Foreigners visiting Holland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were surprised by Dutch women. They were not only beautiful, but also hard workers; they could do sums and keep house, and last but not least they were very domineering. Many historians, including Simon Schama, based their descriptions of the life of women in the Dutch Golden Age primarily on these foreign commentaries. Was the relationship between men and women in the Dutch Republic truly different from elsewhere? Did the women of the Republic have more opportunities to develop their talents than their sisters in other countries? Was the Golden Age a period of development and growth for the women as well? These questions were focussed upon during the VSB Masterclass held in Haarlem in the summer of 1993. The lectures and responses of this interdisciplinary congress on the position of women in seventeenth-century Holland have been compiled in Women of the Golden Age.
Contents: Els Kloek, Introduction; I: Images of seventeenth-century women: A.Agnes Sneller, Reading Jacob Cats; A.Th. van Deursen, Jacob Cats and the married woman. A response ro Agnes Sneller; Lia van Gemert, The power of the weaker vessels: Simon Schama and Johan van Beverwijck on women; Marijke Spies, Not every contradiction is a contradiction. A response to Lia van Gemert; Giesela van Oostveen, It takes all sorts to make a world. Sex and gender in Bredero's Farce of the Miller; Maria-Theresia Leuker, Women's sphere and honour: the retorical realism of Bredero's farces. A response to Giesela van Oostveen II: A social and cultural approach of women's lives: Lotte C. van de Pol, The lure of the big city. Female migration to Amsterdam; Jan Lucassen, Female migrations to Amsterdam. A response to Lotte van de Pol; Marybeth Carlson, A Trojan horse of wordliness? Maidservants in the burgher household in Rotterdam at the end of the seventeenth century; Rudolf Dekker, Maid servants in the Dutch Republic: sources and comparative perspectives. A response to Marybeth Carlson; Heidi de Mare, A rule worth following in architecture? The significance of gender classification in Simon Stevin's architectural treatise (1548-1620); Brita Rang, Space and position in space (and time) - Simon Stevin's concept of housing. A response to Heidi de Mare; Anne Laurence, How free were English women in the seventeenth century? Mary Prior, Freedom and autonomy in England and the Netherlands: women's lives and experience in the seventeenth century. A response to Anne Laurence III: Transgressing gender codes: Mirjam de Baar, Transgressing gender codes. Anna Maria van Schuurman and Antoinette Bourignon as contrasting examples; Helen Wilcox, 'A Monstrous Shape': emblems of seventeenth-century womanhood. A response to Mirjam de Baar; Silvia Evangelisti, Angelica Baitelli: a woman writing in a convent in seventeenth-century Italy; Olwen Hufton, The niche of creative women. A response to Silvia Evangelisti; Caroline Murphy, Lavinia Fontana: the making of a woman artist; Cynthia Kortenhorst, The first truly professional female artist? A response to Caroline Murphy