Abstract

In post-Reformation England, women who suffered from fertility problems could no longer apply to saints to intercede on their behalf. Instead, the new Protestant theology stressed the idea of divine providence and encouraged infertile women to pray to God directly while also accepting His will should He choose not to grant them a child. These views were promoted by authors of prescriptive literature for women, but also in sermons intended for a general audience that utilized stories of biblical infertility in order to teach lessons on faith and prayer. This article examines religious responses toward infertility in the period following the Reformation, and argues that the Protestant religion offered infertile women an avenue for comfort and aid in their difficulties when they could no longer appeal to saintly intercession.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 86-108
Launched on MUSE
2015-09-17
Open Access
No
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