Student Research Projects

From the Social to the Political: Noblewomen’s Roles in the Henrician Court through the Life of Lady Rochford

Student Julie Spivey
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department History
Course HIST 460: Senior Thesis Seminar


This paper examines noblewomen’s roles in sixteenth-century England. In particular, it investigates how women affected court politics under Henry VIII. This paper explores gender roles, specifically motherhood and marriage. It argues that men restricted women to normative feminine roles, such as marriage and childbearing, and they excluded them from the political and financial spheres. However, women found ways to navigate court life to improve their families’ status. By socializing at court, mothers formed political alliances to promote their daughters and secure marriages to powerful men. Focusing on the life of Lady Rochford, this paper demonstrates how she both conformed to and manipulated feminine norms to become a political actor in her own right.


Undergraduate Research Conference Grant, 2014


State of Virginia's annual Phi Alpha Theta Conference, March 2014