Early Modern Exchanges


Pregnancy and False Pregnancy

20 May 2015, 5:30 pm–7:30 pm

Mary Tudor, Queen of England, second wife of Felipe II.

Pregnancy, False Pregnancy, and Questionable Heirs: Mary I and her Echoes Carole Levin (University of Nebraska)

Event Information

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Early Modern Exchanges


Roberts G08

This illustrated lecture examines beliefs – medical and cultural – about phantom pregnancies in early modern England with specific connections to the political implications of Mary I’s false pregnancies. While historians have often described women who believed they were pregnant when they were not as pathetic or pathological, many medical texts of the period argued it was very difficult to tell a false pregnancy from a real one – or at least this was so until a baby was born or too much time had past.  Mary’s phantom pregnancy not only had great political consequences for her reign, but more than a century later, it was brought up again as Protestants attempted to describe the 1688 pregnancy of Catholic Mary of Modena, wife of James II, as also false. 

Carole is a Fulbright Scholar from the University of Nebraska where she is Willa Cather Professor of History. This event forms part of UCL's Festival of the Arts.

Please register to attend at: Eventbrite Page.