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The Center for the Study of Women and Society and the Society for the Study of Women in the Renaissance present “Maintaining the Honour and Influence of the Family: The Letters of the First Duchess of Ormonde as Vicereine of Ireland” by Naomi McAreavey.
In this talk, Naomi McAreavey discusses the letters of the First Duchess of Ormonde as Vicereine of Ireland, Elizabeth Butler. Elizabeth Butler, née Preston (1615–84) was the wife of the twelfth Earl and first Duke of Ormonde, who, as Ireland’s only duke and three times its viceroy, was a figure of considerable importance in the three kingdoms. His wife – who was herself descended from the Ormonde Butler family and brought more than half of the estate to the marriage – wielded significant power and influence in her own right, as McAreavey hopes to demonstrate in this talk by focusing on the Duchess’s activities as outgoing vicereine. Letters written in the midst of the crisis that saw the end of the couple’s second viceregal period (1661–69) reveal that the Duchess assumed responsibility for supporting her husband’s political position by guarding and maintaining the honour, influence and resilience of the family. Overall McAreavey will propose that the Duchess believed that the viceregal sword naturally belonged to her husband, and that she saw her own role as tied to the government of the family and of Ireland.
Naomi McAreavey is Associate Professor of Renaissance Literature in University College Dublin. Her research focuses on women’s writing and the writing of conflict in seventeenth-century Ireland. She co-edited, with Julie Eckerle, Women’s Life Writing and Early Modern Ireland (University of Nebraska Press, 2019), and her articles have been published in journals such as Early Modern Women, ELR, and Irish Historical Studies. Her edition of The Letters of the First Duchess of Ormonde is forthcoming with Renaissance English Text Society/Iter Press (2021) and she is currently working on a book on the eyewitness testimonies of the Irish rebellion known collectively as the 1641 Depositions.
Co-sponsored with the Society for the Study of Women in the Renaissance (SSWR) and the CUNY Academy for Humanities and Sciences.
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