Year: 2012 ISBN: 978-90-429-2554-0 Pages: XXIV-201 p. Price: 48 EURO
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Within women’s history the symbolic importance of the vote to generations of feminists has meant the relative absence of historical investigation into the nature of power of women within political elites. However, from ancient times onwards, women have found themselves at the political apex, often as a consequence of their position within a kinship system. Recent interest in gender relations in and around parliament and party has shifted the focus back to women who belonged to the upper class. This volume seeks to address a number of revisions in the ongoing debate on the history of women’s political power by highlighting the changing power resources available to women in the context of institutional change.
Using a biographical approach the authors demonstrate how female politi-cal power since the early-modern era changed and was in certain respects diminished as consequence of the modern transition from monarchy to de-mocracy. In the final chapters, however, they document how women fought back and succeeded in gaining – if not yet equality – at least a firm foothold in politics. For historians and philosophers alike the question of whether the democratisation of European politics held an unequivocal advantage for women is as urgent as ever.