Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

  • Title: Four fetal positions in utero
  • Creator:
  • Description:

    The diagram of the diseased woman is the largest and most compelling of the series of pathological drawings in the Apocalypse. The names of organs and diseases are labeled on and around her body. The diseases range from afflictions of the head and face to swelling of the feet. Suggested cures for the diseases are written in the margins of the page. She is crouching and naked, except for a contemporary headdress, which Peter Murray Jones suggests was included to make her look "modern and realistic." (Medieval Medicine, pg. 33) High on the left side of the woman’s stomach is an inverted flask-shaped object titled embrio. At the top of this page, the contents of the embrio are elaborated on and show four fetal positions in the uterus. Because the uterus is located impossibly far away from the cervix, and the kidneys which are facing the wrong direction are pushed by the intestines to opposing sides of the abdominal cavity, scholars believe that the true purpose of this diagram was to list and localize various diseases. The combination of figure, captions, and text would have provided a brief guide to any physician faced with the sicknesses of women; the emphasis is on practice instead of theory. Monica H. Green has proposed that the Apocalypse was produced for a cleric who wanted to compile gynecological and obstetrical material for the purpose of educating midwives.

  • Source: Wellcome Library, London
  • Rights: Wellcome Library, London
  • Subject (See Also): Anatomy Diseases Gynecology Pregnancy Medicine
  • Geographic Area: Germany
  • Century: 15
  • Date: 1420-1430
  • Related Work: Apocalypse, (The), [etc.]. Apocalypsis S. Johannis cum glossis et Vita S. Johannis; Ars Moriendi, etc.; Anatomical and medical texts. Theological, moral and allegorical 'exempla' and extracts, a few in verse: http://archives.wellcomelibrary.org/DServe/dserve.exe?dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqCmd=Show.tcl&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqSearch=%28 %28%28text%29=%27Apocalypsis%27%29AND%28%28text%29=%27S. %27%29AND%28%28text%29=%27Johannis%27%29%29&dsqPos=0
  • Current Location: London, Wellcome Library, MS.49/1, f. 3
  • Original Location: Germany
  • Artistic Type (Category): Digital Images; Manuscript Illuminations
  • Artistic Type (Material/Technique): Vellum (parchment); Ink; Watercolor
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  • Height/Width/Length(cm): //
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  • Related Resources: Green, Monica H. ‘Cliff Notes’ on the Circulation of the Gynecological Texts of Soranus and Muscio in the Middle Ages. Updated August 11, 2014. Full text: https://www.academia.edu/7858536/Monica_H._Green_Cliff_Notes_on_the_ Circulation_of_the_Gynecological_Texts_of_Soranus_and_Muscio_in_the_Middle_Ages_2014_ ; Green,Monica H. Making Women's Medicine Masculine: The Rise of Male Authority in Pre-Modern Gynaecology, Oxford University Press, New York, 2008, pg. 156-157; Peter Murray Jones and British Library, Medieval Medicine In Illuminated Mauscripts, Rev. ed. London, Milan, Italy, British Library, 1998, pg. 33-35