Vida Goldstein

I recently saw the movie Suffragette and while I did enjoy it and applaud the important story it is telling I couldn’t help but think that I wanted to write about some of the non violent members of the women’s suffrage movement. This idea crystallised when I talked to a few people and realised that even the leaders in Australia’s women’s suffrage movement remain largely unknown. As I began to look I found that Suffragette had prompted many others to write about the people involved with the women’s suffrage movement, which is one of the best outcomes the movie could possibly have had. An example is the Guardian article below about the fascinating Adela Pankhurst. She was one of the daughters of the celebrated Emmeline Pankhurst, who is played by Meryl Streep in the movie.

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/dec/24/wayward-suffragette-adela-pankhurst-and-her-remarkable-australian-life

I decided that I wanted to write about someone I knew a little about already and as I’d done some work on Vida Goldstein at high school, and too many people still haven’t heard of her, I thought she’d be a good place to start. I was intending to write a short biography of her role in the women’s suffrage movement but as I began to have a careful look I determined that this has been well and truly done. While I don’t belive that all writing has to be treading new ground I truly didn’t see the point in rehashing the Australian Dictionary of Biography article, which covers all the salient points.

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/goldstein-vida-jane-6418

It is absolutely worth reading though.

So I headed into the State Library of Victoria, not that I ever really need an excuse, and did some work using their manuscripts collection. With the information I found here I decided that I am going to focus on Vida’s first attempt at entering parliament in 1903.

First though, a very brief background on Vida and a look at the progression of women’s suffrage in Australia.

vida

Vida Goldstein

http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-136682563/view

Vida Goldstein was born in 1869 in Portland in Victoria and she was one of the leaders of Australia’s women’s suffrage movement. She died in Melbourne in South Yarra in 1949 and a lot more should be known about her by the general population. In other words read the ADB article.

703017194

A young Vida Goldstein

http://goo.gl/5xcNik

Vida was also very much a part of the international suffrage movement as can be seen by the notes below from Susan B Anthony, who most people will have heard of. Susan B Anthony gave Vida the three volumes of her book called A History of Women’s Suffrage

In each volume she wrote an inscription to Vida and they are all dated to the 4th of July 1902.

To Miss Vida Goldstein

Melbourne Australia

From her disenfranchised friend, the city of Rochester, County of Monroe, State of New York, Country of the United States of America- the land of the free who has worked to the best of her ability, for fifty years and more to the get the right for women to vote- and will continue to battle for it to the end of her life-

affectionately.

Susan B Anthony

 

To Vida Goldstein

Melbourne Australia

Rejoicing that you have gained the national franchise- and hoping your other states will soon grant the local suffrage- while we of the United States of America struggle on-no one can tell how long to the the right to vote.

Sincerely yours

Susan B Anthony

 

Miss Vida Goldstein

(to be given to the public library- when she is done with it)

With the congratulations that the new world of Australia has given to her women all the rights of citizenship- equally with her men- and with love and esteem of her friend

Susan B Anthony.[1]

Vida also travelled to speak at suffrage events and meet other members of the suffrage movement, especially those who were still fighting for women’s suffrage. The photo below shows her with other women’s suffrage supporters at the Great Suffragette Demonstration in London in 1911. Vida is on the far right

vida london

Great Suffragette Demonstration

http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-136683161/view?searchTerm=vida+goldstein#search/vida%20goldstein

Australia was one of the first countries to give the vote to women. It is complicated though by the fact that each state allowed women the vote at a different time and that it occurred federally as well, independent of the individual states. The result of a separate Federal right to vote, which was granted in 1902,  was that there were women from several states who could vote in federal elections but not in their state elections.

Below you can see when the vote was granted state by state

1894 South Australia

1899 Western Australia

1902 Federal

1902 New South Wales

1903 Tasmania

1905 Queensland

1908 Victoria[2]

Vida also described the mood in Australia which made it possible for the vote for women to become a reality far earlier than in countries like the UK.

