Women’s Quarre

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“Women’s Quarrel”

roughly 1500 - 1800

The “Women’s Quarrel”, usually known by its French name, “La Querelle des Femmes”, was a long continuous literary battle between authors who attacked women and those who defended them. It lasted for three centuries and raged in all European countries and in many languages. The written texts reflect the serious or joculatory discussions that took place in universities, literary circles, church gatherings and in the homes of the upperclasses.

Our interest in these writings lies in the fact that many of the reasonings marshalled against women, or those in their favour, were theological arguments, arguments drawn from Sacred Scripture or from the Fathers of the Church. They provide interesting insights in the religious thinking of the time, and clearly show up the existing theological as well as cultural prejudices.

We offer here a partial list, which we hope to expand in time. Some of these writings we publish in full on this website.

In the Middle Ages some women stood out by their leadership and personality:

Texts so far published on our site:



Isotta Nogarola, Über die gleiche oder ungleiche Sünde Evas und Adams [= About whether the sin of Eve and Adam are the same or not], 1451.


Galeazzo Flavio Capella, Delle eccellenza e dignità delle donne [= About the excellence and dignity of women], 1525 , recent edition: by Maria Luisa Doglio, Rome 1988.


Henricus Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, Declamatio de nobilitate et praecellentia Foeminei sexus [= Proclamation of the nobility and excellence of the female sex], Antwerp 1529. German: Vom Adel vnd Fürtreffen Weibliches geschlechts, 1540.


Gratien Dupont, Les controverses des Sexes masculin et femenin [= The controversies concerning the masculine and feminine sexes], Tholose 1534.


Lodovico Demenichi, La nobilta delle donne [= The nobility of Women], Venetia 1549.


François de Billon, Le fort inexpugnable de l'honneur de sexe femenin [= The indisputable proof of the honour of the female sex], Paris 1555.


Jean de Marconville, De la bonté et mauvaiseté des femmes [= About women’s goodness and malice], Paris 1564. P


Thomas Nashe. An Almon for a parrot. London 1590. N


Alexandre de Pont-Agneri. Paradoxe apologique, ou il est fidellement démonstré que la femme est beaucoup plus parfait que l'homme en toute action de vertu. Paris 1594. Transl. Anthony Manday, A woman's worth, defended against all the men in the world. Proving them to be more perfect, excellent and absolute in all virtuous actions, then any man of what quality so ever, London 1599.


Acidalius Valens.Disputatio Nova contra mulieres qua probatur eas homines non esse [=A New Debate against women in which it is proved that they are not human beings], Leipzig 1595. Original in Oxford Bodleyan Library. Rawlinson D421. Editions in many languages. English 1 Jan 1677 by Paul Lorrain. Then: Charles Carrington, A Paradox on women, wherein it is sought to prove that they do not belong to the human species, Paris 1898.


Lucrezia Marinella, Le Nobiltà et eccellenze delle donne, e I diffetii e mancamenti de gli huomini [= The nobility and excellence of women, and the defects and shortcomings of men], Venetia 1600.


Anonymous, Gründ= und probierliche Beschreibung …Belangend die Frag, Ob die Weiber Menschen seyn, oder nicht?, 1618,1660, etc. See the translation here: A Thorough and researched description .... on Whether Women are Human Beings or Not?!


Moderata Fonte: Il Merito delle Donne [= The Merits of Women], 1600.


Marie de Jars de Gournay, Egalité des Hommes et des Femmes [= The Equality of Men and Women], 1622; Grief des Dames [= Women’s Complaint], 1626.


Gottfried Cundisius & Johannes Bergmannus, Disputato Philosophica de Mulieribus [= ‘Phisolophical debate about Women’], Wittenberg 1629.


Johann Frawenlob: Die Lobwürdige Gesellschafft Der Gelehrten Weiber [= The praiseworthy companionship of educated Women], 1631/1633.


Johan van Beuerwyck (Beverovicius), De excellentia Foeminei sexus [= About the Excellence of the Female Sex], Dordrecht 1636. Dutch: Van de Wtnementheyt Des Vrovwelicken Geslachts, 1639, 1643.


William Austin, Haec homo, wherein the excellency of the creation of women is described, London 1637.


Anna Maria van Schurman, Dissertatio de ingenii muliebris ad doctrinam, & meliores litteras aptitudine [Treatise of woman’s competence in knowledge, & aptitude for higher literature], Lugduni Batavorum 1641.


Arcangela Tarabotti, Che le donne siano della Spetie degli huomini [= That women belong to the human species], Venezia 1651.


Lucretia Marinella (1571-1653), Die Schönheit der Frau. Abglanz des Göttlichen. Drei ihrer philosophisch-theologischen und frauenbezogenen Schriften. [= Woman’s Beauty, Reflection of Divinity. Three of her philosophical/theological writings related to women].


Joh. Henricus Hottinger, Historiae Ecclesiasticae Novi Testamenti Seculum XVI .Serenissimae celsissimaeque Principi Elisabethae Palatinae [= The Sixteenth Century in the Ecclesiastical History of the New Testament. To the most serene and highest Queen Elisabeth], 1655.


