Attitudes towards menstruation and menstrual blood in Elizabethan England.
|Abstract:||Menstruation and menstrual blood are topics that have been neglected by many historians yet they are vital concepts to use in understanding early modern society. This article attempts to resolve this tack of historiographical coverage by offering a concise analysis and discussion of the flux and its consequences in the Elizabethan period--an age that, in many ways, was torn between tradition and innovation. In doing so, it covers issues such as conception, phlebotomy, gender and health. The article, however, is by no means comprehensive--such is made impossible by the vast range of attitudes and considerable ambiguity with which menstruation and menstrual blood were treated. However, it does provide the first step in discovering more about this little-discussed but deeply significant flux, which future historians may build upon and use to inform their understandings of the early modern period.|
Menstruation (Public opinion)
Conception (Public opinion)
Phlebotomy (Public opinion)
Women's issues (Analysis)
Veins (Public opinion)
|Publication:||Name: Journal of Social History Publisher: Journal of Social History Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: History; Sociology and social work Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Journal of Social History ISSN: 0022-4529|
|Issue:||Date: Fall, 2009 Source Volume: 43 Source Issue: 1|
|Topic:||Event Code: 290 Public affairs|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United Kingdom Geographic Code: 4EUUK United Kingdom|
Menstruation is a topic that has only become of concern to
historians relatively recently, the stigma attached to this female flux
surviving until well into the mid-twentieth century. Those historians
who broke new ground by investigating menstruation and its products
traditionally approached menstruation with two ingrained assumptions.
Firstly, they assumed that attitudes to menstruation were either
predominantly negative, viewing it as harmful for those who experienced
it and for society more generally, or predominantly based on the one-sex
model. Secondly, they believed that attitudes to menstruation and
menstrual blood can be generalised into a single model of beliefs.
Thereby, Crawford has concluded that the various social attitudes
towards menstruation predominantly saw menstruation as a harmful flux
that polluted the environment and harmed the female if retained. (1)
Bildhauer, who examined attitudes to menstruation in the medieval period
and based her research largely on the pseudo-Albertus tract, De secreta
mulierum, has similarly confirmed the existence of a negative medieval
attitude to menstruation that saw the flux as unambiguously harmful.(2)
Conversely, the one-sex model proposed by Laqueur and adopted by Pomata,
although not viewing menstruation negatively, does believe that
menstruation can be viewed simplistically as an ungendered flux common
to both male and female bodies. (3) This one-sex model holds that only
one body-type existed, that of the male, and the female body was an
inferior version of this male one. (4) In the one-sex body, the need for
a balance of fluids was vital for the health of both sexes and
therefore, what mattered in an imbalance of fluids was not the orifice
from which the fluid was lost or the sex of the subject but that the
excess fluids were lost and the fluid balance restored. (5) In a period
of transition, when new religious, philosophical and scientific ideas
were making an entrance, it is perhaps unwise to attribute any single
model to a broad cross-section of society as these historians do.
Although there are valuable aspects in the works of each of these historians, this study largely challenges their claims. It posits that there is no need for any single model, of either positive or negative attitudes to menstruation or of one or two-sex models. Instead, this study demonstrates how individuals adopted different attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood at different times, depending on the circumstances in which menstruation occurred. This meant that the beliefs of an Elizabethan could be ambivalent and this is reflected, as Cathy McClive has shown for early modern France, in the variety of terminology used to refer to menstruation and menstrual blood. (6) In some cases, English contemporaries referred to menstruation as "Menstrua" because "once in a moneth they happen always to womankind after xiii or xv yeeres of age passed." (7) Others referred to it as women's "Termes" because "they returne ... at certaine seasons, times, and termes." (8) More negatively, it could be viewed as a bodily flux that endangered health by causing overmuch loss of blood and in this context it was called "womans sickness." (9) Often, the name suggested menstruation as beneficial for the body, such as "theyr flowers"--a term used to describe menstruation as the key to achieving pregnancy. (10) Most contemporaries did not subscribe exclusively to any one view of menstruation and menstrual blood, and the terms used to describe menstruation and the attitudes towards it seem to have been dependent on the circumstances when it flowed and the health and condition of the body in which it flowed. If this is so, this is deeply significant, overthrowing past historiography and offering a new perceptive of early modern attitudes to menstruation and its products.
The sources used in this study have been selected to show a wide cross-section of Elizabethan society, traversing boundaries of age, gender, occupation and social standing and avoiding overmuch reliance upon literate, male authors of printed works. This has created a broad basis upon which to found a new approach to menstruation, rather than being designed to closely analyse every individual belief about menstruation and its products. Such a task has been left for future historians, who can build upon the broad background laid down by this study. Similarly, to retain accuracy in the analysis of sources and to control the size of this study, England has been studied in isolation from the Continent. This is misleading in some ways, since English ideas overlapped considerably with Continental beliefs, as has been shown by Stolberg, Pomata and McClive, but is considered necessary to avoid making the same mistakes as previous historians have made. (11) For instance, Laqueur overstretched himself by attempting to study attitudes to the body across a vast period stretching from the ancients through to the eighteenth century. (12) This wide period of study also meant that he was unable to use a wide range of sources and, as a result, Laqueur used too few vernacular texts, which were a better reflection of popular opinions than were Latin texts, and relied too heavily on anatomical illustrations as evidence, which were often taken by contemporaries from even earlier works and linked only loosely to the texts. (13)
Although these sources are very diverse, as a result of the broad cross-section of society that their writers comprise, these authors are key members of Elizabethan society from both popular and intellectual circles. For instance, one contemporary who is studied herein--John Dee--held some unusual ideas yet he was Queen Elizabeth I's astrologer and also well-known to James 1 and therefore must have been fairly mainstream in many of his beliefs. Similarly, although the sources all have different traditions and hence there is a danger of decontextualising different source genres by studying them all together, it is believed that the broader contextual and historical benefit for this study is greater than these few issues. Moreover, some source genres have not been studied extensively but this has always been for a compelling reason. Manuscript sources, for instance, have not been included but this is because many surviving manuscripts failed to mention menstruation and menstrual blood and hence add little to this study. The sources used herein, then, consist in part of the traditional source of medical printed works by male medical practitioners, which reveal the array of beliefs held by such men. These practitioners include educated physicians such as Thomas Raynalde (fl. 1539-1552?), who translated Eucharius Roesslin's German midwifery text, Der Schwangern Frawen und Hebamen Rosengarten, William Turner (1509/10-1568), who served as a physician in the Duke of Somerset's house, and the nationalistic, university-educated chief physician of St Bartholomew's, Timothie Bright (1549/50-1615). (14) Also included are devout Galenists, such as the learned member of the Royal College of Physicians, Edward Jorden (d. 1632) and Paracelsians such as the distiller, John Hester (d. 1592). (15) Moreover, Nicholas Gyer (fl. 1592), an educated a "minister of the word", is included, as well as some surgeons, such as John Gerard (c. 1545-1612), who later became King James I's herbalist, and John Banister (1532/3-1599?), who was a member of both the Barber-Surgeon's Company and the Royal College of Physicians. (16)