The Broad Mindedness of Australian Men

One feature of the Suffrage Campaign in Australia makes it radically different from that in any other country- the readiness of our men to admit that our cause was a just one, and entitled to immediate recognition. We never had any difficulty in winning over the men of Australia to our side. Our real battle ground was the Upper House in each colony. The Lower Houses were elected practically on as basis of One Man One Vote and in the Lower Houses it was easy to get a suffrage bill through, but the Upper Houses, which represented only the propertied classes, who in Australia are always against reform, stood solid against us, and it was only when we got a strong Premier in each state that we could get a Suffrage Bill through the Upper Houses.[3]

Vida also described the hard work that went on to not only try to achieve the vote, but also to get male MPs to take notice of specific issues.

Through not having women in Parliament energy and valuable time have to be spent on the often Herculean task of educating members up to the point of seeing the injustice in certain measures affecting women, e.g the Federal Public Services Act. It bristled with discrepancies in pay for men and women doing exactly the same work. To get the principles of equal pay embodied in the bill some of us had to spend days at the House lobbying members, always hateful work- showing them the many injustices in the bill from the women’s point of view, and trying to get them to see them as we saw them. We had to tramp round getting petitions signed and write to the press. Had there been women in the House there would have been no need for such tactics because the injustices were so obvious they only had to be pointed out and most members promised to get them removed. Another example was the Naturalisation Bill which completely merged the individuality of a married woman with that of her husband. [4]

Even before she ran for parliament Vida herself had become vehemently against the two party system because she considered that parties sacrificed  principle to expediency and put their own interests before all else. She came to this conclusion in 1902 when, after women were allowed the vote federally, she started the group Women’s Federal Political Association. Unfortunately male politicians quickly began to use the Association for party purposes and when Vida reacted by moving the Association away from one party and to a non political basis the majority of the male members left.

So this was the background to Vida running for parliament in 1903. The election was in December of 1903 and she launched her campaign in October in her home town of Portland. But she began signalling she would be running earlier. Part of her campaign was a letter published in Reviews of Review in August entitled Should Women Enter Parliament?

She opened by, with what The Advertiser described as “a delightful touch of femininity”, immediately answering her own question

“Of course why not?”

She then went on to defend her supposition laying forth the usual key arguments against women’s suffrage, beginning with the idea that there was a lack of precedent. She refutes this by providing several examples from history and going on to discuss the disparity between men who happily accepted a female sovereign, Queen Victoria had died quite recently, but couldn’t accept women in parliament.[5] As her niece LM Henderson wrote Vida “never indulged in empty rhetoric, she always supported her arguments with facts, and could answer almost any question.”[6] Vida was the first woman to stand for parliament in the Empire and naturally enough there was both comment and opposition. The rural papers tended to be more sympathetic than the Melbourne papers.  For example The Avoca Standard ran this piece in November 1903.

“Miss Goldstein presented a very pleasing appearance on the platform at Avoca. She was graceful, pretilly gowned and wore a most becoming hat. During her address she toyed prettily with a beautiful La France rose- a move that added much to the effect. The lady became a favourite with all present almost at once. Her easy delivery of speech, charming voice, modest manner, and the absence of anything masculine, being the chief factors in her favour.”

This piece might be very condescending, but it isn’t hostile.

The Age and The Argus were generally dismissive, but not always. There was also extensive argument as to the legality of women in parliament. But it quickly became clear that even constitutionally there was no argument barring them running. [7]

The press commentary wasn’t limited to articles, there were also cartoons and poetry. An example of the cartoons can be seen below. In which Vida has to be accompanied to the Senate by a chaperone, and all the men dare not disobey her for fear of being seen as discourteous.

vida cartoon

Vida Goldstein Cartoon

from Punch http://goo.gl/wN04hH

There were headlines like “Sweet Skirted Senators” from the Sunday Times and this really quite interesting poem, also in the Sunday Times, on 9/08/1903

Vidi!-Vida!-Vinci!

What a theme

for the scheme

of a beautiful dream

to be there in the Senate with Vida!

What a foretaste of heaven

the Senate would seem

to the Senator sitting beside her.

They say tis a right which can not be denied her!

Let us give her a vote, for we’d gloat

and we’d dote

on a note 

from the throat

of Miss Vida!