Wilhelm Ignatius Schütz, Ehren=Preiß Deß Hochlöblichen Frauen=Zimmers [= Reward for highly praiseworthy Woman], 1663.


Johannes Gorgias (Poloandin), Gestürtzter Ehren=Preiß des hochlöblichen Frauen=Zimmers [= Fallen Reward of highly praiseworthy Woman], 1666.


Gijsbert Voet, ‘De Mulieribus’ [= About Women], in Politica Ecclesiastica, vol. II, tract. 4, Utrecht 1669.


Jacobus Thomasius, Johannes Sauerbrei & Jacobus Smalcius, De foeminarum eruditione [= About women’s education], 1671/1676.


Franciscus Henricus Hoeltich and Johannes Caspains Waltz, Foemina non est homo [= A Woman is no Human Being], Wittenberg 1672.


Sigmund von Birken, Pegnesis: oder der Pegnitz Blumgenoß-Schäfere FeldGedichte, 1673.


Francois Poullain de la Barre, De l'égalité des deux sexes; discours physique et moral, où l'on voit l'importance de se défaire du préjugez [= The Equality of the two Sexes. A physical and moral discussion in which one discovers the importance of ridding onself of prejudice], Paris 1673.

Nicolaus Lünker & Johannes Georg Manckel, Dissertatio de Praecellentia Marium juridica pro Faeminis [= Treatise on the juridical precedence of Husbands over their Wives], Gießen 1673.


Drechsler/Mylius, De praejudiciis [= About Prejudices], 1675.


Georg Schultze De blanda mulierum Rhetorica [= About Women’s Charming Rhetoric], 1678.


A Person of quality, Female excellence, or, woman displayed, in several satyrick poems. London 1679. P


Nicolaus Einert & Jo. Georg. Pritz, Disputatio de Imperio Uxoris in Familia [= Debate about the Dominion of the Wife over the Family], Leipzig 1684.


Johannes Pasch & Joh.Andreas Planer, Gynaeceum Doctum sive Dissertatio historico-literaria Vom Gelehrten Frauenzimmer [= Educated Womanhood, or a historical/literary treatise on Educated Women], 1686/1701.


Magnus Daniel Omeis & Christoph Christian Haendel, Dissertatio de eruditis Germaniae mulieribus [= Treatise on Erudite Women in Germany], 1688.


Lange/Schneider, De praejudiciis seu praeconceptis opinionibus [= About Prejudices, that is: preconceived opinions], 1689.


Johannes Esberg & Petrus Hedengrahn, Exercitium academicum Mulieres philosophantes leviter adumbrans [= An Academic Exercise that lightly touches Women who philosophise], 1699/1700/1701


Christian Franz Paullini, Zeit=kürtzende Erbauliche Lust [= Time-shortening, edifying Fun], 1695; Philosophischer Feyerabend [= Philosophical Leisure Time], 1700; Das Hoch=und Wohl=gelehrte Teutsche Frauen=Zimmer [= The highly Educated German Woman], 1705 (1712).


Gustav Georg Zeltner & Johann Conrad Zeltner, Deborae inter prophetissas eruditio tanquam eruditarum foeminarum ex Hebraea gente specimen [= Deborah, the most erudite prophetess, as a model for educated women of Jewish stock], 1708/1717.


Georg Christian Lehms, Teutschlands Galante Poetinnen [= Germany’s Charming Women Poets], 1715; Anhang Ausländischer Dames [= Appendix on Foreign Women], 1714.


Anonym [Zacharias Porzig], Lob=Rede Des Frauenzimmers in gebundener Rede, Nebst beygefügten Historischen Remarqven von einigen angeführten gekehrten und heroischen Frauens-Persohnen [= Praise of Woman in summary form, with added historical remarks about some heroic women who were deceived and abandoned], 1716.


Christoph August Heumann, Acta philosopharum, das ist, Nachricht von der Philosophie des Frauenzimmers [= The Acts of Women Philosphers, i.e. a report of the Philosophy of Women], 1721.


Sophia, Woman not inferior to man: or, a short and modest vindication of the natural right of the fairer sex to a perfect equality of power, dignity and esteem, with men, London 1739.


A Gentleman, Man Superior to woman, or the natural right of the man to sovereign authority over the woman, asserted and defended, London 1739, 1744.


Dorothea Christiane Leporin, Gründliche Untersuchung der Ursachen, die das weibliche Geschlecht vom Studiren abhalten [= A Thorough Study of the Causes that keep the Female Sex from being Educated], 1742.

Elfriede Walesca Tielsch, Femina sapiens. Kampf und erfolg der Frau als Philosophin, Naturwissenschaftlerin oder Ärztin, in Orient und Antike, Mittelalter, Renaissance und Neuzeit [= The Wise Woman. The Struggle and Success of Woman as Philosopher, Biologist, Physician, in the Ancient East, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Modern Times], 1742.


Heinrich Nudow, Apologie des schönen Geschlechts oder Beweis, daß die Frauenzimmer Menschen sind [= Defence of the beautiful Sex, or the Proof that Women are Human Beings], 1791.

Test everything and keep what is good! 1 Thes 5,21

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