Additionally examined are the medical casebooks of an uneducated and unlicensed practitioner, Simon Forman (1552-1611), whose only medical training was an apprenticeship to a grocer-apothecary, and the remedies provided by the anonymous 'homish apothecary' (fl. 1551?) whose work was included in. Turner's herbal of 1551. (17) These revealed the medical attitudes towards menstruation and menstrual blood of an uneducated sector of male medicine. The diaries left by John Dee (1527-1609), a respected layman who had a medical degree but did not practise, have also been examined. (18) These diaries provided a perspective of the private beliefs of an elite man that might have been left unsaid in public. Additionally, the diaries written by Lady Margaret Hoby (bap. 1571, d 1633) and Lady Mary Sidney Herbert (1561-1621) and the medical casebooks of Lady Grace Mildmay (c. 1552-1620) have been included. (19) All three of these women were highly educated and lived in rural areas in which a lack of trained physicians required them to use their medical skills for the benefit of their communities. Their diaries and casebooks thus reveal both a non-learned medical attitude and an elite female viewpoint and can be used to minimise the problems resulting from a reliance on male authors for female attitudes. Furthermore, the medical commonplace books of women have been drawn upon, containing cookery recipes and medical cures, such as those compiled by John Partridge (fl. 1566-1582). (20) These commonplace books are an excellent source of female attitudes, and copies survive that show evidence of heavy use." (21) Women would have valued such books because they were accessible and written in English, which helped them to carry out. their role of providing medical care to their families and communities. (22) Indeed, many believed that "Kitchen physic ... is more proper ... than the Dr's filthy physic" and preferred these commonplace recipes to formal medicine, such as one of the patients of Richard Napier (1559-1634) who, when troubled with excessive menstruation, took "Red wine with cinnamon often." (23) These works therefore provide a perspective on women that medical casebooks of male physicians do not. Since some men also accepted this folkloric source of medical help, such as John Partridge, these books also reveal the beliefs of some laymen. (24)
Many of these contemporaries reveal a surprising degree of consensus in their beliefs about the varied roles of menstrual blood and menstruation in everyday life. Different groups often influenced the beliefs of each other and consequently, even if certain attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood were fairly common among a particular social group, they could still be accepted by other social groups as well. As Lindemann states, moreover, even though many practitioners were not university educated, most would have experienced just as rigorous an education in medical theory, through an apprenticeship, as those that were university educated. (25) This means that that the frontier between different practitioners was not as great as it might seem, although the consequently problematic term, 'folk medicine' is still used herein, for reasons that shall be explained below. This general consensus on beliefs about menstruation derived in part from the common heritage derived from religious, ancient and medieval sources. Although different individuals utilised this inheritance to varying degrees, most were at least aware of it. Therefore, some ancient and medieval attitudes remained widely accepted in the Elizabethan period, such as the Galenic humoral theory This saw four humours in the body, which were pure blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm. (26) Blood, produced in the liver from liquidised food, was considered the most vital of the humours, and it was believed that blood formed the basis of all elements of the body. Two of these elements were sperm and menstrual blood. A healthy body relied upon a balance of the four humours and therefore an excess of any one of these humours would cause disease and disorder within the body. (27) This excess was called plethora. Phlebotomy was one possible solution to such disorder, since, as the blood carried the four humours, removing a quantity of blood that was abundant in one particular humour would relieve the body of some of the plethora and so enable it to correct the imbalance more easily on its own. However, phlebotomy was usually considered a last resort and it was believed that the body would correct this imbalance naturally if the body was not too overwhelmed. In this humoral theory, then, menstruation was a form of natural phlebotomy that helped to maintain a balance of fluids within the body. Galen in fact stated that because of their menstrual periods, women would not suffer from such diseases as lethargy, spasm or melancholy. (28) Galen's view that menstrual blood supplied nutriment to the foetus and thereby moderated the heat of the male semen also survived into the Elizabethan period.
Other ancient beliefs seem to have been commonly rejected, just as the prior beliefs were widely accepted. These rejected beliefs included the views of Aristotle and Pliny the Elder about the role of menstrual blood in pregnancy, both of whom claimed that menstrual blood provided the material for the creation of a foetus whilst the male semen fashioned it. (29) Another view that was less commonly drawn upon was the negative belief that menstruating women were dangerous and polluted the world, a view that was championed by Pliny the Elder and Isidore of Seville. (30) Although some medieval works that contained these ideas, such as the De secreta mulierum, remained popular during the Elizabethan period, this did not entail acceptance of the parts of these works that adopted Plinian and Isidorian ideas. For instance, Thomas Raynalde declared these ideas to he "lies ... dreames and playne dotage." (31)
Similarly rejected by a large cross-section of society were the more negative Christian views such as that of Leviticus 15, which stated, "if a woman have an issue of her blood ... she shall be unclean" and "if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean." (32) As Paul Kocher has shown, religion had an overwhelming impact in medicine during this period and it was believed, for instance, that the natural processes that caused disease were induced by God. (33) Indeed, most contemporaries in this study linked medicine to religion, such as Lady Grace Mildmay, and many were clerics as well as practitioners, such as Turner and Bright. (34) For example, Bright stated that "vice, prophaneness, and neglect of religion and honesty ... [were] nought else but a fault of humour." (35) Since religion remained so central to Elizabethan medicine and society, it is all the more significant that the negative biblical attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood as harmful were not widely drawn upon by Elizabethan society. It is even more revealing that attitudes to menstruation were relatively positive on a Christian front when other religions, such as Jews, continued to refer to menstruation and menstrual blood in negative terms. Although Jews were not legally permitted in England during this period, the presence of stranger communities and a more tolerant attitude in practise towards such minorities meant that many contemporaries may have been aware of these negative Jewish views.
