render it welcome to the student of palæography. When we come to the later period the work is no less valuable, but in a somewhat narrower field. The science and medicine of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries emanated from a larger number of centers and were less uniform in character as well as far greater in literary output than in the centuries that preceded. For this later period Dr. Moore's work will be valued as probably the best extant account of a single institution, and the future medical historian will seek to incorporate its material in a picture of the general stream of medical thought. The tendency, however, of political history to deal with ethnic movements and economic forces must ultimately assert itself also in the history of medicine, where it will be represented by streams of ideas and thoughts rather than accounts of per

sonalities. When that time shall come the biographical work of Dr. Moore may perhaps be less read by the general reader, but it will not cease to be regarded by the historical specialist, who will study him for the accuracy and fullness of the records that he has handed down.

A very touching and pleasing feature of the work is the manifest affection of its author for his Hospital, and especially for its suffering inmates, and these volumes will keep his memory green so long as men who speak the English tongue love old things and good writing and simple acts of mercy. As we close the cover we join Dr. Moore in the time-honored toast with which he terminates this great book: “Prosperity to St. Bartholomew's Hospital and Health and Ease to the Poor Patients."



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THE STERILITY OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI. A CORRESPONDENT having heard the fre- Catherine should be repudiated and a wife quently made statement that the sterility capable of bearing children provided for Henri of Henri II's Queen, with her subsequent in her stead, when Catherine quite unexremarkable fecundity, was due to a mal- pectedly became pregnant, and on January formation of the King's urethra which was 19, 1543, gave birth to the future François corrected by operation, writes for further II. This happy event was followed by the information on this much discussed topic. birth of nine other children, the last A valuable recent contribution to the sub- accouchement being with twins on July ject is that of Dr. Cabanès," which gives all 24, 1556. Thus Catherine had her first child the known facts in the case with full refer- when she was twenty-four years old and her ences to the chief authorities for the various last when she was thirty-seven. During the versions of the stories anent the subject. long period of her sterility she had recourse These may be summarized as follows: not only to physicians, but quacks, magicians, Catherine de Medici was born at Florence and astrologers in her efforts to secure advice in 1519 and was married to Henri II in which would enable her to become pregnant. 1532, when not quite fourteen years old. It is known that Henri's father, François Henri was but a few months her senior. I, and Catherine's father, Laurent de Her father, Laurent de Medici, as well as Medici, both had syphilis, but there is her mother, having died in her infancy, her positive evidence that neither of them marriage had been arranged by her uncle, manifested the disease before the births of Pope Clement VII, and he was so anxious their respective children. Henri and Cathto have some proof of the consummation of erine were both physically well and strong, the marriage of these two children that he Henri's greatest passion being for tournaremained at Marseilles thirty-four days ments and hunting, the latter being also a after the ceremony hoping that such proof favorite amusement of his wife's, so much might be apparent before he left the newly so that on several occasions she suffered married pair, and when nothing transpired, severe injuries from falls from her horse. he made his famous remark to Catherine, There are many contemporary expressions “Posterity never lacks to a girl of spirit.” of admiration at the health enjoyed by For ten years the Queen was childless, to the royal couple. Contrary to the general the great unhappiness not only of herself trend of stories told on the subject, the and her husband, then the Dauphin, bu sterility was not due to impotence on also of her father-in-law François I, and Henri's part, as he had in 1538, long before the French people. The question of a the birth of his first child, an illegitimate divorce was agitated and according to Miss daughter by a Piedmontese girl, who was Sichel, Diane de Poitiers, the King's mis- brought up at court and known as Diane tress, had almost convinced François that de France. He also had various liaisons,

1 “Le Cabinet Secret de l'Histoire,” Article “La especially that with his father's mistress, Stérilité de Catherine de Medicis."

Diane de Poitiers, whom he loved with the

deepest affection, although she was some seventeen years older than he;and though for that reason some have thought their friendship purely platonic, there is proof in their correspondence that it was far otherwise.

As to Fernel's share in the change of Catherine's lot, Cabanès points out that Plancy, his historian and disciple, makes no mention of the matter in any way, whereas as Plancy was twenty-nine years old when François II was born he must have heard about the circumstances and had no reason to conceal any fact that would so much redound to his master's credit. Likewise neither Brantôme nor L'Estoile, who certainly were en rapport in all court gossip, make any reference to Fernel in their writings, which are so full of details of all court doings, and especially of spicy ones. In fact L'Estoile states that Catherine's first pregnancy had resulted from the aid given her by a

woman." De Thou and Scaliger who wrote towards the close of the 16th century do not either of them give any clue in the matter.

The first mention of Fernel's intervention occurs in Louis d'Orleans' book, “Plante Humaine,” and is given by Cabanès:

“Henri II not being able to have children consulted many skillful physicians of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris, who refused to help him. Someone suggested Fernel to him, and he laughingly demanded of him in the presence of the Queen if he could cause her to have children. Fernel replied that it belonged to God to give them, to her Majesty to make them, and to him to teach her the precepts of the art, by which she could arrive at it. Some time afterward the Queen became pregnant, and on perceiving it sent him ten thousand écus, and when couched as much again with a buffet of silver, and this she did at each accouchement.”

Gabriel Naudé, the famous librarian of Cardinal Mazarin, in the course of an address at a seance of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris in 1628, repeated this story of

d'Orleans' with the modification that it was the King and not the Queen who so liberally rewarded Fernel. Cabanès next

next quotes the historians Mezeray and Varillas as stating that Fernel's counsels consisted in advising the King to have intercourse with the Queen during her menstrual period, and quotes their statements that the ill-health of their offspring was attributable to conception having occurred at this time. The theory that conception was most apt to follow intercourse at a menstrual period and that the fruit of such conception was liable to be unhealthy was very common among the Ancients.

The famous surgeon Dionis in his “Traicté sur les Accouchements,” published in 1718, states that Fernel, after a study of the relations of the King and Queen, counseled a particular posture to be used by the King during intercourse.

Cabanès quotes in a footnote a passage from Balzac's “Études philosophiques sur Catherine de Medicis" the statement made by Balzac, referring to Bayle as his authority, that Fernel operated on Henri II, and I believe that this is the source from which most readers have drawn their mistaken ideas in the case. After reviewing the above statements it would seem very probable that Fernel had nothing to do with it beyond his attention at the Queen's accouchements, and it is certainly very doubtful if any operation at all was performed on the King. Operations on royalty for many years subsequent to Henri's time were matters of common talk, no matter how indelicate the nature, witness the operation on Louis XIV for fistula in ano, which even led to nobles of the court being operated on or pretending to be, for the same disorder. As the story originated when Henri had been dead for half a century and is unsupported by any contemporary testimony it may, as Cabanès states, be regarded as utterly without foundation.


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The publication of this issue of the ANNALS OF MEDICAL HISTORY was greatly delayed by the recent printers' strike in New York City. Numbers 3 and 4, contents of wbicb will be found on the back cover, will follow at sbort intervals.

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