when it is never expressly

found stated that woman is man?

18. So that we may counter all types of arguments from our adversaries, we
may prove what we are seeking to show even by appeal to grammeu*. Man: of
what gender is the word? For sure, only masculine. And therefore it will be
only males who are man and not females. I know, of course, that ignorant

grammarians have taught that homo is of common gender; but they were

seriously in error, since they can cite the authority of no writer of worth who
ever wrote haec homo. They adduce this passage from Cicero; "Tullia was born

man," as if the [feminine participle] "born" qualified "man" rather than

"Tullia." If I were to say "Tullia was born an animal," would "animal" for this

reason be of the feminine gender? Certainly not. Those learned men who
expanded Calepinus's dictionary noted this and therefore rejected that authority

drawn from Cicero. In his compendium, that most erudite grammarian

Cornelius Valerius, who is much used in almost all the schools of today, denied

that homo is of common gender. And so also do many others.

19. All dialecticians teach that sound argument is derived from etymology.

Since therefore homo is derived from humo because man was made from earth,

how could woman be man, since she was not created from earth? But lest

anyone should complain that I am mixing sacred things with profane, or should
say that I have gone beyond the mark in writing what I have set down above, let

me revert to the scriptures so that I may make use only of the testimony of

sacred words.

20. In 1 Timothy 2 Christ says that many false prophets are to arise who, if it

were possible, shall deceive the very elect. Since the passage says "if it were
possible," it can clearly be seen that it is not possible to deceive the elect. Now
no one can doubt that he whom God had created man was the elected vessel for
eternal life, nor that Eve on the contrary was not such a vessel and hence in

consequence, since she was deceived, is not man made in the image of God.
This argument is powerful and cannot be overturned. Nor can anyone, using
these principles, carpingly assert that Adam also was no man because he also

sinned. Let the apostle be heard saying that not Adam but Eve was deceived [1

Tim. 2.14].

21. Those points were fetched from afar; let me speak of things nearer at hand.

The woman of Canaan approaching Christ begged him to free her daughter from

a devil [Matt. 15.22], Christ answered her not a word. What, I ask, does that

signify? Was Christ too proud? Was he not merciful and mild, bidding all the

afflicted come to him and promising them refreshment? [Rom. 15.32, etc.]

Certainly. By this silence he therefore wanted to signify no more than that he

had nothing to do with women, nor women with him. I shall demonstrate it

more clearly: the disciples interceded on her behalf, but what did they receive in

answer? "I am not sent" for her "but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel"

[Matt. 15.24]. Women, do you not hear that Christ was not sent for your

sake? Do you men not understand that your wives have nothing to do with the

kingdom of heaven? Some answer that Christ attacked the woman of Canaan

with harsh words because she was a gentile— a ludicrous answer indeed. For

did not God delight in the whole world and send his only begotten son as much

for the gentiles as for the Israelites? Let them be ashamed of such crass

absurdity. Let them then explain why Christ never spoke to a gentile man as he

did to this silly little woman, given that innumerable gentile men came to him,

asked for help, and received what they sought, not being severely chided but

being treated most lovingly.

22. We have not yet finished with this passage. Listen further and be amazed.

When the disciples first said "Send her away" [Matt. 15.23], Christ answered:

"It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs." O Jesus

Christ, son of God, how great is your care in explaining things! Miserable

women, do you not hear how our saviour addresses you: not as man, but as

dogs, not as children, but as whelps? Do you not hear that it is not meet for us

to take from children the bread— that is to say, Christ, that bread of life who
descends from heaven— and to give it to you, who are nothing more than those

same filthy beasts? Why then do you work so hard for your salvation? Why do
you put yourselves above the will of almighty God? Stay, I beseech you, in the

Station in which nature placed you, if in this world you desire to experience both
happiness and the merciful God.

23. If woman were man, Christ would have spoken very ill indeed when he
said that it was not proper to help her; worse when he spoke of taking the
children's bread, seeing that what is owned in common may not be taken; worst

of all when he spoke of giving it to dogs. But all that the Lord said was good.
O ye women, be humble, therefore, along with the woman of Canaan and cry

out with her: "Truth, Lord: we are dogs: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which
fall from their masters' table" [Matt. 15.27]. Seek the crumb that sometimes
falls beneath the table, but not the bread that, as ordained by God, is placed on

the table for us males, the lords. As, however, a crumb of bread does not

satisfy the flesh, so it will not save you. Imitate the example of Mary
Magdalene, who, possessed by demons and plainly understanding herself to be a
dog, crept like a dog to the feet of the Lord and begged for help and received it,

which Martha with her sister Mary also did, humbly falling down at the feet of

24. My adversaries rage and gnash their teeth saying that at all events in this

passage they find an invincible argument in favour of women. They exclaim

that Christ added "Thy faith hath saved thee" [Luke 7.50]. But consider, O
reader, how men have to fall to lying when they abandon truth. For Christ

never said to the woman of Canaan "Thy faith hath saved thee," but "Be it unto

thee even as thou wilt" [Matt. 15.28], or, as the other evangelist says, "For this

saying go thy way" [Mark 7.29]. But what, I entreat, was this saying? Nothing

other, indeed, than this confession: "It may be that I am a Canaanite dog, O
Lord, but dogs eat of the crumbs." If, therefore, our women also wish to be

freed from devils, that is, from the miseries and calamities of these times, let

them be not proud, as they commonly are today; let them confess themselves to

be dogs and they will again hear: "Be it unto thee even as thou wilt." For we

indeed desire to hear "Not as thou, O God, wilt." Even Christ himself prayed
thus as he was about to die: "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:
nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" [Matt. 26.39].

25. But these arguments are perhaps of no weight. Let it be that it was said to

the woman of Canaan as to the woman who was diseased with an issue of blood

[Matt. 9.20], "thy faith hath made thee whole" [Matt. 9.22]. What then?

Would it follow that women are man? Would the salvation of their souls also

follow? Not at all. For to be saved signifies here nothing other than to be

healed in body, which is seen from the fact that all of the women to whom
Christ said these words sought not the salvation of their souls but only that of

their bodies: Mary Magdalene that she might be freed from the demons, the

other that she might be freed from the issue of blood. Nor was Christ so

undiscriminating as to give them what they did not seek, especially since these

little women would never have come to Christ about the salvation of the soul

unless they had been forced to do so by the overwhelming need of their bodily

ills. And Luke did not write "has spiritually saved," but "thy faith hath saved

thee" [Luke 7.50]. Indeed, Matthew adds: "And the woman was made whole

from that hour" [Matt. 9.22]. Certainly from that hour she did not have the

salvation of her soul, since God has predestined that for us from all eternity,

though he will not accord it to us until the next life; but she was saved

immediately from illness and granted good health.

26. But these opponents object that faith is a matter for man alone. And thus

these obtuse people rave, as if preferring to toss in stupid ambiguities than to

accede to the truth. The devils also believe, and tremble [James 2.19]. Is then

faith for man alone? These asses do not know how to distinguish between that

true faith which vindicates the soul, of which the apostle says faith is one

[Ephesians 4.5], and the other, historical faith which is not for man alone but

also for women and devils. What sane man has ever taught that living faith is to

be found in woman? Indeed, the apostle maintained the contrary, removing all

question of faith from them, saying: Woman is to be saved not by faith but by

childbearing [1 Tim. 2.15]. Indeed, many evil men have faith, but a dead faith:

they are rather corpses than men. Think about this for a moment, you
Anabaptists: if faith belongs to man alone, infants, since they have not faith, are

therefore not man; or, if they have it, your doctrine has disappeared in smoke.

27. Women knew and believed that Christ was that true and promised Messiah
who could easily cure all ills. But they also knew this, that he was not sent on
their account. For this reason when Christ sometimes spoke with a woman the

evangelist states that the apostles were astonished since this is certainly not

without mystery. Sometimes the greatest necessity, which even brought about a
change in the law [Hebrews 7.12], led him to do this, as when there was iio

human remedy or, if I may put it in the words of the evangelist, when they had
spent all their living upon physicians [Luke 8.43] so that they sometimes met
him by chance, weeping and trembling, and, compelled by their need, implored
his mercy and begged not bread, as did the men, but a crumb, begged that they

might touch not his body but only the hem of his garment [Matt. 9.20]. And
thus although Christ received these women discourteously, as he did the
Canaanite woman and the woman diseased with an issue of blood, when, even

though he was angry merely that she had touched him, he nevertheless, seeing
that their faith was great— that is, that they believed him to be that son of God
promised to Adam and his posterity more firmly than did many men for whose
sake alone he had nevertheless come— occasionally and unusually brought them
succour, merely to shame faithless men. Thus those words: "I have not found
so great faith, no, not in Israel" [Matt. 8.10], that is, "among the men I have
not found such great faith as the faith that I have found in thewoman who in no
way concerns me." Nor will anyone who knows of how Christ similcU'ly
transferred his reign, because of their ingratitude, from the Jews to the gentiles

be surprised by this. Among the physicians we read that the sick person's hope
and faith in the physician and in the medicine can effect more than can the

medicine itself and the physician. I may therefore appropriately say at least that

these women had such faith that neither Christ (that is to say, the physician) nor

the medicine brought them succour since it is written "thy faith hath saved

thee." And thus I may also say that faith saved them, not Christ.

28. Now we have caught you, my adversaries may say: you have said two
things against yourself. First, that Christ was promised to Adam's posterity: if

to his posterity, therefore to women who are also his posterity; second, that

woman was to be saved by childbearing: if therefore she is saved by

childbearing, she also is man. But, my friends, do not triumph before the
victory; triumph when you have demonstrated that women also are Adam's
posterity. That, however, you will not be able to show in all eternity. For

Adam's posterity is expressly enumerated in the Holy Bible, both in the Old and

in the New Testament. For is noted whom Adam begat, whom his children,

and then whom his grandsons, and after that whom Abraham, that is, Isaac;
Isaac Jacob; Jacob Juda; Juda Pharez; Pharez Esrom, and in like fashion others

begat others until these our own times. But who begat women is never stated;

whence they draw their origin is uncertain; whence they came is doubtful. Thus
the posterity of Adam is restricted to males alone whose origin is not unclear,

since no daughter is said to have been the first born, although she may have
been born before the sons, while in fact there are found many sons who are said

to have been the first born even when some sisters preceded their birth.

29. The second argument that they think supports them works entirely in their

disfavour and supports me. I confess that I have said, along with the apostle,

that the woman is saved by childbearing. But that they can educe from this that

she is man and that the salvation of her soul follows is quite false. Indeed, all

sectarians, as many as have existed since the time of the Blessed Luther, teach
that man is to be redeemed only through faith. Now if that is true, how can

woman be man, if she is saved not by faith but by childbearing? For my part 1

interpret this word "saved," as I said before, to have force in this world, and I

do that not by means of dubious conjectures, but by the use of the most solid

arguments. Thus, just as an unfecund and barren woman is damned by non-

childbearing, that is, found despicable and, as it were, sordid— as we find from

the old law where a barren woman is thought to be detested of God and where it

so written: Accursed is the barren woman who has no seed in Israel— so, by

contrast, the pregnant and fecund is saved. For there it is also added soon

afterwards; Blessed, however, is she whose seed is Zion, for she completes the

task of the helper. This is not so in the case of the former woman. And David
explains this salvation very clearly when he describes the sons sitting round

about the table as being like olive plants [Ps. 128.3].

30. It is altogether stupid to assert that in this passage the word "to be saved" is

to be understood to mean the salvation of the soul. If indeed women are saved

by childbearing, Christ died in vain for them and it is in vain that they believe.

All virgins and widows and spinsters, who have never given birth, will be

damned, and whores who have given birth will be saved. Christ himself speaks

to these last: "Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in

those days!" [Matt. 24.19]. If, dierefore, woe is to be unto them, how is it that

by this childbearing, which is accomplished with pain, they should be saved?

Women would certainly carry off a remarkable reward for evil if they were
saved because they had sinned.

31. Thus it might be, they say, had the apostle not added: if the woman
continue in faith [1 Tim. 2.15]. In truth, since in all manuscripts of scripture,

especially in those translated by Anabaptists, there is found, either in the text or

in the margin, "If their sons continue in the faith," to which reading may we the
more justifiably give credit? They will have to admit this, that the meaning of

only one of these two can be true and genuine, the other false and
supposititious. If therefore the matter stands thus, why do they not prefer to

embrace that meaning which agrees with the whole of scripture, rather than that

which is opposed to it? It is an axiom of all the gospels that he will be saved

who continues in the faith without regard to works. If this is true either we
must read "If the sons remain in the faith," or we must say that all women and
virgins may seek salvation by remaining in the faith though they may never have

borne children and that Paul was thus in error in both saying that childbearing

was necessary and elsewhere speaking against himself, denying salvation

through works yet here requiring childbearing, which is a work. Since it is a

sin to make the apostle say something like that, those miserable disputants might

understand in what scripture twisted against itself they are entangled. Just as

sons not continuing in the faith do not damn their mother, so they do not ensure

the kingdom of heaven for her by continuing in it. In this world, however,
good comes to the mother through that activity of generation, of which we have
the example of Mary who, full of grace and blessed among women, was saved
by bearing Christ.

32. There remains to be resolved that argument which in their opinion is

irrefutable: that women's sins are forgiven them and that they are therefore

man. That sins are forgiven them, they prove by the example of Mary
Magdalene, the sinner obsessed by seven devils [Luke 8.2] to whom Christ said

"Thy sins are forgiven" [Luke 7.48]. I could, however, easily reject this

argument, for one example cannot be used to draw consequences. I could

perhaps say that not only were the sins of men forgiven but also those of women
who are not man. And in saying so I should readily have extricated myself.

But I shall apply myself to the matter in a more profound way. I think I may
say that it is well known that this precept of God— "of the tree . . . thou shalt

not eat" [Gen. 2. 17]— was given not to the woman but only to the man. For the

woman had not yet been created when God voiced the prohibition, nor was that

precept repeated after her creation; nor again, after the sin, did God therefore

call her, but called to Adam only, saying "Adam, where art thou?" [Gen. 3.9].
And to him alone he said "Why didst thou eat of the tree, whereof commanded I

thee that thou shouldst not eat?" [Gen. 3.11]. He did not instruct the woman in

the same way. We have all indeed sinned in Adam, and not in Eve, and we
contract that original sin not from the mother but from the father. For which
reason also the old law commanded that all males be circumcised, but that the

females remain uncircumcised, prescribing, that is to say, that only in that sex

which sinned should original sin be punished [Gen. 17.10]. If, therefore, she

did not sin in the beginning, woman does not sin today, since we too would not

sin unless we had contracted sin from Adam.

33. From these premises anyone may understand that women's sins, if there are

any such, differ in nothing from the sinning of beasts when they are said to have

done an injury or committed some other transgression. Nor could anyone

complain that Mary Magdalene did not have similar sins on the grounds that she

was obsessed by devils since devils obsessed swine [Matt. 8.32] that were free

of all vice. The apostle drew attention to this matter, saying "By one man sin

entered into the world" [Rom. 5.12], meaning Adam. Eve was not said to have

sinned, and thus she needed no mediator but rather there was to be born from a
descendant of hers, uninfected by any sin, a man who would be a mediator and

who thus would be without sin as she was; nor do we read anywhere in scripture

that any woman was damned, which is a manifest sign that there is in them no
cause of damnation, that is to say, sin.

34. Eve said, indeed: "God hath said. Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye

touch it" [Gen. 3.3], but in this she spoke falsely. For God did not prohibit the

woman, but the man; nor did he prohibit touching, but eating, and hence she
ignorantly added "lest [perhaps] we die" [Gen. 3.3]. What need was there of

the word of doubt "perhaps" if Eve knew for certain that her eating of the fruit

was forbidden by God? And hence the serpent answered "Ye shall not surely

die" [Gen. 3.4], as if he should say "How is it that thou shouldst die, to whom
this instruction was in no way given?" And the event itself shows that Eve did
not die after she had eaten, since her eyes were not opened until Adam had
eaten. Why did God nevertheless punish her, ask the adversaries? Be not
astonished: for he punished the serpent also, who nevertheless neither was
subject to the law nor was man. And in any case I deny that he did punish her.
For how could "in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children" [Gen. 3.16] have

been a punishment since God had ordered Eve to bring forth children before she

had seen the tree of Paradise? Nor is to bring forth in sorrow a punishment,
since all irrational creatures which have never sinned at all bring forth in


35. Because if indeed we scrutinize the scriptures we find that women have
almost always been blessed for evildoing, and that they have been praised that

they did evil. Rachel was praised who deceived her father with a pretty device

when he was looking for the images [Gen. 31.19]. Rebekah was praised
because she fraudulently obtained for Jacob his father's blessing [Gen. 27.1-33].

The harlot Rahab deceived those who were looking for Joshua's spies and it was
counted to her for righteousness [Joshua 2.1-24, 6.17-23]. Jael "went out to
meet Sisera and said unto him. Turn in, my lord, turn in to me" and when he
asked her for water "she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him to drink" as he

lay. As Sisera slept, she smote a nail into his head and killed him, who had
trusted in her good faith, thinking to save himself [Judges 4.18-22]. And for

this remarkable betrayal it is written in the scriptures "blessed above women

shall Jael ... be, blessed above women in the tent" [Judges 5.24]. And what
of Judith? Is it not written that with her blandishments she twice struck

Holofernes in the neck "and severed his head from his body" [Judges 13.8]?

And the scriptures nevertheless bless, praise, and extol this woman [Judges

13.18]. And the iniquity of a woman is said to be far better than the worthy
deeds of a man.

36. The daughters of Lot are forgiven for their incest with their father [Gen.

19.30-38] and the drunken father is not forgiven and his succession is ejected

from the church of God. The incestuous Tamar is forgiven and said to be more

just than the patriarch Judah and for her fraudulent incest she was rewarded by

continuing the line of the Saviour [Gen. 38.13-30]. And similarly Christ

forgave the woman taken in adultery and did not permit her to be punished

[John 8.3-11]. And in the laws of the emperors we are warned that a woman
taken in adultery should not suffer capital punishment, nor furthermore should

she be imprisoned for her sins, unless the judge himself wished to be punished

by death. What, I ask, does all this amount to but clear evidence that the sins of

women are not in truth sins? Which is why, as Luke says, even the guests

sitting beside Christ when he forgave the woman’s sins began to be astonished,

since she had none [Luke 7.36-50]. For Mary Magdalene did not strive for the

forgiveness of her sins but for the expulsion of devils. And thus, since her sins

were not forgiven for the reason that she might find eternal life but in order that

the devils might be expelled, who does not understand that the purpose of the

forgiveness of women's sins differs from that of the forgiveness of men's sins?

Add to this that Christ taught only male apostles to pray with the Our Father and

that therefore they only, and not women, are charged to say "forgive us our
debts" [Matt. 6.12].

37. But we can confirm what we advance by means of other arguments. We

read in Luke that infants were brought to Christ [Luke 18.15]. Now since the

word infant is of common gender it encompasses the masculine as well as the

feminine and it would seem likely that not only boys but also girls were brought
there. Christ, however, did not say "Suffer little children [infantes, of both

sexes] to come unto me," as if he meant girls as well as boys, but he said

specifically "Suffer little children [pueros] to come unto me . . . for of such is

the kingdom of God" [Luke 18. 16]; that is to say, it consists of boys and not of

girls. And for this reason also the apostles forbade mothers to bring children to

Christ [Luke 18.15] because among them were girls who had nothing to do with


38. Matthew 22. The Sadducees asked Christ whose wife she should be in the

resurrection who had married seven men [Matt. 22.23-28]. In response Christ

said "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures ..." [Matt. 22.29]. Why, I ask,

did they err? Doubtless because they stupidly believed that women were to be

resurrected, being ignorant of the scriptures since in them nothing is contained

concerning their salvation. Christ continued: "For in the resurrection they

neither marry ..." [Matt. 22.30]. Why not, I beseech you? For there will be
not a single woman in heaven, but they will be as the angels of God [Matt.

22.30]. And now what are the angels like? Assuredly all masculine, not

feminine. Men are thus the only ones who have to do with heaven; women not
in the least.

39. Christ said to his own mother: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?"
[John 2.4]. And if he therefore has nothing to do with his mother, who bore
him, much less has he in common with other women. But I see what they will

object to this: that Christ is called the son of man and is nevertheless the son of

Mary, and that Mary was therefore man. Let us, however, concede this

argument to them and let us say that Mary was man— and yet not by nature but
by grace. Just as by the Anabaptists Christ is said to be God not by nature but by

grace. Thus, too, the angel said "Hail to thee Mary, full of grace . . . blessed

among women" [Luke 1.28]. Why blessed? Because this woman was man, and
the others not. Thence Mary can truthfully be called man, since she bore a
child without a male and she herself carried out, as it were, the work of the

male. Let the women of today bear children without males and we shall gladly

call them man. But this is no sounder a reason than the previous one. If it is

only by grace that the son is God, why is it not also only by grace that the

mother is man? Especially since it is nowhere said that Mary is called man
other than in relation to her bearing of Christ, when he is called the son of man.
The Anabaptists themselves also say that by this expression, "the son of man,"
nothing else is meant than "man," and assert that it is a hebraism. What
therefore will these men prove if the expression has no bearing on the idea of
"son"? Nor do I see how it could have anything to do with "mother" since

Christ said that his mother was not this woman who bore him but rather all

those who hear him and do his will [Matt. 12.48-50].


40. When the woman exclaimed about Christ; "Blessed is the womb that bare

thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked," Christ reproved her, saying: "Yea
rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it" [Luke 11.27,
28]. Thus you see that Christ did not wish to ascribe beatitude to women. And
if his mother who bore him was not blessed, how are other women to be saved?
That which is foul is covered. As women are required by divine precept always

to cover their heads, it must be the case that in God's eyes they are foul and not

to be saved, for nothing soiled and foul will enter into the kingdom of heaven,
especially since women who have indulged in voluptuousness in the slightest

degree are called the living dead.

41. And now they fall back on these words written to the Galatians: "There is

neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor

female: for ye are all one in Jesus Christ" [Gal. 3.28]. And from this they want

to demonstrate that woman is man— but all too foolishly. For if by this it is

demonstrated that woman is man, it is also demonstrated that Jews and Greeks

are man, for the statement was made about them all. What more foolish or

ridiculous thing could the apostle have done than aspire to teach in this passage

that Jews and Greeks are man, since that is in itself quite plain and needs no
demonstration? And thus if that is not taught, neither is it shown that woman,
listed here, is man. They say: But these are one and the same in Christ and

therefore there is no distinction. That is clearly so: Christ said "I and my Father

are one" [John 10.30]. And yet the Anabaptists deny that Christ was God as the

Father is. I therefore for my part shall also deny that woman is man as males

are, even though they are said to be one. Children along with their elders are

said to be one and the same in Christ. Now with God there is no respect of
persons [1 Peter 1.17] and yet the Anabaptists do not wish to admit children to

baptism nor permit that women should teach in church, although in this respect

they think them to be one in Christ. Thence it seems that the pronoun "the

same" or "one" is not always taken in the same sense. The Jew, like the Greek,

is the same in Christ, but only when he has cast off the Jew and has become one
of the faithful. And thus women wishing to be one in Christ must first have cast

off their womanhood so as to become man, whence, since they cannot do so, it

manifestly appears how little they have to do with Christ. We, however, can

cast off the old man, which is Adam, while it has never been heard— and is

indeed ridiculous— that women should cast off Eve. Moreover, notice that the

apostle did not say: In Christ there is neither male nor female, as if saying

neither Jew nor Greek, neither free, nor bond, but said "neither male and

female," designating by the expression ac that the man and this woman would
not be one in Christ in the same way as are those of whom he employs the word

42. And, to be sure, I do not see how women can be one in Christ, since Christ

himself together with the apostles taught that he who wants to be perfect and to
enter into eternal life should leave his wife [e. g., Luke 18.29-30]. And for that

reason they praise eunuchs who castrated themselves for the kingdom of heaven,
having nothing to do with women [Matt. 19.12, Acts 9.27-39]. Nor did Christ

marry, and the apostles rejected their spouses and advised others that they

should remain as they themselves, adding that only he who did not bind himself

in marriage would truly please Christ [1 Cor. 7.1-40]. In addition, to ensure

that they might set aside all matters of the kind, they bore witness that it is good
not to touch a woman [1 Cor. 7.1].

43. Others insist on this point also: When a woman brings forth she does so in

sorrow, and when she has given birth she rejoices that a man has been born into

the world, and since in truth daughters are also born they attempt to convince us

by this argument that women are man. But what woman has ever rejoiced when
a daughter was born? None, for sure; and the great Ochino, the coryphaeus of
the Anabaptists, has set down in his dialogues: Women do not take delight when
daughters are born. Mothers themselves affirm that this is true, and no wonder.
Since, as Aristotle says, a woman is a defect of nature, or, as Plato says, more
an irrational than a rational animal, what mother can rejoice in that birth,

especially since scripture informs them that woman is to be saved by giving

birth to sons, not to daughters. And so the passage is to be understood thus:
When a woman has given birth to a son, she rejoices because a man has been

born— born of masculine gender. The passage cannot be twisted so as to include

females. And indeed look at all passages in the whole of the sacred scriptures

where the word homo is to be found— they are almost innumerable— and you

will find that males are always exclusively meant. And the same is true of this

passage. If there is found a single example stating the contrary, let women be

free to curse me.

44. Nor at this point should I pass over the following argument which they

commonly put forward. They say that in Luke, chapter 8, Christ called a girl

back from the dead and that therefore women will be resurrected [Luke 8.49-

56]. But these subtle ones have not taken note of what Christ said in that

passage, which is: "she is not dead, but sleepeth." What else do these words
suggest but that if she had been dead, she was not going to be resurrected?

According to Christ's words the girl therefore was only sleeping, nor had she

yet died, as the common people supposed; and hence it is not surprising that she

arose. And that is why Christ then charged them all that they should tell no

man what was done, in case women, hearing of this example, should gather

from it that resurrection applied to them also. In contrast, when he resuscitated

a young man he voiced no prohibition, but as the evangelist writes "And this

rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region

round about" [Luke 7.17]. And when a servant came to Jairus indicating that

his daughter was dead, he added "trouble not the Master" [Luke 8.49], which he

said for this reason that he knew that once girls or women were dead it was vain

to call upon Christ for help since they were not to be resurrected even at the

latter day. We read of the Blessed Bishop Germanus Britannus that by a

remarkable miracle he called an ass forth from the dead, and yet no one can

reason from this that it is possible that asses are to be resurrected— unless he

himself is an ass. And similarly there is no validity in the argument based on

this girl's arising from the ashes.

45. And now let us continue. The scriptures clearly state that the head of

Christ is God just as the head of the woman is the man [1 Cor. 1 1.3]. Now the

Anabaptists do not wish to grant that Christ is God because God is his head and
by this reasoning woman will therefore not be man because man is her head, or,

if she is man, let them grant also that Christ is God and we shall be in


46. Those same Anabaptists do not wish to baptize infants because they have

neither precept nor example to show that Christ or the apostles baptized them.

Why therefore do they offer the sacrament of the eucharist to women since here

also they have neither example nor precept that Christ or the apostles offered it

to them or commanded that it be offered? There is clearly no frankness or

sincerity in them. And there is surely no other reason why the lifegiving body
of the Lord was never given to women other than that that body neither suffered

for them nor concerns them. But baptism concerns them, they say; why not

therefore the other sacrament also? Now we have examples of baptized women,

such as Lydia [Acts 16.14-15]. 1 hear them. But I shall grant them this

argument when they in their turn will have granted me the right to argue from
one sacrament to the other, thus: baptism concerns infants since circumcision

concerned them. But if the latter is granted, so also will be the former.