A certain degree of common ground thus existed over Elizabethan understandings of the role of menstruation and menstrual blood. However, such consensus only subsisted over the vague ideas about the roles of menstruation and menstrual blood in the body, and once it came to the finer details of these roles, there was much less agreement, as shall be shown. This must in part be attributable to the vastly contrasting social situations of individual Elizabethans, since attitudes that early modern people had about their bodies and its processes were shaped by their education, medical background, occupation, gender and imagination. The heritage of ancient views added to this disagreement over specific issues concerning menstruation and menstrual blood since in this period, Galenic views of menstruation sat uneasily with the newly-discovered Hippocratic beliefs that tended to be much more negative about menstruation. As a result, there was no fixed, mainstream belief about menstruation and menstrual blood within society but instead, a range of beliefs. The fact that almost all of the authors studied herein accepted that there would be criticism of their work confirms a contemporary awareness of this diversity of views. (36)
There are two issues implicit within the idea of 'menstruation': firstly, the actual menstrual blood that is excreted during menstruation and secondly, the process of excreting this blood. In the Elizabethan period, most people appear to have believed that the two performed separate functions in the body, and this is vital to consider in studying attitudes to menstruation. However, some historians have not appreciated the full complexity of the Elizabethan interpretations of menstruation and menstrual blood. For example, Crawford argued that menstruation was still widely viewed as magical and dangerous for both humans and the environment in the seventeenth century, but did not recognise that it was the menstrual blood, not the process of menstruation, that was considered dangerous or magical. (37) In addition, because Crawford did not examine attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood in different situations and bodily contexts, her conclusions about attitudes to each are slightly over-generalised.
Also implicit within discussions of menstruation was the belief that moderation and periodicity were essential for healthy menstruation, without which menstruation became a negative purgation than endangered the body. This tied into the concept of a latitude of health, which has been examined by Maclean and Joutsivuo and was the concept that a state of health could only exist as long as one's body and constitution were contained within two extremes of hotness and coldness, wetness and dryness, plethora and deficiency. (38) This latitude of health meant that although an elderly woman might not be able to run as far as a young male athlete, she was still considered healthy as long as her body and constitution lay within the boundaries of health. Thereby, in all discussions, menstruation was beneficial in moderation and as long as it was regular, yet once it fell below or rose above the boundaries of what was considered healthy, it became a dangerous flux for the women concerned. This also meant that there was a wider spectrum of attitudes towards menstruation and menstrual blood, rather than only positive and negative views, since the attitude depended upon the status of an individual within the spectrum of health. For instance, the loss of her menstrual periods might be considered far less dangerous in an elderly woman than in a young, otherwise healthy girl, since although it was viewed negatively as a sign of age and a loss of good health, it was an event that was an anticipated part of the life cycle and treated as such.
These principles of moderation, periodicity and scales of health particularly came into play when discussing menstruation as a purgation and menstrual blood as the substance that needed removal from the body. This was perhaps the most common understanding of menstruation and menstrual blood. Andrew Wear has argued that there was considerable concern in this period with the effects of putrefaction, which Elizabethans saw on an everyday basis all around them, and which they feared could be mirrored in their bodies if they held more of any bodily substance than could be used up by the body. (39) If left in the body, this substance would become harmful by putrefying and this would corrupt other parts of the body and cause disease. As a result, if the blood became harmful, it needed to be removed by menstruation, which thereby acted as a purgation. Whether menstrual blood was viewed as beneficial for the body or not depended on the point at which it was considered to become harmful. This in turn affected attitudes to menstruation as a purgation since if it removed menstrual blood before the point at which it became harmful, this was dangerous for the body. However, there was inconsistency over the point at which menstrual blood became harmful. Some Elizabethans believed that the point at which the menstrual blood became harmful was when it was delivered to the uterus, since the body, which would naturally perform its own phlebotomy, had delivered it there and had thereby labelled it as an excess. In addition, they believed that once it was delivered to the uterus, it was marked as harmful not only in quantity (i.e. when there was too much of it) but also in quality. Such was the view of the university-educated physician, Edward Jorden. Jorden accepted that menstrual blood was beneficial during pregnancy for a foetus, and as long as it was utilised in this way, the menstrual blood remained beneficial. However, if a female failed to conceive, this blood, "wanting his proper use doe degenerate into the nature of an excrement, then it offendeth in qualitie as well as in excesse." (40) This in turn caused diseases such as the suffocation of the mother. (41) Jorden therefore believed that if menstrual blood was not needed in pregnancy, it became harmful both in quality and in quantity
Others were in favour of the idea that menstrual blood was in theory beneficial, remained beneficial whilst in the uterus, and only became harmful once it was present in too great a quantity. In this approach, the menstrual blood never became harmful in quality, but only in quantity. University-educated physicians such as Raynalde, saw the true role of menstrual blood as lying in pregnancy, and for this reason, "they be greatly deceyued ... which call the Termes the womans purgation, or the cleansing of their blood" since "Is it to be thought, that nature would feede the tender and delicate Infant in the mothers wombe, with the refuse of the blood, or not rather with the purest of it?" (42) Therefore although the role of menstruation was intended to relieve the "burthen and unprofitable loade" of menstrual blood that arose if a female did not become pregnant, this burden only arose "if the purpose [of menstrual blood in pregnancy] fayleth". (43) At all other times, the menstrual blood was "euen as pure and holsome, as all the rest of the blood in any part of the body els." (44) Bright made a similar argument, stating that although menstrual blood had a role in causing melancholy it was not a direct cause but simply aggravated the illness once it had already been caused. (45) Instead, he felt that the menstrual blood was "good bloud" that was just too abundant and menstruation was only "judge[d] neccessarie [becellcause] ... nature is partly disburthened and so more easilye governeth the rest, and ... correcteth with smaller help." (46) Both of these men disagreed with Jorden, therefore, and believed that menstrual blood was harmful in quantity rather than in quality.
