Date of Award

Spring 4-27-2023

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History and American Studies

Department Chair or Program Director

Claudine Ferrell

First Advisor

Allyson Poska

Major or Concentration



This paper will examine the rhetoric and theology of four women reformers during the beginning of the Protestant Reformation to understand their conceptions of women’s authority during the Reformation. These four women, Marie Dentière (1495 - 1561), Marguerite de Navarre (1492 - 1549), Katarina Schütz Zell (1497/8 - 1562), and Argula von Grumbach (1492 - 1554), wrote numerous different religious tracts to disseminate their ideas. However, they still had to overcome cultural and religious barriers that prevented them from being allowed to speak on religious matters. To circumvent religious barriers, these women relied on many common rhetorical tactics to justify their decision to speak out on spiritual affairs. They adopted and proclaimed the traditional doctrines of the Reformation such as sola scriptura and the fellowship of all believers. However, they then took these beliefs to far more inclusive ends than their male contemporaries did. They wanted to expand the authority of women by allowing them to preach and by attempting to eliminate the moral and educational barriers which would otherwise be used to deny women the ability to communicate on spiritual matters.