47. I indeed know that in the scriptures examples of baptized women are to be

found, but since the Papists baptize bells and temples, are those also therefore to

be deemed man? I rather respond that it is wholly contrary to the precept of

Christ that women should be baptized. For Christ says "He that believeth and is

baptized shall be saved" [Mark 16.16]; he did not say "She that believeth . .

Nor is the pronoun "he" of common gender, so that it could encompass the

feminine. From these things it is clear that baptism follows in succession to

circumcision. How then can they be baptized since women were not

circumcised? It is the case that Christ commanded that baptism should be

carried out "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost"
[Matt. 28.19], by which formula no woman is reported to have been baptized;

her baptism will therefore be illegitimate. For which reason I add this also: just

as Paul indulgently granted Christians circumcision, which Christ nevertheless

did not teach, so also in the earliest days baptism was granted to women, but

mistakenly. Therefore the apostle gave thanks to God that he had not baptized

many people, and added that he had not come to baptize, but to preach the

gospel [1 Cor. 1.13-17]. And since judgement is to be based not on examples

but on the law, examples of baptized women are of no significance whatever.


48. What do others say? When Christ first arose from the dead, he first

revealed himself to women. How then can he not be concerned with them? But

I answer: When Christ was first born, he revealed himself in the manger to an

ox and an ass, and thus cattle have to do with Christ. O stupidity! These
miserable men do not understand that Christ first appeared to women for no

other reason than that his resurrection would thus be published to the world

immediately and as rapidly as possible. Since women are garrulous, the whole

city straightaway learns what they know. It is the case that a woman may testify

according neither to divine nor to human law. And therefore Christ could not

have them as witnesses to his resurrection, since their testimony is invalid.

Thus the apostle Thomas also did not wish to believe the other disciples when
they said that Christ had risen from the dead, since none but women had told

them so, and indeed the other apostles thought the women deluded. And,

finally, when he rose Christ showed himself to the women as if he did not wish
them to recognize him although they were standing close to him. And his own
mother did not recognize her son, but believed that he was the gardener, and

when she later came to recognize him, Christ refused to let her touch him. And
thus one can see how Christ honoured women with his resurrection.

49. The women exclaim: We speak, we have reason and a rational soul:

therefore we are man. But I deny them all of this. For there are many birds

that speak, such as the parrot and the pie, and Balaam's ass spoke [Numbers

22.28] and yet was not man. And to speak without reason is nothing other than

not to speak at all. And that these women speak without reason is shown by the

apostle's commanding them to keep silence in the churches [1 Cor. 14.34]. If

they were able to speak rationally, why should they keep silence? By law all

public offices are denied them. Even to sue in court is, most prudently, not

permitted them. They are barred from jurisdiction, from Judgement, from
adoption, from intercession, from procuration, from guardianship, from

administration, from testamentary and criminal pleadings: and for no other

reason than that they have no reason. Their sex itself would not be an
impediment, if reason were to be found in them. Nor do we ever once read of
God's breathing a soul into a woman, and the Anabaptists themselves grant and

demonstrate in their writings that women have no soul. And even if women had

reason, this would still not make them man, since both the angels and the devil

have a rational soul and can speak and yet are not man. In Christ there

"dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" [Col. 2.9], says the apostle,

and yet the Ebionites deny that this suffices to make Christ God; nor, therefore

would a rational soul suffice to make woman man— however much of a one she

had. This is discussed by the most learned doctor Hosius, who denied that a

rational soul constitutes a man. For even beasts have such a soul since God

mrns our attention to them so that we may learn reason from them, saying: "Be
ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" [Matt. 10.16]. Also: "Go
to the ant thou sluggard" [Ps. 6.6]. But all that makes man is the knowledge of
God, in which other living creatures are lacking. And if anyone should wish to

contend that women know God, it must be confessed that they have this

knowledge communicated to them by the menfolk. Now, it is written that if a

woman wishes to learn anything, she should learn from her husband [1 Cor.

14.35]. Just as the divinity of Christ communicated to him by the Father does

not make him God, so the communicated knowledge does not make the woman

50. Nor do I credit this last evasion of all women: the argument that since all

things give birth to beings like themselves it is necessary that woman be man
because she gives birth to man. Now if this is true, the Anabaptists are lying

when they say that Christ is not the true God. If the Father begets a son, he

begets a God like himself. In procreation, when a son is born, the father begets

a being like himself, nor in this case is it appropriate to invoke the mother, who
is not the efficient cause of the offspring who are to be born, but only the

instrument. As the natural philosophers say, she adds no form of life to the

children that are to be born. Indeed, if a daughter is born, that is not "like,"

since she is a defect, while nature always tends towards the best things and

prefers to procreate a male rather than a female, as the philosophers attest. This

is not surprising, since an ass may also be born from a horse and a mule [5ic],

beetles from horse dung, lice from fat; the generation of like from like often


51. I have proved, I believe, by means of fifty irrefutable witnesses from

sacred scripture that woman is not man, nor is to be saved. Which if I have not
achieved, I have nevertheless shown to all the world how the heretics of these

times, especially the Anabaptists and the Papists, usually explain sacred

scripture and what method they use for the establishment of their execrable

dogmas. Enough to the wise. I nevertheless plead with the unwise little women
that with the benevolence and love which they possessed in former times they
may embrace me; which if they do not so wish, may the beasts perish for all

eternity. I have sufficient glory from this tract to ensure that in the thought of

future generations I may be deemed a heretic, if not of good reputation, at least

of great.

The Disputatio nova: commentary

The numbers at the heads of paragraphs refer to the theses. Notes on each

thesis include, where relevant, summaries of comments and interpretations by

Gedik, Tarabotti, Querlon, Clapies, and others. Quotations from Clapies are

given in Carrington's free translation. Comments from the German dialogue

book of 1618 are attributed to "Eugenius" when, as is usually the case, they are

contributed by that character. As the responses by the Disputant's opponents

are brief and in most cases follow the order of the theses, and as few of the texts

are readily available, I have only occasionally included page and folio numbers
when citing their arguments. Where there are significant differences, quotations

from the Vulgate are followed by the equivalent passages in the Old Latin
versions, taken from the edition by Fischer and others. As the Disputant does

not seem to have used a Greek New Testament, I have rarely referred to the

Greek readings when commenting on his arguments. AV = Authorized

Version, OL = Old Latin, V = Vulgate, Agrippa = Henricus Cornelius
Agrippa, De nobilitate et praecellentia foeminei sexus, edition of 1990, MS =
the manuscript in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC (for which see
chapter 6). Full details of other references given in the text will be found in the

bibliography. I have not attempted to identify the sources of the Disputant's

many allusions to Anabaptist teaching. Not only is the literature extensive, but

it is likely that the reported doctrines derive as much from preaching and other

oral instruction as from the written word. As "Anabaptist" is in any case a


notoriously loose term, it is not clear which theological arguments may be

appropriately included. Not all Anabaptists were, for example, antiTrinitarians,

as was Michael Servetus (1511-53), whose views are a source for thesis 17 in

particular. The Disputant is a protestant, reverential towards Luther and

strongly prejudiced against the papists. He nevertheless demonstrates an equal

distaste for the theological propositions of the more extreme reformers, to whom
he gives the collective label Anabaptist.

Where, as is most often the case, the textual and typographical blemishes of
the first edition do not obscure the sense, I have passed them over in silence.

Although the variants among the printings and editions rarely have significant

effects on the translation, I have included in the commentary a few relevant

notes. For further discussion of textual matters, see chapter 6.

1. Sarmatia] In classical times a country near the Black Sea. It is mentioned

by Herodotus (IV. 21, 57, 102, 110, 116-22, 122, 136), whose comments,
closing the gap between men and women, are unhelpful to the case the

Disputant wishes to make. Herodotus says that the Sarmatian women, allowed
much freedom, rode and hunted alone, dressed as men, and fought in war: "it is

the custom that no virgin weds till she has slain a man of the enemy" (117).

The name Sarmatia was later used to refer to all of what was then known of
Russia, together with Poland. Poland was the centre of the Socinian heresy.
See chapter 2.

Tarabotti inverts the common Aristotelian opinion that man is to be equated with
form, woman with matter. "Women are made by the hand of God, drawn from

the rib of a man, and generated as they are, whence they come to be as it were

the form, and the man the matter. Just as form is more noble than matter, so is

woman more noble than man." She repeats here standard sentiments to be

found in dozens of sixteenth and seventeenth century tracts about the excellence

of women. After quoting the last sentence of the thesis, she taunts the Disputant

with a couplet from Ovid: Quaerit aquas in aquis, et poma fugacia captat. /
Tantalus hoc illi garrula lingua dedit (Tantalus seeks for water in the midst of

waters and catches at everescaping fruits— that was the fate he got for his

garrulous tongue). The lines {Amores 2.2.43-44) are from a passage warning

against empty talk. There is a hint of panache in a nun's choosing to quote the


Early in the dialogue book Endres suggests that Eugenius's willingness to

defend women must spring from his erotic overfondness for them. Eugenius
denies this both at the start and in the paragraph with which he brings the book
to a close. The repetition gives additional emphasis to the idea that men would
not find women of value if it were not for the sexual gratification they provide.

they prove that Christ is not God\ In his translation of 1678 Lxirrain adds an
ironic flavour: Us pretendent seulement fair voir.

3. nothing is to be believed unless it is expressly stated in scripture] Tarabotti

immediately tries to cut through the sophistry: that women belong to the human

race is as clear as the distinction of light from darkness.

4. accursed who adds anything to God's word] Ezra 6.11: "I have made a
decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his

house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a
dunghill for this"; Galatians 1.8: "But though we, or an angel from heaven,

preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you,

let him be accursed"; with a number of related passages.

neither in the New nor in the Old Testament is it found that woman is said to be

man] Gedik suggests a disguised jeer by using the word similes in his answer:

"The simple and clear account of the truth found in the Old and New
Testaments dispels these and all your similar foolish ideas."

knows more than God himself knows] Lorrain renders more circumspectly: veut
etre plus sage que Dieu mime.

5. the Anabaptists] The movement began in Germany in about 1521. The

fundamental characteristics of Anabaptist thought included an insistence on

pacifism, a literal understanding of scripture, the rejection of salvation by faith

alone, and the inefficacy of infant baptism.

in a number of published books] From the early years of the movement the

Anabaptists wrote copiously about their theological views. See Hillerbrand's


6. manification] The Disputant invents the Latin word homatio/-nis. Lorrain

creates the French caique homation.

7. Eve was made man as Adam was] The Disputant preserves the difference

between the words used in Genesis to account for the origins of Adam and Eve.
While Adam is "created," Eve is "made." See Hertz, Pentateuch and Haftorahs

23; and see below, commentary on thesis 12.

nor did he say "similar to him ,

"... but he said "for him, " in a reciprocal

sense] No translation into English adequately conveys the sense. The Latin

terms are simile illi and simile sibi. The V phrase is faciamus ei adjutorium

simile sibi, rendered in the AV as "I will make an help meet for him" [Gen.

2.18]. Some of the OL versions have faciamus illi adiutorium simile(m) sibi.

The Disputant may not have realized that others have simile(m) illi, nor that his

argument is unfounded since the Latin of the Vulgate commonly uses sibi/illi,

etc., quite indiscriminately. (See Plater and White, A grammar of the Vulgate

70.) My translation depends on grouping the words as (adiutorium simile) sibi.

In classical Latin the expression similis sibi, literally "like itself, like oneself,"

is used to mean constant, unchanging, steadfast, with no suggestion of similarity

to anything or anyone else. If the phrase were grouped adiutorium (simile sibi)

the translation might be something like "a steadfast help."

those jejune scholars] The Disputant chooses the postclassical word beani,

which originally meant uninstructed university freshmen and was later used

scornfully of men of no understanding. See Du Cange's Glossarium. Evidently

not knowing the word, Querlon simplifies to Us.


8. let us make for him a help by means of which he may be able to procreate

other men] Any overt attempt by the Disputant to support his proposition by

reference to Islam would inevitably have been damaging to his ostensible case.

He may nevertheless be counting on his readers' making the connexion.

Although the assertion that women are designed primarily for procreation finds

some support in Thomas Aquinas {Summa theologica 1.92.1; see below,

commentary on thesis 10), it is also strikingly reminiscent of many scandalized

condemnations of the views of Mahommet which routinely appeared in books of

the period. See, for example, Lodovico Domenichi, La nobilta delle donne
(1549) f.

for that reason Eve bore the twins Cain and Abel] Clapies rather mysteriously

renders as "Cain and Abel were twins, and for this same reason" (6).

Making a general answer about swelling the world with offspring, Tarabotti
mentions the tradition that Cain killed Abel because he was jealous of their

supposed sister Abellina. Despite her detestation of men, she repeatedly

introduces sexual and erotic elements into her remarks.

9. Now, just as the hammer is not the smith, the needle is not the tailor, the pen

is not the scribe, so the woman is not the man] The clause "the woman is not

the man" is a sophistry playing on the other way in which the words "not man"
may be read: neither is Eve a human being. If Eve is not a human being, there

is no question of loving mutuality when she and Adam embrace; she is reduced

to the status of a mechanical aid to reproduction. The arguments that follow

have the perhaps unintended consequence of establishing a firm bond between a

man’s soul and his body. Since Eve rather than the penis is the tool, the penis

is not a physical object, such as a hammer, distant from the centre of self and
pressed into service for the purpose of generation; it is an inherent part of a
man’s being. All of him, body and soul together, acts as the efficient cause.

While that unity is unproblematical in the case of the prelapsarian Adam,

Augustine had lamented the fragmentation brought about by the fall, as a

consequence of which the genitals were at a distance from the centre of being
and no longer under full control.

the woman is the instrumental cause] A sentence in Agrippa (54) might be

understood to mean that Adam was created principally so that he might provide

the raw material from which Eve could be formed: Postea propter creandam
mulierem traductus in paradisum (Afterwards he was transferred to Paradise in

order that the woman might be created).

if he points to the privy members, saying that it is they, he will be laughed at by

all] A misprint in the first edition— videbitur for ridebitur— results in a prurient

change of sense: "if he points to the privy members, saying that it is they, he

will be seen by all." Commenting on the corrected text of the passage, Clapies

shifts the attention from the penis to the female genitals: "When we glance at

the parts of women which distinguish them from men, can we admit any other

cause instrumental for the propagation of the human race?" (6). In a footnote

he continues the stress on sexual enjoyment: "I consider women, said a modern
philosopher, are created solely to satisfy a disgraceful want, I think I ought to

fly from them directly after the physical moment" (6n). I have not identified

the philosopher. Clapies uses the word philosophe, which could apply to almost

any writer of serious prose.

Gedik: "Most filthy latrine, do you dare to spatter the female sex with such

dunglike words? Woman is the man’s assistant in the sense that she is a second

self, a help suitable to himself who always keeps company with him, who, when

she has conceived, does not leave her husband, which many beasts do, but who,

together with him, rules over the household and the whole family."

Tarabotti: Woman is "more beautiful, more delicate, more loving than man.
The naturalists believe that man is formed in forty hours and woman in eighty,

and there is no doubt that work to which we give the more care and the greater

diligence is the more excellent." Tarabotti's comment is a variant, perhaps

unintentional, on a commonplace of the period: man is formed in forty days of

gestation, woman in eighty. She could have found this in, for example,

Domenichi's La nobilta delle donne f. 14*". Tarabotti also states that women's

role in the generation of children is equal to that of men, an opinion counter to

that of Aristotle and of many renaissance thinkers. See commentary on thesis 1.

the instrument is .. . the woman] It is possible that the Disputant is recalling a

passage in Domenichi in which the body is referred to as the instrument of the

soul: as men and women have identical souls, differences in their activities on
earth must depend on the instruments that are their bodies. A contributor to

Domenichi's dialogues suggests that women are therefore superior because they

have finer instruments (ff. 56^-57'^). The Disputant is not alone in speaking of

woman as an instrument to assist man in the act of reproduction. In his

eloquent defence of women, Les tres merveilleuses victoires des femmes (1553),
Guillaume Postel wrote I'homme sans la Femme n'est qu'd demi faict,

parcequ'il n'est pas possible que I'homme pour sainct ou parfaict qu'il soil,

sgeust havoir engendre posterite, ce qui est le souverain Men de ceste vie, sans

I'ayde de la Femme (12) (Man without woman is only half made, because it is

not possible that man, however holy or perfect he may be, could have
engendered posterity, which is the supreme good of this life, without the help of


10. unsuitable] dissimile

the most sagacious Jewish rabbis . . . Luther] As the Disputant says, the text

used as a rubric in Luther's commentary is Faciam ei adjutorium, quod coram

eo sit (f. 97'') (I shall make for him a help, who may be beside him). The
appeal to Luther in this context is nevertheless disingenuous. Other passages of

Luther's commentary go quite counter to the propositions of the Disputatio. In

glossing coram and referring to the Vs phrase Luther writes of "a female man,"

using homo in the feminine: Quod Latinus habet. Simile sibi, in Hebraeo est.

Quod sit coram eo. Distinguit autem hac quoque voce foeminam hominem, a
foemillis omnium reliquorum animantium, quae non sunt coram suis maritis

semper, distinguishing the feminine human being from all other animals which

do not always stay by the side of their mates. The words in the V, simile sibi,

are, in Hebrew, k'negdo: "at his side," or "as over against him," glossed in

Hertz (9) as "corresponding to him." In his translation of the Bible Luther


renders the clause as ich wil im ein Gehiilffen machen, die umb in sey. He
asserts that in her prelapsarian state woman was equal to Adam in both body and
soul, though in saying so he casts a slur on the women of his own day, reduced

and subjected to men because of sin: Non . . . ut hodie est mulier, ita tum fuit
Heva: longe melior et praestantior fuit conditio, & in nulla re inferior Adamo,
sive corporis, seu animi dotes numeres (Eve was not like a woman of today: her

state was much better and finer, and inferior to that of Adam in nothing; you

may reckon up her gifts both of body and of mind). Luther goes on to say that

before Eve's creation Adam already had a sufficient number of fine creatures

around him; what he lacked was a companion with whom he could carry out the

blessed business of procreation (f. 98''). Dotes corporis et animi was a familiar
phrase. See, for example, Suetonius Tit. 3. Making an argument in the same

spirit, Gedik also quotes the Hebrew k'negdo.

In this context the Disputant might have found it useful to appeal to Thomas
Aquinas, who had expressed other views. Woman was created, he said, to be a

meet help only in respect of the generation of children. In all other respects a

man would be better helped by another man. He asserts that even before the fall

woman was, in both her nature and her rational soul, inferior to man {Summa
theologica 1.92.1.)

The first edition has acutissimi quinque Hcebreorum Rabini: the five most

sagacious Jewish rabbis. For quinque the MS and the later editions read quique,

a vague reinforcing word usually found in the phrase tanto quique magis (so

much the more). The reading is uncertain, but as there seems to be no tradition

of five great rabbis, quique is probably correct.

Sebastian Castalio] The protestant theologian Sebastien Chateillon (1515-63),

known in Latin as Castalio or Castellio, was born in Burgundy. In his complete

Latin translation of the Bible (1551) the passage from Genesis reads faciam ei

adjumentum accommodatum (Let me make [or: I shall make] for him a suitable

help). In his reading of this passage the Disputant is either mistaken in his

etymology or is playing linguistic games. He appears to take adjumentum (help)

to be formed from jumentum (yoke animal). The words have distinct


derivations: adjumentum is from adjuvo, to help, while jumentum is from jungo,

to join or yoke. The linguistic play would in any case be impossibie if the

Disputant had used the earlier translation of the Pentateuch which Castalio had

published in 1546. Instead of adjumentum he there rendered the word as socium

(a partner, a companion). In his notes Castalio says nothing about either

phrase. In his French translation of the Bible (1555), the sentence reads: je lui

ferai un 'aide qui lui soit propre.

11. If for the Anabaptists Christ ... is not God] As the Disputant says at the

start of his tract, this idea was developed by the Socinians. It was not held by
Anabaptists generally, but formed a part of the doctrine of the so-called

rationalist Anabaptists, who were associated with the Socinians.

12. create Adam and make woman] The Disputant stresses the distinction of

status by again using the two verbs: creo and facio. He may be implicitly

alluding to the different verbs used in Hebrew for the creation of Adam (Gen.

1.27) and for the making of Eve (Gen. 2.22), where the first verb implies
creation ex nihilo, while the second means built from physical materials. If so,

he conveniently forgets both that the second verb is used for the creation of

Adam also in the alternative version (Gen. 2.7, where he is made from the

preexistent earth) and that, as he has himself quoted earlier, in Gen. 1.26 the V
has God using faciamus rather than creemus. Elsewhere the V maintains the

distinction between the two verbs: creavit (1.27), formavit (2.7), aedificavit

(2.22). (Luther: schuf, machte, haute.) In a book published in 1591 Henry

Smith had found a warm, positive way of using the idea that the woman was

of the ribbe which was taken out of man God built the woman:
signifying, that as one parte of the building dooth meete and fit with

another; so the wife should meete and fit with the husband, that as they

are called couples, so they may be called paires, that is, like as a paire of

gloves, or a paire of hose are like; so man and wife should be like,

because they are a paire of friends. {A preparative to manage 33-34.)


one can draw from the word of God a quite clear statement] The Disputant is in

danger of writing counter to his principle of accepting only what is expressly


Tarabotti demonstrates the equality of Adam and Eve by citing Gen. 3.21:
"Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins," which

she calls an evident sign that all privileges were granted equally to them both.

That this privilege is a consequence of sin, she quietly ignores.

13. only that which is created in the image of God ... is man] Gedik: "Peter

says that women also are coinheritors of heaven's grace [1 Peter 3.7]."

she was not created in the image of God] This commonplace is found even in

legal treatises. It is mentioned in the collected works of the sixteenth century

jurist Julius Clarus of Alessandria, a member of the council of Philip II of Spain

and an authority on the validity of using various categories of torture. At one

point he discusses branding, common among the ancients but discarded by many
Christian civilizations. Commentators who added further notes to Clarus's

passage assert that the reason for its abandonment was that since man was made
in the image of God that image should not be sullied. As women were not so

made they might more readily be branded. See Julius Clarus of Alessandria,
Opera omnia, ed. Barretius Barretius (1614) (Venetiis 1637) part II, question

70, (p. 579). Defenders of women frequently refute the idea that they are not

made in the image of God. See, for example, Marie de Jars de Gournay,

Egalite des hommes et des femmes (Paris 1622). For further discussion of this

matter, see chapter 1.

A marginal note in the MS reads sed imaginis imaginatae imago (but an image

of the imaged image).

A clumsy, misogynistic manuscript note referring to this thesis, written in Latin

on the inside front cover of a copy of the edition published in Paris in 1693 (BL
1080. a. 12) reads: "A woman should cover her head because she is not the

image of God, but so that she may show herself subservient and since


prevarication began through her she must show by this sign that in church,

because of episcopal reverence, she may not have her head free but covered

with a veil, nor have the right to speak since the bishop contains within him the

person of Christ. Thus because of original sin she should appear to be subjected
before the bishop as if she were before a judge, since he is the vicar of the

Lord." The note appears to have been written in the seventeenth or early

eighteenth century. The writer adds a reference to Gratian’s Decretum, causa

33. See below.

he is the image and glory of God: but the woman the glory of the man] Gedik:
"Paul takes the statement that woman is the glory of the man from the words of
Moses in which it is said that the formation of woman was instituted for the sake

of the man and that it was therefore not fitting that she should pray bareheaded

in church. The woman, he said, should ‘be covered. For a man indeed ought
not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God . . . but

the woman of the man' [1 Cor. 11.6-8]. The statement about subjection and

humility was prescribed to women in this matter to show how obedient they
should be not only by keeping their heads veiled in company but also in their

behaviour towards their husbands at home. It is also for men to consider what
they owe in their turn to their wives. There is a mutual obligation on each of

the sexes." In Paradise lost Milton is concerned to explore both the mutual
obligation and the hierarchy of images: "He for God only, she for God in him"

Tarabotti: "Woman's beauty makes her as it were an image of her creator." It

"blesses the world just as the vision of God glorifies the blessed spirits in


Eugenius affirms woman's humanity while also stressing her inferiority: "Do

you believe that, in respect of status, the comparison of the immortal, almighty,

eternal God and miserable man is the same as that of man and woman?"

Between theses 13 and 14 Clapies adds an explanatory paragraph based on

standard theological arguments:

Suppose we grant that woman has been created similar to man, and that

she has been made in his image, can we therefore conclude from that

that she is of the human race? Although man has been created in the

image of God, can we infer that she is of the same race as God? Man
only resembles God by his rational mind which is in the image of God,
because he has a soul like His, gifted like Him with knowledge and

power, and capable of knowing and loving God. (9-10)

the Papists confess in their canons that woman was not made in the image of
God] The point is unambiguously stated in Gratian, Decretum causa 33,

quaestio 5, canon 13. See chapter 1.

14. Eve sinned equally with Adam] A marginal note in the MS reads Insuper

doctores dicunt, si Eva sola comedisset de fructu et Adam non, tunc non ejecti

fuissent e paradiso (The doctors say, in addition, that if Eve alone had eaten of

the fruit, and not Adam, they would not have been ejected from Paradise). In

theses 32-36 the Disputant denies that Eve was capable of sin.

a womanly Christ] For the long tradition of the womanly Christ, see Bynum,
Jesus as Mother (1982).

15. Thou shalt "have dominion"] Tarabotti corrects the Disputant. God
addressed them in the plural; "God said unto them ..." (Gen. 1.28). She

proceeds to call him a beast greater than an elephant and a chameleon

transforming himself into alt colours except the white of Christian faith.

"over every living thing" . . . and hence perhaps that superiority] This may be

an allusion to the association of the name Eve with the idea of life: "And Adam
called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living" (Gen.

3.20). Luther: . . . darumb das sie eine Mutter ist aller Lebendigen; V: . . .

quod mater esset cunctorum viventium. Hertz (12) remarks that "living" is a

mistranslation and that the word should be something like "humankind." Had
he been aware of it, the point would have served the Disputant well.


The MS replaces hinc forte ilia dignitas (hence perhaps that superiority) with hie

forte ilia dubitas (here perhaps [we have] that [element of] doubt). If this is

more than a mechanical error of transcription, it is by no means clear how the

statement might be understood.

who but a madman can believe that she is man rather than beast Although
Eugenius demurs, he is content to allow the word beast to be used for "evil,

coarse women.

16. in marriage two people are one man] The Disputant's endorsement of this

idea is in at least partial disagreement with the arguments of theses 8 and 9.

17. These same people write . . . scripture] These arguments are more
characteristic of Sozzini and Michael Servetus than of Anabaptists in general.

See, for example, Sozzini, Opera omnia 1.789 (fragments), and Servetus, De
trinitatis erroribus (1531) book 5. See also commentary on thesis 11.

18. no writer of worth who ever wrote haec homo] The Disputant is once again
being disingenuous. Luther had already used the phrase foeminam hominem

(see commentary on thesis 10), and in thesis 16 the Disputant himself had

written the same words, treating homo as a noun of common gender. It

happened again not long after the Disputatio was written. In 1637 William
Austin's executors published his celebrated Haec homo, a book in which he
upholds women's claim to be considered homines on an equal footing with men.

