Gendering the Italian Wars, 1494-1559

Examining the role of gender in Europe’s 16th century conflict

The Italian Wars, also known as the Habsburg-Valois Wars, were the most significant and defining conflict in Europe during the late medieval to early modern period.

This project constitutes a critical re-evaluation of the Italian Wars as a European cultural movement, integrating the insight of feminism and gender studies with the theories and sources that have underpinned them. It is running thanks to funding from an ARC Discovery Grant.

In Gendering the Italian Wars, we ask new questions about:

  • the roles of women and men in this conflict’s many campaigns and battlefronts
  • the nature of power exerted within it
  • the material culture produced
  • the transformations wrought that demand integration of new sources in an exciting groundbreaking analysis

Project goals

  • Investigate the roles elite women played in government and diplomacy during the Italian Wars, as well as the significance of interdynastic family networks in determining or undermining political and military alliances.
  • Examine the dynamic nature of gendered identities within the European social elite as the Wars exerted pressure on conventional allocations of work and introduced new hierarchies of power.
  • Analyse the gendered performance of power during the conflicts through material culture ceremony and display.

Work with us

This project spans researchers from within UWA and across Australia.


  • Dr Sarah Bendall

Monash University

  • A/Prof Carolyn James and Jessica O’Leary

University of Adelaide

  • Dr Lisa Mansfield

If you’d like to get involved, contact UWA project lead Professor Susan Broomhall using the details below.

Contact Professor Susan Broomhall