Early Modern Women’s Writing and the Rhetoric of Modesty by Patricia Pender (auth.)

By Patricia Pender (auth.)

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Sola Scriptura: The Examinations of Anne Askew 39 I Askew reading The Examinations provide two kinds of evidence of Askew’s reading: the textual evidence of her own testimony and the material evidence of her actions. In a striking maneuver, Bale credits Askew’s reading practice with both her rejection of the Catholic faith and, more controversially, the husband who embraced it. He writes: In processe of tyme by oft readynge of the sacred Bible, she fell clerelye from all the olde superstycyons of papystrye, to a perfyght beleve in Jhesus Christ.

Classical theory is explicit about the rewards to be gained from a measured display of modesty. ’21 Quintilian tells us that ‘as a rule the judge dislikes self-confidence in a pleader, and conscious of his rights, tacitly demands the respectful deference of the Orator’ (IV. 55). Quintilian makes it clear that the modesty topos takes its power from the inverse relationship between perceived and actual authority. 8). 9). In this context, Quintilian suggests that, ‘sex, age and situation are also important considerations, as for instance when women, old men or wards are pleading in the character of wives, parents or children.

21 The range of Askew’s biblical reading, her astonishing recall, and her facility for quotation make her a powerful opponent.

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