Most Elizabethans seem to have abided by the latter belief, perceiving menstrual blood as dangerous when it was present as a plethora, yet not harmful in moderation. For the anonymous 'homish apothecarye', blindness "do lightely gret women whose floures fail before it be time" whilst "Sometime is the liver of a woman stopped/when her floures drawe upwarde/before it is due season." (47) Jorden named too little menstruation as one cause of suffocation of the mother, whereby "the matrix is drawne upwards or sidewards" and even in Hester's collection of Paracelsian remedies, a large number mention the danger of retained menses. (48) Similarly, Forman saw menstrual blood as filthy, saying, "yf any of the ... cells of the matrix be stopte then ... you muste labor to unstop them that ... the matrix ... may thorowely exempte her selfe and cast out all filthines that is in her." (49) His views reflect those of many lay females, since a large number of his clientele were women with gynaecological problems, and retained menses was the most common complaint of these women. In 1597, thirty-eight percent of the 830 medical consultations that Forman held with women were about gynaecological problems and 145 of these included stopped menses as a symptom. (50) Although the desire to 'bring on their courses' could be a euphemism for abortion, being used at such by the mid-seventeenth century in midwives' manuals, the fact that such a large number of females were concerned enough with stopped menses to pay for a medical consultation shows how serious this condition was felt to be by many women. Indeed, Sir William Monson's wife consulted Forman in 1597 because she "thinks the devil doth tempt her to do evil to herself" and was "much subject to melancholy and full of fancies" because "She hath not had her course and the menstrual blood runneth to her head." (51) This fear of the harmful effects of plethoric menstrual blood was not exclusive to the women who consulted Forman. For instance, Mildmay stated that menstruation caused an "ill complexion ... with blackness roundabout the eyes or flushings" and "headaches and melancholy." Similarly, medical commonplace books included many comments in the margin about remedies for greensickness and mother-fits, thereby showing retained menses to be a popular female concern. (52) Phlebotomy was commonly advocated as the remedy for cessation of menstruation by learned men such as Gyer, uneducated practitioners such as the 'homish apothecary', and even women such as Mildmay. (53) This sixteenth-century evidence in favour of phlebotomy for females challenges Crawford's argument that women objected to the letting of blood for cessation of menstruation. (54) Therefore, whether aimed at restoring good health or as a means of achieving abortion, regular menstruation was considered vital in moderation.
Although most Elizabethans feared the effects of a plethora of menstrual blood, especially on a lay level, these individuals also recognised a danger from the presence of too little menstrual blood as a result of excessive menstruation. This meant that it was just as possible for menstruation to be viewed as dangerous and menstrual blood as necessary for a healthy body. For instance, Mildmay was very cautious when treating one particular female patient, stating, "this course [of purgation and a medicinal drink] she kept, until her courses break upon her, during which time, she did betake her to her ordinary diet. And five days after her natural courses were clean gone, then she began again with her purge." (55) Purging medicines were designed to perform the natural purgative function of menstruation at the time at which menstruation should occur in order to help the body to begin its purgations again. Mildmay, in stating that it was dangerous for both methods of purgation to be active at the same time, shows her acceptance of the belief that the removal of too much menstrual blood threatened the female body. Similarly, although Hester's collection of Paracelsian remedies demonstrated a belief in the danger of too little menstruation, it also included remedies that saw an equal danger from excessive menstruation, including one lady who "had the course of her termes so long, that ... shee was readie to give uppe the ghost." (56) Gyer, a "minister of the word" who read and assimilated the ideas of contemporary, medieval and ancient medical authorities in order to write his Phlebotomie, believed an "abundance of menstruous bloud" caused "the beginning of a dropsie." (57) Forman also accepted the danger of too little menstrual blood, stating that the only time when purging medicines should be given was "some thre or four dais ... before they have their course" and warning of one lady in 1 599 who had been let blood "and the same night her course came down and she died." (58) Consequently, menstrual blood was not always viewed as dangerous.
Since menstrual blood was not harmful by default, this also meant that menstruation was not always seen as an unconditionally beneficial flux. This was predominately because excessive menstruation could lead to the removal of too much menstrual blood, but there were other reasons why it could be viewed as harmful. Oyer, typically for a compiler of a range of contemporary medical beliefs, summarised these negative views of menstruation most aptly. He stated that the best kind of phlebotomy was natural, "For nature while it is in health, rightly gouerneth the state of the body and doth expell thence whatsoeuer superfluously aboundeth or is corrupted." (59) However, he also acknowledged that sometimes, artificial phlebotomy was necessary instead of menstruation because menstruation could fail or a bodily disease could affect the body so greatly that menstruation was affected as well. In this case, the menstrual cycles needed to be cured as much as the body, as one step in restoring the body to good health, and therefore, "to allure the matter to the place of euacuation ... in stopping of Termes or Hemorroids, the veine Saphena is to he opened." (60) It was also because natural phlebotomy, including menstruation, could be too slow if a disease was acute, in which case "we are to account [menstruation] unprofitable: for it nether remoueth the disease, neither disswadeth us from that conuenient euacuation by art, which the vehemencie of the disease requireth." (61) Therefore, menstruation was beneficial for a healthy body, but in a body that was racked with disease it was no longer sufficient to cure the illness and maintain good health.
Consequently, in terms of their role in the maintenance of bodily health, neither menstrual blood nor menstruation as a purgation were viewed as entirely harmful or beneficial. Both could be viewed negatively if either were too excessive, but both were positive in moderation and were therefore not dangerous by default. This brings into question Crawford's argument that menstruation was predominately viewed as a negative flux in the seventeenth century. Attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood were unlikely to have changed drastically between the second half of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth, upon which Crawford focussed, since many Elizabethan printed works that saw menstrual blood as beneficial, such as Raynalde's translation of the Birth of Mankinde, remained popular in the seventeenth century. In addition, this range of contemporary Elizabethan attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood suggests that Crawford's argument is both too simplistic, since it fails to account for the variation in attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood, and too generalised, because it presumes that most attitudes were negative most of the time.
