Added: January 2, 2016 – Last updated: January 2, 2016


Author: Peter C. Herman

Title: Lady Hester Pulter's The Unfortunate Florinda

Subtitle: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Rape

Journal: Renaissance Quarterly

Volume: 63

Issue: 4

Year: Winter 2010

Pages: 1208-1246

ISSN: 0034-4338 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1935-0236 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 17th Century | European History: English History | Representations: Literature / Hester Pulter



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Author: Peter C. Herman, Department of English and Comparative Literature, San Diego Sate

Abstract: »In the mid-1990s a manuscript was discovered containing the poetry and prose of a previously unknown female author, Lady Hester Pulter. The poems, likely written during the 1640s-'50s, demonstrate Pulter's wide reading and her near-fanatical Royalism. The prose romance, The Unfortunate Florinda, however, displays a very different politics. Basing her fiction on the legends surrounding the Muslim conquest of Spain, I argue that Pulter adjusts her sources to present an alternative, Augustinian view of rape, one that blames the rapist, not the victim. The monarchs in Pulter's fiction use absolutist rhetoric to justify rape, and, contra her earlier poetic denunciations of Charles I's execution, rape now justifies regicide. I suggest that the sexual corruption of Charles II's court prompted Pulter to create a romance with distinctly republican overtones in which chastity is the highest value, sexual corruption the lowest vice, and rulers who commit such crimes forfeit both their right to rule and their right to live.« (Source: Renaissance Quarterly)


  1. Introduction (p. 1208)
  2. Sources (p. 1215)
  3. Religion, Race, and Gender (p. 1217)
  4. The Politics of Rape (p. 1226)
  5. Conclusion (p. 1240)
  Appendix: Hester Pulter and the Lucretia and Targuin Legend (p. 1242)
  Bibliography (p. 1243)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of England | Literature: English literature | 17th-century English writers: Lady Hester Pulter