The Feminine Monarchie is an early and remarkable work of English natural history, first published in 1609, and written by a scholarly country parson of wide ranging interests. Like the later Gilbert White of Selborne, a distant relation, Charles Butler had a deep curiosity about the natural world and recorded his discoveries methodically, in keeping with the growing scientific mood of the seventeenth century.
Butler was the author of several books on subjects as diverse as music, grammar, logic, and church law. He was also a noted beekeeper and The Feminine Monarchie is the classic English beekeeping text, earning Butler the title ‘father of English bee keeping’. The book explores the world of the honey bee with a keen intelligence, and makes implicit reference to Elizabeth I’s long reign as England’s female monarch.
This is the first new edition of The Feminine Monarchie to be published for over three hundred years, and contains a new introduction, as well as annotations and a glossary of the more obscure words used by Butler. The spelling and grammar have been modernised throughout. This edition has been prepared from the 1623 edition, which includes Butler’s famous ‘Bees Madrigal’. John Owen is vicar of two rural parishes in Hampshire, in the South Downs National Park, thirty miles from Butler’s parish of Wootton St Lawrence in the same county. He keeps bees, poultry and goats and is rural advisor in the Diocese of Portsmouth.