One area in which menstruation and menstrual blood were definitely seen as beneficial was as a route to pregnancy, although in this context, menstrual blood was believed to be better for the pregnant body than menstruation was. The majority of Elizabethans seem to have accepted the Galenic idea of the role of menstrual blood in conception, wherein the menstrual blood provided nutrition to the foetus and perfected the male semen. (62) This is illustrated by Raynalde, who stated that without menstrual blood, "she may conceyue, but the seede conceyued ... issueth foorth againe for lacke of nutriment." (63) Raynalde showed this belief in the nutritional value of menstrual blood to be a popular one, stating that "The milke which commeth to the brests is engendred of the Termes (according to most mens opinions)." (64) Although almost every source that has been examined herein connected menstrual blood positively with pregnancy, some were more explicit in doing so. The less learned and those that were more influenced by 'popular' beliefs, such as Forman, believed that women would "never have children" if they did not menstruate, but they did not explain why this was. (65) Instead, the explanation for this is given by university-educated physicians, such as Raynalde and Jorden, which is that "Blood is that humor wherewith we are nourished: without which the infant in the mothers wombe could neither grow & increase ... and therefore it was necessarie that those that were fit for generation, should be supplied with sufficient store of this humor." (66)
As well as explaining the roles of menstrual blood and menstruation in pregnancy more explicitly than their less educated contemporaries did, the university-educated physicians saw the roles of menstruation and menstrual blood in reproduction as intertwined. Therefore, although Gyer recognised that if "the termes ... flowe" in a pregnant woman there was a risk that "the fruit in the womb be dejected and cast down," both Raynalde and he believed that menstruation could be beneficial in pregnancy. This was because if pregnant women "carrie ... full bodies ... they being with child, waxe verie slowe, heauie, & as it were, ouerladen with abundance of bloud," which caused them discomfort and could harm the foetus. (67) For this reason, pregnant women could still menstruate until the fourth or fifth month because "in the beginning ... the bloud more aboundeth and the yong needeth lesse nourishment." (68) However, many who were less educated or not involved in medicine still worried for the health of a foetus if its mother menstruated during pregnancy. This included such educated contemporaries as Dee. He recorded "Jane [his wife] had some few drops of blood: to our great fear, of aborsement" and his fear is seemingly justified by a previous occasion when "Jane had them ... and ... in the evening she had a miscarriage." (69) The fact that menstruation during pregnancy caused such fear reveals a popular belief that menstrual blood was involved in maintaining the good health of the foetus.
There were other differences in attitudes among different Elizabethans, depending on their background. For instance, no university-educated physician that was examined herein spoke of the belief that sex with a menstruating woman would harm the male or foetus, suggesting that it was not of great concern to them. Nor has anything emerged in the sources written by less learned men and women to suggest that this negative belief about menstrual blood was a common one. Even those laypersons who were educated, such as Dee, seem to have rejected the danger of menstrual blood to a foetus, since Dee appears to have had intercourse with his wife during her menstrual period. The majority, therefore, appear to have rejected or ignored menstrual blood's harming effects in pregnancy. However, a few may well have viewed menstrual blood as harmful in pregnancy, such as Forman, who recognised the danger of menstrual blood when he provided a cure for "a leper such as one as was begotten on a woman when she had her course." (70)
Compared to most, university-educated practitioners appear to have been more cautious about assuming that a lack of menstruation indubitably indicated pregnancy. For instance, Raynalde stated that "yee shall not understand ... that always when the termes stop beneath ... [it is because of pregnancy and] the same blood [will] become milke ... "since often, when "these termes doe stop for any other cause then conception, the superfluous blood ... engendreth diuers ... inconueniences." (71) However, less educated physicians, such as Forman, and laywomen and men appear to have accepted this connection more readily, although they were also aware of the potential illnesses that a lack of menstruation could entail. For instance, Dee carefully tracked the timing of Jane's periods and this may well have been because of the role that he saw for menstrual blood in pregnancy. (72) Forman also attributed menstrual blood with a key role in reproduction, despite believing that menstrual blood could cause harm to the foetus if the female was menstruating when she conceived. (73) He shows this in his diary entry from 30th October 1599, when he recorded with delight that "my wife's course came down and it was the first time that ever she had them" because it meant that he could anticipate children from her. (74) The presumption that a lack of menstruation entailed pregnancy was just as common for females as for males. Thus, Forman reported in 1597 that Frances Howard "supposes herself with child ... she hath not had her course" and Napier mentioned one woman who consulted him because she "feareth and grieveth that she have no child more because ... she hath been troubled with her terms so much." (75) Therefore, most Elizabethans seem to have presumed that menstrual blood was more likely to be beneficial than harmful in pregnancy, even if some educated physicians were more cautious about making such an assumption.
In pregnancy, then, most Elizabethans seem to have seen both menstrual blood and menstruation as being capable of a beneficial role in the body and in this context it is menstruation, not menstrual blood, that was more likely to be viewed negatively, since it could endanger the foetus. Where the role of menstruation in pregnancy was concerned, university-educated physicians were generally more positive than the majority of contemporaries, albeit still cautious. University educated physicians saw menstruation in pregnancy as a beneficial flux, as long as it occurred in moderation and in a body that contained too much blood. Conversely, these physicians were fairly negative about menstrual blood in pregnancy. This was because many learned physicians recognised that the retention of menstrual blood was not necessarily a beneficial occurrence that signified pregnancy. However, most contemporaries saw menstrual blood in pregnancy as unambiguously beneficial. There was only one apparent exception to this predominately positive attitude to menstrual blood in pregnancy, from Forman, who warned of the dangers of menstrual blood for the foetus. (76) However, it appears that this was a minority opinion. Where menstrual blood in the context of pregnancy was concerned, then, the majority viewed it as beneficial for the pregnant body.
Equally positive a view was the belief that menstrual blood could be a medicine for the body. This appears to be a more typical lay belief than an educated one, since, whilst most university-educated physicians saw breast milk as converted menstrual blood, little is said to suggest that they also saw this form of menstrual blood as healing in itself. Conversely, more is mentioned about this belief by the less educated laypersons included in this study. Partridge, when writing of "these singuler practises" of "a Gentlewoman in the Countrey," recorded one remedy that stated, "a spoonefull of Womans milke" together with rosewater and lettuce "wil provoke sleepe." (77) Gerard agreed with this, saying, "The leaves, knops and seede [of Poppy], stamped with vinegar, womans milke and saffron, cureth Eryspelas ... easieth the gout mightily, and ... causeth sleepe." (78) However, this was not the only benefit of breast milk as a medicine, and the 'homish apothecary' advised the use of "as muche woman milke that sucketh a boye" to cure eye diseases. (79) This belief was taken further by others, such as Dee and Forman, who saw the actual menstrual blood itself as beneficial. Dee, for instance, believed that this menstrual blood held magical properties, defining it as a key substance in alchemy when he recorded, "A. Includebantur hermetico sigillo, duo, menstrua, hora 9 a meridie." (80) Meanwhile, Forman, although recognising that menstrual blood caused infirmities to any foetus created whilst a female was menstruating, also argued that the cure for this was "the menstrues of a virgin or young woman clear from infirmities." (81) This last example is proof of the complexity of beliefs about menstruation and menstrual blood, wherein menstrual blood was seen as harmful for the body in certain bodily contexts, yet beneficial in other contexts. Again, this evidence from the sixteenth century suggests that Crawford has not been careful enough to distinguish among attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood in different bodily contexts and among different groups of society in the seventeenth century.
