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date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

During the latter part of Henry VIII’s reign, humanism became entrenched, England broke with Rome, and monasteries disappeared. More subtle changes occurred in other, quite different, parts of the cultural landscape, including the discourse of childbirth. This article examines, in the light of vernacular versions of the Trotula (the standard authority on childbirth during the medieval period), two editions of an English gynecological handbook, The Byrth of Mankynde, published in 1540 and 1545, and also their immediate source, the Roszgarten, composed by Eucharius Rösslin and translated into Latin as De Partu Hominis. It argues that, at some point between the two editions of the English text, there had been a reorientation of the place of women in the discourse of childbirth: the new edition significantly ‘empowers’ women.

Keywords: childbirth, The Byrth of Mankynde, Trotula, Roszgarten, Eucharius Rösslin, De Partu Hominis, women

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