What was the relationship between woman and politics in seventeenth-century England? Responding to this question, Conspiracy and Virtue argues that theoretical exclusion of women from the political sphere shaped their relation to it. Rather than producing silence, this exclusion generated rich, complex, and oblique political involvements which this study traces through the writings of both men and women. Pursuing this argument Conspiracy and Virtue engages the mainwritings on women's relationship to the political sphere including debates on the public sphere and on contract theory. Writers and figures discussed include Elizabeth Avery, Aphra Behn, Anne Bradstreet, Maragret Cavendish, Queen Christina of Sweden, Anne Halkett, Brilliana Harley, Lucy Hutchinson, John Milton,Elizabeth Poole, Sara Wight, and Henry Jessey.