These diverse views of menstruation and menstrual blood highlight the sheer variety of attitudes and the reliance of both upon contemporary context. Although there were loose trends between positive and negative attitudes, menstrual blood being generally positive in pregnancy, for instance, the views depended heavily upon the position of the individual in the latitude of health, the circumstances in which menstruation and menstrual blood appeared and the social status of the person revealing his attitudes. As such, these claims cast doubt upon Bildhauer and Crawford's arguments that in the Middle Ages and seventeenth century respectively, menstruation and menstrual blood were viewed negatively. (82) Indeed, although neither directly tackles the Elizabethan period, it is unlikely that attitudes were first negative, then fragmented into many various attitudes, none wholly negative, for the duration of Elizabeth I's reign, and then soured once again in the seventeenth century. This inconsistency may reflect a problematic approach to menstruation and menstrual blood by both historians. Indeed, Bildhauer focussed heavily on the De secreta mulierum, which was a medieval text that was exceptionally negative towards women, menstrual blood and menstruation, at the expense of more positive medieval interpretations, such as those of Avicenna, Hildegard, or Constantine. (83) Similarly, Crawford stated that no writer in the seventeenth century referred to menstruation as good blood, yet Raynalde's translation of Roesslin's German midwifery text, entitled Birth of Mankinde, stated just this. (84) This text was popular enough to be reprinted several times in the seventeenth century, but Crawford did not take this work into account. (85) In addition, Crawford argued that religion was a major influence on the negative attitudes to menstruation and that the statements against menstruating women in Leviticus were taken seriously and believed. (86) However, she provided no evidence of the acceptance of the beliefs in Leviticus, beyond that of the playwright Barnabe Barnes, who may have been only drawing inspiration from, or even mocking, the statement in Leviticus. (87) It is consequently possible that the arguments of both thus derive from their rather limited range of sources.
Laqueur's one-sex model can similarly be challenged, as has been done by many historians. (88) Indeed, the concept of male menstruation can be used for such purposes. This, being a largely contemporary European belief, is not greatly applicable to this study, yet it demonstrates aptly and innovatively some of the flaws of Laqueur's argument and challenges the claims of Pomata. Both of these historians believed that there was a one-sex model that existed during this period and Pomata in particular used this belief to claim that male menstruation was widely accepted and was seen as beneficial for men in early modern Europe. (89) Although attitudes towards male blood flux, by which is meant bleeding from any bodily orifice, were just as reliant upon context and the views of the individual as were attitudes towards menstruation and menstrual blood, the two fluxes were not treated as synonymous. For example, in Partridge's tract, remedies were given for both greensickness and for an absence of bloody flux, but they were not regarded as the same, greensickness being a name used to describe the absence of menstruation in females and the patients requiring a bloody flux being identified as male. (90) further, in Gerard's and Turner's herbals, often, the ability of one herb to bring on a bloody flux was recorded alongside the same herb's ability to bring on menstruation, rather than grouped, as they would have been if they were considered synonymous. Similarly, in these herbals, some herbs are specifically stated as being good for some fluxes and not for others, as in Gerard's account of the apple of Jerusalem, in which he mentioned nothing of its effects on menstruation but did state that it "cureth the Hemorrhoides." (91)
Of all the individuals that are examined herein, Gyer explains the most eloquently why male bloody flux could not be female menstruation. Gyer saw bloody fluxes as beneficial and believed that if they did not flow, it would cause "melancholy diseases". (92) For this reason, "in stopping of Termes or Hemorroids", treatment was given to restart them, whereby "the veine Saphena is to be opened." (93) Gyer undoubtedly viewed bloody fluxes and menstruation as linked, since he saw one way of stopping "weomne in fluxes of Hemorroids" as being by "prouoking Menstrua". (94) However, these fluxes were not seen as identical to menstruation. Gyer made it clear that menstruation was a strictly gendered flux, quoting an Old English verse that said, "In the hammes a woman shall bleede,/For stopping of her flours at neede,/A man shall bleede there also/For the Hemorroids to fordo." (95) In addition, he believed that all blood fluxes aside from menstruation were "Particuler Euacuation", which "doth onely alleuiate some particuler part loden with Excretments," as a result of which they can excrete blood from the wrong part of the body or the wrong blood. Menstruation is not discussed here, implying that menstruation drew blood from all areas of the female body, in a Hippocratic pangenesis model, and therefore relieved the entire body. (96) Gyer thus saw menstruation as superior to these other bloody fluxes, since it was preferable "in weomne in fluxes of Hemorroids" to "stay them in prouoking their natural Termes." (97)
These contemporaries show that Elizabethan attitudes were not 'one-sex' where menstruation was concerned and that menstruation was identified as an exclusively female flux, albeit akin to other forms of blood flux. This implicitly challenges the view of Laqueur that menstruation occurred in both men and women. (98) Similarly, it challenges Pomata's argument that male menstruation was accepted widely in the sixteenth century. (99) Indeed, as Stolberg has pointed out, often in the sources that Pomata used, 'menstruation' did not mean the loss of a certain kind of blood from the uterus, as experienced by a female. (100) Instead, it literally meant a monthly flux of blood and consequently a 'menstrual haemorrhagia' in a male was not menstruation, but a monthly haemorrhoid. (101) Pomata's argument therefore rests upon a mistaken presumption that, once corrected, renders her hypothesis incorrect.
