Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


Article of the Month

Indexers select an article or essay at the beginning of each month that is outstanding in its line of argument, wealth of significances, and writing style. We particularly look for pieces that will be useful as course readings.

November 2020 [Posted February 2021

Detail of an historiated initial C with a birth scene
Detail of an historiated initial C with a birth scene, England, 1490, British Library, MS Arundel 66, f. 148 (Source: British Library, public domain)

Podd, Rachel. "Reconsidering Maternal Mortality in Medieval England: Aristocratic Englishwomen, c. 1236–1503.” Continuity and Change 35, 2 (2020): 115-137.

Abstract: "The characterisation of medieval childbirth as profoundly dangerous is both long- standing and poorly supported by quantitative data. This article, based on a database tracking the reproductive lives of 102 late medieval aristocratic Englishwomen, allows not only for an evaluation of this trope but also an analysis of risk factors, including maternal youth and short birth intervals. Supplemented with evidence from medieval medical tracts and osteoarchaeological data related to pubertal development and nutrition, this study demonstrates that reproduction was hardly the main driver of mortality among elite women." - [Reproduced from the journal page on the publisher's website.]