By Louis Schwartz
Winner of the James Holly Hanford ebook Award from the Milton Society of the USA, 2010. All too usually, childbirth in early smooth England was once linked to worry, soreness and demise, and this depression preoccupation weighed seriously at the seventeenth-century brain. This landmark research examines John Milton's existence and paintings, uncovering facts of the poet's engagement with maternal mortality and the dilemmas it offered. Drawing on either literary scholarship and ancient learn, Louis Schwartz offers vital readings of Milton's poetry, together with Paradise misplaced, in addition to a wide-ranging survey of the clinical practices and non secular ideals that surrounded the perils of childbirth. The reader is granted a richer knowing of the way seventeenth-century society struggled to return to phrases with its fears, and the way certainly one of its most vital poets gave voice to that fight.
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Htm and the similar statistics in UNICEF, Progress for Children: A Report Card on Maternal Mortality (No. 7) (2008), pp. pdf [both last accessed March 10, 2009]. 32 Milton and Maternal Mortality Historians are unsure just why rates rose in the seventeenth century and why they were worse in the city. It is clear, however, that most of the causes for high rates of maternal mortality that have been identified by modern social scientists were present in seventeenth-century London. 13 All three of these conditions are treatable by modern medicine as long as the mother can get to a well-equipped hospital or clinic, and this is the primary reason that maternal mortality rates are so low in the developed world today.
These women also tended to marry young and continue giving birth as long as they could into middle age, and this put them at risk both early and late in their procreative careers. ,” in The World We Have Gained, p. 254. Andrew Wear, Knowledge and Practice in Early Modern English Medicine, 1550–1680 (Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 280 notes that at the time many believed pregnancy predisposed a women to contracting the plague. Wear notes, however, that people were aware that the city offered a far less healthy environment than the countryside: see Andrew Wear, “Making Sense of Health and the Environment in Early Modern England,” in Medicine in Society: Historical Essays (Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp.
160–1. “Exquisitt torment” and “infinitt grace” 21 childbirth was understood by most as a trial, one that could have a happy or an unhappy outcome depending upon how it was faced, a trial in which human medical ingenuity was, at best, of only partial help, while religious mediation and social rituals offered hope, form, and meaning. In what follows, I will try and explain what it was exactly that men and women faced (or thought they faced) and what they feared about it. Most importantly, I hope to explain how many were enabled by various religious ideas and communal rituals to face their fears with some measure of equanimity.
Milton and Maternal Mortality by Louis Schwartz