In about 1620 there had already appeared the anonymous tracts on gender roles

Hie mulier and Haec vir.

Tullia was bom man] Cicero's dearly beloved daughter Tullia died in childbirth

in 45 B. C., aged about 33 or 34. Cicero's friend, the orator and statesman

Servius Sulpicius Rufus, wrote him a letter, usually included in Cicero's

Epistulae ad familiares ,
in which he attempted to comfort Cicero for his loss by
saying that since Tullia was human she would have died eventually quoniam

homo nata fuerat (since she had been born a human being; Adfam. 4.5.4). The
grammatical point here is precisely the contrary of that which the Disputant is

trying to show. Sulpicius assumes that the word homo applies equally to men
and to women. Gedik bluntly corrects the Disputant. In 1672 Franciscus
Hoeltich and Johannes Waltz pointed out that in modern romance languages, by

contrast, the derivatives of homo refer only to males (Hoeltich BH).

would animal" for

'' this reason be of the feminine gender?] As Latin animal/-is

is neuter, a slur by association is perhaps intended. Clapies misses the point

altogether: "If we said that Tullia was born an animal would it follow that the

animal was of the feminine gender?" (11-12).

Calepinus's dictionary] Ambrogio Calepino (1435-1511) compiled a huge

polyglot dictionary, first published in 1502 and reissued several times in

augmented form. An edition including eleven languages was published in 1590.

Cornelius Valerius . . . denied that homo is of common gender] Cornelius

Valerius (1512-78) was a polymath best known for his treatise on grammar and
for contributions to polyglot dictionaries. The Disputant is mistaken. In his

Grammaticarum institutionum libri iiii, 108, Valerius plainly states the contrary:

Homo . . . & nemo . . . sunt communia {homo and nemo are of common
gender). According to Saint Gregory of Tours the matters raised in this thesis

had been touched on at the second Council of Macon, in 585. A bishop was

said to have questioned whether woman could properly be called man: Extetit

etiam in hoc sinodo quidam ex episcopis, qui dicebat mulierem hominem non

posse vocitari. In answer he was referred to some of the arguments later used

by Gedik and others, after which he expressed himself content. See Saint
Gregory of Tours, Historiarum libri decem VIII. 20, 386-87. Although it has

often been interpreted otherwise, the discussion seems to have been focused

more on linguistic proprieties than on an implication of female inferiority. The

twenty canons of the Council make no mention of the matter. See Mansi, under
anno 585. For further comment, see Kurth, "Le Concile de Macon et les


Tarabotti heretically suggests that God began his creation of humanity without
being in full command of the necessary skills and that he needed to learn by

experience. She compares his creation of Adam and Eve to a sculptor's

progressive mastery of his craft: the portrait of Eve was an improvement over
the portrait of Adam. She uses arguments common among defenders of women;
they are better than men because Eve was created later then Adam, from finer

materials (flesh rather than dust), and in a superior environment (Eden). The
argument that God progressively improved his creative skills is repeated by

"Sophia" in her Woman's superior excellence over man (1743), in which she

goes so far as to suggest that some elements of the creative work arose by
chance: "Man being form'd a mere rough draught of that finish'd creature

Woman, God snatch'd from the lumpish thing the few graces and perfections he

found in it, to add them to the many he design'd to enrich her with" (15). A
few lines later she partly retracts this comment, treating it as a rhetorical jest in

which she nevertheless manages once again to sneer at men: "I am not so weak
to think the Creator, in order to make Woman the compleat being she is, had
any need to produce that rude sketch of her, Man” (15-16).

19. homo is derived from humo] False etymology conventionally used in

glosses on the creation of man in Gen. 2.7. Humus = earth. The derivation

was understood to be a parallel to the (correct) etymology of Adam from

Hebrew adamah = earth. Hertz (5) points out that the word Adam, in "let us

make man" (Gen. 1.26), is used in the sense of "human being." Gedik stresses

parallelism, saying that although women were made from flesh and blood, those
constituents, in women as in men, eventually return to earth. Eugenius cites an
alternative but equally false derivation of homo found in Julius Caesar Scaliger's
De causis linguae latinae (1540) 54: Greek homos (the same). Scaliger says est

enim animal sociale, non ab humo, ut somniarunt (he is in fact a social animal;

not from humus, as people have foolishly supposed). Eugenius comments more

explicitly: "doubtless showing that humans were created man and woman, as a

pair, inclined by nature to sociability and companionship."

In a note on the last page of the MS the scribe takes issue with the Disputant's

logic and with the idea that sound argument is based on etymology. Citing Gen.

2, he points out— with equally false logic— that trees are made from earth but

are not therefore man. He also makes the obvious point that although Eve was


not made from earth directly, she was made from Adam's rib and is thus

indirectly of the earth. While not earthy in form (formaliter) she is earthy in a

material sense {materialiter). Cf. also commentary on thesis 49.

20. 1 Timothy 2] Although a passage from 1 Timothy 2 is cited at the end of

the thesis, the first reference is to Matt. 24.24: "there shall arise false Christs,

and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it

were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." V puts the conditional clause

into the indicative: si fieri potest.

This argument is powerful] The edition of 1641 introduces a creative misprint.

The printer dropped the "r" from firmum, making the Disputant say that the

argument fimum, a comment with which Gedik would have warmly agreed
and which foreshadows the celebrated misprint about Queen Victoria's passing
over the bridge. Fimum, ox fimus, means excrement: "This argument is crap."

not Adam but Eve was deceived] Gedik: "Adam was deceived, but it was the

woman who did the deed; thus it is right that for this reason also she should be

under the domination of her husband."

21. '7 am not sent" for her] Tarabotti once more verges on heresy in her

eagerness to praise women. She asserts that the true reason for Christ's words

is to be found in his statement that he had "not come to call the righteous, but

sinners to repentance" (Matt. 9.13), "as if he meant to let you understand that

since woman is just and holy he had not come to suffer for her.

little woman] muliercula is a term of contempt, sometimes used of female


received what they sought] Gedik says that there are many counterexamples.

22. not as rruin, but as dogs] Gedik points out that in the Bible men are several

times called dogs (e. g., Phil. 3.2), adding sarcastically "therefore men [viri]

are not man [homines]."


Tarabotti answers the Disputant in part with a virulent attack on the basic nature

of men, and, by implication, on the worth of sexual desire: "Man is made from
mud, from dust, and from ashes. Whatever is conceived from the vilest and

filthiest seed in the fury of desire is of the worst, stained with sin, born for toil,

fear, and suffering, and miserable until death." Men speak of women as living

in the bed of sin only to give themselves a convenient excuse for satisfying their

lust. Women are the prisoners of men's tyranny and wait for the day of

judgement when they will be able to laugh.

23. we are dogs] This clause is silently added to the original. V: Etiam,
Domine: nam et catelli edunt de micis quae cadunt de mensa dominorum

suorum. Luther: Ja, Herr; aber dock essen die Hiindlin von den brossamlen,

die von irer Herm tisch fallen. The Disputant could perhaps offer a strained

excuse by glossing et catelli, understanding it to include a strong sense of Latin

ev. "even dogs (among whom we number ourselves) ..."

Mary Magdalene] Tarabotti blames the men: entranced by Mary's exquisite

beauty, they tempted her with sensuality.

In a passage of the dialogue book in which catholic beliefs are discussed,

Eugenius impatiently dismisses the Disputant's total reliance on scripture. The

church offers faith to all, "whether or not it is so written in the Bible."

24. Thy faith hath saved thee] As the Disputant later indicates, this is not right.

The text reads: "O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt"

(Matt. 15.28). He will have been ironically aware that he himself distorted
scripture in the previous thesis and that he proceeds in this thesis to develop the


1 am a Canaanite dog] canis sum Cananaea. The edition of 1638 prints canis

sumit Cananaea, which, without a direct object, is virtually meaningless. The

edition of 1641 attempts to make sense of the passage by emending to canis sum
ait Cananaea: 1 am a dog, said the Canaanite woman. This reading persists in

later editions. The submissive subjunctive of the MS reading, canis sim (it may
be that I am a dog), does not survive into print. See chapter 6, textual notes.

Agrippa (68) takes Christ's response— "Thy faith hath saved thee"— to be an

indication that he could not himself have improved upon the woman’s argument.

For we indeed desire to hear "Not as thou, O God, wilt"] Unwilling to believe
that the Disputant could mean this, Larsen emends non sicut tu (not as thou) to

read non sic, sed sicut tu (not thus, but as thou). His more orthodox reading

removes the Disputant's appeal to the confrontation with divine will and to its

relative lack of importance for women. Lorrain makes a similar change: Mais

nous desirons d'ouir. Non comme nous voulons, O Dieu, mais comme tu veux.

The original reading is of greater interest.

25. "has spiritually saved, "... "thy faith hath saved thee" . . .] ... saluauit

. . . seruauit ....

Matthew adds] V: Et salva est mulier ex illa hora. The argument in this thesis

is partly dependent on the Latin use of salvus/-a to mean both saved in spirit and

cured in body. Luther uses a primarily bodily term here: Und das Weib ward
gesund zu der selbigen stunde. For spiritual salvation Luther often uses selig

machen (e. g.. Matt. 1.21, 18.11).

26. thus these obtuse people] There is a minor textual uncertainty. The first

edition has ista stolidi, which is impossible. Later editions correct to ita stolidi

(thus the obtuse people). The MS has ita stolide: thus [they] obtusely. The
correct reading is possibly isti stolidi (adopted in the edition of the text given in

chapter 6) or ita isti stolidi: "these obtuse people" or "thus these obtuse people."

As both "thus" and "these" are at least implied, I have included both in the


historical faith which is not for man alone but also for women and devils]

Gedik: "You should be refuted not with the pen but with a thunderbolt. . . .

Whatever is not done in faith, is sin. It is impossible that anyone without faith

can please God."

infants . . . have not faith] In De baptismo libri vii, IV.xxiv.31, Augustine

says that although infants are incapable of belief and cannot answer for

themselves, it is good to baptize them. God's grace completes for them the act
of faith.

27. when Christ sometimes spoke with a woman the evangelist states that the

apostles were astonished since this is certainly not without mystery] Gedik cites

the explanation given in John 3.9: "the Jews have no dealings with the

7 have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel] The Disputant smuggles the

sentence in from a quite different context: the conversation with the centurion of

Matt. 8.5-13.

28. eternity] Tarabotti suggests the feminine qualities of heaven by mentioning

that (in Latin and Italian) eternity is of feminine gender.

who begat women is never stated; whence they draw their origin is uncertain]

This is not strictly true. Along with Sarai and Milcah, unnamed daughters are
mentioned several times in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. Gedik:
"Listen, you fanatical spirit, whom I do not dare to call a man, not having
emerged into the light from a human mother [homine matre, using homo as of
common gender] but probably from some breeding-sow ... All that is born
from man alone is man. The female sex is born from man alont; it is therefore
man alone. You have not, you devil, the power and the right to choose to give
human nature to whom you will or to deny it to whom you will."

the posterity of Adam is restricted to males alone] Tarabotti says that, if so, that

results from the malignity of the men who wrote the genealogies.

Tarabotti: "The first thing that God made in the creation was light, the symbol
of woman, who was ordained from ail eternity before Adam."

29. Accursed is the barren woman who has no seed in Israel—so, by contrast,
the pregnant and fecund is saved. For there it is also added soon afterwards:
Blessed, however, is she whose seed is Zion, for she completes the task of the

helper] These clauses are neither quotations from scripture nor close

paraphrases. The passage is imitated from Agrippa's De sacramento

matrimonii, first published in 1529 along with his De nobilitate and several
times reprinted. As often, the Disputant's use of the passage leads to a crucial

change of sense. The original reads Maledicta sterilis quae non habet semen in

Israel, & beatus cuius enim semen in Syon (. . . and blessed is he whose . . .),

followed by a comment on Abraham and Sara (edition of 1532, [Dvii]''). While

the second clause is generalized in Agrippa, the Disputant applies the statement

to women alone. Agrippa supplies a marginal note citing "Matthew in the story

of Anna. " His reference is to the Historia de nativitate Mariae et de infantia

Salvatoris, a fifth or sixth century reworking of the Protevangelium of James

(mid second century) relating the blessing conferred on Anna and Joachim when

Anna conceived Mary. From among the many variant versions I have not been
able to identify Agrippa's source. In the edition published by Johann Karl Thilo
in 1832, a relevant passage reads:

Factum est autem, ut in diebus festis inter eos qui offerebant incensum

domino, staret Joachim portans munera sua in conspectu domini. Et

accedens ad eum scriba templi nomine Ruben ait ad eum: "Non licet tibi

inter sacrificia dei consistere, quia non benedixit tibi deus ut daret tibi

germen in Israel" (341-42).

(It happened that among those who offered incense to the Lord in the

time of festival Joachim stood bearing his offering in the sight of the

Lord. Approaching him, a scribe of the temple said "You are not
permitted to be among the sacrifices to God since he has not blessed you

by giving you seed in Israel.")

In the Protevangelium Joachim's answer includes a reference to Abraham and

the birth of Isaac (Thilo 168). Agrippa adds a marginal reference to Gen. 13,

15, 18, which might well be interpreted in the same spirit. In the V Gen. 13.16

begins Faciamque semen tuum sicut pulverem terrae (And I will make thy seed

as the dust of the earth).

30. widows] The inclusion of widows, who may well have borne children, is

not entirely satisfactory. The MS has steriles mulieres, which is more to the


If, therefore, woe is to be unto them, how is it that by this childbearing, which

is accomplished with pain, they should be saved?] Gedik refers his readers to

the many places where Christ says "Woe to men" (e. g.. Matt. 23.14, etc.).

The author of Mulier homo! understands the apostle to mean no more than that

childbearing will present no bar to the salvation of women (Bl'').

Commentators are keen to dissociate childbearing from sexual desire. In a

chapter on chastity in his Ladies dictionary (1694) John Dunton offers

characteristic advice. Following standard guidance to his women readers about

how and when they should best undertake the business of copulation, he
cautions "That it be so ordered as not to be too expensive of time, and that

precious Opportunity of working out our Salvation" (131).

By omitting the words quoted from Matthew, the MS appears to make Christ say

bathetically that woe is to be unto the virgins, widows, spinsters, and whores,
thus destroying the point of the passage.

31. if the woman continue in faith . . . If their sons continue in the faith]

Luther translates so sie bleiben im Glauben (so long as they remain in the faith),

putting the statement into the plural. He adds a marginal note saying that it

applies to women in general but should not, “as some torment the passage

without cause,” be understood to apply to the children.

without regard to works] In place of nullo operum respectu, as in the later

editions, the first has multo operum respectu (with great regard to works) a
possibly subversive misprint which undermines the argument.

the example of Mary] Perhaps with a view to reducing catholic colouring, later

editions omit the name Mariae. Cf. commentary on thesis 51. Reinforcing
rather than reducing the emphasis on catholic faith, Clapies radically alters the

sense: "We have but the example of the Virgin Mary, who on account of her
Son, has been blessed above all other women and has received in consequence
an eternal reward" (22).

32. The argument of the thesis is another substantial borrowing from Agrippa
(65-66). As usual, the Disputant inverts the values.

created\ Although earlier the Disputant had been careful to distinguish Adam's
creation from Eve's having been "made" (facta, thesis 8), he here inadvertently

repeats Agrippa' s use of creata when speaking of Eve.

Why didst thou eat of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not
eat?] In the AV, "Hast thou eaten of the tree ..." In the V, however, the

whole verse is one question, connecting the two ideas more closely: Quis enim
indicavit tibi quod nudus esses, nisi quod . . . comedisti? (Who told thee that

thou wast naked, unless thou hast eaten . . .). The OL versions also connect the

clauses with nisi. Luther separates the ideas as in the AV: Wer hat dirs gesagt,

das du nacket bist? Hastu nicht gessen von dem Bawm, da von ich dir gebot,
Du soltest nicht da von essen?

we contract that original sin not from the mother but from the father] Gedik
refers to Ps. 51.5: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother

conceive me" and to the still more pointed interpretation of the Targum: Ecce in

iniquitate cogitauit pater meus generare me: et in peccato concupiscende male

concepit me mater mea (Behold, my father thought to create me in iniquity, and

in the sin of concupiscence my mother conceived me). (Merino, Targum de

Salmos 236.) Gedik adds "Even if marriage is in itself a holy kind of life,

ordained by God himself, nevertheless, because since the fall of our first parents

married partners are sinners, sin is involved in the coupling of husband and wife

and the seed of both partners is infected with sin. Thus we are all born
sinners." Theologians had for centuries tried to resolve the question whether or
not marital sexuality was inevitably sinful. Many held the opinion explored by

Augustine in De concupiscentia: if motivated by a desire for procreation rather

than by lust, sexual intercourse is no more than a venial sin. See Elliott,

Spiritual marriage.

For which reason also the old law commanded that all males be circumcised,
but that the females remain uncircumcised, prescribing, that is to say, that only

in that sex which sinned should original sin be punished] Gedik is unaware of
female circumcision: "Males alone were to be circumcised, because women
were not capable of bearing this mark ... but because this part of the body was

to be circumcised, it shows nature to have been thoroughly corrupted by the

disgrace so that from the union of man and woman none can be born pure, so

grave was the sin of Adam and Eve." A similar denial that female circumcision

is possible is found in a version of thesis 47, preserved in the M5: in V. T.

mulieres non fuerunt circumcisae, imo non potuerunt (in the Old Testament
women were not circumcised: in any case they could not be). See chapter 6,

textual notes. Tarabotti does not deny the possibility of female circumcision but

says that the the limitation to males "was with regard to the delicacy of the

female individual." Eugenius implies that because the circumcision of women is

not visible to any but the most intimate obserxers, the circumcision of men was
ordained as a more public sign and symbol relevant to women as well as to men,
although visible only on the men.

If therefore, she did not sin in the beginning, woman does not sin today]
Eugenius also cites Ps. 51.5: "Behold, 1 was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did

my mother conceive me." Writing of Agrippa, Barbara Newman wrily suggests

that if he had followed his argument through he would have been led to state

that women needed no Messiah since there was nothing from which they could
be redeemed. (See From virile woman 235.) The Disputant does just that, but

for other reasons.

33. women's sins, if there are any such, differ in nothing from the sinning of

beasts] Eugenius sourly comments that one might better say that men, not
knowing God, sin as do beasts.

to have done an injury] The Disputant uses a technical phrase commonly found
in legal documents in reference to damage caused by an animal: pauperiem

Gedik answers the thesis with nothing but a long passage comparing the

Disputant to a variety of brutes. "You are as recalcitrant as are asses, as

lascivious as a bull, you neigh after women like a stallion, indulge your belly

like a bear and fatten your flesh like a mule, bear thoughts of evil like a camel.

nor do we read anywhere in scripture that any woman was damned] The
statement is tak^n from Agrippa (71), who uses it as a term of praise.

The scribe of the MS adds a marginal note: into, ubi seditiosi Israelitae in

defecto contra Moysen conspirasse leguntur; ibi ipsorum totas domus fuisse

(cum liberis & mulieribus) dicuntur (On the other hand, where we read that the

seditious Israelites conspired to revolt against Moses [Numbers 14.1-4, etc.], it

is said that their whole families, including children and women, were involved).

34. Eve said, indeed: "God hath said. Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye

touch it" . . . but in this she spoke falsely] The V, quoted by the Disputant,

uses first person plural, treating God's words as reported speech. In the AV,
Eve quotes God directly, in the second person. The Disputant might have added
that Eve also speaks falsely in saying "neither shall ye touch it." The Midrash
accuses Eve of exaggerating: there is no word concerning "touching" in the

original prohibition and her fall is the consequence (Hertz 26). Missing the

Disputant's point entirely, Gedik begs the question. Eve's words, he says,

make it clear that the prohibition was voiced to the woman also.

lest [perhaps] we die] As the Disputatio cites, the V has ne forte moriamur.

The Disputant plays on the sense of "perhaps" included \n forte, introducing an

element of doubt not contained in the Latin. The AV puts the clause into the

second person: "lest ye die." OL versions have both first and second persons:
ne moriamur / ne forte moriamur and ne morte [sic] moriamini. Luther has

second person: das ir nicht sterbet.

What need was there of the word of doubt "perhaps" if Eve knew for certain that
her eating of the fruit was forbidden by God?] Gedik: "Because here the woman

began to yield. She substituted for the expression of certainty a word of doubt;
for God's quite simple warning she introduced the word of doubt (lest perhaps

ye die). As Satan had gained an opportunity, he now attacked God more

openly, destroying man’s faith in God's goodness and by this cunning turning

man towards disobedience."

Nor is to bring forth in sorrow a punishment, since all irrational creatures

which have never sinned at all bring forth in sorrow} Gedik: "... because of
man, or man's guilt, the whole earth is thus accursed and all creatures groan and

give birth with the utmost suffering ..." Tarabotti's enthusiasm leads her

again to the verge of heresy: "If God did not award childbirth to woman as a

punishment, that is a sign that because of her beauty and other great qualities he

knew her to be worthy of sceptres and crowns, not of punishment and pain."
Eugenius comments that it is inappropriate to compare the isuffering of an

irrational animal with that of a woman, "a much nobler and sweeter creature."

Focusing on biological structures, Clapies pays scant heed to the pains of

childbirth: "The pain which woman suffers in bearing children is transitory; it

arises from the irritability of the fibres and is common to all female animals,
who certainly have not eaten forbidden fruit" (26). The Disputant's untestable

statement about "all irrational creatures" seems, in any case, to be untrue.

35. we find that women have almost always been blessed for evildoing, and that

they have been praised that they did evil] Gedik: "Alas, the profundities of

Satan! So that you may open the window to sin, you attempt to remove from
the weaker sex all fear of justice and punishment. " He continues by citing the

punishment of some evil women in the Bible.

Rachel was praised . . . Rebekah was praised] Neither Rachel nor Rebekah

was explicitly praised for these deeds.

The harlot Rahab deceived those who were looking for Joshua's spies and it was
counted to her for righteousness] The last clause here is quoted from the V,

where it is said of Abraham (Gen. 15.6; 1 Macc. 2.52): et reputatum est illi ad
justitiam. By changing illi to ei, Agrippa, from whom the passage is quoted

(69), disguises the gender, allowing it to be said both of a woman and of a man.

Gedik: "God approved of and blessed her zeal and charity, not, however, the lie


Jael] Gedik says that she was acting under spiritual guidance and is thus not to

be rashly imitated. Her actions lie outside the usual laws. He cites comparable

And what of Judith?] Gedik says that without doubt she was divinely inspired.

"It is for us, however, to live not by example but by the law."

Arui the iniquity of a woman is said to be far better than the worthy deeds of a

man] An inversion— quoted from Agrippa (who makes the point twice: 69,

70)— of Ecclesiasticus 42.14: "Better is the churlishness of a man than a

courteous woman, a woman, I say, which bringeth shame and reproach." The
verse was much discussed in renaissance tracts.

Most of thesis 35 is an abbreviated quotation of examples given by Agrippa (69-

70) whose ostensible purpose is quite contrary to that of the Disputant and who
takes the praise of the women to be well deserved. In an uneasy and ambiguous

passage he also praises women for being stronger than men even when it was

their strength that led some, such as Samson, into misery (68). In defence of

the women's treacherous acts, Agrippa offers a tortuous argument based on the

right to selfpreservation (69).

Some lines after Agrippa's inversions of the verse from Ecclesiasticus, its

original sense is restored in the spurious passage by pseudo-Agrippa (see chapter

2) who aggressively challenges eloquent scholars to prove that "Better is the

iniquity of a man than a woman acting well" (70).

36. the first two examples in this thesis are quoted almost verbatim from

pseudo-Agrippa (70).

The daughters of Lot are forgiven for their incest with their father] Gedik cites

a rabbinical justification on the grounds of expedience: "The good sisters Judged

that apart from their father, there were no other men on earth. Thus their action

was not to be considered a misdeed." Citing Augustine, Tarabotti makes the

same point.

the drunken father is not forgiven and his succession is ejected from the church

of God] Gedik: "The lapses of the saints warn us against the enormous
infirmity of our nature." As Lot was a patriarch, Tarabotti puts aside her usual

antimasculine virulence and is willing to offer him a partial excuse: blinded by

wine, he did not know what he was doing. Clapies oddly changes the gender:

"The daughters of Lot were not blamed for their incest with their father, though

the son of an incestuous mother is declared unworthy to serve in the Church of

Christ" (27).

The incestuous Tamar is forgiven and said to be more just than the patriarch

Judah and for her fraudulent incest she was rewarded by continuing the line of
the Saviour] Gedik: "Many impious persons are to be found in the genealogy of


Christ forgave the woman taken in adultery] Gedik: "Since, however, O

sagacious one, you gather from such examples that adultery is not a sin and not

to be punished, you are no less mistaken than if you were to say that

inheritances are not to be divided since Christ did not wish to divide them [Luke
12.13-14]. Because the adultery of men and women is equally detestable to

God, he decreed the punishment of the flesh, expressed in the divine law: death.

. . . The punishment for spiritual adultery is eternal death ..."

in the laws of the emperors we are warned that a woman taken in adultery

should not suffer capital punishment, nor furthermore should she be imprisoned

for her sins, unless the judge himself wished to be punished by death] Modified

from a passage with other implications in Agrippa:


in vjirious places in the corpus of the law we are warned that a woman of

honest life and good reputation should not be imprisoned for civil debt;

that, on the contrary, the judge is to suffer capital punishment if he has

imprisoned her; and also that if she is suspected of a crime, she is to be
sent to a monastery or handed over to women to be shut up, since,
according to the law, a woman is of better condition than a man, and

also because in respect of the same crime a man sins more than a

woman J (85-86)

The Disputant is again making selective use of information. Although

Augustus' law against adultery, the Lex Julia de adulteriis coercendis, allowed a

wronged husband to kill the man but not his wife, the woman's father had the

right to kill both his adulterous daughter and the adulterer if he caught them at it

in his own house. A convenient summary of the law may be found in Rotondi,

Leges 445-47. See also Baviera, Fontes 553 and, for a fuller discusssion,

Treggiari, Roman marriage 262-319. As Gedik crisply points out, in the later

days of the empire both parties to adultery were punished by death. The

Disputant implicitly sets his statement in contrast with the situation in Germany,

where the right of the husband to kill his adulterous wife was still recognized in

the sixteenth century. See Harrington, Reordering marriage 227. Tarabotti

offers a characteristic explanation of the imperial law: since men did not value

equality in marriage there was "no need for women to die for those same errors

of which you constant fornicators and adulterers go about boasting as glorious

trophies of your shame." Although women may not have been executed in

public, they were, she says, secretly slain on suspicion and many virgins,

although innocent, were perpetually incarcerated.

forgave the woman 's sins] Sc. those of Mary Magdalene, whose identification

with the prostitute in Luke 7.36-39 had become conventional. Although the text

does not say so, Gedik argues that the astonishment of the Pharisees arose from

Christ's claiming, blasphemously in their eyes, to be able to forgive sins of any

kind, not only those of women.


