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A Mother’s Manual for the Women of Ferrara: A Fifteenth-Century Guide to Pregnancy and Pediatrics Coming Soon

Around 1460, Michele Savonarola — incidentally the grandfather of the even more famous Savonarola, the Florentine prophet Girolamo — produced the extraordinary Mother’s Manual for the Women of Ferrara. This gynecological, obstetrical, and pediatric treatise is the first of its kind written in a European vernacular, so that it could be potentially read not only by the learned, who communicated in Latin, but also by pregnant and nursing mothers and the midwives and wet nurses who presided over childbirth. Yet Savonarola’s work is no trivial set of instructions but the work of a learned scholar who draws on, among others, the ancient Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen, and Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine.

Savonarola’s fifteenth-century manual on obstetric and pediatric medicine, written in the vernacular, is the first text of its kind that could be read not only by male practitioners but also by uneducated midwives and women in general — or such was its stated purpose, for it was addressed to “the women of Ferrara.” The introduction by Gabriella Zuccolin offers a thorough reading of the innovative work by Michele Savonarola. The translation by Martin Marafioti is both accurate and instructive, subtly capturing the distinctive voice of the author. Savonarola’s manual is a wonderful addition to the great works by women and on women’s issues that The Other Voice Series has lovingly published through the years.
-Valeria Finucci, Professor Emerita of Romance Studies, Duke University

MARTIN MARAFIOTI, professor of Italian at Pace University most recently published Storytelling as Plague Prevention in Medieval and Early Modern Italy: The Decameron Tradition (Routledge, 2018).

GABRIELLA ZUCCOLIN, tenured Lecturer in Medieval Philosophy at the University of Pavia, Italy, most recently published a book on twins in the Middle Ages: I gemelli nel Medioevo: Questioni filosofiche, mediche e teologiche (Ibis, 2019).

Around 1460, Michele Savonarola — incidentally the grandfather of the even more famous Savonarola, the Florentine prophet Girolamo — produced the extraordinary Mother’s Manual for the Women of Ferrara. This gynecological, obstetrical, and pediatric treatise is the first of its kind written in a European vernacular, so that it could be potentially read not only by the learned, who communicated in Latin, but also by pregnant and nursing mothers and the midwives and wet nurses who presided over childbirth. Yet Savonarola’s work is no trivial set of instructions but the work of a learned schol...

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book Details

  • Page Count:

    254 pages

  • Publication Year:

    2022

  • Publisher:

    Iter Press
  • Series:

    • The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series 89

Print

USD$ 54.95 ISBN 978-1-64959-030-5 Order Print Book

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