Although these varied attitudes seem to have been unique for each individual, it is indubitable that loose trends in attitudes also existed within social groupings and that certain attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood were more common among particular sections of society that shared certain characteristics. One of these characteristics was medical education, since university-educated practitioners were more prone to certain attitudes than less educated practitioners and laypeople. For instance, university-educated physicians went into much more detail on every issue of menstruation than other practitioners and social groups and they were more desirous to show their understanding of the concept of a latitude of the healthiness of menstruation than popular practitioners, who focussed more on the two extremes of menstruation as harmful or beneficial.
Another characteristic that affected attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood was gender. The female sources included in this study never once explained or questioned the origin of menstruation, menstrual blood, breast milk or conception and rarely decisively linked them up, usually simply finding remedies for something that they saw as dangerous. This means that their interpretation of specific aspects of menstruation is usually implied rather than stated. However, it is clear that those women studied here did not see menstruation or menstrual blood as significantly dangerous for their own health, as long as it was present in moderation. For instance, one female belief, which is mentioned by the woman from whom the remedies in Partridge's Widowes Treasure originate, was that menstrual blood was healing in the form of breast milk. This belief does not seem to have been shared with learned practitioners. (102)
The female familiarity with folk medicine and herbal remedies, such as contained in Partridge's Widowes Treasure, can also explain the differences between female and learned practitioners' attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood. Although it is acknowledged that most uneducated practitioners, including females, may have been aware of aspects of learned medicine, there were still recipes that derived from a non-medical background and were generally passed down through families and shunned by university-educated practitioners. This is what is mentioned herein by 'folk medicine' and the female familiarity with this form of medicine was another probable effect of gender. Women were much less likely to attain a medical education than their male peers, whether at university or through apprenticeships, and therefore 'folk medicine' was one of the few medical resources that females could draw upon. (103) Since a further consequence of their gender was that females were often expected, as housewives, to care for their families and communities, this 'folk medicine' was vital for females. (104) As a result, women such as Mildmay were very familiar with folkloric herbal remedies, by the inheritance of remedies from their family and friends. (105) Mildmay relied on folk medicine to a lesser degree than other women seem to have done since she was well educated, she herself saying, "every day I spent some time in the herbal and books of physic and in ministering to one or other by the directions of the best physicians of mine acquaintance." (106) However, the folkloric heritage of Mildmay is still clear, since, out of two hundred and seventy remedies contained in her casebooks, only thirty-five were received from medical practitioners and the rest were likely to have been taken from folklore, family and friends. (107) This large number of folkloric remedies in Mildmay's casebooks implies that whilst her attitudes towards menstruation and menstrual blood as beneficial for the body has arisen in part from similarly positive attitudes towards menstruation and menstrual blood usually reflected in Elizabethan learned medicine, they are also reflected in wider society.
Gender can also explain the relative silence amongst the female sources contained in this study over menstruation and menstrual blood in comparison to male medical sources. Hoby does not once mention or refer to menstruation in her diary, and Mildmay referred to menstruation only when it directly affected her treatment of illness or when it caused illness. This is shown in the account of Mildmay's purgatory treatment of one woman, since she emphasised the importance of stopping treatment during this patient's menstrual periods. (108) It seems likely that as a result of experiencing their own menstruation, both ladies, as well as women more generally, would have accepted menstruation as a normal part of life and as unworthy of special mention unless it became threatening. This was a less common attitude amongst men.
Another characteristic that can explain differences in attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood among groups of society is the difference in target audience and the context and genre of writing for Elizabethan authors. These three elements in turn affected the statements that writers made about menstruation and menstrual blood. For example, Dee's private diaries reveal contrasts in attitudes to menstruation to Jorden's tract, because Dee was writing only for himself and did not have to make his work appeal to any section of society, whereas Jorden needed to endorse the views of the College of Physicians, to whom he dedicated his work. Partridge and Raynalde are particularly relevant here since both were writing at least partly for women. Indeed, Partridge dedicated his book to the woman from whom he took the remedies, whilst Raynalde dedicated his book more generally to all women who would benefit from his translation of Roesslin's Der Schwangern Frawen and Hebamen Rosengarten. (109) As a result, part of the agenda of both men had to be to appeal to these women, whereas other university-educated practitioners were writing for a male audience and did not need to flatter female readers. However, this is not satisfactory as the sole explanation of differences in stated attitudes among these men. For example, Roesslin did not write his manual for a female audience and made no apparent attempt to make it accessible for women. Therefore, because the work was essentially Roesslin's, although Raynalde intended his translation to be for females, the ideas contained within the body of the text were originally aimed at men, not at women. This therefore affects a reading of Raynalde's translation.