Christ taught only male apostles to pray] Gedik stresses that Christ intended the

prayer to be said by men and women alike. "Nor did he institute one supper for
men, another for women, although among the fu'st apostles there were only
men." The Disputant's statement is supported by Luke 11.1-4. In Matt. 6.9-

13, however, Christ teaches the prayer to all during the Sermon on the Mount.

forgive us our debts] "Forgive us our sins" {peccata nostra) is found at Luke
11.4. In both places the V has dimitte rather than remitte, as in the Disputatio.

37. Suffer little children] The argument is possible because whereas in the V
Luke 18.15 refers to infantes, Christ's words in 18.16 read Sinite pueros.

While pueri often means children of either sex, a sophistic argument can make it

appear to mean only boys. In thesis 41 the Disputant himself uses pueri to

mean children generally. Going back to the original New Testament text, Gedik
rightly points out that the Greek word for child (pats) is of common gender. He
also cites some of the many Biblical references to daughters, including Joel

2.28-29: "1 will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your
daughters shall prophesy . . . And also upon the servants and upon the

handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit." Tarabotti dismisses the

Disputant's argument, saying that he uses his tongue worse than did Aretino.

38. The Sadducees] As Gedik points out, the Sadducees believed neither in the

resurrection of the body nor in punishment after death. Gedik goes on to lament

that in his day also one found many who dismissed all hope of future life and
believed that after the burial of the body human beings of either sex differed in

no way from brutes. "It is on this basis, you epicure, thal| you labour to

establish your insane idea."

ignorant of the scriptures since in them nothing is contained concerning their

salvation] Among other passages, Gedik cites 1 Peter 3.7: "ye husbands, dwell

with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the

weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers
be not hindered." He concludes with an allusion to Matt. 21.31, asking "Will

not harlots, having come to their senses, precede the Pharisees— and thus also
you— into the kingdom of heaven?"

there will be not a single woman in heaven] Speaking of the blessed in heaven,

Gedik says that both sexes will be found there. Although, in common with the

angels, they will not marry, they will not be incorporeal. In saying so, he

adopts a clear position in relation to a long standing controversy about the

nature of spirits after death. Tarabotti sarcastically suggests that if spirits in

heaven retained distinctions of gender "in that region of celestial beatitude,

where happiness is eternal and where transitory, fleeting things cause no deceit,

you would not be able to refrain from sexual sin." With somewhat strange logic

she says that the Disputant's opinions have much in common with those of

Mahommet: "He, however, promises beautiful women in Paradise, while you

banish them entirely from heaven." While agreeing that there will be no women
in heaven, Eugenius goes further, asserting that neither will there be men. He
believes that in heaven the angels are not formed like human beings, either male

or female. A frequent topic of discussion among theologians, the question was

raised in the late seventeenth century in Dunton's Athenian gazette:

Quest. 2'. Is 't probable there will be any Sexes in Heaven ?

Answ. We believe not— Our Saviour says, that there they neither Marry
nor are given in Marriage', and if so, what Need of Sexes? and why that

in Heaven which there's no Need of? All that's of the Essence of a Man
will undoubtedly be there, and that's a rational Soul united to an
organiz'd Body, but what Organs will be necessary then we can't tell,

however these cannot. Besides, this difference is only accidental, Man

and woman being in Essence the same. But in a State of Bliss and

Perfection, all that's Imperfect or Accidental shall be removed, and

accordingly one wou'd think Sexes shou'd. We won't add for another
Reason what, as we remember, one of the Fathers has said— That were
there any Women in Heaven, the Angels cou'd not stand long, but wou'd
certainly be seduced from their Innocency, and Fall as Adam did. (3.13,

8.ix.l691, [1])

In his Religio bibliopolae (1691), Dunton repeats his view that in heaven we
shall not know each other by sex (70). The question would perhaps have been
more fully explored in one of the many works which Dunton planned but did
not bring to fruition. In his Life and errors (1705) he describes a project for a

series of three volumes, to be entitled Athenae redivivae, the third of which

is to Answer the Nicer Questions that relate to Carnal and Spiritual

Copulation, and which were privately sent to the Anthenian [sic] Society,

by the Mask'd-Ladies, and Town-Sparks. However[,] the Nature of this

Third Volume may appear, we shall take such a modest Care of it, that

not the least Blemish of Obscenity and Smut shall pass us. (263-64)

In her La vita di Maria Virgine, Lucrezia Marinella gave the idea of heavenly

sexuality a further twist when she used baroque imagery ,to describe the

annunciation, suggesting an erotic bond between God and Mary. The virtue and

beauty of the queen of heaven "inflamed the breast" of God with "sweet ardour"

(Part I,
25V; Part II,

39. Christ said to his own mother: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?"]
Gedik denies that this has anything to do with the rejection of womankind in

general. He ends with a gesture of occupatio, saying that he will make no

reference to the fact that by speaking in this way Christ was attempting to

oppose the horrible superstitions of papist Mariolatry. The Disputant's point

was also raised in the discussion at the second Council of Macon, mentioned in

passing by Saint Gregory of Tours. See commentary on thesis 18.

Christ is called the son of man and is nevertheless the son of Mary] The
equivalence of "son of man" and "son of Mary" is explicitly stated by some of

the Fathers. Saint Gregory of Tours says that Jesus was called the son of man
"because he was the son of the Virgin, that is, of a woman" {Historiarum libri

decem VI11.20). Agrippa offers a weak version of the argument: "Christ is

called the son of man because of the w'oman, not because of the man. It is a

remarkable miracle, which greatly astonished the prophet, that a woman should

have surrounded a man when the male sex was swallowed up by a virgin and

she carried Christ in her body" (67). Cf. Jeremiah 31.22: Femina circumdabit
virum (A woman shall compass a man).

man— and yet not by nature but by grace] Gedik argues that if Mary had not

been a normal human being, Christ would not be consubstantial with us and thus
not the promised saviour. The dialogue book raises another point against

Mary's being a woman like others: Endres quotes Christ's statement, "Among

them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the

Baptist" (Matt. 11.11), asking why he did not name himself, a man much
greater than John, unless John had been born of a woman while Christ differed

in having been born of man. Eugenius can reply only that Christ referred to

John as the greatest because he prepared the way for the Messiah.

Why blessed? Because this woman was man, and the others not] Gedik: "Not

at all, but because she was the mother of God."

Let the women of today bear children without males and we shall gladly call

them man] Agrippa is inconsistent in his discussion of virgin births. Although

he begins by mentioning reports of such events he soon denies the possibility,

making instead the orthodox statement that Mary was the only woman who so

conceived (62-64).

Gedik: "To bear children with or without a male does not constitute being

human any more than does being fertile or sterile; that is solely an accidental

quality of the matter ..." Clapies mentions a passage in Pomponius Mela (1st

century AD) describing an island near Ethiopia

wherin are reported to bee none but women, heary over all theyr bodies,

which of their owne nature beare children without the company of men

\feminas . . . sine coitu marum sua sponte fecundas]: and they be so

fierce and boystous kinde, that some of them can scarce be restrayned
from strugling, no not even with chaines.


This report was made by Hanno, and because he brought home the

skinnes of some that hee had killed: hee was the better beleeved.

De chorographia III. 9, trans. Arthur Golding (London 1590) 89-


After commenting that the island "was apparently one of those floating islands
that have been submerged," Clapies adds: "What a pity such a race of women
should have been lost" (30n). Although the matter remains contentious, some
biologists credit human parthenogenesis. For a summary of the history of the
arguments, see Francoeur, Utopian motherhood 125-62.

The Anabaptists themselves also say that by this expression, "the son of man ,

nothing else is meant than "man, " and assert that it is a hebraism] The term
"Son of Man" in the gospels is, in Greek, dnthropos, here interpreted as
equivalent to Hebrew ben adam (a human being).

40. And if his mother who bore him was not blessed, how are other women to

be saved?] Gedik cites Matt. 12.49-50: "Behold my mother and my brethren!

For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is

my brother, and sister, and mother."

nothing soiled and foul will enter into the kingdom of heaven] Gedik: "Nor

therefore will we men enter into heaven." Refraining from any attempt to assert

the purity of women, he is content with Old Testament statements that men are

irrevocably soiled by their birth: "how can he be clean th^t is born of a

woman?" (Job 25.4, and cf. Job 14.4).

41. There is neither Jew nor Greek] The V has Non est Judaeus, neque
Graecus: non est servus, neque liber: non est masculus, neque femina. Omnes
enim vos unum estis in Christo Jesu. The Disputant's statement that the apostle

did not say neque . . . neque (neither . . . nor . . .) but neque . . . ac . . .

(neither . . . and . . .) is ultimately based on the reading of the original Greek,

where ouk . . . oude . . ., (neither . . . nor . . .) relates the first two two pairs.

while the last pair are related by ouk . . . kai . . . (neither . . . and . . .)• Here
Greek kai and Latin ac both contain some implication of "and [not] even," a

sense not readily conveyed in English. Although the Disputant attributes undue
significance to this distinction, Agrippa, too, had attempted to explain it. Using
"neither male nor female" he follows the phrase with a helpful, conventional
explanatory gloss which would not have served the Disputant's purposes: "for in

Christ there is neither male nor female, but a new creature" (88).

even though they are said to be one. Children along with their elders are said

to be one and the same in Christ. Now with God there is no respect of persons]
In the first edition the punctuation and the relationships among the ideas in this

passage are unclear. Later editions attempt to clarify, though without complete

success. The translation given here is tentative. Larsen reads the passage
differently, accepting the punctuation of the first edition but adding a negative:

"even though here children are not said to be one along with their elders, they

are nevertheless one in Christ, for with God there is no respect of persons."

And thus women wishing to be one in Christ must first have cast off their

womanhood so as to become man, whence, since they cannot do so, it manifestly

appears how little they have to do with Christ] Gedik: "That hits the nail on the

head. What Christians must cast off is not the female sex but the old Adam."
He comments that this, meaning the casting off of corrupt humanity, applies to

both sexes. See also commentary on thesis 43.

it has never been heard— and is indeed ridiculous— that women should cast off

Eve] The Disputant is once again being disingenuous. While in De trinitate

V!L12 Augustine had agreed that women who have become Christian will not

need to have lost their bodily sex—numquidnam . . . fideles feminae sexum

corporis amiserunt?— ht goes on to say that, in common with men, they are

made in the image of God in that part of them where there is no sexual
distinction, that is to say in their spiritual beings: ubi nullus sexus est, hoc est in

spiritu mentis suae. This view, echoed later by Thomas Aquinas, became
standard. Other views had nevertheless been expressed in noncanonical books.

The Gospel of Thomas (second to fifth centuries), containing alleged sayings of



Jesus, indicates that women will indeed have to cast off Eve in order to enter

heaven. The last saying is an answer given by Jesus in response to Simon

Peter's urging him to let "Mary go out from among us, for women are not

worthy of the Life." To this Jesus answers "Note that I shall lead her so that

she may become male, so that she also may become a living spirit as you males

are. For any woman who makes herself male will enter into the kingdom of
heaven" (saying 114; see also saying 22). Although this apocryphal gospel was

known to some early Fathers, it had little influence until modern times. See the
edition by Jacques-E. Menard.

42. he who wants to be perfect and to enter into eternal life should leave his

wife] Despite his earlier remarks about the sinfulness of copulation (see

commentary on thesis 32), Gedik rages against this attack on honest marriage:
"Christian perfection consists neither in celibacy nor in matrimpny, but in faith

and a good conscience without hypocrisy and without simulation. . . . Use

marriage with moderation, and you will be first in the realm of heaven, and will

enjoy all good things.

for that reason they praise eunuchs] Gedik continues his comments on the

indifference of celibacy and chaste sexuality. He says that Origen is not to be

thought virtuous merely for his selfcastration "in a fit of madness" and goes on

to praise the married state.

Nor did Christ marry] The Disputant again denies his announced principles:

Christ's unmarried state cannot be demonstrated beyond doubt from scripture.

the apostles rejected their spouses] Gedik offers a flat denial, citing Jerome's

statement that it cannot be proved that any of the apostles besides Peter was ever
married: excepto Apostolo Petro, non sit manifeste relatum de aliis Apostolis,

quod uxores habuerint {Adversus Jovinianum 1.26). In doing so, Gedik imitates

the Disputant's play with the restriction of evidence to express statements. He

adds that "John the disciple beloved above others was not chosen because he

was a virgin, but was a virgin because he was so beloved by him who
distributed his gifts to all."

advised others that they should remain as they themselves . . . they bore witness

that it is good not to touch a woman] Gedik points out that Paul's words
expressed a wish rather than a command, adding that if everyone remained
virginal the human race would die out. He points out the error of logic in

concluding that its being good not to touch a woman entails its being wrong to

touch one.

Tarabotti writes of God’s praise of chastity and is confident that the angels live

in heaven as virgins.

43. When a woman brings forth she does so in sorrow, and when she has given
birth she rejoices that a man has been bom into the world] This is a distorted

paraphrase of John 16.21. Gedik objects that the original Greek calls the child

paidi'on, which is of common gender. He says that when Paul speaks of

women's salvation through childbearing (1 Tim. 2.15), children of both sexes

are intended. He also sneers again at the "New Disputant," repeating, perhaps

inadvertently, the slur in his comments on thesis 28 in which he says that he

dare not give the name man to one who was not brought into the light from any
human mother {homine matre).

Ochino] Bernardino Ochino (1487-1564), a Siennese reformer, spent some time

in Geneva, Zurich, and England. He wrote many sermons and polemical tracts

(some of which influenced Milton). In his dialogue De polygamia {Dialogi

11.215), Ochino makes a remark similar to that reported by the Disputant:
plerunque nascentibus maribus gaudemus, foeminis dolemus (we rejoice at the

birth of many males and we regret the birth of females).

males are always exclusively meant] Querlon says that there are contrary

examples "too well known to need quotation." There are indeed scores of
passages in which "human being" appears to be meant.

44. Christ then charged them all that they should tell no man what was done]
Gedik explains that the true reason lay in the danger of speaking openly of
miracles among the Pharisees.

he knew that once girls or women were dead it was vain to call upon Christ for
help since they were not to be resurrected even at the latter day] Gedik rather
mysteriously complains that the Disputant is here begging the question.

Germanus Britannus] Saint Germain of Auxerre (c. 378-448), also known as

Germanus Britannus because of his activities in Britain. The story of the

resurrection of the ass is told in the Legenda aurea of Jacobus de Voragine,

chap. 107 (102), ed. Graesse p. 451. See also Bollandists, Acta sanctorum July

Vll, 299. The Disputant's words give Gedik the opportunity of several times

reviling him in a bravura passage as an ass.

there is no validity in the argument based on this girl's arising from the ashes]

The reading here is uncertain. In 1595 ex hoc puella de reliquis reads ex hac
puella & reliquis. The sense would then be "based on this girl and other


45. the head of the woman is the man] Gedik counters with 1 Cor. 11.7: "the

woman is the glory of the man."

46. Gedik denies the whole thesis, adding the orthodox comment that although

women are unequal in their domestic relationships, they are equal in respect of

eternal grace and therefore not to be spurned. Women's equality with men in

respect of their souls and of life in the next world was emphatically asserted by

Male and Female, created he them; the true distinction of which Sexes,

consists meerly in the different site of those parts of the body, wherein

Generation necessarily requires a Diversity: for both Male and Female

he impartially endued with the same, and altogether indifferent form of

Soul, the Woman being possess’d of no less excellent Faculties of Mind,

Reason, and Speech, than the Man, and equally with him aspiring to
those Regions of Bliss and Glory, where there shall be no exception of

Sex. For though at the last Trumpets universal Alarm, when our

recollected bodies shall start up amazed, to find themselves releas'd from

their Prisons of Darkness, we may perhaps appear in our respective

proper Sexes, yet shall we not then either need or make use of Sex, but

are promised by him who is Truth it self, a Conversation resembling that

of blessed Angels in Heaven. . . . (Agrippa 49; this trans, by Henry

Care, 1-2)

The commonplalce that on earth women are physically and rationally weaker and

more prone to sin was sometimes reinforced by the heterodox suggestion that

women's souls also were inherently inferior. An amusing reference to the

assumption is found in the great soliloquy spoken by Launce with his dog at the

start of Tm/o gentlemen of Verona Il.iii. Using his shoes to represent his mother
and father, he chooses his left shoe as his mother, both because left is

conventionally, and etymologically, the inferior side, and also because his left

shoe has "the worser sole."

Shortly after having discussed the question of sexual distinction in heaven (see

above, thesis 38), The Athenian gazette also addressed the matter of the relative

value of men's and women's souls:

Quest. 2. Is the Soul of Woman inferiour to the Soul of Man? and if so,

will his Superiority continue eternally?

Answ. We think the difference much the same here, that 'tis between
one Mans Soul and another, only accidental, from the different

disposition of the Organs and Tone of the Body; or else from those
opportunities of Improvement which some persons have more than
others, or a more industrious inclination. ... in the Souls of Women,
we see not but that there are many of 'em as truly great, as brave, as

learned, and as capable of any accomplishments as those of Men . . .

[since we believe that at the Resurrection] there will be nothing of Sex,

any more than in the Angels, in those who neither marry nor are given in

Marriage, therefore we believe that what superiority there is shall not be



eternal, but shall cease as soon as this Life is ended. (5.3, 8.xii.l691,

[ 2 ])

See also above, chapter 1.

47. I indeed know that in the scriptures examples of baptized women are to be

found] Gedik cites Acts 8.12: ". . . they were baptized, both the men and the


Nor is the pronoun "he" of common gender] The Disputant argues like a

modern feminist, but with opposite intent. In fact— as the Disputant will have
been well aware— qui is used in Latin, as "he" has long been used in English, to

refer to any member of a group of mixed gender.

baptism follows in succession to circumcision. How then can they be baptized

since women were not circumcised?] Gedik again shows that he knows nothing
of female circumcision: "The circumcision of the heart is fitting for both sexes .

. . the circumcision of the flesh was commanded for only one sex, since the
other was not capable of it. But baptism is possible for both." Tarabotti repeats

her assertion that women were spared circumcision because of their delicacy,

adding "and of their merit." She also glosses circumcision with the words "this

pain." See thesis 32.

48. When Christ first arose from the dead, he first revealed himself to women]
Agrippa takes this to be an indication of women's worth (67). Gedik: "...
because through them death first entered into the human spet^ies. And thus

Christ wished to show them first the restitution of eternal life, and the loving
God brings assistance first to the weaker sex, for, as we know, he delights in

the humble and the simple."

When Christ was first bom, he revealed himself in the manger to an ox and an
osj] Gedik says that this is false: the first to see him born in the flesh were
Mary and Joseph. The point seems moot.


Since women are garrulous, the whole city straightaway learns what they know]

Gedik rails against this commonplace slur and complains that men are no better.

"Oh, if someone would only place a constraint on the mouth of the male sex and
on the lips a cunning seal that would not suddenly fall away nor the tongue


therefore Christ could not have them as witnesses to his resurrection, since their

testimony is invalid] Gedik: "After his resurrection Christ himself used the

testimony of women to the apostles." He appeals to Proverbs 18.22, "\\^oso

findeth a wife findeth a good thing," and goes on to quote verses from

Ecclesiasticus, including 26.3, "A good wife is a good portion, which shall be

given in the portion of them that fear the Lord" and 26.16(13) "The grace of a

wife delighteth her husband, and her discretion will fatten his bones." As
Gedik's versions of these verses are neither those of the V, nor translations from

the Septuagint, nor retranslations from Luther, they were probably quoted from
memory and give further evidence of his having written in haste.

for non ergo potuit (therefore could not) later editions read non ergo uoluit

(therefore did not wish). If that had been the intended sense one might perhaps
have expected ei-go noluit.

since none but women had told them 5o] Gedik: "Peter and John were also

among the first witnesses of the resurrection of the Lord." Eugenius corrects
the Disputant by invoking John 20.25: "The other disciples therefore said unto

him. We have seen the Lord."

And, finally, when he rose Christ showed himself to the women as if he did not
wish them to recognize him although they were standing close to him] The
reading is uncertain. The sentence is dropped from the MS.

And his own mother did not recognize her son, but believed that he was the

gardener, and when she later came to recognize him, Christ reused to let her

touch him] Gedik: "What were you thinking of when you wrote that this Mary
was the mother of God? ... in the gospel ... it is plainly said that this was


Mary Magdalene [John 20.1, 20. 18J." Agrippa had cited the passage, correctly
identifying Mary Magdalene (76).

49. Balaam's ass spoke] That Balaam's was a she ass, rendered asina in the V,

strengthens the Disputant's sneer. The MS and the editions of 1638 and 1641
spoil the sour joke by reading asinus for asina. The divinely inspired female

ass forms an antithesis to the demonically inspired male serpent. Gedik: "The

Lord governed its tongue and palate. Whatever and however the ass may have
spoken, it understood nothing, since men also, who speak without being filled

with the spirit (as you act, filled with the spirit of Satan) for so long as they

speak neither understand anything of what they say nor remember it when they

come to their senses.

commanding them to keep silence in the churches] Unable to deny this

statement, Gedik distinguishes between ecclesiastical rule and other occasions on

which women may appropriately speak in public. He cites Miriam, Deborah,
Huldah, Anna the prophetess, and Priscilla. Tarabotti explains Paul's

prohibition by saying that, as he understood the diabolical nature of the male

sex, the apostle wished to relieve men of the danger of falling into sin when
hearing the sweetness of feminine speech, by which they glory in being

"ravished, transfixed, and slain." A similar comment is found in Marie de Jars

de Gournay's Egalite des hommes et des femmes to which it is possible that

Tarabotti is indebted. She explains Saint Paul's injunction that women should

remain silent in church by saying that it was not prompted by scorn but "for fear

that they might subject the congregation to temptation by this demonstration—

which would have to be made so clearly and so publicly in ministering and
preaching— that their grace and beauty are superior to those of men" (20-21).
This almost amounts to an admission that if women were granted the right of

divine ministry, their provocation of sexual desire would lead men astray.

Eugenius: "1 believe that one should not be ashamed to learn something good

and healthy from women. It is nevertheless well known that women — and
especially bad women— often fail, regrettably, to speak correctly: that is, they


Eugenius: "I believe that one should not be ashamed to learn something good

and healthy from women. It is nevertheless well known that women— and
especially bad women— often fail, regrettably, to speak correctly: that is, they

speak neither as they should nor of what is fitting. And yet men lie with them

under one roof.

By law all public offices are denied them] The passage is modified from

Agrippa (87), ^with the conclusions reversed. Although in many parts of

sixteenth century Germany women were accorded severely limited formal and

legal rights and were in most respects placed under the domination of their

husbands, the Disputant omits to mention that they initiated legal proceedings

over marital matters more readily than did their husbands, and often with

successful outcome. See Wiltenburg 15-17, 22; Safley 167-80. Gedik: "The

modesty of the female sex causes women to avoid the public offices of which

you speak. " Eugenius agrees that in general women lack the necessary qualities

of spirit and steadfastness, but nevertheless points to exceptions outside

Germany, including Queen Margaret of Denmark and Queen Elizabeth of


Even to sue in court is, most prudently, not permitted them] For prudentissime,
in 1595, later editions have prudentissimce, a perhaps preferable alternative: To
sue in court is not permitted even to the most prudent of them. As the first

edition nowhere else reduces -ce to -e, its prudentissime does not seem to be

intended as a first declension dative singular. The MS reading, prudentissime

ipsis (most prudently to them), removes all doubt as to its sense of the passage.

Nor do we ever once read of God's breathing a soul into a woman] Without
saying so directly, Gedik implies that women have souls because they were
created from Adam's preinspired flesh. The point had earlier been made by
Agrippa (55). See chapter 1.

both the angels and the devil have a rational soul] Gedik reinforces his belief in

the sexlessness of angels, who differ from us: "The companies of angels were
all made at the one time. Propagation is a part of human nature." Perhaps
" "


Ebionites] An early Christian sect which held that Jesus was wholly human and
that the Jewish law was binding on Christians.

This is discussed by the most learned doctor Hosius] Stanislaus Hosius (1504-

79), Polish cardinal. The Disputant here paraphrases and simplifies ideas

found in the Prooemium to Hosius's Confessio catholicae fidei Christiana, in

Opera omnia (1573) In the body of the Confessio (1-194) Hosius

attempts to demonstrate that the catholic church in no way deviates from

scripture. He has much to say about express statements and the views of the

reformers. Chapter xv is entitled Scripturae ne magis, an Ecclesiae testimonio

sit credendum (The testimony of scripture is not to be believed more than that of
the church). In the last years of the Council of Trent Hosius presided over the

discussion of doctrinal matters.

even beasts have such a sou[\ Gedik: "God spread simulacra of virtues and

vices among the animals to draw us towards virtue and deter us from vice."
Tarabotti laments the fact that men have commanded women to learn from
them; what women are taught by men is not how to know God but how to

offend him: "You are an ant always carrying in its mouth the grain of


all that makes man is the knowledge of God, in which other living creatures are

lacking] Revealing again his commitment to the word, Gedik says that "faith
comes from hearing, but hearing from the word of God." He expresses his

approval of Paul's requirement that women who wish to learn anything should

ask their husbands at home (1 Cor. 14.35): "Which is in consecration of their

modesty and honour, and promotes marital concord.

50. like themselves] sibi simile. The Disputant alludes to the proverbial

statement omne generat sibi simile.

like hitnself] sibi similem.

" "


the father begets a being like himself, nor in this case is it appropriate to invoke

the mother, who is not the ^cient cause of the offspring who are to be bom,

but only the instrument] Cf. thesis 9. Gedik: God "wants the human species to

be socially bound by many ties, namely the ties of generation, of education, of

institution, of defence, and of innumerable others. Thus male and female were
immediately created in Paradise.

As the natural philosophers say] In his De generatione animalium, esp. Book I,

Aristotle had developed at length these ideas about embryology. They were
frequently repeated during the middle ages and the renaissance. Clapies adds a

sensual clause: "the woman only gives in generation the pleasure of physical

sensation necessary to man for the propagation of his species" (40).

nature always tends towards the best things and prefers to procreate a male

rather than a female] Gedik: "Before the fall the woman was as much the

image of God as was Adam. The fact that woman is now feebler is not to be

attributed to the first creation but to the punishment of sin.

In 1672 Hoeltich commented: "We sometimes read that women have been

transformed into males but the change of males into women happens more

rarely, as far as I know and can recall, as if nature is trying to make better

things from worse and not the contrary" [AS*"].

an ass may also be bom from a horse and a mule] Gedik says that the

Disputant is himself a third entity, between man and spirit, similar [similis] to a

hybrid, an unhappy birth of Satan's, a degenerate being made from some

prodigious act of coitus. Unless he repents, Gedik wishes him damned to all


Lorrain corrects the Disputant's oversight: d'un Cheval et d'une Anesse il y nait

une Mule.

Tarabotti returns at this point to many of the Disputant's earlier assertions.

Speaking of women and of the idea that they are monsters, she says "you men

are born from them, you follow them, you adore them as if they were angels,

you serve them, and you make slaves of such admirable monsters."

51. especially the Anabaptists and the Papists] The words & Papistce (and the

Papists) appear neither in the MS nor in the later editions.

little women] See commentary on thesis 21.

a heretic] Cardinal Hosius (see commentary on thesis 49) upheld the use of

violence to suppress heresy.

Gedik chooses to say nothing about the Disputant's conclusion. He ends his

book by giving the date: in the year 1595 of "the son of God, a true man, born
of the Virgin Mary, true human being." His last two wprds include an
etymological repudiation of the Disputant's arguments. In calling Mary a true

human being he again uses homo as a feminine noun: homine uera.

