Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Title: The Birth of Julius Caesar (Commentaires de Cesar)
  • Creator: Partly by the Bruges Master of 1482
  • Description: This manuscript page depicts the birth of Julius Caesar by Caesarean section. This illustration lacks the detached and clinical feel of other fifteenth century examples of the birth. Instead, the figures here emit an air of concern and anxiety for both the baby and the mother. The surgeon kneels by the side of the woman and attempts to close her wounds after she has given birth, which suggests that the death of the mother is no longer a foregone conclusion for a Caesarean birth. The surgical knife is set aside on a stool signifying that no more harm will be done to the mother. Meanwhile, an assistant on the left holds a small infant Caesar and a midwife is rushing towards them with her hands outstretched to care for the child.
  • Source: Mackinney Carolina Digital Library and Archives
  • Rights: Public Domain
  • Subject (See Also): Childbirth Caesarean Birth Mothers Surgeons Nurses
  • Geographic Area: Netherlands
  • Century: 15
  • Date: 1480
  • Related Work: Les commentaires de C├ęsar: http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/record.asp?MSID=7983&CollID=28&NStart=1065
  • Current Location: London, British Library, Egerton 1065, folio 9r
  • Original Location: Netherlands S. (Bruges)
  • Artistic Type (Category): Digital Images; Manuscript Page
  • Artistic Type (Material/Technique): Vellum (parchment); paint
  • Donor: Jean Duchesne, translator
  • Height/Width/Length(cm): 365 mm/250 mm/
  • Inscription:
  • Related Resources: Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, Not of Woman Born: Representations of Caesarean Birth in Medieval and Renaissance Culture, Cornell University Press, Ithica, New York, 1990, pgs. 86-87