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Journal Article

"Not by Nature but by Custom": Johan van Beverwijck's Van de wtnementheyt des vrouwelicken Geslachts

Cornelia Niekus Moore
The Sixteenth Century Journal
Vol. 25, No. 3 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 633-651
DOI: 10.2307/2542639
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2542639
Page Count: 19

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Topics: Women, Treatises, Poetry, Men, Physicians, Authors, Womens rights, Learning, Womens history, Literature
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"Not by Nature but by Custom": Johan van Beverwijck's Van de wtnementheyt des vrouwelicken Geslachts
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Abstract

In 1639 and 1643, Johan van Beverwijck (Beverovicius, 1594-1647), an established physician in the Dutch town of Dordrecht and already the author of popular medical works, published Van de wtnementheyt des vrouwelicken Geslachts (Of the Excellence of the Female Gender). In it he argues for the superiority of women, and describes a total of seven hundred women from the Bible and history who have shown this superiority by a canon of virtues which is markedly different from the traditional canon of his time. His work is unique in the querelle des femmes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries because of its blend of medical argument and historical examples, its use of modern historical and traditional classical sources, its inclusion of contemporary women, especially Dutch ones, and its absence of any intimation of women's inferiority. This article describes these features, discusses them against the background of the Dutch higher bourgeoisie, and compares them with other authors in the Dutch Republic and Europe of that time.

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