Essay on the soul of women: translation


Querlon appended to his translation of the Disputatio (1744) a shorter

anonymous tract, Essai sur I'ame des femmes, which develops some of the

implications of women's supposed status as less than wholly human. He

comments that it appears to be by une main tres recente, a point confirmed by

references in the final paragraphs. It is possible that the essay— a mock-serious

philosophical tract with interpolated "objections" and "answers"— is by Querlon
himself. More explicitly than in the case of the Disputatio, to which he several
times refers, the essayist assures the reader that he wrote merely as a rhetorical

exercise. Indeed, while the tone of the Disputatio is interestingly uneasy,

mixing solemn argument with transparent sophistry and emotional prejudice, the
essay never asks to be taken seriously. Early in his exposition the writer shows

that he treats the whole matter lightly, wondering why Gedik should have

responded with such bitter invective. As with the Disputatio, the framework of
the alleged intention nevertheless enables the writer to give voice to some highly
charged antifeminine ideas in a tone by no means wholly jocular. The tract

offers an opportunity to express yet again the notion of woman as weak,

irrational, changeable, and, despite her beauty and charm, subservient to men in

all things.

The Essay is also of its time in other ways, reflecting both the scientific

attitudes of its day and the physical theology of the Enlightenment. Memory is

described as the product only of traces in the brain. God is said to act always in

strict accord with the laws of nature. The preservation of both soul and body is

described in terms of the conservation of mass, an idea which, although known

since classical times, attained especial prominence in the eighteenth century.

Thoroughly dualist in its view of mankind and the world, the tract displays a

notable concern not only with the nature of the soul but also with the function of

the body, stressing the dominant role of physical conditions in determining

spiritual states. i In the first of the rhetorical objections, raised in the middle of

the essay, the soul is described in wholly human, rational terms: rather than an

indication of man's divine nature, it is "the principle of thought." The author

distantly echoes Locke when he describes continuity of existence as illusory: the

appearance of causal relations through time is attributable, he says, to God's

continuous act of creation which sustains the apparently causal chain of events

on earth. He again speaks for the eighteenth century when he explains sexual

desire as a mechanism for perpetuating the species: a man who marries "does

not regret the loss of his liberty, he voluntarily bears chains that he will wear

throughout his life. Moved by an imaginary good, in reality he acts for the

good of the society for which he provides citizens: First reason for which
woman was created." In the answer to the fourth objection, he alludes to a

negative aspect of procreation: the possibility of overpopulation which

concerned many philosophers of the Enlightenment. When, in his penultimate

paragraph, the author again declares the whole thing to be a rhetorical exercise,

he openly admits that he is indebted for the shape of his arguments to a

representative selection of thinkers from the recent past, whose ideas he is aware
of having pushed beyond rational limits.

The essayist argues that after death women's souls are not wasted but are

recycled. Although he admits that souls are simple substances and consequently
both genderless and all of equal value, he finds it convenient to entertain the

possibility that the souls of men and women differ in value (answer to objection

The idea is a commonplace in the eighteenth century. See, for example, Sophia, Woman not
inferior to man (1739): "The soul, while confined to the body, is dependent on it's organs in all

it's operations; and therefore the more free or clogged those organs are, the more or less must
the soul be at liberty to exert itself." She goes on to praise the female body, perhaps implicitly
including a reference to women's genitalia, extolled in some renaissance tracts on women's
excellence: "Now it is too well known to need any support, that the organs in our sex are of a
much finer, and more delicate temperature than in theirs" (24).

1) and that the souls of some women deseo'e more punishment on earth than do
others (answer to objection 2; see also commentary on Disputatio thesis 46).

Although they are more in keeping with the physical format of a small
eighteenth century tract than with modern printing conventions, I have preserved
the sentence structure and short paragraphs of the original. Nor have I tried to

disguise the writer's sometimes awkward prose.

Essay on the soul of women

It was asserted long ago that women were not a part of the human race.

Aristotle believed that nature made women only because of the imperfection of

the raw materials and that they could not attain the condition of the perfect sex.
We know that an opinion maintained by Aristotle was long considered to be a

respectable opinion which one might not call into question.

Many of his disciples defended the same thesis. They even surpassed their

master at the expense of the beautiful sex, for philosophers do not pride
themselves on being gallant.

I shall not go back to the origin of this system and I shall not explain the

differing opinions of those who have attacked the ladies.

Everyone knows the little treatise which appeared in 1595 and which deals
with this proposition, that women are not creatures of the same order as men.

It is known that it was written to bring the Socianians into ridicule. The author
shows that by abusing scripture and twisting its sense one can prove that women
are not human creatures. For I am following the method used by the

Anabaptists to deny the consubstantiality of the son of God.^

1 therefore do not at all understand why Gedik, in the refutation of this treatise

that he wrote, is so bitter and gets so carried away. And might one not have

suspected that he is avenging the Socinians when he avenges women?

^ In this sentence Querlon— or whoever wrote the essay— paraphrases the Disputant. In his
introduction Querlon acknowledges the debt; On voit que le premier Ouvrage a fait naitre I’idee
de celui-ci, & I 'on trouvera ces deux pieces assez naturellement assorties ensemble (The reader
can see that the first work gave rise to the idea of this one, and the two pieces will be found to

go well enough together) ( 16 ).


My aim today is not to argue with the Socinians but to show that metaphysics

is a theatre in which the spirit of man plays with truth, that the principles of that

science are uncertain, and that the care with which one treats these large

questions which do not offer a point at which one can take hold of them, if one
dares to speak thus, can be viewed only as a dangerous game and a fruitless

To carry out this design, I am taking a thesis less general than that which has

been maintained until now. I do not exclude women from human nature, and I

even grant them a soul. But I undertake to demonstrate with good metaphysical

reasons that this soul is not immortal.’

The story of the creation of men and women proves incontestably that only the

souls of men are immortal.

Man was first created alone; everything around him was under his domination.

He soon grew tired of reigning over the world; he lost this empire by sharing it;

he asked for a companion and for help.'* God then created woman to perpetuate

Adam's race and to help him, in adjutorium. And as God had created man for

himself, he created woman for man. Thus, for so long as there is a God, there

will be men who will eternally praise him. But when man will no longer need
woman, she will enter into the oblivion from which she was drawn. Now, at

the end of the world the two reasons for which she had been created will cease:

man will no longer need his helper, the race will no longer be perpetuated, there
will no longer be marriage, as Jesus Christ said in answer to the Sadducees
[Matt. 22.30].

The story of the creation of men and women thus establishes my proposition;

but the manner in which woman was created will demonstrate it. Consider

woman’s body and soul: everything gives equal proof that she was made solely

for man.
Bodily graces are her portion; through them she draws a man's vows, he

becomes a husband, most often he becomes a father because he is a Lover. He

’ The suggestion was not new. One of the speakers in Lodovico Domenichi's La nobilta delle
dome (1549) attributes Mahonunet: "Mahommet did allow tliat women have souls, but that
it to
when they died exactly the same thing would happen to them as happens to irrational animals;
that is, that their souls would die along with their bodies" (f. 56'').
“ In Genesis Adam makes no such request. It may be that the author is here echoing Milton. In
Paradise lost Vlll Adam, unaware of God's plan to create Eve, asks for a companion (VIII. 379-

does not regret the loss of his liberty, he voluntarily bears chains that he will

wear throughout his life. Moved by an imaginary good, in reality he acts for
the good of the society for which he provides citizens: First reason for which
woman was created. As far as the woman's spirit is concerned, it must be
agreed that it is sometimes delicate, often amusing, never sound; in a word, it is

such as it ought to be to divert the man from his serious occupations.

This taste for choosing and arranging colours, this finesse with flattering ideas,

this gallant, light badinerie— all of this was necessary for characters born to

amuse men. Without that women would not have been superior to the other

animals that were created before them. But that spirit was not granted reflective

powers capable of knowing the existence of God and of drawing the

consequences. We have seen women write good verses, but I have seen no
good theological treatises composed by women.
Their very devotion is rather a weakness than a virtue; it is the product of their

imagination, never of their reflexion. God has given them an extremely tender

brain, capable of receiving light impressions. He increased their imagination at

the expense of their judgement because, since they were created only to divert,

there was no point in their having a deep understanding; men find that in their

fellows. But it was necessary that they have an unbridled spirit which might
often present amusing and changing images. And what is needed for that?
Nothing but imagination. But these very charms are faults in women; from
these it comes that extraordinary things strike them, the truths to which our flesh
responds surprise them and leave them with impressions that are extremely deep

but in which reason plays no part. Thence arises that inequality and monstrous
inconstancy in their conduct: every day one sees them couple the most shameful

disorderliness with the practice of the most austere devotion.


It is not that one does not sometimes find women more sensible than the

others, but their reflexions will never attain to the great truths which touch men.
And although there are among them some whose spirit seems to rise above
earthly things, nothing prevents our concluding that they are made solely for

man, just as one does not conclude from the fact that there are among them
some so hideous that they inspire disgust rather than love, that God has not

given them a body shaped as it is in order to bring children into the world.

It is thus clear that Gcxi gave them very restricted powers of judgement

because they are not made in order to raise themselves as high as to him. Just

as he gave to those birds whose eggs are useful as food for man wings that serve

not to fly high but to protect themselves from the animals which would threaten

their lives, so he gave woman a feeble light for her guidance and not for

piercing the thick veils that envelop divinity.

I therefore conclude that at the end of the world woman, created exclusively

for men, will cease to be because she will cease to be useful for the purpose for

which she was created, from which it necessarily follows that her soul is not


It is not that I think God ceases to preserve the female soul and lets it fall into

annihilation at the moment of its separation from the body. That would be to

understand very ill the ways of God who in nature never makes anything useless

and always follows the simplest paths. The fate of women's souls after their

death is the same as that of their bodies: that is to say that just as women's
physical substance is not annihilated but merely changes form, just as God does

not cease to preserve it, not annihilating it because it would be necessary to

make new creations for the men who are to come in the future— in the same
way, always following the same unchanging paths in nature, God preserves the

souls of the women of this age for the men of the next. They will not cease to

be until the end of the world; until then, they will pass successively from body
to body by a kind of metempsychosis without, however, this succession's being

able to produce any reminiscence, for our memory comes only from impressions

traced in the brain. But since the soul of a woman will again enter a new body
it will there form fresh traces for itself, and for it to recall its former condition
it would be necessary for it to enter the same body.
After having explained this system I shall try to answer objections. It must be
agreed that they are in themselves strong and that they are made a great deal

more so by the old prejudices that doubtless fight against my opinion. It would
be more easily maintained if it were older and more generally held. When
Descartes suggested that animals have no souls, he was regarded as out of his

wits. People found it difficult to get used to believing it because they had never
believed it. In the end they listened to it, by reasoning about it they so to speak

grew accustomed to it, and ever since it has ceased to be new everyone has

found his system reasonable.

First objection

From the moment that you agree, they say, that women have a soul, you must
concede that this soul is immortal, for it is simple as is that of men: no
dissolution of parts. Why, as it is the principle of thought in women as in men,
should the one perish while the fate of the other will be immortality?


It is true that the soul of women is simple and cannot perish by the dissolution

of its parts, but no one is unaware that not all good metaphysics, is based on this

system of conservation. This conservation is nothing other than a continuous

creation. If God did not create us at every moment, we should fall into

annihilation because there is no causal connexion between our present existence

and our future existence. Thus God can, without dissolution of parts, allow the

soul of woman to be annihilated and one does not need to conclude from the fact
that the soul of woman is simple and is the principle of thought that it is


But the same arguments that prove that the soul of woman will cease to be
prove at the same time the immortality of the soul of man. For if God has good

reasons for annihilating the one in order to preserve the other, it is certain that

one can establish no parity between them. Now, God created man for himself

and in order to praise him eternally. He would thus not be unchanging if he

ceased preserving the soul of men. But he created woman to help man in his

needs on earth and to perpetuate the race. When these two reasons cease there
will no longer be any which could bring about the conservation of the soul of
woman. Thus Gratien Dupont in his Controversies of the male and female
sexes^ remarks that on the day of the resurrection each man will have a complete
body with no deformity, that all the bodily parts separated one from another will

reassemble themselves to form a complete whole, that since Adam will thus take

’ Les controversses des sexes masculin et femenin (Tholose 1534) f. 40^"''. See chapter 1.

back the rib from which Eve was made. Eve will have to become a rib once
again and cease to be a woman, that the same thing will happen to all the others,

each woman representing Eve, and each man representing Adam, from which he

concludes that women will cease to be.

Second objection

But, they will say, how may one preserve the justice of God? Do you make no
distinction between a female poisoner and a woman who had spent her whole
life in the cloisters? If women have no part in the next world, the crime of the

one will not be punished, the virtue of the other will never be rewarded.


I am indeed persuaded that women can expect no future in the next world since

it was not made for them, as I have demonstrated. Jesus Christ did not die for

women and since his merits cannot be applied to them the stain of original sin of

which they are the cause will never be effaced in them and they will always feel

its sad effects in this life which cannot be separated from its miseries. This total

exclusion from true felicity is the punishment of their actions which are all evil

because they all begin in concupiscence. It is only in this sense that one can

explain this idea in scripture: Melior est iniquitas viri quam mulier beneftciens
As there are nevertheless different degrees in their crimes divine justice will

treat them differently. Those who have committed murders, poisonings, etc.,

will return to this world in a sad and miserable state; the others will return to

this world in a happier condition. For in this world the happiness and
unhappiness of souls does not depend on them: one feels only too well how
much the body has dominion over the soul. Many philosophers believe, and I

should be inclined to agree, that all souls are equal and that the differences

which we feel among them come only from the configuration of the bodies. If

that is the case, it is easy to understand that in putting a given soul in a given

body God can make it happy or unhappy. But let us go further: let us suppose

"Better is the churlishness of a man than a courteous woman," Ecclesiasticus 42.14. See
commentary on the Disputatio, thesis 35.

that souls are unequal. Let us imagine one created with the most favourable

disposition for enjoying felicity. If God unites it with a badly made body it

grows disturbed, melancholy, overwhelmed with infirmity and torn apart by

cruel pain. If on the contrary he wishes to make it happy, he will give it a

healthy body and it will enjoy the advantages of fortune and all the most lovable
and seductive experience that this world can offer. That is all that divine justice

requires, for since woman was made only for this earthly world, her rewards

and punishments must all be earthly.

Third objection

One may object in the third place that at all times people have thought that

women had an immortal soul; that if their soul had to have an end, it would be
impossible to understand why God would not have revealed a truth so

important, and, finally why he would have given them a soul capable of

knowing him and loving him if that soul were not capable of possessing him.


I shall not quote all the passages in holy scripture that appear to support my
opinion; they are all reported in the dissertation in which the humanity of

women is disputed. And one can see that if women have some passages
apparently in their favour, there is a much greater number that decide positively

against them. But supposing that things were equal, it is not difficult for me to

state the reason why God left us in a condition of uncertainty concerning this

matter, all important though it is.


It was essential for the good of society that God should not reveal this truth. If

women had known that their souls were not subject to the punishments of hell,

there would have been no crimes to which they would not have given
themselves. On the other hand it was necessary that they should have a

sufficient idea of divine justice to fear its chastisement, that they should know
the superior being as much as is necessar>' that he be known in order to maintain

this earthly society. Thus a woman who is ready to commit a crime is stopped

by those frightful images of devils, hell, flames— and it is precisely this religion

of the imagination of which we have spoken which, while it cannot bring them

closer to God, can distance them from crime.

Fourth objection

A proof, they will say, that woman is not made for man is that the apostle

praises virginity and looks on it as the most perfect state.


It is true that the virgin saints who keep the vow they have made do not appear

to be made directly for man, at least as regards the body. It is, however, no
less true that in general all women were made for man and for reproduction.

But this reproduction, if at first necessary for society, later became a burden for

it. It is then, and in the new law, that girls were advised not to marry, in

opposition to the general vocation that nature indicates to them by giving them

all that is necessary to bear children. The happiness of society for which they

were born requires that not all of them marry, because a too great increase in

the number of men causes famine, plague, and war, and this very good of

society, which i'n the old law caused it to be permitted that a man marry several

wives, and which caused sterility to be regarded as something shameful, causes

virginity to be praised by the apostle and to be the state of perfection in the new

Fifth objection

Finally they may object that the church recognizes the female saints and that

they enjoy eternal happiness.


1: In declaring that it respects women as saints, the church states a fact. Is Saint

Genevieve holy? Does Saint Teresa indeed enjoy eternal happiness? These are

matters of fact, and the best theologians are not persuaded of the infallibity of

the church with regard to fact.

2: I cannot find that a single general council has decided the question; I do not
know exactly where it has been discussed, except perhaps in the council of

Macon, where a bishop suggested that one could not count women among the

human creatures. They argued for a long time and opinions differed widely.'' I

agree that they finally decided in favour of women, but this council was not

ecumenical and in any case this decision was far from being the product of

It is true that I find the cult of the Virgin unanimously established in the whole
church, but God could well have preserved the soul of the holy Virgin without

preserving those of the other women. She who merited ,so many other

exceptions may well have merited this one, and one cannot conclude that the

soul of women is immortal because that of the Virgin has this privilege. One

could not conclude that their conception was immaculate

so, that their bodies will

actions of the

of the Virgin ascended there, and finally that they conceive through the

Holy Ghost because
certain that the principles

books of metaphysics. I

Malebranche, from Locke, from the Treatise on physical premotion,

the Virgin conceived in that
if that

ascend to heaven immediately after their death

have established have been drawn from the

have taken them from Descartes, from Father
of the Virgin

etc.’ I


say that the application of what I have done with them is plausible. The

’ The author gives the impression of a more protracted discussion than is indicated in the source.
See chapter 4, commentary on thesis 18.
* Not all theologians believed that the Virgin died. It was commonly held that before her
Assumption she was in a trance-like state called her "dormition. ” See Schaffer, Koimesis.
’ Ren6 Descartes (1596-1650); Nicolas MalebraiKhe (1638-1715), scientifically minded
theologian, author of De la oii ion traite de la nature, de i esprit de
recherche de la veriti
ihomme et de image qu'il
pour eviter ierreur dans la science (1674, 1675); John
doit fair
Locke (1632-1704). It is not clear which of the many tracts on premotion the author has in
mind. The question at their hean is the relationship between God's will and physical activities
on earth: do all movements, even those that appear to be the result of conscious choice, depend
on God's wish that they occur? As the nature of free will is therefore of central importance in
these discussions, the author obliquely refers once more to the primarily physical reasons for the
existence of women who, although they may have souls, are not far from being puppets created
for man's use.

consequences are nevertheless so absurd that I am persuaded that the ladies

would excuse me less for seriously countering those principles than for having

established them as I did.'® All that one can conclude from this dissertation is

that the most certain propositions can be countered by metaphysical reasoning

because the principles are so imperceptible and so delicate that one can rapidly

leave them behind.

Let us frankly confess that we have never had any really clear ideas about the

soul except when we have followed those that faith has given us. That is our

true guide, warning us that in these matters the language of human reason is not

that of truth. And yet let us not for that reason entirely proscribe metaphysics,

but let us value it at its true rate. Let us look on these arguments as agreeable

peripatetic exercises, but let us not think that here we find the road that we seek

and that leads to truth.

je me persuade que les Dames me pardonneroient mains de combattre serieusement ces

principes, que de les avoir itablis comme j 'ai fait. The point seems far from clear.

The Disputatio nova: Latin text


The printing history of the Disputatio suggests that Acidalius and his publisher

were justified in believing that it would be a commercial success. The titlepage

of the first edition exists in two states, which may indicate a tolerably large print

run. In the earlier state it bears the date "M. C. XCV." (1195). Commenting
on a copy with such a title page. Bay showed that he was unaware of a second

state in which the date is correctly printed "M. D. XCV."‘ Following its reissue

in 1638,^ the Disputatio was frequently reprinted, with or without Gedik's

refutation appended.’ A quarto reprint of the Disputatio alone is of special

interest. Dated about 1660, it is an almost diplomatic resetting of the first

edition, prepared from a copy with the title page in the unrevised early state and

perhaps designed to deceive potential clients into thinking that they were buying

the original text. A small number of new errors were introduced. For the

Danish translation which he published in 1920, Sofus Larsen appears

Bay 156-57. I at the Harvard University Library (GC6.G2682.595db) and
have used copies
the University of California, Los Angeles (PT1701.A1D6. 1595), both with the title page in the
first state, and a copy in the Universitatsbibliothek. Erlangen-Niimberg (H61/4 TREW.S 549),

with the revised title page. Collation: 4^°, A-C'^. A1 t; Al'' blk; 18 cm x 13 cm. I have seen
no copies with corrections on later sheets.
’ Angenot’s note of an edition published in 'La Haye, 1635," Les champions des
femmes 182,
appears to be a ghost, 1635 being presumably a misprint for 1638.
’ Gedik’s reply was also reissued several times as an independent tract, one reprint appearing as
late as 1707.

inadvertently to have used a copy of this reprint. His textual apparatus corrects

the new errors along with the worst of the old."*

As noted by Bay, there exists a manuscript copy, now in the Library of

Congress, Washington, DC, the date of which is uncertain although the title

page may indicate that it was copied in 1594, a year before the first printed

edition.’ A note below the title, in the hand of the scribe, reads Haec scommata
& frivolae ingenii otiosi & levissimi lasciviae a multis doctissimis Theologis
praesertim etiJm ab Aegidio Hunnio, S. Theol. Doctore praestantiss. in

Academia Witeb. primario etc. sunt refutata. Anno 1594 &. (These jests and

lewd frivolities of an idle and most trifling mind have been refuted by many of
the most learned theologians, and especially by Aegidius Hunnius, a most
distinguished doctor of sacred theology, a senior scholar at the University of

Wittenberg. Anno 1594 &.) The tantalizing ampersand may indicate that

public refutations by Aegidius Hunnius the Elder and others were delivered both

before and after 1594.’ Although the date at which the manuscript was copied
remains unclear, it seems likely that this was one of several that circulated at the

time of the Disputatio’s initial period of popularity. Its many textual variants

reveal, however, that it is the immediate source of none of the early printed


The nature of the copy text used by Osthaus for the first edition is a little

puzzling. That was evidently the manuscript which Acidalius says he prepared
from the rather worn copy that had fallen into his hands. Since he seems to

have believed the tract of little importance— "I . . . took care to copy it out, not

giving great thought to it nor having examined it closely"’— Acidalius may have

“ Sofiis Larsen, trans., Bevisfor at kvindeme ikke ere mennesker (Kj 0benhavn 1920). I have not
been able to consult the copy Larsen used.
’ Bay, who once owned the manuscript, donated to the Library of Congress in 1950.
if. It

consists of seven sheets folded and stitched as a single gathering of fourteen leaves, 19 cm x 14
cm, written on both sides. It appears to have been copied in Germany. The scribe has included
marginalia which are probably his own. Three leaves of a different paper have been added at the

end. On these, in another much smaller and later hand, is a brief refutation, in Latin and
German, of some of the theses. The same hand
has also contributed marginalia and there are a
few notes in other hands. Unlike the manuscript which Acidalius copied, this one, although a
little stained, is in good physical condition. Library of Congress, PA8485.D683G4. 1595.
’ Hunnius, a noted Lutheran theologian, 1550-1603, evidently did not think the matter of
sufficient importance to add the refutation to his theological disputations, which eventually
numbered 67 in all: Volumen theologicum disputationum (Witeberga 1598).
’ See chapter 3, introduction to the translation.

written hastily; occasional misreadings and mistranscriptions could explain some

of the oddities of the printed text. While he may also have been working from a
copy that had already accumulated errors and corruptions, he was far too good a
latinist to have perpetrated the many blunders found in the first edition. The
manuscript in the Library of Congress belongs to a variant line of descent with

many departures from the text of the first edition. There are nevertheless
indications that they derive from a common ancestor subsequent to the

archetype. Both use Luther's preferred form Bileami for the Vulgate's Balaami
(thesis 49), which is found in no printed text subsequent to 1595. A further hint

is found in the manuscript's form of the word nolunt in thesis 45. It appears

that the scribe first wrote the incorrect volunt, found in 1595, only to perceive

the inappropriateness of the word and overwrite the first letter with a heavily

inked n. The incorrect volunt may also reveal something of Acidalius's haste in

copying: since volunt is a normal Latin word he may have transcribed it

mechanically, with no attention to the argument. Although the copyist of the

Washington manuscript writes a generally clear hand and appears to have been a
tolerable latinist, he occasionally makes grammatical errors and misconstrues the
sense. His knowledge of the Bible is also insecure: in thesis 35 he confuses Jael

with Rachel. Despite his shortcomings, he is much more reliable than the

compositor of the first edition.

Among the many marginalia are three in the scribe's own hand, written in the

same ink. One of these draws attention to counter evidence* while another,

written on the verso of the title page, suggests a comparison: Simile scriptum, in

ignominiam mulierum, a Sebastiano \

Francken consutum esse suo tempore,
videtur Lutherus \
minuere ... in pra^atione ad \
dialogum M. Joh. Frederi in

honorem conjugii conscriptum. (In his preface to Johann Fi[eder's dialogue

written in honour of marriage, Luther may be seen warning that a similar work,
to the ignominy of women, was put together in Luther's own day by Sebastian

Franck . . .) The reference is to the German version of Johann Freder's

Apologia pro sexu foemineo. In a preface which he wrote for it Luther

condemns a work by Sebastian Franck entitled, according to Freder, Die Weiber

sind von Natur bose, und aller sunde ein ursach, derhalben zu meiden lassen,

hassen undfliehen (Women are naturally evil and are a cause of all sin; they are

‘ See commentary on thesis 33.


therefore to be avoided, hated, and fled).’ The language of Luther’s

condemnation is quite as violent and scatalogical as that used by Gedik and
again helps to put polemical rhetoric of the sixteenth century into perspective.'®

At the end of his book Freder himself devotes several pages to a rather more
restrained refutation." Their comments suggest that Franck's book, which I

have not been able to consult, is a general diatribe against women couched in a

familiar vein, and that it is not therefore a truly "similar work." The third note,

on the last page of the manuscript, attempts to show that women, like men, are
made of earth.
In preparing the text given below, I have reported the readings of the
manuscript when the early printed editions show divergences among themselves
and have noted a number of other readings of special interest including some
that seem superior to those in print. As the date and status of the manuscript are

uncertain, and as it is by no means a definitive version, I have ignored most

minor and indifferent variants. Editorial decisions have had to be made with

caution. The manuscript reads as if the copyist has sometimes chosen his own
preferred synonyms and in places, as for example in the linguistically awkward
thesis 10 and again in thesis 14, he or his source explicitly includes in the

running text glosses on the sense. As often in manuscript copies, inaccuracies

of transcription grow more frequent in the later pages. Substantive divergences

from the printed versions are especially evident in the last few theses, with a

notable strengthening of the misogyny in the peroration (thesis 51).

