The wealth of recent scholarship on early modern English news culture has paid scant attention to women as consumers and producers of news. This article argues that women not only read about the tumultuous events of the Civil War and Interregnum, but that they participated in the collection, transmission, and interpretation of news. Abbess Mary Knatchbull of the Benedictine abbey in Ghent not only operated as the royalists’ postmistress in the 1650s, she also accessed reports from England about unfolding political events, which she passed on to the prince’s ministers. Much of this information was transmitted in correspondence, but the abbess also forwarded printed newsbooks and compiled manuscript newsletters for the royalists. This essay reveals how cloistered nuns engaged directly with the public sphere through their access to news, and how their receipt and transmission of intelligence cemented their position as valuable royalist agents in the 1650s.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.