You can see it would be very simple; 

for she wouldn’t want advisors to guide her!

And to all her proposals, of course they’d agree

it would be very rude to deride her!

All the House would have nous

to be meek as a mouse!

They would catch it if any defied her!

And it’s certain soft soap

couldn’t hope

to enrope

or to cope

with the scope

of Miss Vida. 

And I can’t

and I shan’t

see the reason we aren’t

to be ruled by good ladies like Vida.

If you vote for your Uncle

why not vote for you Aunt

if the requisite sense is supplied her.

And she

like a he

should be perfectly free

to engage in a sphere that is wider.

If the matter’s discussed,

then we must,

to be just,

give a thrust

to our trust

in Miss Vida.

Ah! but then

gentlemen

when it comes to the ken

of a Senator’s wife, could he chide her

if she kicked up a row with her tongue and a pen

on the boldness of brainy Miss Vida.

For a lass

is a lass

but alas, should it pass

there are ladies who’d call her a spider!

And although we may cheer

still I fear it is clear

we must bid you “Good Morning”

Miss Vida

W.T Goodge[8]

You can make of that what you will of the poem. I can’t decide if it’s derogatory, celebratory or both.

Media aside, Vida campaigned assiduously, but it is unlikely she ever expected to win. She chose to run for the Senate rather than the House of Representatives probably because it would allow her to campaign throughout Victoria rather than just for one seat. Thus spreading her message further. The election took place in December 1903 and Vida polled 51 497 which was surprisingly good considering voting wasn’t compulsory. It was not, however, enough to win the seat. She took defeat well, commenting on the process in January 1904 in Review of Reviews.

I found political sentiment best developed in the labour ranks, among women earning their own living, and among the country women in the leisure classes. Melbourne women are notoriously ignorant of politics. This difference between city and country was the only new fact my campaign taught me. The chief value of suffrage at present is its educational value, I would sooner see women educated in views diametrically opposed to mine than not educated at all… I had against me the combined power of the Morning and Labour papers, deliberate misrepresentation by two of them, lack of finance, and the prejudice of sex. I stood for the cause of women and children, as a protest against the dictation of the press, and against the creation of the ticket system of voting. From men I had most courteous treatment… The chief lesson to be learnt from this campaign was the need for organisation. The Labour Party had the best organisation and their success shows this. Labour seeks to reach its goal mainly by material means; women place a higher value on the spiritual, but (word missing, LMH) will someday see that is righteous alone that exalteth a nation.

She commented later to her niece Leslie M. Henderson that she was terrified of mice and was always afraid that some of her opponents would discover it and let loose some mice on the platform when she was speaking. Thankfully this never happened. [9]

And that was the end of Vida’s first attempt to join Australia’s parliament. She tried another four times to gain office but was ultimately never successful. This was most likely to do with the fact that she always ran as an Independent Woman Candidate. Despite her lack of electoral success Vida Goldstein was a pioneer for women’s rights around the world and she deserves to be as well know internationally as some of the other larger than life figures in the woman’s suffrage movement.

vida older

Vida Goldstein painted by Waterhouse

http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/26335720?q=vida+goldstein&c=picture&versionId=46453732

[1] State Library of VictoriaMS BOX 3097/5(a-c)

[2] From Vida Goldstein’s papers: State Library of Victoria MS MSM 118

[3] From Vida Goldstein’s papers: State Library of Victoria MS MSM 118

[4] From Vida Goldstein 1869-1949: Biographical notes by her niece, Leslie M. Henderson, 1966 January. MS BOX 332/14

[5] From Press cutting book presented to Edith How Morlyn for Women’s Service Library London by Vida Goldstein State Library of Victoria MS BOX 2493/ 5

[6] From Vida Goldstein 1869-1949: Biographical notes by her niece, Leslie M. Henderson, 1966 January. MS BOX 332/14

[7] From Press cutting book presented to Edith How Morlyn for Women’s Service Library London by Vida Goldstein

[8] From Press cutting book presented to Edith How Morlyn for Women’s Service Library London by Vida Goldstein

[9] From Vida Goldstein 1869-1949: Biographical notes by her niece, Leslie M. Henderson, 1966 January. MS BOX 332/14

 

Marriage Alliances of Noble Women 1180- 1250: Part 2 Eleanor of Aquitaine

Due to the fact that the majority of interest seems to have been in Eleanor of Aquitaine from part one of this series I am going to begin my investigation of individual women with her. There has been so much written about Eleanor of Aquitaine and I am the first to admit that there isn’t that much new to say, but she is one of my favourites from this time period so I’m always happy to write about her. eofa

Eleanor of Aquitaine’s effigy at Fontevraud Abbey.