The first edition is poorly printed. An embarrassing number of errors suggests

that the compositor was not only a wretched workman but also a poor latinist:

there are turned letters, chaotic punctuation, misreadings of the copy-

manuscript's contractions, incorrect case endings, inconsistent use of inflected

and uninflected Hebrew names, and frequent signs that the sense has been
misunderstood. The tract is not sufficiently important to warrant full collation

of the manuscript and extant printed copies with lists of variants and a detailed

’ Johann Freder, Apologia pro sexufoemineo ad Dei gloriam et sacri conjugii honorem scripta
(Francofurti 1544) trans., with modifications, as Bin Dialogus dem Ehestand zu ehren
geschrieben . . . mit einer Vorrede D. Mart. Luth. (Wittemberg 1545).
See introduction to the translation of the Disputatio, above.
" IP3''|-[R3''].
See chapter 2.

textual history. Instead, I have aimed for a reliable reading edition

representing, as far as I can ascertain, the import of the circulated manuscripts

and of the least corrupt printed versions. As copy text for the present edition I

have used the copy of the 1595 printing now in Erlangen.

The editio secunda of 1638 was followed in 1641 by a further reprint, also

called editio secunda. These editions correct many of the errors in the first but

also introduce errors of their own, together with minor changes to the sense.

Their texts are similar, 1641 having been set by the same printer (Burchornius),

probably working from a copy of 1638.'^ As with the first edition, it is clear

that the printers had a limited understanding of Latin. Some of the variants

seem to indicate that the copy text used for 1638 was not— or was not only— the
first edition. A number of readings may derive from manuscript copies parallel

to that used for the first edition. In cases where the readings are indifferent I

have adopted those of the first edition. While in all important respects the

printed text remains stable, in minor details the second editions occasionally
clarify the sense of the first. As the first edition is so unreliable, it seems likely

that in many cases the later substantive variants more closely represent the

Disputant's intentions. In such cases I have been cautiously eclectic in adopting

readings from 1638 and 1641. Apart from occasional spot checks against the
editions of 1690 and 1693, I have not used the later reprints. Although the
textual notes report all substantial variants, I have ignored most of the simple
printing errors and changes of accidentals in the later editions and have silently

regularized inconsistencies in the spelling, punctuation, and capitalization of the

copy text. The texts vary in the frequency with which they use optional

subjunctives. 1 have reported these variants only when they affect the flavour of
the translation. In conformity with the normal practice of renaissance printers
of Latin, I have capitalized the first words of sentences. I have used i for J and
u for V throughout; 1 have expanded ligatured letters, and, except for &, have

expanded all manuscript and printed contractions; except for "Israel" and
"Israelitas," I have omitted the erratically used diacritics on vowels.

The edition of 1638 is in small 8®. That of 1641 is in 12™® but is otherwise similar in
format. Despite the change of date on the title page, mindless copying may account for the
repetition of editio secunda in 1641. It was again reprinted, in similar format, in 1644 and
1693. All of these editions append Gedik's refutation.


Copy text and collations

I have used the following copies of the later editions:

1638: "Editio secunda," British Library 245. d. 19 and 1080. a.

1641: "Editio secunda," British Library 1080. a.6; University Library,

Cambridge Ven.8.64.1

1644: Bodleian Library, Oxford 8" Z 168 Jur.

c. 1660: reset text of 1595, British Library 12315. cc. 26(6).

1690: Muliernon homo!, British Library 1080.1.32(4).

1693: British Library 1080. a. 12






Cum in Sarmatia, ut in campo omnis licentiae, liberum sit credere & docere,

lesum Christum Filium Dei Saluatorem & Redemptorem animarum nostrarum,

una cum Spiritu Sancto non esse Deum, licebit opinor etiam mihi credere &
docere, quod multo minus est, mulieres scilicet non esse homines, &, quod inde
sequitur, Christum ergo pro iis non esse passum, nec eas saluari. Si enim non
solum in hoc regno tolerantur, sed etiam a magnatibus praemiis afficiuntur, qui
blasphemant Creatorem, cur ego exilium aut supplicium timere debeo, qui
simpliciter conuicior creaturae, praesertim cum eo modo ex sacris literis probare

possim, mulierem non esse hominem, quo illi probant Christum non esse

Deum? ,


Exhorrescent hic sine dubio omnes lectores, & sine mora, antequam malum
longius serpat, me dignum iudicabunt, qui ipse cum thesibus his meis ardeam,

sed si isti lectores rem non ex opinione, ut uulgus, sed ex ueritate, ut

philosophi, & existimare & dneu pathon ponderare uoluerint, nullam profecto
inuenient causam, cur mihi debeant iure succensere. [A?*"]


Si enim sunt catholici, sinceritati meae ignoscent potius quam irascentur, quod
ego haereticus, posito hoc principio: nihil esse credendum, nisi quod in sacris

literis expressum sit. Nec mulierem hominem esse credam, cum & hoc

nusquam extet. Si sint sectarii, impudentissimi sunt nebulones, quod me

execrantur quem genuerunt, & a quibus hoc principium didici. Hoc certe

efficiam, ut cogantur aut propriam doctrinam abnegare, aut mihi assentiri.

Sequar enim in hac mea haeresi eandem scripturae interpretandi methodum,

quam illi sequuntur in suis.


At quo pacto hoc facies inquient? Animaduertite: Scriptura pronunciat eum esse
maledictum, qui uerbo Dei aliquid addit; maledicti ergo erunt omnes, qui
mulierem esse hominem addunt & credunt. Nam neque in nouo neque in ueteri

testamento reperitur mulierem dici uel appellari hominem. Certe si mulier

homo esset, appellasset eam alicubi ita Spiritus Sanctus: nunquam autem
appellauit. Ergo homo non est, & qui eam hominem esse asserit, plus iam sapit

quam ipse Deus.


Christus licet saepius in scripturis expresse Deus appelletur, & quidem uerus:

tamen pertinaciter negant Anabaptistae, eum unum esse illum uerum Deum.
Mulier, quae ne semel quidem, sed omnino nunquam homo dicitur, hanc tamen
esse hominem uolunt & credunt. O dolus, o insania, o scelus! Licet, aiunt,

expresse mulier homo non appelletur, tamen multa sunt loca, ex quibus

mulierem esse hominem euincitur. Ecce homines fanaticos: Antea uariis libris

editis clamitarunt nihil credendum, nisi quod expressum in scripturis reperiatur;

iam uero blaterant etiam amplectendum, quod non expressum, sed quod ex
expresso elicitur. En uersutiam!


Sed sit ita, posse ex expresso elici: quid tum postea? An licebit illis propterea

mulierem hominem nominare? Nequaquam. Nam & prophetae, Christus &

apostoli scierunt ex expresso hoc posse elici, & tamen aperte nominare
noluerunt, quare neque nos id facere debemus, nisi pro nostra stultitia putamus

nobis hodie licere, quod prophetis, Christo [A2'^] & apostolis non licuit. Ut
autem omnes intelligant, nec ex expresso elici posse mulierem esse hominem,

inspiciamus, quaeso, & examinemus illa loca, quae pro homatione, ut ita

loquar, mulierum earum procuratores solent producere.


Ac primo qui ex uerbis Dei, faciamus ei adiutorium simile sibi, sic

argumentantur: Heuah facta est similis Adamo homini. Ergo est ut Adam.
Speciosum quidem argumentum, sed aperte falsum. Non enim Deus dixit

Faciamus ei hominem similem sibi, ut possint concludere Euam hominem

factam ut Adam, sed adiutorium ait, nec dixit simile illi ut illi beani intelligunt,

sed sibi dixit reciproce.


Quod ut melius intelligatur, uerba Dei accuratius perpendamus. Non est

bonum, inquit, hominem esse solum: Faciamus ei adiutorium simile sibi. Hic
nihil aliud dicitur, quam non est bonum, ut unus homo sit in mundo; faciamus ei

adiutorium quo possit procreare alios homines. Si ergo hoc adiutorio procreandi

erant alii homines, ne esset solus, Eua homo non fuit, quia non facta erat ne

Adamus esset solus, sed ut per illam Adamus procrearet homines, qui illum a

solitudine eximerent. Ad ipsum fatetur Eua. Quam primum enim filium

Cainum peperit, Uirum genui, exclamauit, iuxta uoluntatem Domini. Quae,

obsecro, erat haec uoluntas Domini? Nulla, profecto, alia quam ut hominem
generaret, ne Adam esset solus. Ideo & communiter opinantur doctores, Euam
propterea gemellos peperisse, Cainum & Abelum. Ecce quam egregie

concordet scriptura, quamque conuenientissime testetur mater illa omnium

uiuentium Eua uoluntatem hanc Domini tum primum completam esse, non
quando illa cum Adamo erat in carne una, id est, unus homo, quia ille adhuc est

solus, qui est unus, sed quando mundum aspexisset proles in posterum genus
humanum amplificitura.


Obscura forte sunt haec; afferamus clariora. Experientia testatur communis, &
est concors omnium philosophantium opinio, nihil posse fieri in tota rerum
natura, ubi non concurrant hae duae causae, efficiens & instrumental is. Faber
non potest cudere gladium, nisi ha-[A3'']beat adiutorium malleum; scriba non

potest scribere, nisi itidem habeat adiutorium pennam; sartor non potest nere,

nisi habeat adiutorium acum; homo non potest generare, nisi habeat adiutorium

mulierem. Ut autem malleus non faber, acus non est sartor, penna non est

scriptor; sic nec mulier homo. Quod si quis negat, mulierem causam esse
instrumentalem, proferat nobis aliam; si membra ostendit pudenda, ridebitur ab

omnibus. Nunquam enim instrumentum naturaliter est innatum efficienti, sed

disiunctum: quemadmodum in fabro non est instrumentum manus, sed

disiunctum aliquod, malleus; sic nec hoc loco uirilia, sed mulier.


Praeuideo quod aduersarios uexet particula nempe illa similem sibi; sed facilis

est solutio. Ut enim ad rei illustrationem priori exemplo utar: faber ad

cudendum gladium non accipit in manus stramen, sed adiutorium simile sibi,

hoc instrumentum ad cudendum gladium sibi conueniens, nempe malleum.

Quod enim conuenit, est simile, & simile est, quod conuenit. Sartor non accipit

ad uestem reparandam securim sed acum, adiutorium aptum. Sic Deus ad

procreationem hominis noluit Adamo fabricare animal quadrupes aut aliquid

aliud dissimile, unde homo commode nasci non potuisset, sed adiutorium sibi

simile, hoc est idoneum, nempe mulierem. Hinc ait Apostolus, non uirum

propter mulierem, sed mulierem propter uirum factam. Et hunc esse genuinum
huius loci sensum, testantur acutissimi quique Hebraeorum rabini, haecque sibi

simile non ad aequalitem personae Adami, sed ad conuenientiam futuri operis

interpretantur. Cui non satisfacio, legat doctissimos nostrae aetatis theologos, &
uidebit omnes unanimiter docere omnino male ex Hebraeo uersum esse simile

sibi, cum nihil minus ibi dicatur, sed ponendum fuisse adiutorium, quod sit

coram eo, ut hunc locum exposuit B. D. Martinus Lutherus, uel faciamus ei

iumentum accommodatum, ut in sua uersione exposuit Sebastianus Castalio.

Quid erga eum obmurmurare poterunt?


Sed si ita est mulierem esse similem sibi, uel factam ad imaginem hominis, quid

inde? Si Christus Anabaptistis non est Deus, qui est [AS'^J substantialis &
inconspicua imago Dei Patris, nec dabimus nos illis, mulierem esse hominem,
licet ad imaginem hominis dicatur creata.


Quem haec non mouent, eum certe mouebunt sequentia. Sciuit Deus creaturus
Adamum, se & feminam facturum. Est enim omniscius. Si iam illam hominem
esse uoluisset, ut Adamum, non dixisset faciamus hominem in singulari, sed

faciamus homines. Quia autem ita locutus est firmissimum a uerbo Dei ducitur

argumentum Deum noluisse ut mulier sit homo, eumque unum tantum fecisse

hominem non duos.


Quid? An non ille tantum est homo, qui ad imaginem Dei est conditus?

Maxime. Quae ergo est impudentia, docere mulierem esse hominem, cum ad
imaginem Dei creata non sit? Percurrat quispiam tota Biblia & an faciamus eam

ad imaginem nostram, uel an modo quod ad imaginem Dei sit facta, alicubi

scribatur? D. Paulus expresse ait: Uir est imago & gloria Dei, mulier gloria

uiri. Uides Apostolum mulieri detrahere imaginem Dei eamque hac esse

praeditam negare. Caueamus ergo contumelia afficere Deum & eam hominem

Statuere, quam ipse imagine sua dignari noluit, praesertim cum & ipsi Papistae

in suis canonibus confiteantur, mulierem ad imaginem Dei non esse factam.


Mulier si fuisset similis Adamo, id est, homini, sequeretur in Paradiso peccasse

duos homines, nam Eua aeque peccauit ut Adamus. Apostolus autem aicii, per

unum hominem^ intrasse peccatum, non per duos: euincitur ergo, tantum unum
ex his duobus fuisse hominem, nempe Adamum & non Euam. Praeterea si duo
homines peccassem, duo etiam Christi fuissent necessarii, quorum uir pro uiris,

mulier uero Christus pro mulieribus passus fuisset. Nam duo cum faciunt idem
non est idem. Uenit autem tantum unus Christus & quidem uir & satisfecit
abunde pro nobis. Uirum ergo tantum esse hominem & non mulierem, inficias
ire nemo potest.


Respondent, Apostolum per unum hominem intellexisse [A4''] Euam, utpote

quae prior peccauerat. Uerum si per Euam peccatum, ergo non per Adamum;
aut si per utrumque mentitur Apostolus Paulus, dicens per unum hominem. Alii

dicunt Apostolum ideo Adamo asscribere peccatum, quod ille sit dignior, sed si

Adamus dignior Eua, ergo iam illa similis Adamo non est, nec magis homo
quam bestia, qua Adam etiam dignior. Tu dominaberis, dixit Deus Adamo,
omnibus bestiis; hinc forte illa dignitas. Sed cum uir & mulieri dominetur, quis

nisi insanus eam hominem, & non potius eam bestiam credere potest?


Duo hic nobis diluenda ueniunt. Unum ubi dicitur, fecit Deus hominem,
masculum & feminam fecit eos. Alterum, duo erunt in carne una. Talibus

coniecturis eos niti oportet, qui ab expresso Dei uerbo deficiunt. Quoad
primum, concedo Deum fecisse eos, id est, masculum & feminam hominem,
non autem eos fecisse homines, ut uterque sit homo. Diligenter ergo singularis

numerus est obseruandus. Confirmatur hoc per alterum, duo erunt in carne una,

id est, masculus & femina erit unus homo. Nec dant aliam huius loci

inteq)retationem etiam ipsi Anabaptistae, qui tamen sibi contrariantur, dum

credunt in coniugio duas personas esse unum hominem, in trinitate uero negant

esse possibile, ut tres personae sint unus Deus.


Scribunt iidem. Si alicubi clare traderetur Christum esse aeternum Deum,

concederemus facile pluralitatem Eloim, faciamus, descendamus, & similes

scripturae dictiones, unde diuinitatem Filii Dei probare conantur trinitarii, ad

personas trahi diuinas, sed cum nullibi principium illud expresse notatum
reperiatur, nihil certi ex ambiguis deduci. Sed quare isti sententiosi doctores

hoc praeceptum ipsi non obseruant, & ex plurali numero eos uel duos uel plures

homines elicere uolunt, cum nusquam expresse reperiatur mulierem hominem



Ut autem omni generi argumentorum aduersariorum oppugnemus, etiam ex

grammatica, hoc, quod uolumus, probemus. Homo cuius generis? Certe

masculini tantum. Masculi ergo tantum erunt homines & non feminae. Scio

quidem quosdam imperitos gram-[A4'']maticos docuisse communis generis esse

homo, sed uehementer lapsi sunt, dum nullius probati scriptoris autoritatem

possunt recensere, qui haec homo unquam dixerit. Adferunt illud Ciceronis,

Tullia nata erat homo: quasi nata ad homo & non potius ad Tullia spectet. Si

dicerem: Tullia nata erat animal, an animal propterea esset generis feminini?

Nequaquam. Obseruarunt ergo illud doctissimi uiri, qui Calepini dictionarium

auxerunt, ideo & hanc autoritatem Ciceronis reiecerunt, & eruditissimus ille

grammaticus Cornelius Ualerius, qui hodie in omnibus fere scholis teritur, in

suo compendio hominem esse generis communis negauit. Sicut & alii multi.


Ab etymologia sumi firmum argumentum docent dialectici omnes. Cum ergo

homo deriuetur ab humo, quod ex ea sit conditus, quomodo mulier posset esse

homo, quae ex humo creata non est? Sed ne quis nos sacra immiscere profanis
clamitet, meque extra chorum saltare dicat, qui superius scripsi, me solummodo
sacrarum literarum testimoniis usurum, ad scripturas iterum reuertar.


1. Timoth. 2. dicit Christus exstituros multos falsos prophetas, qui & electos, si

fieri possit, in errorem inducerent. Cum ergo dicat, si fieri possit, manifeste

apparet electos seduci non posse. lam eum, quem Deus creauerat hominem,
fuisse uas electum ad uitam aeternam, nemo dubitare potest, Euam autem tale

uas electum non fuisse &, per consequens, nec hominem ad imaginem Dei hinc

constat, quia seducta est. Argumentum hoc est firmum, nec euerti potest. Ne
autem quis possit oblatrare, hac ratione Adamum nec esse hominem, quod &
idem peccauerit, audiat Apostolum dicentem non Adam sed Eua seducta est.


Longe petita sunt ista; feram propriora. Mulier Cananaea ueniens ad Christum

petiit filiam liberari a daemonio. Christus respondit ei ne uerbulum quidem.

Quid hoc quaeso significat? An Christus superbus? Nonne clemens & mitis

omnes oneratos ad se uenire iubens & refectionem promittens? Maxime.

Taciturnitate ergo hac nihil aliud significare uoluit, quam se ad mulieres non

pertinere, neque [Blr] mulieres ad illum. Probabo fortius: Intercedebant pro

illa discipuli, sed quid acceperunt responsi? Non sum missus propter illam, sed

propter perditas oues domus Israel. Auditisne mulieres Christum propter uos

non esse missum? Intelligitisne iam uiri, uxores uestras ad regnum coelorum

non pertinere? Respondent nonnulli: Christum ideo durioribus uerbis

Cananaeam aggressum esse, quod fuerit gentilis. Ridicula plane responsio.

Nam nonne Deus totum mundum dilexit, & tam propter gentiles, quam Israelitas

filium suum unigenitum misit? Pudeat eos tam turpis ineptiae. Dicant denique,

quare Christus ad nullum uirum gentilem ita dixerit, ut ad hanc imbecillam

mulierculam, siquidem innumerabiles uiri gentiles ad eum uenerint, auxilium

petierint, & apti fuerint nihil seuerius obiurgati, beneuolentissime tractati.



Nondum finis est huius loci. Audite ulterius & obstupescite. Quam primum
dixissent discipuli, dimitte eam Domine, respondit Christus: Non est honestum
sumere panem filiis & dare canibus. O magnam, lesu Christe Fili Dei, tuam in

explicandis rebus diligentiam. Auditisne miserrimae mulieres, quomodo

saluator noster uos uocitet: non homines, sed canes; non filios, sed catellos?

Auditisne non esse honestum nobis filiis sumere panem, hoc est, Christum

panem illum uitae, qui de coelo descendit, & uobis dare, quae nihil aliud estis,

quam ipsissimae bestiae foedae? Quid ergo tantopere de uestra salute laboratis?

Cur supra uoluntatem omnipotentis Dei uos effertis? Manete, obsecro, in eo

quo uos natura posuit statu, si & fortunam & Deum clementiorem in hoc mundo

experiri concupiscitis.


Si mulier esset homo, omnino male dixisset Christus, non esse honestum eam
iuuare, peius panem filiis sumere, quandoquidem non sumatur, quod in

commune pertinet, pessime dare canibus. At bene locutus est omnia Dominus.
Humiliamini ergo cum Cananaea o mulieres, cumque ea exclamate: Uerum est.

Domine, canes sumus, sed tamen catelli comedunt de micis cadentibus e mensis
dominorum; micam petite, quae casu interdum sub mensam cadit, non panem,
qui or-fEl'^ldinario Dei modo in mensam nobis viris dominis est positus. Ut

autem mica panis carnem non saturat, sic nec illa uos saluabit. Imitamini

exemplum Mariae Magdalenae a daemonibus obsessae, quae canem ita se esse

intelligens repsit ad pedes Domini more canis & auxilium petiit, & consecuta

est, sicut & fecit Martha cum sorore Maria ad pedes Christi sese humiliter


Fremunt & frendent aduersarii seque ex eo saltem inuictissimum pro mulieribus

habere argumentum, lactitant quod Christus addiderit. Fides tua te saluam fecit.

Sed uide, mi lector, quomodo homines ad mendacia dilabi oporteat, cum

ueritate destituuntur. Nusquam enim Christus ad Cananaeam dixit. Fides tua te

saluam fecit, sed Fiat tibi sicut uis, uel ut alter euangelista ait: Propter istum

sermonem uade. Quis, obsecro, erat ille sermo? Nullus profecto alius, quam
confessio ista, canis sim Cananaea, Domine, sed catelli comedunt de micis. Si

ergo & nostrae mulieres a daemoniis uolunt liberari, hoc est, a miseriis &
calamitatibus huius seculi, ne sint superbae, ut hodie communiter sunt, uerum

confiteantur selcanes, & etiam audient, fiat tibi sicut uis. Nos uero cupimus
audire, non sicut tu o Deus uis. Ita enim & Christus moriturus orauit: Pater

transeat a me iste calix, non tamen sicut ego uolo, sed sicut tu uis.


Sed leuia forte sunt haec. Sit ergo dictum Cananaeae ut mulieri sanguinis

profluuio laboranti: Fides tua te saluam fecit, quid inde? An propterea

sequeretur mulieres homines esse & animae salutem consequi? Absit. Nam
saluari hic nihil aliud significat, quam sanari in corpore, quod inde perspicitur,

quia omnes mulieres, quibuscunque hoc Christus dixit, non animae sed corporis

tantum salutem petierunt, Maria Magdalena ut liberaretur a daemoniis, altera ut

a sanguinis profluuio. Nec fuit Christus adeo indiscretus, qui daret quod non

peterent, praesertim cum nec istae mulierculae unquam ad Christum uenissent

ob animae salutem, nisi ob corporis morbos summa eas necessitas coegisset. Et

Lucas non scribit saluauit, sed fides tua te seruauit. Matthaeus uero addit, &
salua facta fuit a tempore illo; certe a tempore illo non habebat animae salutem,
cum Deus hanc nobis praedestinauerit ab aeterno, daturus demum in altera uita,

sed seruabatur statim a morbis in bona ualetudine. [B?*”]


Fides autem, obstrepunt isti, est hominum tantum. Isti stolidi insaniunt, ut

etiam malint turpes amphibolias obiicere, quam ueritati credere. Diaboli

credunt & contremiscunt: estne iam fides hominum tantum? Nesciunt isti asini

distinguere inter ueram illam fidem animam iustificantem, de qua Apostolus ait,

una est fides, & aliam historicam, quae non est hominum tantum, sed &

mulierum & diabolorum? Quis sanus unquam docuit in muliere reperiri uiuam

fidem? Imo contrarium clamat Apostolus, & omnem ei adimit fidem scribens,

mulierem saluari non per fidem, sed per generationem. Fidem etiam habent
multi homines mali, sed mortuam; cadauera tamen sunt potius, quam homines.
Uerum consistite hic paulisper Anabaptistae: si fides est hominum tantum, ergo

infantes non sunt homines, quia non habent fidem, aut si habent, in fumum abiit

uestra doctrina.


Sciebant mulieres & credebant Christum esse uerum ilium promissum Messiam,

qui posset facile sanare omnes morbos sed sciebant etiam hoc, eum propter se

non esse missum. Ideo cum Christus aliquando cum muliere loqueretur,

obstupefactos fuisse Apostolos, scribit euangelista, quod profecto non caret

mysterio. Fecit tamen interdum summa necessitas, quae & legem frangit, ubi

iam non erat humanum remedium, uel ut euangelistae uerbis utar: ubi iam

omnem in medicos substantiam impenderant, ut cum ei lacrymantes & trementes

interdum casu obuiam uenerint, ipsius misericordiam ui coactae implorarent, et

peterent non panem ut homines, sed micam, non corpus tangendum, sed

fimbriam saltim uestis. Christus ergo licet has inhumaniter susciperet, ut fecit

in Cananaea, & in femina sanguinis profluuio laborante, ubi quod eum tantum
tetigisset indignabatur, tamen cum uideret magnam earum esse fidem, hoc est,

longe firmius credere eum esse illum filium Dei Adamo & eius posteritatis

promissum quam multos uiros, quorum gratia tamen solummodo uenerat, tulit

iis interdum extraordinarie opem, uiris incredulis saltem in opprobrium. Hinc

enim ille sermo: Non inueni tantam fidem in Israel, hoc est, inter uiros,

quantam in muliere nihil ad me pertinente. Nec poterit hoc quispiam mirari, qui

nouit simili modo Christum ob ingratitudinem ludaeorum regnum suum

transtulisse ad gentes. Legimus apud medicos spem & fidem aegri erga

medicum & medicinam [B2''] plus efficere, quam ipsam cum medico

medicinam. Possem ergo &. apposite dicere, talem modo fidem in mulieribus

fuisse, nec Christum, hex: est medicum, nec medicinam iis opem tulisse,

siquidem scriptum sit. Fides tua te saluauit, & sic fidem eas saluasse, non



lam te cepimus, inquient mei antagonistae. Duo enim contra te ipsum

pronunciasti. Unum Christum Adae posteris promissum: si posteris, ergo &
mulieribus, quae sunt ex ipsius posteritate. Alterum mulierem per generationem
saluari: si ergo per generationem saluatur & homo est. At nolite mei amici ante
uictoriam triumphare. Tum triumphate, quando ostenderitis mulieres quoque

Adami posteros esse. Hoc tamen in aeternum demonstrare non poteritis. Nam
quae sit Adae posteritas, expresse enumeratur in Sacris Bibliis tam in ueteri

quam nouo testamento. Notum enim est, quem Adam genuerit, quem filii eius,

quem dein nepotes, quem postea Abraham, nempe Isaac, Isaac lacob, lacob

ludam, ludas Phares, Phares Esron & sic alii alios, usque ad haec nostra
tempora. Mulieres autem, quis genuerit, nusquam extat, unde originem
traxerint, est incertum, unde uenerint, dubitatur. Posteritas ergo Adami tantum
restringitur ad uiros, quod inde non est obscurum, quia nulla filia dicta est

primogenita, licet ante filios nasceretur, sicut filii multi primogeniti dicti

inueniuntur, etiam tum quando natiuitatem eorum aliquot iam sorores



Alterum argumentum quod pro se esse putant, omnino est contra illos, & facit

pro me. Fateor me cum Apostolo dixisse, mulierem per generationem saluari,

sed quod inde elicere possint, eam esse hominem & animae salutem consequi,
plane inualidum est. Omnes enim sectarii, quotquot a temporibus B. Lutheri

exstiterunt, hominem sola fide iustificari docent. Si iam hoc uerum, quomodo
mulier homo esse potest, siquidem non fide, sed generatione saluatur?

