Libro del arte de las comadres o madrinas y del regimiento de las preñadas y paridas y de los niños

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Extent / Format

236 pages / 22.0 x 15.0 cm

December 24th, 1541
Artist / School

Author: Damián Carbón
Printer: Fernando Consoles


Title page and two other internal title pages. More woodcuts and engraved initials in the text

Short description

A medical treatise was printed in Mallorca on December 24th, 1541 that has hardly lost any significance today for the medical discipline of gynecology and midwifery. The “Book concerning the Art of Midwifery or Godfathership and of Pregnancy and of the Handling of Small Children” is one of the first treatises worldwide concerning the medical treatment of the female body. The treaty has a Christian character and deals with gynecology, midwifery, and above all, what is connected with these themes. Splendid woodcut illustrations lend the scientific text an exceptionally artistic character.

Facsimile editions available


Libro del arte de las comadres o madrinas y del regimiento de las preñadas y paridas y de los niños

The complete title of the so-called Libro del arte de las comadres can be translated as the “Book of the Art of Midwifery or Godfathership and of Pregnancy and of the Handling of Small Children”. This is one of the first books worldwide concerning gynecology. The incredibly high worth of the historically significant historical work is not only due to its revolutionary character for medicine. The printed book contains a large format woodcut illustration, which was created by the most gifted Spanish artists of the Late Middle Ages. The document is additionally furnished with numerous elaborately patterned initials.

A Sad Occasion

According to legend, the birthing book originated from the commission of a wealthy nobleman. This nobleman of the highest rank was married with a woman of very fine stature, with which he regularly exercised, was healthy, and led a happy and honest life. Nevertheless, his wife bore three or four dead children, in each case after 6 months of pregnancy. In order to shed light on this difficult and painful situation, the nobleman commissioned a doctor of the highest expertise to write a scientific treatise on the medical treatment of the female body. Thus arose a work that can considered to be the cornerstone of gynecology today. Midwifery and gynecology were first discussed at length here as a special medical science. The physiology of the female genital tract was clarified as well as everything else that has to do with functions or changes within or without the process of pregnancy. Also, a chapter was devoted to the healthcare of women and everything important for human reproduction. The truly unique printed work still holds a special place in the history of literature concerning the area of gynecology.

A Christian Work

The interesting work was first printed on December 24th, 1541 at Palma de Mallorca. The date of its printing, namely the birthday of the Savior Jesus Christ, was certainly not chosen coincidentally. The illustration of the masterpiece bespeaks a clearly Christian influenced character. Two impressive woodcuts show key scenes from the New Testament. The first image illustrates a meeting between the Virgin Mary and her cousin Elisabeth. The second picture portrays the scene of the Annunciation. What is special about this medical manuscript is the manner of its depiction of women and mothers, of coitus and pregnancy. For the first time in the history of literature, the act of insemination was scientifically discussed and explained, the processes inside of a woman were precisely analyzed and recorded for posterity.

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