Royal marriages changed the political face of the country and ensured the transmission of states between families. They also formed alliances that helped to stop wars, start wars and disseminate culture between different countries. The royal bride who had the most profound effect on England during this time period was Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor of Aquitaine was married to Henry II from 1152-1189. [1] Her marriage was made for political reasons, on her side as well as Henry’s, but it did later come to involve affection and it appears there was some form of initial attraction on both sides. Her marriage to Henry II also changed English politics. She brought the Duchy of Aquitaine to the English Crown and thus was instrumental in the creation of the Plantagenet Empire on the continent. The Plantagenets ruled substantially more of what we would now consider France than did the French. Eleanor was also the mother of the three kings: Henry the Young King ,who was crowned during his father’s lifetime but died in 1183, Richard I and John I. Richard and John were both kings who made strong marks, good and bad, on the political landscape. Medieval English queens did have authority, but it was largely ceremonial and dependant on their husbands. They had their own unique status, as they were the only ones beside the king who were officially anointed and appointed by God as part of the royal authority.[2] Medieval queens also had their own land in the shape of their dower lands, which were given to them by the king on their marriage. However, how much say the queen had in the running of these lands was dependant on the queen herself and the amount of authority the king allowed her. [3] The queen was also often at the cultural centre of the court.  Even contemporaries who were not otherwise remarkably complimentary of Eleanor of Aquitaine acknowledged the immense cultural downturn the court took in her absence.[4] Patronage was another area in which queens could have great influence.  An example of such patronage is Eleanor of Aquitaine’s 1185 charter to the abbey of Fontevraud. In this charter she gives the abbey and the “nuns serving God there” the “rent of one hundred pounds, in perpetual alms, from the provosture of Poitiers and the vineyard of Benon, particularly what is received from Marcilly.” [5] Fontevraud

Fontevraud Abbey.

It was primarily because of her background that Eleanor of Aquitaine was able to wield a little more real authority than some other queens of England, though she was still subject to the power of her husband. She was born in c 1124 and was a great heiress in her own right. [6] Her father was Duke William X of Aquitaine and when he died on pilgrimage in c 1137 he left Eleanor as the ruler of one of the biggest and most powerful duchies in Christendom. Contemporary writer William of Newburgh described the duchy as “very extensive” and stretching “from the borders of Anjou and Brittany to the Pyrenees.”[7] In dying William X left Eleanor very vulnerable, because she became a desirable marriage prize.[8]  A little over a month after her father’s death, probably to ensure her own protection, she married Prince Louis the heir to the French throne and the future Louis VII. However for the next fifteen years of her marriage, despite her title as Queen of France, she would have little control over Aquitaine, as Louis took it for himself and installed French administrators.[9] Her marriage was annulled in 1152 and she found herself once again a vulnerable heiress. She married Henry the young Duke of Normandy and the future Henry II of England only eight weeks after the annulment of her previous marriage. This marriage would eventually begin her time as Queen of England, and help to establish her as a woman of authority and power as well as a duchess in her own right.[10] St Denis St denis

 St Denis Cathedral where Louis VII is buried with the majority of the Kings of France. Eleanor would have been very familiar with it.

