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SIEGEMUNDIN, Justine (1650-1705)

Die Chur-Brandenburgische Hoff-Wehe-Mutter, das ist: Ein höchst-nöthiger Unterricht, von schweren und unrecht-stehenden Geburten, in einem Gespräch vorgestellet, wie nehmlich, durch Göttlichen Beystand eine wohl-unterrichtete und geübte Wehe-Mutter, mit Verstand und geschickter Hand dergleichen verhüten, oder wanns Noth ist, das Kind wenden könne durch vieler Jahrellbung ... nebst Vorrede, Kupfer-Bildern und nöthigem Register auf eigene Unkosten zum Druck befördert
Cölln an der Spree, gedruckt bey Ulrich Liebperten, Churf. Brandenb. Hofdruckerei, 1690.

First edition with the beautiful engraved frontispiece with a device within a cartouche with putti holding a flower garland: An Gottes hilff und Seegen, Geschickten hand bewegen, Ist all mein Tuhn gelegen. The most famous of the German midwives was Justine Siegemundin, whose maiden name was Dittrich, court midwife to the elector of Brandenburg. She held the same high position in Germany as Louis Bourgeois in France. In 1701, when Friedrich III was crowned the first King of Prussia, Siegemundin became court midwife of Prussia. In 1672 she obtained a copy of De Graaf’s book on generation, which started her on a career as a really scientific midwife. For twelve years she practised among the poor peasants of her region, teaching midwives and finally acting as chief consultant. By and by she had several cases among women of the upper classes and was appointed midwife to the royal family of Prussia. She had always kept careful notes of her cases and in 1690 her famous book was published at her own expences in response to many requests from friends and pupils including the Queen of England, who had made use of Justine’s careful case-notes. The book was generously illustrated with instructive plates and had great influence. The fact that is was written in German instead of Latin aroused a great deal of criticism. Almost as much criticism was aroused by its presentation in the form of a conversation between two midwives. It was generally held that midwives should be instructed not by midwives but by obstetricians.

Collation: Pp (40) 1-232 (233-234 omitted in pagination), 235-260, (14) index. Engraved frontispiece, engraved portrait of the authoress and 43 engraved plates: one unnumbered in the prelims, one large folding (with tear), nine plates marked with letters A to I, one section numbered 1-13, 15-25, another section 1-7, and one unnumbered with instruments. Complete.

Binding: Contemporary calf with blind decorated spine and red spine label.

Provenance: Carl Sandahl (1818–1889).

References: Garrison-Morton 6149 (1690 ed.); Cutter & Viets, pp 95-6, 201; Mead, A History of Women in Medicine, pp 427-29; Thoms, Classical Contributions to Obstetrics, pp 54-60; Findley, Priests of Lucina, pp 330-33; Graham, Eternal Eve, pp 238-41; Speert, Obstetric & Gynecologic Milestones (1996), p 471; Hagelin, Womans Booke, pp 72-5. Waller 8923, 8924 (1690, 1723 editions).

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