Pregnancy, False Pregnancy, and Questionable Heirs: Mary I and her Echoes

16 April 2015

Wednesday May 20



Roberts G08, Sir David Davies Lecture Theatre, Roberts Building

Maria Tudor (Museo del Prado)

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. This lecture will be delivered by Carole Levin, a Fulbright Scholar from the University of Nebraska where she is Willa Cather Professor
of History.

The event is offered by the UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges, which exists to bring together all those, from whatever disciplinary background, who have an interest in the period 1450-1800.

Professor Carole Levin

Professor Helen Hackett

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