Women have made crucial contributions to the life of the Church from New Testament times onwards, but the Reformation saw an explosion in their involvement. Having benefited alongside their brothers from the Renaissance's emphasis on learning, and with the increasing casting aside of the belief that they were intellectually inferior, women learned to read in ever increasing numbers - and most of them wanted to read the Bible. As a result, many started to interpret Scripture for themselves - which put them on a collision course with the Church.
Each chapter centres on particular women, and the role they played. Katharina Luther, Anne Askew, Elizabeth 1 - these were the characters in this rich and rewarding story who brought about change.
Derek Wilson looks at some of the key areas of women's involvement in the Reformation, considering their family roles, the influence of women who held power, and those who were able study in more depth; and the roles of women who were prophets, mystics, polemicists , philanthropists and martyrs.
To illustrate these issues, Derek Wilson considers some of the leading women of the age, including Luther's wife, Catherine von Bora; Catherine Brandon, anne Askew, Catherine Parr, the last wife of Henry Vlll; and of course Margaret of Angouleme and Elizabeth 1 of England.