As its compiler Thomas Bentley writes, The Monument of Matrones (1582) is a 'domesticall librarie plentifullie stored and replenished'.
This 1500-page book is one of a long line of books of secular prayer reaching from the Middle Ages through the sixteenth-century English compilations of prayer and meditations that grew out of the English Reformation.
It is unique because it is addressed specifically to women and contains prayers and meditations written by women as well as for them.
The Monument helped define women's roles in the Anglican Church and is intertwined with the whole nature of the Protestant Reformation and the place of women in it. The work is divided into seven numbered parts which Bentley titles 'Lamps'.
This structural theme is based on a fusion of the imagery of the wise and foolish virgins and their lamps in Matthew 25:1-13 with the vision of the seven lampstands (or seven-branched candlestick) in Rev.1:20-2:1.
In this facsimile edition Volume 1 contains Lamps 1-3, Volume 2 contains Lamp 4, and Volume 3 contains Lamps 5-7. The Introductory Note that appears in each of the three volumes provides an overview of the contents of The Monument which will help the reader to appreciate the riches of this immense book.
It is also significant in identifying, for the first time, the compiler Thomas Bentley as the churchwarden of St Andrew Holborn, City of London. The copy reproduced in this edition is the British Library copy; where necessary, pages from The Huntington Library copy have been substituted.