In the first twenty or so years of her reign as Queen of England Eleanor did have power and involvement, but it was not that dissimilar to the traditional power of a queen. She did originally have some say in the running of Aquitaine, but it was more a position of advising Henry II rather than having a free reign to run the Duchy she had inherited.[11] She also acted as a regent both in England and in various parts of the continental domains. Additionally Eleanor and Henry II seem to have acted in some sort of partnership for the first decade or so of their marriage. This is illustrated with Henry II’s campaign to try to enforce Eleanor’s rights in Toulouse in 1170. This was not a campaign that was particularly advantageous to Henry and it was one that Eleanor had also persuaded her previous husband to undertake.[12] Eleanor also had eight children, including five sons, with Henry II and this helped to increase her standing because she was fulfilling the main role of a queen. Eleanor was not a queen who was just left at home to bear children while the king was out fighting wars. She was present with Henry and without Henry all over their disparate empire and seems to have been very involved in the culture as well as the political side. [13]

henry close

 Effigy of Henry II at Fontevruad Abbey.

However it is also important to note that Eleanor was not necessarily well liked in her new kingdom. Gerald of Wales, a contemporary writer, describes her as having a reputation of “sufficient notoriety,” citing her apparent “carnal knowledge” of Henry’s father Geoffrey of Anjou as evidence.  While it is unlikely this particular accusation was true it does show that Eleanor was very much at the mercy of a masculine world where she was subject to ridicule by male chroniclers. This was a world in which independent authority by a woman, however powerful, was very difficult.[14]

Also her role during the reign of Henry II was curtailed by her fifteen years of imprisonment for her part in her sons’ rebellion. Henry forgave his sons due to their relative youth and the fact that he needed them, but he never forgave Eleanor. The imprisonment was relatively comfortable and it began in the 1174. She was not released until Henry II’s death and Richard I’s ascension to the throne in 1189. In this period she had little influence.  She lost her dower lands and most of her revenues, losing even the traditional trappings of power for a queen. What she did receive she could not dispose of as she wished.[15] Despite the appearance of some autonomy, any power Eleanor did have during the reign of Henry II, like other queens, came courtesy of her husband. She was able to work in partnership as long he allowed her to. So most of her authority came from any influence she might have had over Henry II and his actions. Her acting as regent, while it was a position of significant power, was not independent power.[16] This changed abruptly when Henry II died in 1189.  Eleanor’s certainly shaped the political situation in England with her involvement in the reigns of her sons. It can be seen specifically in her actions in the governance of the kingdom while Richard was on crusade. It was her backing that gave legitimacy to Walter de Coutances, Archbishop of Rouen, when he was appointed as the joint authority with Chancellor Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, who had been left nominally in charge. de Coutances was primarily appointed to check Longchamp’s excesses.[17] Eleanor also mediated in any arguments between the justiciars who were sharing authority in Richard’s absence. Eleanor was also one of the few people who had some influence on Prince John who, as Richard’s most likely heir, caused significant trouble when Richard was out of the country. Eleanor was also not in England all the time that Richard was absent because she traveled across the Plantagenet Empire, helping to hold it together and to bring Richard his new wife Berengaria of Navarre.[18]  In 1191, despite the fact that she was in her late 60’s, she traveled to Navarre, in the modern day Spanish and French borderlands, to bring Berengaria back to marry Richard in Limassol in Cyprus.[19]

Richard I

Richard’s effigy in Fontevraud Abbey. The effigy beside him is that of Isabel of Angouleme. She was the wife of his brother John and another heiress who will be discussed in a later post.

Eleanor’s influence was most apparent when Richard was captured and held for ransom in 1193 on the way back from crusade.[20]   Richard had been taken by Duke Leopold of Austria and the ransom set was the exorbitant 100, 000 silver marks, plus 200 hostages from his vassals’ families.[21] Richard’s lands had already been heavily taxed to help pay for his crusade and now they were squeezed even harder to raise a ransom that was twice England’s annual revenue.[22] One of the ways Eleanor raised the ransom was to approve, with Walter of Coutances,  a levy of one quarter of all moveable goods, a percentage of all knights’ fees and significant contributions of gold and silver from the churches. The only churches that were exempt were the Cistercians and Gilbertines, who were too austere to have gold and silver. From these she demanded a percentage of their wool clip. Her integral involvement in these levies is illustrated by the fact that the treasure was stored with her seal on it as well as Walter of Coutances’.[23] riv2 riveaux

Cistercian abbeys like Riveaux were exempt from providing gold for the ransom.

