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Monstrous Births in the Middle Ages

  • Free
  • Discussion
Photo of two people looking down at books displayed on a table
Wellcome Collection. Viewing Room. Indigenous Knowledges Showcase. 2022., Steven Pocock. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

This event explored medieval theories of embryology and the concept of the hybrid human/animal monster. The talk focused on the late-13th-century medical text ‘De secretis mulierum’ (‘On the Secrets of Women’).

‘De secretis mulierum’ was a highly popular work, and was copied into over 80 manuscripts. Its vivid portrayal of monstrous births reflected late-medieval understandings of the natural world, gynaecology and the science of sexuality.

The talk focused on two manuscripts (MS 11 and MS 117) and several early printed editions of the treatise held in Wellcome Collection.



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