Interpretor ego hoc uerbum saluatur, ut ante, bene ualere in hoc mundo, idque
non facio dubiis coniecturis, sed firmissimis argumentis. Ut enim mulier
infaecunda & sterilis per non generationem damnatur, hoc est, despecta & quasi

infamis est, quemadmodum ex antiqua lege cognoscimus, ubi mulier sterilis in

odio Dei putabatur, ita enim scriptum est, maledicta sterilis quae non habet
semen in Israel, sic e contra praegnans & faecunda (B3^] saluatur. Nam ibidem

mox additum est, benedicta autem, cuius semen est Syon, quia haec explet

officium adiutorii; secus illa prior. Et hanc saluationem Dauid clarius explicat,

ubi describit filios sedentes ad mensam tanquam ramos oliuarum.


Omnino stultum est asserere per saluari, hoc loco animae salutem intelligi. Si

enim per generationem mulieres saluantur, frustra tamen pro iis mortuus est

Christus & frustra credunt. Uirgines denique omnes & uiduae & coelibes, quae

nunquam genuerunt, damnabuntur & meretrices genetrices saluabuntur. Ad

haec ait ipse Christus: Uae praegnantibus & mamma nutrientibus in illis diebus.

Si ergo illis debet esse uae, quomodo per generationem hanc, quae cum dolore

fit, debent saluari? Feminae profecto sceleris egregiam referrent mercedem,

nam propterea saluarentur, quod peccassent.


Ita quidem fore inquiunt, nisi Apostolus addidisset, si mulier permanserit in

fide. Uerum cum in omnibus sacrarum literarum codicibus praesertim ab

Anabaptistis uersis, uel in textu, uel in margine reperiatur, si filii permanserint
in fide, cui iustius credendum? Hoc fateri cogentur unum tantum ex his duobus
sensum esse uerum & genuinum, alterum falsum & supposititium. Si ergo ita se

res habet, cur non malunt eum amplecti sensum, qui cum totius sacrae scripturae

harmonia concordat, quam eum, qui repugnat? Illud est omnium euangelicorum
axioma, eum saluaturum qui permanserit in fide nullo operum respectu. Quod
si uerum aut legendem est, si filii permanserint in fide, aut dicendum & omnes
mulieres & uirgines salutem consecuturas in fide permanentes, licet nunquam
genuissent, & sic Paulum errare, qui & generationem ait necessariam, & sibi

contrarius, dum alibi ex operibus salutem negans, generationem tamen poscat

hic, quae est opus. Tale autem quidpiam de Apostolo affirmare cum sit

peccatum, uiderint miseri isti, quibus se inuoluant scripturis ad se detortis.


Sicut itaque filii non permanentes in fide matrem non damnant, sic nec ei

regnum coelorum consequenter permanentes. In hoc tamen mundo bene fit

matri propter illam generationem, ut habemus exemplum Mariae, quae propter

generationem Christi plena gratia & benedicta inter mulieres fuit saluata. [B3'']


Restat iam diluendum illud insolubile eorum opinione argumentum, mulieribus

scilicet remitti peccata, ideoque esse homines. Peccata autem iis remitti probant

exemplo Mariae Magdalenae peccatricis a septem daemoniis obsessae, ad quam

Christus dixit: Remissa sunt tibi peccata. Possem quidem hanc rationem facile

reiicere, quod unum exemplum non sit trahendum ad consequentias. Possem

etiam dicere, peccata non tantum hominibus remitti, sed & mulieribus, quae

homines non sunt, & hoc si dicerem abunde me extricassem, sed repetam rem

altius. In confesso esse puto Deum, hoc praeceptum, Ne comedas de arbore

hac, mulieri non dedisse, uiro saltem. Nam mulier necdum creata erat cum
Deus prohiberet, nec fuit hoc praeceptum post eius creationem repetitum.
Ideoque post peccatum nec uocauit eam Deus sed Adamo saltem dicens: Adame
ubi es? Eique soli dixit: Cur comedisti de ligno, de quo, ne comederes, tibi

praeceperam? Ad mulierem non item. Omnes etiam in Adam peccauimus, non

in Eua, & ipsum originale peccatum non a matre, sed a patre contrahimus.
Quare & uetus lex omne masculinum circumcidi iussit, feminas autem
incircumcisas manere, peccatum uidelicet originis in eo sexu, qui pecasset

solummodo puniendum statuens. Si ergo in origine non peccauit, non hodie

peccat mulier, quia nec nos peccaremus, nisi originale peccatum ab Adamo


His praemissis intelligit quilibet peccata mulierum, si quae sunt, nihil differre a

brutorum peccatis, quando pauperiem fecisse, uel aliquod aliud delictum

perpetrasse dicuntur. Nec poterit quis obstrepere, Magdalenam non similia

habuisse peccata, quod eam daemones obsederint, siquidem & porcos

obsederunt omni scelere uacuos. Huc attulit Apostolus, inquiens, per unum

hominem peccatum, intelligens Adamum. Euam uero non peccasse, quare ne

mediatore indiguit, sed potius ex semine eius, nullo peccati contagio infecto,

mediator nasci debuit uir, qui sic esset aeque sine peccato quemadmodum illa:

nec legimus uspiam in scripturis mulierem aliquam damnatam, quod euidens

signum est, nec in iis causam damnationis esse, nempe peccatum.


Dixit quidem Eua, Deus prohibuit ne tangeremus, sed falso [B4>'] ad id dicebat.

Non enim Deus mulieri prohibuerat, sed uiro, nec prohibuerat tangere, sed

comedere, quare & imperite addidit ne forte moriamur. Quid enim opus fuisset

dubitationis particula forte, si Eua certo sciuisset sibi esum pomi a Deo
prohibitum fuisse? Quocirca etiam respondet serpens, nequaquam moriemini,

quasi diceret, quomodo tu debes mori, cui nequaquam hoc praeceptum datum

est. Et res ipsa ostendit Euam post esum mortuam non esse, quia oculi eius non
aperiebantur, donec Adamus comedisset. Cur autem puniuit eam Deus?
inquiunt. Noli mirari. Nam & serpentem puniuit, qui tamen legem non habuit,
nec homo fuit. Imo & puniuisse nego. Quomodo enim in dolore paries filios,

poena esse potuit, cum ut pareret Deus Euae iniunxerit antequam illa adhuc
arborem Paradisi uidisset? Nec in dolore parere est poena, siquidem omnia

animalia irrationalia in dolore pariunt, quae nihil unquam peccauerunt.


Quod si etiam scrutamur scripturas inuenimus mulieres male facientibus fere

semper benedici, easque propterea laudari, quod male fecerunt. Laudatur

Rachel, quae patrem suum idola quaerentem pulchra adinuentione delusit.

Laudatur Rebecca quod per fraudem obtinuit lacob benedictionem patris. Raab
meretrix decepit eos, qui quaerebant exploratores losuae & reputatum ei ad

iustitiam. Egressa est lahel in occursum Sisarae, dixitque ad eum: Intra ad me,
domine mi, ac petenti aquam, dedit illi bibere de utre lactis, & operuit illum

iacentem. Dormiente autem Sisara percussit clauum in caput eius & interfecit

illum qui se fidei illius crediderat seruandum: atque pro hac insigni proditione,

benedicta, inquit scriptura, inter mulieres lahel, benedicatur in tabernaculo suo.


Quid ludith? Nonne scriptum blanditiis Holofernem percussit in ceruicem &

abscidit caput eius? Hanc tamen benedicit, laudat & extollit scriptura; & longe

reputatur melior iniquitas mulieris, quam uir bene faciens.


Excusantur ab jncestu patris filiae Loth, & non excusatur temulentus pater &
successio eius eiicitur ab ecclesia Dei; excusatur incestuosa Thamar, & dicitur

iustior patriarcha luda, & fraudulento incestu meretur propagare lineam

Saluatoris. Sic Christus absoluit mulierem in adulterio deprehensam, & puniri

non permisit. Et legibus Impera-[B4'']torum cauetur, ne mulier in adulterio

deprehensa capite plectatur, imo ne ob debita incarceretur, nisi ipse iudex capite

puniri uelit. Quid, quaeso, sunt haec omnia quam aperta indicia, mulierum

peccata reuera non esse peccata. Quare & conuiuae assidentes, ut Lucas ait,

coeperunt mirari quando feminae peccata remitteret Christus, cum nulla

habebat. Nec Magdalena laborabat propter remittenda peccata, sed propter

pellendos diabolos. Ideo cum non hoc fine peccata ei remissa, ut uitam

aeternam consequatur, sed ut diaboli depellantur, quis non uidet alio tendere

remissionem peccatorum mulierum, quam uirorum? Adde quod solos Apostolos

uiros docuerit Christus orare Pater noster, iis ergo solis incumbit dicere remitte

nobis debita nostra, non mulieribus.


Sed & aliis argumentis hoc, quod uolumus, confirmemus. Legimus apud
Lucam, ad Christum allatos fuisse infantes. lam cum infans sit generis

communis, tam masculum quam feminam complectitur, & credibile est non

tantum pueros ibi allatos fuisse, sed & puellas. Christus autem non dixit Sinite

infantes ad me uenire, ut & puellas intelligeret, sed specialiter dixit Sinite

pueros ad me uenire, talium est regnum coelorum, puerorum scilicet & non
puellarum. Ideoque & apostoli prohibuerunt matribus ad Christum portare

infantes, quod ibi immixtae erant puellae nihil ad Christum pertinentes.



Matthaei 22. Saducaei quaerebant a Christo, cuius ista uxor futura esset in

resurrectione mortuorum, quae septem uiris nupserat. Christus respondens ait

erratis nescientes scripturas. Cur, quaeso, errarunt? Nempe quod mulieres

resurrecturas stolide putabant, nescientes scripturas, cum in iis nihil de earum

salute contineatur. Pergit Christus: In resurrectione neque matrimonium
contrahent. Cur non, obsecro? Quia nulla mulier erit in coelo, sed erunt sicut

angeli Dei. Quales nunc sunt angeli? Certe masculi omnes, non feminae. Uiri

ergo soli ad coelum pertinent, mulieres nequaquam.


Christus ad propriam matrem dixit: Mulier quid mihi tecum? Si ergo cum
matre, quae illum genuit, illi nihil est, multo minus cum aliis imulieribus quid

commune habet. Sed uideo quid hic obiicient: Chri-[Cl'‘]stum appellari filium

hominis, esse autem Mariae filium: Mariam ergo fuisse hominem. Concedamus
autem illis hoc argumentum, & dicamus Mariam fuisse hominem, uerum non
natura, sed gratia, sicut Christus Anabaptistis Deus esse dicitur non natura, sed
gratia. Ideo & Angelus dixit: Aue Maria gratia plena, benedicta inter mulieres.

Cur benedicta? Quia illa fuit homo, & aliae non. Deinde Maria iure potest dici

homo, quia peperit absque uiro & ipsa quasi uiri opus compleuit. Pariant

hodiernae mulieres etiam absque uiris, & libenter eas homines nominabimus.
Sed nulla firmior ratio est quam prior. Si enim filius gratia tantum est Deus,
cur non etiam mater homo gratia tantum, praesertim cum & Maria nunquam
homo dicta inueniatur, nisi propter genitum Christum in genitura, cum dicitur

filius hominis. Ipsi quoque Anabaptistae fatentur hac phrasi filius hominis nihil

aliud dici quam homo & hebraismum esse asseuerant. Quid ergo euincent, si

hic nullus filii respectus habetur? Nec uideo quomodo hic matris respectus

possit haberi, cum Christus dicat non hanc esse eius matrem, quae illum genuit,

sed eos omnes, qui sermonem eius audiunt & faciunt.


Cum mulier de Christo exclamaret: Beatus uenter, qui te portauit, & ubera quae
suxisti, reprehendit eam Christus, inquiens: Quin imo beati, qui audiunt

sermonem Dei & custodiunt illum. Uides ergo Christum nolle asscribere

mulieribus beatitudinem. Et si mater ipsius non beata est, quae illum portauit,
quomodo aliae mulieres debent saluari? Tegitur illud, quod est sordidum. Cum
autem mulieres capita perpetuo tegere ex praecepto diuino cogantur, necesse est

eas coram Deo esse sordidas, & non saluandas, quia nihil conquinatum &
sordidum intrabit in regnum coelorum, praesertim cum adhuc uiuentes mortuae
dicantur feminae, si paululum uoluptatibus indulserint.


lam dilabuntur ad illud ad Galatas: Non est ludaeus, neque Graecus, non est

seruus, neque liber, non est masculus ac femina: nam uos idem estis in Christo.

Et inde uolunt probare mulierem esse hominem: sed stulte nimis. Si enim hoc
dicto probatur [Cl^'] mulierem esse hominem, probatur etiam ludaeum &
Graecum esse hominem, nam de omnibus fit sermo. Quid autem Apostolus
faceret stultius uel magis ridiculum, quam si hoc loco uellet docere ludaeum &
Graecum esse hominem, cum id sit manifestum per se, ut probatione non sit

opus. Si ergo hoc non docetur, nec mulier esse homo probatur, quae hic
continetur. Inquiunt, sed hi sunt unum uel idem in Christo, ergo nulla est

differentia. Praeclare sane. Christus ait: Ego & Pater unum sumus, tamen
negant Anabaptistae, Christum esse aeque Deum ut Patrem. Negabimus ergo
nos etiam feminam aeque esse hominem ut uirum, licet unum dicantur. Pueri

cum senibus etiam idem sunt in Christo. Nam apud Deum non est respectus

personarum, tamen eos Anabaptistae ad baptismum admittere nolunt, nec

mulieribus permittere ut doceant in ecclesia, cum tamen ad hoc unum in Christo

esse opinentur. Unde apparet pronomen idem uel unum non semper aequabiliter

accipi. ludaeus & Graecus idem est in Christo, sed tum scilicet cum ludaeum
exuit & fidelis fit. Feminae ergo in Christo unum esse uolentes femineum
sexum exuisse debebant, ut fiant homines, quod cum facere non possint,

manifeste apparet quam parum ad Christum pertineant. Nos quidem ueterem

hominem, qui est Adamus, exuere possumus, illas Euam exuere & ante est

inauditum & ridiculum. Porro animaduertite Apostolum non dicere: In Christo

neque est masculus neque femina, sicut dicat neque ludaeus, neque Graecus,
neque liber, neque seruus, sed loqui neque masculus ac femina, annuens

particula ac, illum & hanc non ita unum esse in Christo, quemadmodum illi, de
quibus usurpat uocem neque.

Et profecto non uideo quomodo mulieres possint esse unum in Christo, cum ille

ipse Christus & apostoli praeceperint, ut hic, qui uult esse perfectus & uitam
aeternam ingredi, uxorem relinquat; & laudant propterea eunuchos, qui se

castrarunt ob regnum coelorum, mulieres non attingentes. Christus etiam

uxorem non duxit; apostoli ductas reiecerunt, & aliis suaserunt, ut manerent

sicut illi, addentes, eum demum uere Christo placiturum, qui se matrimo-
[C2'’]nio non copulauerit. Insuper ut omne idem remouerent attestati sunt,

bonum esse mulierem non tangere.


Obtrudunt alii & hunc locum: Mulier cum parit, dolorem habet; cum uero
peperit, gaudet quod homo natus est in mundum. Quia uero & puellae

nascuntur, euincere hinc student & mulieres esse homines. Sed quae mater
unquam gauisa est nata filia? Nulla certe; & magnus ille Ochinus
Anabaptistarum Corypheus in dialogis suis scriptum reliquit: Mulieres natis
filiabus non laetari; & matres hoc ipsae affirmant, nec mirum. Cum enim, ut
Aristoteles ait, mulier sit monstrum in natura, uel, ut Plato ait, magis animal
irrationale quam rationale, quae mater ex hoc partu gaudere potest, praesertim
cum scriptura tradat mulierem per generationem filiorum saluari, non filiarum?
Intelligendus ergo hic locus: Mulier, cum peperit filium, gaudet quod homo
natus est, qui natus est generis masculini, nec ad feminas torqueri potest.
Circumspice denique omnia totius sacrae scripturae loca, ubi uocabulum homo
extat, cum fere sint innumerabilia, & inuenies semper tantum masculos intelligi.

Quare & hoc loco. Si secus erit unum exemplum, perdant me mulieres.


Nec hic praetereundum est illud argumentum quod proferre solent, Christum
Lucae 8. excitasse a mortuis puellam, mulieres ergo resurrecturas. Non
animaduerterunt acutuli isti, quid ibi a Christo dicatur, nempe: Non mortua est

puella, sed dormit. Quid haec uerba aliud innuunt, quam si mortua fuisset, iam

eam non resurrecturam. Dormiebat ergo tantum Christi testimonio puella, nec
adhuc mortua erat, ut uulgus opinabatur, quare non mirum eam surrexisse. Ideo

& Christus ibidem praecepit omnibus ne dicerent quod factum erat, ne forte

mulieres hinc exemplum capientes resurrectionem etiam ad se pertinere

existimarent. E contra cum adolescentem suscitauit non prohibuit, sed ut

euangelista scribit: & exiit hic rumor in uniuersam ludaeam & in omnem
finitimam regionem. Seruus quoque ad lairum ueniens & significans filiam

ipsius mortuam^ esse, addidit: Ne uexes magistrum, quod hanc ob causam dixit,

quia sciebat puellis uel feminis semel mortuis frustra Christi auxilium implorari,

[C2''] cum nec in nonissimo die sint resurrecturae. Legimus de Beato Germano
Britonano, Episcopo, eum insigni miraculo asinum e mortuis excitasse, ut autem
nemo inde ratiocinari potest asinos resurrecturos, nisi & ipse sit asinus; sic nec

ex hac puella de reliquis ualebit argumentum.


lam pergamus. Scriptura manifeste inquit, caput Christi esse Deum, sicut uirum
caput mulieris. lam Anabaptistae nolunt concedere, Christum esse Deum
propterea quod eius caput sit Deus; mulier ergo hac ratione non erit homo, quod
caput eius sit homo, aut si homo est, concedant quoque Christum Deum esse &
erit inter nos concordia.


lidem Anabaptistae nolunt baptizare infantes, quod nullum praeceptum nec

exemplum habeant, quod eos Christus uel apostoli baptizauerint. Cur ergo
mulieribus porrigunt sacramentum eucharistiae, cum quoque nec exemplum nec

praeceptum habeant, quod iis uel Christus uel apostoli porrexirint aut porrigere

iusserint? Nulla profecto in eis est ingenuitas aut sinceritas. Et nulla alia causa

est quod corpus Domini salutare mulieribus nunquam datum fuerit quam quod
hoc corpus pro iis non est passum, nec ad eas pertinet. Sed baptismus pertinet
ad illas, inquiunt, cur non ergo & aliud sacramentum? Nam mulierum
baptizatarum habemus exempla, ut Lydiae. Audio. Sed concedam hoc illis

argumentum, quando mihi quoque concesserint ab uno sacramento ad aliud


argumentari: baptismum pertinere ad infantes, cum circumcisio pertinuerit; at si

hoc factum, erit & illud.


Scio quidem in scripturis reperiri exempla baptizatarum mulierum, sed cum

Papistae & campanas & templa baptizent, an ea propterea sunt homines?
Respondeo autem omnino esse contra praeceptum Christi, ut mulieres

baptizentur. Nam Christus dicit: Qui crediderit & baptizatus fuerit saluus erit,

non quae crediderit; nec articulus qui est generis communis, ut & femininum
genus complectatur. Ad haec manifestum est baptismum successisse

circumcisioni. [C3^] Quomodo ergo baptizari possunt cum circumcisae non

fuerint mulieres? Accedit quod Christus iusserat baptizare in nomine Patris,

Filii, & Spiritus Sancti, qua forma nulla mulier baptizata legitur; illegitimus

ergo erit baptismus. Quare addo & istud, sicut per indulgentiam

circumcisionem permisit Paulus Christianis, quod tamen Christus non

praeceperat, sic & baptismum initio mulieribus sed uitiose. Ideo & gratias agit

Apostolus Deo, quod non multos baptizauerit, & addit, se non esse missum, ut

baptizaret, sed ut euangelizaret. Et cum non exemplis sed legibus sit

iudicandum, sic exempla baptizatarum omnino nullius sunt ualoris.


Quid aiunt alii? Christus quam primum a mortuis resurrexit, ostendit se primo

mulieribus. Quomodo ergo Christus ad eas spectare non potest? Sed replico,
Christus quam primum nasceretur, ostendit se in stabulo bouj et asino, ergo

pecora ad Christum pertinent. O stupiditatem! Non animaduertunt miseri isti

Christum nullam aliam ob causam initio mulieribus apparuisse quam ut eius

resurrectio quam primum & quam citissime ubique diuulgaretur. Cum enim
mulieres sint garrulae, quae illae sciunt statim nouit omnis ciuitas. Accedit

quod mulier neque iure diuino neque humano possit testari. Non ergo potuit

Christus eas resurrectionis suae habere testes, cum testimonium earum sit

inualidum. Ideo & Apostolus Thomas reliquis discipulis credere noluit

Christum a mortuis resurrexisse, quod mulieres saltim illis hoc dixerant, imo &

alii apostoli mulieres delirare putabant. Ita denique Christus resurgens sese
mulieribus ostendit, ut noluerit, quae eum noscerent, licet prope ei astarent.

Nam & propria mater filium noscere non potuit, sed putauit eum esse

hortulanum, imo cum postea agnosceret, prohibuit Christus ne eum tangeret.

Hinc apparet quomodo Christus feminas sua resurrectione honorauerit.


Clamant mulieres, loquimur, habemus rationem & animam rationalem, ergo

sumus homines. Sed ego nego haec omnia. Nam & multae sunt aues, quae

loquuntur, ut psittacus, pica, & asina Bileami locuta est, homo tamen non fuit.

Et sine ratione loqui, [CS'^] nihil aliud est, quam non loqui. Eas autem loqui
sine ratione inde apparet, quia iubet eas Apostolus tacere in ecclesia. Si enim
rationaliter loqui possent, cur deberent tacere? Publica officia omnia illis

legibus interdicta sunt; postulare in iudicio etiam prudentissime non permittitur;

repelluntur in iurisdictione, in arbitrio, in adoptione, in intercessione, in

procuratione, in tutela, in cura, in testamentaria & criminali causa, nullam aliam

ob rationem, quam quod rationem non habeant. Non enim sexus impedire

posset, si ratio adesset, nec legimus uspiam Deum mulieri inspirasse animam, &
ipsi Anabaptistie editis scriptis fatentur & probant, mulieres animam non
habere. Et etiamsi mulieres rationem haberent, tamen haec eas homines non

efficeret, cum & angeli & Diabolus animam rationalem habeant & loquantur,

homines tamen non sunt. In Christo habitat omnis plenitudo diuinitatis

corporaliter ait Apostolus, tamen Ebionitae negant hanc efficere ut Christus sit

Deus; nec ergo & anima rationalis mulierem efficeret hominem, quamuis eam
haberet. Animaduertit hoc doctissimus Cardinalis Hosius, qui negauit animam
rationalem hominem constituere. Nam & bestiae habent talem animam, cum
Deus nos ad eas remittat, ut rationem ab ipsis discamus, dicens: Estote

prudentes sicut serpentes & simplices sicut columbae; item: I piger ad

formicam. Sed sola cognitio Dei facit hominem, qua reliqua animantia carent.

Quod si quis contendere uelit mulieres Deum cognoscere, fateri cogetur eas

hanc cognitionem a uiris communicatam habere. Nam scriptum est, mulier si

quid uult scire, a uiro discat. Ut autem diu' initas Christi, a Patre communicata,
Christum non facit Deum, sic nec cognitio communicata mulierem hominem.


Nec curo illud ultimum omnium mulierum effugium: omne simile gignere sibi

simile, necesse ergo esse, ut mulier sit homo, quandoquidem hominem procreet.

Nam si hoc uerum, mentiuntur Anabaptistae, Christum non esse uerum Deum.
Pater enim si filium genuit, Deum genuit sibi similem. In procreatione cum
filius nascitur, pater gignit sibi simile, nec est hic mater respicienda, quae causa

efficiens non est, sed tantum instrumentum, nasciturae proli. Nullam uitae

formam addit, ut physici dicunt. Si uero filia nascitur, iam non simile, quia
haec est [€4^] monstrum, cum natura semper tendat ad optima & malit

masculum procreari, quam feminam, ut philosophi testantur. Nec mirum, cum

ex equo & mulo quoque nascatur asinus, ex stercore equino scarabei, ex

pinguedine pediculi, ita ut simile de simili saepe fallat.


Probaui, opinor, quinquaginta inuictissimis sacrarum literarum testimoniis,

mulierem non esse hominem, nec eam saluari. Quod si non effeci, ostendi

tamen uniuerso mundo, quomodo huius temporis haeretici, & praesertim

Anabaptistae & Papistae, sacram soleant explicare scripturam, & qua utantur
methodo ad stabilienda sua execranda dogmata. Prudenti satis. Imprudentes
autem mulierculas oratas uolo, ut me pristina sua beneuolentia & amore
complectantur, quod si noluerint, pereant bestiae in secula seculorum.

Satis gloriae & ex hoc tractatu habeo, quod in posterum,

more aliorum, haereticus sim futurus, si non
bonae famae, tamen

Textual notes

Figures at the head of notes refer to the theses.

MS = the manuscript in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC,


1595 = first edition. Universitatsbibliothek, Erlangen-Niirnberg H61/4

TREW.S 549.

1638 = the "second edition," of 1638. British Library 245. d. 19.

1641 = the other so-called "second edition," of 1641. British Library

1080. a. 6; University Library, Cambridge Ven.8.64.1.

Larsen = Disputatio trans. Larsen 1920.

ed. = emendations adopted in this edition.

alleds. = 1595, 1638, 1641.

Unannotated lemmata should be understood to be those of 1595. Unless

otherwise noted, they are also the readings of 1638 and 1641. When, as in the

majority of cases, only substantive variants are in question, all readings reported

here from the printed texts have been edited as described above.

1 .

Sarmatia] MS, 1638, 1641; Samaritia 1595.

mihi credere & docere] 1638, 1641; credere & docere MS; mihi credere 1595.

minus] tenuius MS.

creaturae] 1638, 1641; creaturam MS, 1595

2 .

dneu pathon] ed.; (in Greek characters, inaccurate, with breathing) MS, 1595,
1641; Aneu pathon (in roman) 1638. In Greek characters, inaccurate, in the

edition of 1690; in Greek characters, correct, in the edition of 1693.


Si Sint] 1638, 1641; Si sunt MS, 1595.

ut cogantur] MS, 1638, 1641; omitted 1595.

scripturae] ed.; scripturas MS, all eds.


maledicti ergo erunt omnes, qui mulierem esse hominem addunt & credunt]

lam qui dicunt (mulierem esse hominem) scripturis id addunt. Maledicti ergo.


autem appellauit] autem ita appellauit MS.




expressum in scripturis] expresse in scriptura MS\ expressum in scriptura 1638,


ex expresso] MS, 1638, 1641; expresso 1595.


hoc posse elici] MS; hoc elici ali eds.

nobis hodie licere] MS; nobis licere all eds.


qui ex uerbis] 1638, 1641; quidem ex uerbo MS, 1595.

homini. Ergo est ut Adam] MS; homini ut Adam all eds.


procreandi erant] procreandi demum erant MS; primum procreandi erant 1638,


esset solus, sed ut per illam] solus esset, Eua sane homo non fuit, alias enim
iam a solitudine exemtus fuisset, nec opus habuisset aliis sociis. Sed illud

saltem Eua fuit medium, per quod MS.

