Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance

Italy, France, and England

by Diana Robin, Anne R. Larsen, and Carole Levin, Editors


The extraordinary number of letters written by Renaissance women (over 10,000 exist from England alone) reveals the often subtle ways women of the period influenced their world. But a surprising number of women required no subtlety at all for their presence to be felt, taking their place beside men at court and making invaluable contributions to science, medicine, philosophy, art, music, and more.

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Cover image for Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance

March 2007


Pages 459
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics World History/Gender
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This work is a revealing combination of biographies and topical essays that describe the outstanding and often-overlooked contributions of women to the science, politics, and culture of the Renaissance.

Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England is the first first comprehensive reference devoted exclusively to the contributions of women to European culture in the period between 1350 and 1700. Focusing principally on early modern women in England, France, and Italy, it offers over 135 biographies of the extraordinary women of those times.

Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance provides vivid portraits of well known women such as Catherine of Siena, Joan of Arc, Mary Queen of Scots, and Christine de Pizan. Also included are less familiar but equally important women like Elena Lucrezia Cornaro, the first woman in Europe to earn a doctorate; the renowned Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi; and the acclaimed author of medical textbooks and midwife to a French queen, Louise Boursier. Based on the latest research and enhanced with thematic essays, this groundbreaking work casts our understanding of women's lives and roles in Renaissance history and culture in a provocative new light.


  • Over 135 biographical entries covering the extraordinary women who made significant contributions to the art, science, culture, religion, and philosophy of the Renaissance
  • Over 100 expert contributors, drawn from a range of scholarly disciplines
  • An extensive bibliography pointing readers to the best sources for further reading in print and on the Web
  • An extensive index that makes it easy to follow thematic threads across the portrayals of different women


  • The first reference work devoted exclusively to women in the Renaissance
  • Wide coverage that includes both biographies and topical entries on such themes as literature, the arts, medicine, education, warfare, religion, science, and all aspects of daily life
  • Focusing on Italy, France, and England, the book covers a period of about 350 years
  • Of great value to those interested in women's history and literature
Author Info

Diana Robin is professor emerita of classics at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM. She is currently a scholar in residence at the Newberry Library. Her published works include Publishing Women: Salons, the Presses, and the Counter-Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Italy and an edition of the complete works of Laura Cereta, Collected Letters of a Renaissance Feminist.

Anne R. Larsen is professor of French at Hope College, Holland, MI. Her publications include a three-volume edition of the collected works of Madeleine and Catherine des Roches: Les Missives; Les Oeuvres; Les Secondes Oeuvres; and Renaissance Women Writers: French Texts, American Contexts.

Carole Levin is Willa Cather professor of history at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE. Her published works include The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power and The Reign of Elizabeth I.



"One of those rare reference books that is not only a good source of information but a fascinating read, this is an excellent addition for most academic and large public libraries."Booklist

"This book will give its users much needed perspective and new information about a topic that has been often largely ignored by historians, and it is a good starting point for any researcher who needs material on women and the Renaissance."Library Media Connection

"An excellent addition."School Library Journal

"Recommended. Lower-/upper=level undergraduates."Choice

"This book is essential for all libraries."ARBA


Best Collaborative Project Published in 2007 — Society for the Study of Early Modern Women
for the Study of Early Mod

Roland Bainton Prize for Reference Works for 2008 — Sixteenth Century Society and Conference

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