Richard I also placed great importance on his mother’s role in keeping his kingdom together. This is very well illustrated in the letter that he wrote to her in 1193, requesting her assistance in ensuring that Hubert Bishop of Salisbury would be made Archbishop of Canterbury. Firstly in this letter he describes Eleanor as by the grace of God “Queen of England.” Which clearly shows that he considers her authority paramount. Additionally he thanks her for the “faithful care and diligence [she gave] to [his] lands for peace and defense so devotedly and effectively.” He goes on to say that her “prudence and discretion” is the “greatest cause of [his] land remaining in a peaceful state until [his] arrival.”[24] This independence of action is further illustrated in another letter of Richard’s, regarding the appointment of Hubert.  He appeals to “his dearest mother Eleanor, by that same grace Queen of England, greetings and the inviolable sincerity of filial love”. He appeals to her to ensure that the justiciars the bishops of Canterbury Church, and anyone else she believes needs to be involved, instate Hubert of Salisbury as Archbishop of Canterbury. The fact that Richard I assumes that Eleanor will have the influence and power to achieve his request, indicates the power and independent authority that she wielded during his reign.[25] Henry II married Eleanor as a royal bride mainly for political reasons, they barely knew each other when they were married, but she made an indelible mark on England primarily in holding the country together. The next post in this series will be about Joanna Princess of Wales. She was the wife of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, know as Llywelyn the Great, and the illegitimate daughter of King John.

[1] Marie Hivergneaux, “Queen Eleanor and Aquitaine 1137-1189”, in Bonnie Wheeler & John Carmi Parsons, Eleanor of Aquitaine Lord and Lady, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, p 55.

[2] Lisa Hamilton, Queens Consort, London, 2008, pp. 1-3.

[3] Anne Crawford, The Letters of the Queens of England, Stroud, 1997, pp. 8-9.

[4] Lisa Hamilton, Queens Consort, London, 2008, pp. 8-9.

[5] Eleanor of Aquitaine Charter to Fontevrault, 1185 at http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/885.html.

[6] Desmond Seward, Eleanor of Aquitaine, London, 1978, pp. 13-14.

[7] William of Newburgh, The History of English Affairs, trans. PG, Walsh and M.J Kennedy, (eds), William of Newburgh History of English Affairs, Warminster, 1988 pp.129-131.

[8] Melrich V Rosenberg, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Massachusetts, 1937, pp. 4-5.

[9] Desmond Seward, Eleanor of Aquitaine, London, 1978, pp. 21-23.

[10] Ibid., pp. 63-69.

[12] Ralph V Turner, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Padstow, 2009, p. XVIII.

[12] Ibid., pp. 123-125.

[13] Ibid., pp. 139-141.

[14] Gerald of Wales, The Death of Henry II and Comments on the Angevin Family, at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/geraldwales-dip1.html.

[15] Ralph V Turner, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Padstow, 2009, pp. 233-237.

[16] Richard Barber, Henry Plantagenet, Ipswich, 1964, pp.182-183.

[17] Ralph V Turner, “The Role of Eleanor in the Government of Her Sons,” in Wheeler and Carmi Parsons, (eds) Eleanor of Aquitaine, pp. 79-83.

[18] Crawford, Queens of England, pp. 32-34.

[19]. Anne Crawford, “Berengaria of Navarre,” in Anne Crawford, The Letters of the Queens of England, Stroud, 1997, pp. 43-45.

[20] Ibid., pp. 299-301.

[21] Andrea Hopkins, “Eleanor of Aquitaine,” in Andrea Hopkins, Six Medieval Women, London, 1997, pp. 56-57.

[22] Alison Weir, Eleanor of Aquitaine By the Wrath of God, Queen of England, London, 1999, pp. 229-230.

[23] Ralph V Turner, “The Role of Eleanor in the Government of Her Sons,” in Bonnie Wheeler and John Carmi Parsons (eds) Eleanor of Aquitaine, Lord and Lady, New York, 2003, pp. 83-85.

[24] Richard I Letter to Eleanor of Aquitaine, 1193, at http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/148.html.

[25] Richard I Letter to Eleanor of Aquitaine, 1193, at http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/149.html.