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