Ad ipsum] Id ipsum quoque MS; Id ipsum 1638, 1641

Ideo&] MS, 1638, 1641; Ideo 1595.

quia ille] MS, 1638, 1641; qui ille 1595.




habeat adiutorium mulierem] habeat instrumentum seu adiutorium nempe

mulierem MS.

non faber] non est ipse faber MS\ non est faber 1638, 1641

membra ostendit pudenda] MS, 1638, 1641; membra ostendit esse pudenda


ridebitur] MS, 1638, 1641; uidebitur 1595.

10 .

utar] MS, 1638; autar 1595 (for auctari).

priori exemplo utar; faber ad cudendum gladium] omitted 1641. Not a line

skip from 1595 or 1638.

quique] MS, 1638, 1641; quinque 1595.

B. D. Martinus] 1595; Martinus M5, 1638, 1641.

exposuit Sebastianus] MS, 1638, 1641; exposuerit Sebastianus 1595.

erga eum] 1638, 1641; ergo ei MS; ergo eum 1595.

11 .

creata] creatura MS.


12 .

tantum) MS, 1595; tamen 1638, 1641.


tantum) MS, 1595; tamen 1638, 1641.

Papistae) Before writing Papistae the scribe of the manuscript began writing

Bapti\stae] and then crossed the word through.


necessarii,] necessarii, (ut enim per unum hominem malum, ita per unum
quoque hominem, nempe Christum, salus) MS.


asscribere) 1638, 1641; adscribere M5; adscribi 1595; adscripsisse?

hinc forte illa dignitas) hic forte illa dubitas MS.


coniecturis) MS, 1638, 1641; coniuncturis 1595.

numerus est) est numerus MS; numerus 1638, 1641.


iidem) MS. 1638, 1641; idem 1595.

pluralitatem) numerum pluralem MS; pluralem numerum 1638, 1641.



dictiones] locutiones & dictiones MS.

duos uel pluresj A/5; duo plures all eds.


cuius] cuius est A/5, 1638, 1641.


unquam dixerit] A/5, 1638, 1641; nunquam dixerit 1595.

Adferunt] Adferam A/5.

Tullia spectet] ed.; Tullia spectat A/5; Tulliam spectet all eds. The reference is

to the word, not to the woman.

illud doctissimi uiri] A/5; doctissimi illi uiri 1638, 1641; doctissimi uiri 1595.

Cornelius Ualerius] MS, 1638, 1641; Corneli, ut Ualerius 1595.


posset] potest A/5?, 1638, 1641.

iterum reuertar] MS; iterum reuertor 1595; reuertor 1638, 1641.

20 .

si fieri possit] (si fieri posset) MS.

possit, manifeste apparet] 1638, 1641; posset, manifestum est, MS; possint,

manifeste apparet 1595.

hoc est] MS, 1638, 1641; hoc 1595.

firmum] MS, 1595, 1638; fimum 1641 See commentary on thesis 20.

21 .

ei ne uerbulumj 1638, 1641 ne uerbum MS; ei uerbulum 1595.

plane] sane M5, 1638, 1641.

nonne] MS, 1638, 1641; non 1595.

ad hanc] hanc M5, 1638, 1641.

apti] adepti MS, 1638, 1641.

seuerius] MS; securius all eds. ;

secius Larsen.

22 .

si & fortunam] 1638, 1641; quod & fortunam MS; si fortunam 1595. For si the

copyist of the manuscript first wrote qui, which he then changed to quod.
Neither word makes altogether satisfactory sense.


mulier esset homo] MS, 1595; mulier homo 1638, 1641.

honestum] molestum MS. An inadvertent reversal of the sense?

comedunt . . . dominorum] & MS.


nobis uiris dominis] MS; nobis dominis all eds.

demittens] MS; dimittens 1595; demittentes 1638, 1641.


canis sim Cananaea] canis sim MS; canis sum Cananaea 1595; canis sumit

Cananaea 1638; canis sum ait Cananaea 1641.



sequeretur] MS, 1595-, sequetur 1638, 1641.

nihil aliud] 1638, 1641; nil aliud MS; nihil 1595.

altera ut a] MS; altera ut all eds.

indiscretus] immisericors MS.

Matthaeus uero] MS, 1595; Matthaeus 6. 1638, 1641. Evidently a misreading

of manuscript v. (= vero). Some manuscript forms of the letter were broadly

similar to the figure 6.

habebat] MS, 1638, 1641; habeat 1595.

morbis] 1638, 1641; nobis MS; moribus 1595. At about this point in the

manuscript, the scribe begins to show signs of tiredness.


Isti stolidi] ed.; ita stolide MS; ista stolidi 1595; ita stolidi 1638, 1641.

amphibolias] amphibologias M5, 1638, 1641.

estne iam fides hominum tantum] 1638, 1641; estne iam fides tantum hominum
MS; est iam fides hominum tanta 1595.

diabolorum] diabolorum simul MS.

mulierem saluari non per fidem, sed per generationem] omitted MS.

tamen sunt potius) tantum sunt magis MS.



& legem] MS, 1638, J641-, legem 1595.

et peterent] MS, 1638, 1641-, omitted 1595.

& in femina] 1638, 1641-, & in faemina MS; in femina 1595.

sanguinis profluuio laborante] sanguiflua MS. Sanguifluus is not a classical


posteritatis] posteris 1638, 1641.

medicum & medicinam] medicum in medicina MS.

talem modo] MS, 1638, 1641; talem quomodo 1595.


antagonistae] Anabaptistae MS.

si posteris . . . posteritate] iam mulieres itidem sunt ex posteritate Adami, ergo

& mulieribus est promissus. Si hoc homines erunt, nil enim nisi quod homo est

potest saluari MS.

ex ipsius posteritate] etiam ipsius posteritas 1638, 1641.

poteritis] MS, 1638, 1641; potestis 1595.

sit Adae posteritas] 1641; Adae sit posteritas MS; sit Adae posteritatis 1595; sit

Adae posteritati 1638.



B. Lutheri] Lutheri iV/5, 1638, 1641.

generatione sal uatur] MS, 1638, /64/; generatione saluabitur /595.

uerbum saluatur] MS, 1641; uerbum saluetur /595, 1638.

semen est Syon] semen est in Syon MS.


mortuus est Christus] mortuus est (si est pro iis mortuus) Christus MS.

frustra credunt] frustranea est (si quae est) ipsarum fides MS.

uiduae] steriles mulieres MS.

Ad haec . .
peccassent] At ipse Christus ad haec dicit, quod illis debet esse

uae. Si ergo hoc, quomodo per generationem, quae cum maximo dolore

coniuncta, saluari debent? Faeminae insuper scelerosae & sceleribus egregiam

referrent mercedem MS.

mamma] 1638, 1641; in mamma /595.


cui] MS, 1638, 1641; cum /595.

supposititium] MS, 1638, 1641; suppositium /595.

eum saluaturum] eum saluum fore MS; eum saluatum iri 1638, 1641.

nullo operum respectu] MS, 1638, 1641; multo operum respectu /595.

Tale autem quidpiam de Apostolo affirmare cum sit peccatum, uiderint miseri
istij 1638, 164l\ Sed cum hoc de Apostolo asserere sit peccatum, ipsi uiderint

MS', Tale autem quippiam de Apostolo affirmare sit peccatum, uiderent miseri
isti 1595.

scripturis ad se detortis] labyrinthis, scripturis ad suum detorsis captum MS.

illam generationem) MS\ illam all eds.

Mariae) MS, 1595-, omitted 1638, 1641.


sed Adamo saltem) ed.-, sed Adamum saltem MS, sed Adamo 7595; sed
Adamum 1638, 1641.


quando) MS, 1595\ quod 1638, 1641.

dicuntur) MS, 1595\ dicitur 1638, 1641.

omni) MS, 1595-, ui 1638, 1641.

ne mediatore) nec mediatore A75, 1638, 1641.


aeque sine) absque A75, 1638, 1641.


quasi diceret, quomodo tu debes mori, cui nequaquam hoc praeceptum datum

est) omitted MS.

Quomodo enim) MS, 1638, /6^7; Quomodo ergo 7595.




Egressa est label] Egressa est Rahel MS.

benedicta, inquit scriptura, inter mulieres label] benedictam celebrat sancta

scriptura Rabel inter mulieres MS.

Nonne scriptum] annon scriptum MS\ non ne scriptum 7595; nonne

circumscriptum 1638, 1641.


incestu] incessu MS.

nulla babebat] M5; nulla babeat all eds.

remissa] remissa sint MS, 1638, 1641.

depellantur] pellantur MS, 1638, 1641.

uiros] uiuos MS (or uiros?). Tbe third letter bas been overwritten, but in which

order is unclear.


Sed & aliis ] Sed iam & aliis MS, 1638, 1641.

fuisse infantes] So also MS, but the scribe first wrote fuisse infantulos.

ut & puellas intelligeret, sed specialiter dixit Sinite pueros ad me uenire,]

omitted 1638, 1641 Eyeskip.




euincent] MS, 1595\ euincent ii 1638, 1641


quod est sordidum] quod stolidum est MS.

cogantur] MS, 1595; rogantur 1638, 1641.


ad illud ad Galatas] 1641; ad illud, Galat. cap. MS; ad illud ad Galatheos 1595;
ad illud ad Galatheas 1638. The scribe of the manuscript evide;ntly intended to

add the chapter number but failed to do so despite having left enough space on
the line.

non est masculus ac femina] non est masculus neque faemina MS.

stultius uel] 1638, 1641; stultius, aut Af5; uel 1595.

probatur, quae] probatur iis, quae MS.

idem in Christo] MS, Larsen; idem Christus all eds.

licet unum dicantur. Pueri] MS; licet unum dicantur pueri 1595; licet unum
non dicantur pueri Larsen.

Pueri cum senibus etiam] MS, 1638, 1641; pueri etiam cum senibus, etiam


fidelis fit] MS, 1638, 1641; fidelis sit 1595.

non possint] 1638, 1641; nequeant MS; non possunt 1595.


manifeste] manifesto 1638, 1641\ omitted MS.

illas] M5; illi 7595; illis 1638, 1641.

dicat] ed. ;
dicit MS, all eds.

ac femina, annuens] MS, 1638, 1641; neque ac femina, annuens 1595.

illum & hanc] MS; illam hanc 1595; illam 1638, 1641.


possint] MS, 1638, 1641; possunt 1595.

hic] isM5, 1638, 1641.


ipsae] MS; ipsum all eds.

ut Plato] MS, 1638, 1641; Plato 1595.

qui natus] quia (natus) MS; quia natus 1638, 1641.


quod proferre solent] omitted MS.

uulgus] MS, 1638, 1641; uulgo 1595.

sed ut euangelista] MS; sed euangelista all eds.


hanc obj MS, 1638, 1641-, ob hanc 1595.

insigni] MS, 1638, 1641\ insigniter 1595.

sic nec ex hac puella de reliquis] 1638, 1641-, sic nec huic puellae nec reliquis

MS; sic nec ex hac puella & reliquis 1595.


nolunt] MS, Larsen. uolunt

all eds. See introduction to this chapter,

quod caput eius sit homo,] omitted 1638, 1641. Presumably an eyeskip.


lidem Anabaptistae nolunt baptizare infantes] lidem nolunt credere, quod

infantes sint baptisandi MS.

baptismum pertinere ad infantes . . . illud] omitted MS.

at si hoc] 1638, 1641; aut si hoc 1595.


Papistae] MS, 1638, 1641; Baptistae 1595.

Nam Christus dicit] Nam non Christus dicit MS. The word non is

superscripted. Evidently after having noticed that what he had copied made
little sense (as a result of his omission of the passage noted next) the scribe of

the manuscript tried to patch matters up by interpolating non.

non quae crediderit . . . communis) omitted MS.


complectatur] complectatur; quia fidem non habent saluificam, ut supra

ostensum MS. Perhaps also added for the reason given above.

manifestum est] MS, 1638, 1641; manifestum & 1595.

circumcisioni . . . mulieres?] circumcisioni; atque in V. T. mulieres non

fuerunt circumcisae, imo non potuerunt. Quomodo ergo ipsis nunc baptismus
conueniet MS. ^See chapter 4, commentary on thesis 47.

ergo erit] ergo ipsarum, si quis est, erit MS..

sed uitiose] MS; uitiose 1638, 1641; uitio esse 1595.

Apostolus Deo, quod non multos baptizauerit, & addit, se non esse missum, ut

baptizaret, sed ut euangelizaret] Apostolus Deo, quod ipse non multos

baptizauerat; nec propterea se missum ait MS; Apostolus Deo, quod non multos
baptizauerit, & addit se non esse missum, ut baptizet, sed ut euangelizet 1638,


sic exempla] exempla 1638, 1641.

omnino nullius sunt ualoris] nullius erunt ualoris MS.


ostendit se in] MS, 1595; ostendit sese in 1638, 1641.

quam primum & quam] omitted MS.

garrulae . . . ciuitas] garrulae pro nunciis uentosis ubique commode possunt

usurpari MS.

Non ergo potuit Christus eas resurrectionis suae habere testes] non ergo posuit
eas Christus suae resurrectiones testes MS; Non ergo uoluit Christus eas

resurrectionis suae habere testes 1638, 1641. The manuscript reading

resurrectiones is presumably a mechanical error for resurrectionis.

sit inualidum] sit futile; sed uoluit, ut apostolis annunciarent, quo aduentantes
de eo perhiberent MS.

noluit . . . mulieres] noluit, cum de Christi resurrectione ipsum compellarent,

ideo, quod mulieres MS.

Ita . . . astarent.] omitted MS.


, ut psittacus, pica,] omitted A/5, 1638, 1641.


asina] /595; asinus M5, 1638, 1641.

Bileami] MS, 1595-, Balaami 1638, 1641.

locuta] /595; locutus A/5, 1638, 1641.

prudentissime] /595; prudentissime ipsis A/5; prudentissimae 1638, 1641.

in intercessione] ed.', intercessione A/5, all eds.

in cura, in testamentaria] 1638, 1641-, in cura testamentorum MS; in cura, &

testamentaria 1595.

criminali] MS, 1638, 1641; criminaria 1595.

tamen non sunt] MS, 1595; tamen non sint 1638, 1641.

ab ipsis] ab iis A/5, 1638, 1641.


formicam] formicam &c. MS.

cognitio Dei] cognitio MS.

unit] uelit MS.


& malit] & propterea malit MS.


& Papistae] omitted M5, 1638, 1641.

sua execranda dogmata] suorum execrandorum dogmatum deliria MS.

Imprudentes . . . oratas] Imprudentissimis autem mulieribus forsan ingratus

ero, sed pro culices & pulices ipsas mihi uolo exoratas MS.


Oxford, Bodleian Library. Rawlinson D 421. Paper. 18 cm x 12.5 cm. 66 ff.

Unfoliated, unpaginated. English. Dated 1 January 1677/78. Tp: Mulieres

non Homines, |
ou |
La Femme |
deshumanisee. Translation by Paul
Lorrain of the Disputatio nova contra mulieres. Presented to Samuel Pepys.

Washington, DC, Library of Congress. PA8485.D683G4.1595. Paper. Seven

sheets folded and stitched as a single gathering of 14 leaves, + 3 leaves of a
different paper. 19 cm x 14 cm. Unfoliated, unpaginated. German. 1594?
Anon. Tp: Disputatio nova |
qua probatur |
mulieres non esse homines

nec salvari.

Printed tnatter

PL = j. P. Migne, Patrologiae cursus completus, series latina (Paris 1844


Acidalius, Christianus, ed. Valentis Acidali epistolarum centuria I (Hanoviae

Agrippa, Henricus Cornelius. De sacramento tnatrimonii declamatio libellus
(Antverpiae 1529). Edition used: Coloniae 1532.
. De incertitudine & vanitate scientiarum & artium atque excellentia verbi
Dei declamatio (Antverpiae 1530).
. De nobilitate et praecellentia foeminei sexus (Antverpiae 1529). English
trans. 1542, 1545, 1651/52, 1652, 1670 (repr. 16837); Dutch 1733 (treated
as satirical); French (before 15347). 1537, 1545, 1578, 1686, 1713, 1726,

1801; German 1540?, 1566, 1650 (see Beilin), 1736, 1852 (from the French);
Italian (from the French) 1549, 1776; Polish 1575. Modern edition, with
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Anon. Disputatio nova contra mulieres, qua probatur eas homines non esse
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anonymus probare nititur mulieres homines non esse (Hagae-Comitis 1638),
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1641 (also called Editio secunda), 1644, c. 1660 (approximate typographical

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Anon. Mulier homo! (n. p. [Germany?] 1690). A reply to Mulier non homo!
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format. Falsely attributed to Simon Gedik in the British Library Catalogue.

Anon. Mulier malus! (n. p. [Germany?] 1690). In Latin and German accented
Anon. Griind- und probierliche Argument und Schluss-Articul, sampt
bygefiigten aussfuhrlichen Beantwortungen: belangend die Frag Ob die
Weiber Menschen seyn, oder nicht? . . . lustig verfasset und publiciert (n. p.,

1618). Reprinted Frankfurt 1721.

Anon. An other defence of womens venues, written by an honorable personage
of great reckoning in fraunce (appended to A womans woonh; see below,
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employments, customs and imponance of the fair sex in all pans of the world
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10 ).
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. De genesi ad litteram 2 vols. Text with French trans, by P. Agaesse and
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. See
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Gospel of Philip. See Menard, Jacques-E.
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Hosius, Stanislaus.Opera omnia (Venetiis 1573).
Hunnius, Aegidius, the Elder. Volumen theologicum disputationum (Witeberga


Jacobus de Voragine. Legenda aurea ed. Th. Graesse, 2nd edition (Lipsiae
Jerome, Saint. Adversus Jovinianuni. PL 23.21 1-338.
Jonson, Ben. The masque of beautie The workes (London 1616) 901-10.

Krusch, Bruno. "Kulturbilder aus dem Frankenreiche zur Zeit Gregors von
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Mansi, Joannes Dominicus and Sacrorum conciliorum nova, et
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Pont-Aymeri, Paradoxe apologique, ou
Alexandre de. il est fidellement
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Zanette, Emilio. Suor Arcangela: monaca del seicento veneziano (Venezia
1 ,


Abraham, 58, 95 Canaan, woman of, 54-57, 87-88

Academic frangaise, 19 Cardano, Girolamo, 30
Acidalius, Christian, 25 Carrington, Charles, 40n31, 71
Acidalius, Valens, 21-25, 26, 37, 132-33 Castalio, Sebastian, 27, 50, 78-79
Agrippa, De nobilitate et praecellentia Cicero, 27, 53; Epistulae ad familiares, 83
foeminei sexus, 28, 76, 94, 96, 97-98, Clapi^s, Charles, 39-40, 71, 75, 76, 81-82,
102, 104, 107-8, 109, 112; De 84, 95, 102, 103, 114
sacramento matrimonii, 90 Clarus, Julius, of Alessandria, 80
Ambrose, Saint, 12 Cologne, student in, beaten to death, 32
Ambrosiaster, 12 Congreve, William, The mourning bride,
An almond for a parrat, 9-10 30nl4; The old batchelour, 30nl4
Anna the prophetess, 1 1 conservation of mass, 118, 124
Aquinas, Thomas: see creationism (of the soul), 5-6
Thomas Aquinas, Saint Crooke, Dr Helkiah, 3n7
Arcangela, Sister: w Tarabotti, Helena Cujas, Jacques, Observationes et
Argonne, Noel d'. Melanges d'histoire et emendationes, 43-44
de litterature, 39
Aristotle, 3, 65, 72, 77, 114, 121; David, King, 58
generatione animalium (Generation of Davies, Sir John, The scourge offolly 14-
Animals), 3, 1 14 15
Augustine, Saint, Bishop of Hippo, 2, 6, Deborah, 111
89, 104 Descanes, Ren6, 129
Augustus, Emperor, law against adultery, dialogue book, German, 30-31, 73-112
98 passim
Austin, William, Haec homo, 83 Domenichi, Lodovico, La nobilta delle
donne, 1, 28n8, 75, 76, 77, 122n3
Balaam’s ass, 68, 111 Donne, John, Paradoxes and problemes,
Barcitotti, Galerana: see Tarabotti, Helena \QA\\ Sermons, 11-12; "To the
Bay, Christian, 2 In, 29, 132 Countesse of Huntingdon," 12-13
Bayle, Pierre, Dictionnaire historique et dormition of the Virgin, 129n8
critique, 44 Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, Crime and
Beilin, Johaim, Abigail, 32, 41 punishment, 40-41
Butler, Samuel, "Miscellaneous thoughts," Dunton, John, Athenian gazette {Athenian
15 mercury), 16-17, 100-1, 10^-9, Athenae
redivivae 101; Ladies dictionary 91; Life
Calepinus, Ambrogio, 53, 84 and errors, \0\\ Religio bibliopolae, 101
1 , 0 1


Dupont, Gratien, Les coniroversses des Huimius, Aegidius, 25, 132

sexes tnasculin etfemenin, 4-5, 14, 125
image of God, whether women are made in
Ebionites, 69, 1 12 the, 1-4, 18-19
Elizabeth 1, Queen of England, 1 12 Isaac, 58
Enlightenment, ideas of die, Essai sur I'ame Islam, see Mahommet
des femmes characteristic of, 117-18
Epiphanius, Saint, Contra octoaginta Jacob, 58
haereses, llnl7 Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda aurea, 107
Erasmus, Desiderius, 12 Jael, 61, 96
Esrom, 58 . Jairus, 66
Ethiopia, island ne'ar, 102 James, Protevangelium of, 90
eunuchs, praise of, 65, 105 John the Baptist, 102
Jonson, Ben, The masque of beaude, 30
Franck, Sebastian, Die Weiber sind von Joshua, 61, 95
Natur bose, 133-34 Juda, 58
Freder, Johann, Apologia pro sexu Judidi, 61, 96
foemineo, 133-34
Larsen, Sofus, 88, 104, 132
Gedik, Simon, 19, 28-30, 31, 33, 34, 39, Lichfield, preacher at, 9-10
13A\5 passim, 131 Locke, John, 1 18, 129
generation of like from like, 69, 113-14 Lorrain, Paul, 35-38, 73, 88, 114
Genevieve, Saint, 128 Lot and his daughters, 28, 62, 97
genitalia, female, 76, 118nl; male, 50, 75, Luther, Martin, 27, 29, 50, 12-\\0 passim,
76 133-34
Gentleman, A., 17-18
Germain of Auxerre, Saint (Germanus Macon, second Council of, women
Britannus), 66, 107 discussed at, 84, 101
Gibson, Anthony, 8 Mahommet and Islam, 18, 75, 100, 122n3
Gospel of Phi lip, 4n 1 Malebranche, Nicolas, 129
Gospel of Thomas 104-5 Margaret, Queen of Denmark, 1 12
Goumay, Marie de Jars de, Egalite des Marinella, Lucrezia, 34, 101
hommes et des femmes, 80, 111 Marprelate conroversy, 9
Gratian (Gratianus de Clusio), Decretum, 2, marriage, whedier Christ and the apostles
82 entered into, 65, 105
Gregory of Tours, Saint, Historiarum libri Marston, John, The Dutch courtesan, 13;
decem, 84, 101 The insatiate countesse, 13-14
Mardia and Mary, 55
Haec vir, 44 Manin, Louis Aim6, De T education des
Hanno, die periploos of, 103 meres defami lie, 19
heaven, sexual differentiation in, 1-5, 9, Mary Magdalene, 55, 56, 60, 62, 87, 110;
64-65, 100-1, 103-5, 108-9 see also Wager, Lewis
Herodotus, 72 Mela, Pomponius, De chorographia, 102-3
Hie mulier, 44 metempsychosis, perpetual, of women’s
Historia de nativitate Mariae et de infantia souls, 124
Salvatoris, 90 Milcali, 89
Hoeltich, Franciscus Henricus, Foemina Milton, John, Paradise lost, lln20, 81,
non est homo, 44nl, 83-84, 1 14 122n4
Holofemes, 61 Miriam, 1 1

Hosius, Stanislaus, 115, Confessio Monau, Jacob, 21, 22

catholicae fidei Christiana, 1 13 Montanists, llnl7
Huldah, 1 1 Mulier homo!, 34, 91


Mulier non homo!, 34 Servenis, Michael, 72, 83

M unday, Anthony, 8 Servius Sulpicius Rufus, 83
sexual differentiation in heaven, 1-5, 9, 64-
Nashe, Thomas, 9-10 65, 100-1, 103-5, 108-9
sexual intercourse, 1, 76, 91, 114
Ob die Weiber Menschen seyn, oder nicht?, Shakespeare, William, his characters’ belief
30-31, 73-112 passim in women’s souls: Antony and
Ochino, Bernardino, 65, 106 Cleopatra, 14; Hamlet. 14; Macbeth.
Origen, selfcastration of, 105 14; Othello. 14; Two Gentlemen of
Osthaus (printer), 21-25, 132 Verona. 108
Ovid, Amores. 72-73 Sisera, 61
Smith, Henry, A preparative to marriage.
parthenogenesis, 103 79-80
Paul, Saint, 1, 12, 50, 51, 52, 54, 56, 58, Sophia, a Person of Quality, Woman not
59, 60, 64, 65, 106, 111, 113 inferior to man, 17, 118nl; Woman's
Pepuzians (Peputians, or “Palpulians”), superior excellence over man. 17n31, 85
10, 12 soul, origin of, 5-6
Pepys, Samuel, 35, 36, 37 Sozzini, Fausto Paulo, and Socinianism, 26-
Peter (apostle), 105 27, 79, 83, 121-22
Pharez, 58 speech, as index of the soul, 68-69, 111
Plata, Horatio, Che le donne non siano
della spezie deg li huomini, 31-32, 33, 39 Tamar, 28, 62, 97
Plato, 65 Tarabotti, Helena (sister Arcangela), 19,
Pont-Aymeri, Alexandre de, Parodoxe 33, 72-1 14 passim
apologique. 7-9 Tantalus, 72
Postel, Guillaume, Les tres merveilleuses Targum de Salrnos. 92
victoires des femmes. 11 Teresa, Saint, 128
preexistence (of tlie soul), 5 Thomas (apostle), 68
premotion, 129 Thomas Aquinas, Saint, 2, 75, 78, 104
Priscilla, 1 1 traductionism (of the soul), 5
Trent, Council of, 113
querelle des femmes, la. 7-8 Tullia (Cicero’s daughter), 53, 83
Querlon, Amie Gabriel Meusnier de, 38-39,
74, 117-30 Valerius, Cornelius, 27, 53, 84
Victoria, Queen of England, 86
Rachel, 61, 95 Vigneul de Marville (Noel d'Argonne),
Rahab, 61, 95-96 Melanges d'histoire et de litterature. 39
Rebekah, 61, 95
resurrection from die dead, 66, 106-7 Wager, Lewis, The life and repentaunce of
Riccobono, Antonio, correspondent of Marie Magdalene. 6-\l
Valens Acidalius, 26n6 Waltz, Johannes Casparus, Foemina non est
homo. 44nl, 83-84, 114
saints, female, equally worthy of Woman: sketches of the history, genius,
veneneration, 1; whedier truly holy, 128- disposition, accomplishments,
29 employments, customs and importance of
Samson, 96 the fair sex in all parts of the world
Sarai, 89 (anon.), 18
Sarmatia, 47, 72 women, as embodiment of divine beauty, 7-

Scaliger, Julius Caesar, Exercitationes, 30; 9, 19; as machines, 16-17; praised for
De causis linguae latinae. 85 acting badly, 61-62, 95-98, 126