Home
Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Folger Exhibitions
• Past Exhibitions
Shakespeare's Sisters
Online Exhibition

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

Case 2 - English Translations of French Religious Works



Many aristocratic Englishwomen could read French, and were especially attracted to religious writings. Religion was a central part of daily life at a time when the Protestant church was relatively new in England and France, competing with the older Catholic tradition. Writing prayers and translating religious texts was an acceptable way for women to make their private voices heard publicly. Elizabeth I studied French, and, at the age of eleven, translated A Godly Meditation of the Christian Soul from the French of Marguerite de Navarre. Mary Sidney, countess of Pembroke, rendered Philippe de Mornay’s Discourse of Life and Death into English in 1592, and shortly thereafter, Baroness Elizabeth Richardson made her own abridgement and revision of Sidney’s translation in her commonplace book. The 1630 translation by Elizabeth Cary, viscountess Falkland of Jacques du Perron’s Reply . . . to the Answer of the most Excellent King of Great Britain provided an important voice for English Catholics in their ongoing debate with Protestants.




Marguerite de Navarre. A godly medytacyon of the christen sowle. Wesel, April 1548
 

Elizabeth Richardson (aka Elizabeth Ashburnham). Instructions for my children. Manuscript, 1606-ca. 1750
 

Elizabeth Richardson (aka Elizabeth Ashburnham). Instructions for my children. Manuscript, 1606-ca. 1750 (Detail)
 


 

At the age of eleven, Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth I, translated Marguerite de Navarre's A Godly Meditation of the Christian Soul for her stepmother, Queen Katherine Parr, as a 1545 New Year’s gift. Protestant reformer John Bale edited the work and had it published three years later in Germany, when Elizabeth was just fifteen. In the original manuscript, Elizabeth points out how the book feminizes the relationship between the individual soul and God, describing how “she [the soul] doth perceive how of herself . . . she can do nothing . . . unless it be through the grace of God, whose mother, daughter, sister, and wife by the Scriptures she proveth herself to be.”

 

Mary Sidney translated Philippe de Mornay's Discourse of Life and Death in 1592. Mornay was a leader of the French Huguenots and a close friend of the Sidney family, who were strong supporters of the Protestant cause. In the early seventeenth century, Elizabeth Ashburnham Richardson summarized Mary Sidney’s translation of Mornay and meditated on several points. She reduced the original thirty-one printed pages to four, with her own introduction and conclusion. Shown here are her manuscript and her signature.

 



Bookmark and Share   
 
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
RSS   
 
  Address:
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
    Hours:
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
    Phone:
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623