It has become customary for books on early modern Britain to begin with eloquent pleas for the study of Britain. Citing the agenda set by Pocock and others, Britain is presented as a more valid geographic and cultural unit of historical investigation, and the writing of British history as an imperative strategy to counter the Anglocentric focus of much historiography of the period.1 This book will not begin by making any such plea. In terms of the history of women, Britain is not a natural unit, but neither are the geographical boundaries of England, nor for that matter of Scotland or Wales.
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