"Sadly and with a Bitter Heart": What the Caesarean Section Meant in the Middle Ages

  • Steven Bednarski St. Jerome's University in the University of Waterloo
  • Andrée Courtemanche Université Laval

Abstract

This article contextualizes the history of the so-called Caesarean section to argue that the history of obstetrics is written at the intersection of manifold cultural phenomena. The article presents a unique historical document, a notarized act of 1473 drawn up for a Provençal barber surgeon commissioned to extract a fetus from a corpse. The procedure it prescribes was technically a postmortem dissection, or sectio in mortua, a process linked to surgery and theology as much as to law, superstition, and inheritance. In addition to its analysis, the article presents a comprehensive critical historiography, a transcription and edition of its primary source, a table of other extant primary sources that reference sectiones in mortua, and a detailed bibliography.
Published
2011-05-01
How to Cite
Bednarski, S., & Courtemanche, A. (2011). "Sadly and with a Bitter Heart": What the Caesarean Section Meant in the Middle Ages. Florilegium, 28, 33 - 69. Retrieved from https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/flor/article/view/21561
Section
Articles