Gabrielle Suchon
Feminism, Virtue Ethics 

Kate Lindemann's 

Women Philosophers


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Gabrielle Suchon wrote one of the first feminist philosophical works in Europe. She certainly deserves morerecognition that she received in the past hundred years.


1632. She was born into a Catholic family at Dijon, France on December 24, 1632. (Dijon is a city in France with a privileged central location - just 300 kilometers from Paris, 200 kilometers from Geneva and 180 kilometers from Lyon. )

1648 In this year her father died. He had been a lawyer, a procurere de roi.

Soon after the death of her father, her family placed her in a Jacobean convent in Semur in Auxois, Burgandy. (Since Semur has an ancient Benediction monastery building which was the home of a monastic community for women, we assume that she would have been a this community. If she was in a Benedictine monastery, she would have received a solid education and been able to read Latin since the daily recitation (chanting) of the psalms was in Latin. )

She found herself unsuited to convent life. After some years was able to arrange a trip to Rome to petition the Pope to release her from her vows. He granted the dispensation.

But upon her return to France, her family started legal proceedings to require her to return to the convent. According to Jennifer Robin Perlmutter in Relations and Relationships in Seventeenth-century French Literature, the family obtained a Decree from the Dijon Parliament that required her to return to the convent. But somehow she circumvented the requirements of the decree and remained in the secular world until her death.

Although she did not wish to live the monastic or convent life, she remained Catholic and was loyal to her faith her whole life long.

1703 She died on March 5, 1705


Primary Sources written under the pseudonym of G. Aristophile.

  • 1693 The Constraint
  • 1695 Traité de la morale et de la politique
  • Petit traité de la faiblesse, de la légèreté et de l’inconstance qu’on attribue aux femmes mal à propos
  • 1700 Du Celibat Volontaire, Paris, 1700.

Secondary sources (partial list)

Barbone, Steve. San Diego State University. Gabrielle Suchon (1631-1703): A Third Way beyond Gender: A Play in Three Acts

Desnain, Veronique. University of Edinburgh Traite de la morale et de la politique by Veronique Desnain, University of Edinburgh at Gabrielle Suchon

Kirsop, Wallace. "A note on Gabrielle Suchon's efforts to seek publication of her works". Journal of Romance Studies. Sunmmer 2005.

Le Duff, Michele and Penelope Deutscher - Interview - Hypatia 15:4 Hypatia 15.4 (2000) 236-242

McFadden, Judith P. Gabrielle Suchon: The Uneasy Search for the Neutered Life Michigan Feminist Studies, 1991.

Pageau, Véronique La liberté chez Gabrielle Suchon, Montréal Université du Québec à Montréal 2001.

Perlmutter, Jennifer Robin. Relations & Realationships in Seventeenth=century French Literature Portland State University, 2004.

It should be noted that she advocated for women who wanted to live a contemplative life but who were not drawn to convent or Monastic life. This aspect of her thought would seem to agree with the Beguines See: Beguines of Netherlands - But Gabrielle did not advocate any form of living in community. Her vision of a woman living alone in the world pursuing the intellectual and contemplative life is one that presaged the life of many women today.

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