Women and Power

Ref: C2419836

The period of European history from the sixteenth to the mid-eighteenth centuries saw a remarkable number of women achieve power, both political and cultural. However, they had to exercise power within a profoundly misogynistic culture and were often regarded as failures. Even successful women could find it difficult to assert their authority. This course is therefore not a straightforward account of powerful women but a study in the ambiguous nature of female power in the male-dominated society of early-modern Europe.

Course aim

to show the often ambiguous relationship of elite women and political power in Europe in the early modern period (from c. 1500 to c. 1750)

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is for those interested in the history of Europe and in the history of how women exercised power in early-modern Europe.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • understand the general political background of early-modern Europe
  • assess the importance of the individual women who will be studied
  • recognise the varied strategies which these women used to achieve power and to retain it
  • be aware of the cultural context of the period and the difficulties this presented for women seeking to exercise power

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

Download full course information sheet

Women and Power


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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