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Troubles Times: An Investigation of Medieval Hospitals as Places of Refuge for Pregnant Women and Children.

HOOKWAY, Esme (2018) Troubles Times: An Investigation of Medieval Hospitals as Places of Refuge for Pregnant Women and Children. In: Staffordshire University Postgraduate Conference, 23rd May 2018, Staffordshire University PgR Conference. (Unpublished)

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Abstract or description

During the medieval period (AD. 1050-1600) hospitals in England were founded and governed by religious orders and established as either general infirmaries, leper hospitals, or alms houses (Orme, 2001). Pregnancy and childbirth were dangerous for women in the medieval period due to the increased risks of malnutrition and infection (Orme, 2001). Medieval hospitals were the only public source of potential aid for pregnant women and new born infants who did not have the family or the means to support themselves (Orme, 2001). Attitudes towards unmarried pregnant women were governed not only by hospital finances but also religious and social beliefs. During this period, the Christian Church considered pregnancy out of wedlock a sin and unmarried pregnant women were deemed to be unclean and shunned from society.

Historical records can provide an insight into hospital inhabitants and the treatment of pregnant women. St John’s hospital, Cambridge, received a Papal bull in 1250 which stated: “We strictly ordain … that sick and weak people should be admitted kindly and mercifully, except for pregnant women, lepers, the wounded, cripples and the insane” (Salzman, 1948: 305). Even at St John the Baptist hospital, Oxford, which received donations from King Henry III (c.1230) towards the cost of a chamber specifically for women in labour (Orme, 2001), entry for “lewd pregnant women” was not permitted (Salter, 1917: 7). However, at least three hospitals in London are known to have admitted pregnant women: St Thomas, Southwark and two others, St Mary without Bishops Gate and St Bartholomew, which also maintained the orphans of women who died in childbirth until the age of seven when they could become oblates or apprentices (Orme, 2001).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Additional Information: Presented at The Staffordshire University POSTGRAD Research Conference, SUPgR 2018; Conference Date: 23rd May 2018
Faculty: School of Law, Policing and Forensics > Law
Event Title: Staffordshire University Postgraduate Conference
Event Location: Staffordshire University PgR Conference
Event Dates: 23rd May 2018
Depositing User: Library STORE team
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2018 15:05
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:51

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