By the mid sixteenth century the fervent belief of such humanists as Juan Louis Vives and Sir Thomas More that women should be educated had, as More predicted in his letter to William Gonell (1518), "born fruit." Women's reason had been "cultivated, and (as a fielde) sowed with wholesome precepts. "Not only the concerns of the humanists but also the Protestant Reformation with its drive for universal literacy led to an increase in the number of educated women. Diane Willen points out that although the reformation caused the closing of the nunnery schools and emphasized the role of women within the home, nonetheless, it "instilled religious passion and enthusiasm for religious writings in women no less than men. In lower classes, this enthusiasm might encourage literacy; in upper classes, it sometimes led to active scholarship and works of translation.”



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