‘A poor wench in man’s clothes’: English civil war cross-dressers unveiled

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Historian finds records of women posing as men in battle between royalists and parliamentarians

In the summer of 1642, on the eve of the English civil war, the plight of a soldier in the army of Charles I was described in a pamphlet. The soldier was exposed as a woman called Nan Ball, “a poor loving wench … taken in man’s cloathes, waiting upon her beloved Lieutenant”.

The lieutenant was sacked and the woman threatened with a public flogging, but she was reprieved, reputedly after a remarkable plea for clemency from the king’s nine-year-old son, James.

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view The Guardian: World News
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