However, in most cases, the reason why different attitudes arose is not clear and therefore, despite these loose trends, attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood cannot be simply explained using concepts of gender, class difference or medical education. For instance, although Turner and Gerard were both renowned herbalists, the two differed slightly in their approach to menstruation. Firstly, Gerard recorded far more herbs to stop excessive menstruation than Turner did, who seemed more concerned with herbs that provoked menstruation. Secondly, Gerard was much more explicit in his explanations of why certain herbs were beneficial for menstruation than was Turner. For instance, in reference to the plant, Amy, Turner simply said "some hold the weomen do soner conceive if they smel [Amy] when as the work of conception is in doing," whilst Gerard explained the link between herbs, menstruation and conception more extensively, saying that the plant, Cat mint, was "used in bathes and decoctions for women to sit over, to bring downe their sicknes, and to make them fruitfull." (110) In addition, Gerard accepted certain popular beliefs that were not shared by many university-educated physicians, such as the belief in menstrual blood as indirectly healing through milk. There are several possible reasons for these differences. One such reason is an increased female concern with excessive menstruation by the time that Gerard was writing. However, this explanation should be set against the fact that most of the women who consulted Forman in 1597 consulted him about stopped menses, rather than excessive menstruation, suggesting that the former was still more worrying for them than the latter. (111) Instead, the differences may have been because of the thirty odd years between their publication, during which period much would have changed; for instance, an increase in the number of drugs available to treat excessive menstruation. (112) A further reason is Gerard's background as a barber-surgeon, since, according to Pelling, learned physicians such as Turner were inferior in their understanding of herbs to surgeons and uneducated practitioners in this period. (113)
Consequently, although the differences in attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood among different Elizabethans were undoubtedly affected to some degree by factors that include education, gender and occupation, often these factors do not completely explain why such multifarious attitudes should have existed. In addition, there were many differences in attitudes within groups, as well as differences across groups, and so it is just as inaccurate to generalise about attitudes as held by different groups as it is to generalise about attitudes as held by society as a whole. For example, patterns in attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood can be found among university-educated practitioners, which separated their attitudes from those of less educated practitioners and laypeople. This meant that there were discernible differences between university-educated practitioners as a group and less educated practitioners and laypeople, partly because of the different medical education of these Elizabethans. However, these differences in attitudes were not dramatic, or mutually exclusive, and education is only one possible factor that affected the attitudes of Elizabethans. For instance, during these years, religious discord was rife and Paracelsianism and the belief in the value or danger of New World herbs became prominent. These new developments meant that fissures developed among learned physicians, which led them to diversify away from each other. Therefore, Bright was deeply nationalistic, favoured Paracelsianism and drew heavily upon the influence of religion in medicine, whilst Jorden preferred Galenism, attempted to separate medicine from religion and the supernatural, and dedicated his tract to the Royal College of Physicians. These different factors affecting the unity of learned practitioners as a group might not appear to influence attitudes to menstruation on their own. For example, Hester's collection of Paracelsian remedies seem to display similar attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood as more Galenic tracts do, viewing both as dangerous in too great or too little a quantity. (114) However, it is possible that because these different factors led to less general unity within the group of university-educated practitioners, there was therefore less need for physicians to adopt attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood that were consistent with those of other learned colleagues. Therefore, the presence of a boundary between educated and uneducated practitioners did not decisively unite those within each group. Moreover, this boundary did not decisively separate the two groups either. Therefore, despite the difference in medical education, there were some consistencies in attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood between less educated and more medically educated parts of society. This was because educated medicine often passed down and influenced popular ideas of menstruation and menstrual blood, as suggested by Wear. (115)
Similarly, the degree to which gender was a decisive factor is unclear. Women shared many beliefs with laypersons and popular practitioners and the belief that menstrual blood was healing, either directly or in the form of breast milk, was one that was shared by some male practitioners, including Forman, the 'homish apothecary' and Gerard. (116) Moreover, many men favoured female folklore during this period, Ralph Verney saying, "[women] by experience know better than any physician how to treat ... infants" and Partridge promoting female remedies through print. (117) At any rate, gender was certainly not the only influence on female beliefs. For instance, Mildmay was much more medically educated than many women would have been, which meant that she was able to relate to a larger number of practitioners, and cannot be stereotyped as holding 'female' attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood. In addition, her education would have affected her attitudes and meant that they differed from more lower class female ones. This meant that Mildmay was often treated differently to other female healers, and men such as Richard Banister, who disliked all female healers, made an exception for Mildmay, saying, "I have known some, whose worth and wisdom might he paralleled with principal men ... as the right religious and virtuous lady, the Lady Mildmay, of Apethorpe." (118) Consequently, differences in attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood did not follow gender divisions completely, nor were they entirely gendered.
Not only was there differences in attitudes between individuals, regardless of social groupings, but it was also possible for individuals to view menstruation and menstrual blood as both beneficial and harmful for the female body without contradiction because of concepts such as the latitude of health. Raynalde demonstrates this. For instance, he stated that too little menstruation and too much menstrual blood were dangerous for the health of the body. However, too much menstruation and too little menstrual blood was just as dangerous, whereas in moderation, both were beneficial for the health of the body. (119) Further, Raynalde believed that menstruation could be both beneficial and detrimental in pregnancy, depending on the pregnant body, since although the menstrual blood was immensely beneficial for a foetus, occasionally it could be present in larger quantities than could be consumed by the foetus. (120) Many other contemporaries demonstrate a similar ambiguity in attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood. It was possible, then, for a range of attitudes to menstruation to be held by one single person and just as there was a latitude of health, there was a similar latitude in which menstruation and menstrual blood contributed to the health of a body, and a point beyond which both began to detract from this body's health. Once we appreciate the impact of the concept of a latitude of health on ideas about menstruation, the existence of a range of contradictory attitudes about menstruation makes much more sense.
It would be defeating the purpose of this study to attempt to generalise at this point and provide a neat summary of attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood. Ultimately, these attitudes cannot be categorised as positive or negative or divided neatly along social, gender or occupational lines. Menstruation and menstrual blood were viewed differently from individual to individual, and were affected by the influences on each Elizabethan's backgrounds and beliefs, which made these individual attitudes unique. As a result, attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood were multifarious and ambiguous to the modern viewer. This is unsurprising considering the contemporary context. This was a period of innovation and change in all areas of life, and a by-product of this social upheaval was the introduction of new, enlightened attitudes towards many areas of life, not least menstruation. Moreover, the concept of a latitude of health meant that menstruation and menstrual blood were viewed as beneficial for the body in some contexts and harmful in others by the average Elizabethan. It also meant that, although an absence of menstruation was dangerous at most times, the attitudes held towards both menstruation and menstrual blood varied over the life course of a woman, it being considered much less deadly for an elderly woman to cease menstruating than for a young, otherwise healthy woman. Equally, the female form as a whole was viewed with considerable ambiguity within this period. For example, diversity existed among Elizabethans over the understanding of conception. Men such as Forman accepted the medieval and folkloric idea of a seven-celled matrix--the three cells on the right producing a male child, the three on the left producing a female and the central cell creating "a monster, halfe a man, and halfe a woman." (121) More educated practitioners spurned such an idea, Raynalde stating that this belief "is but lyes, dreames, and fond fantasies." (122) Similarly, there was a lot of diversity over the anatomy of the female body. Most Elizabethans seem to have agreed that menstrual blood derived from the vena cava and that breast milk "is engendred of the Termes." (123) However, agreement ended here. For instance, Forman believed that "the menstrualle blod ... belonge unto [and was ruled by] the Moon and Scorpio." (124) In contrast, Raynalde rejected this and recognised that women menstruated "at one tyme and other in all seasons of the Moone." (125) Such diversity within contemporary life as a whole makes the diversity within attitudes towards menstruation and menstrual blood more understandable.
The next stage in any historical study of menstruation would be to continue this examination in order to analyse the impact of menstruation and menstrual blood on everyday life much more thoroughly than has been possible in this study. This will allow historians to understand more fully the true extent to which menstruation and menstrual blood shaped Elizabethan understandings of their bodies and affected their everyday lives. Moreover, it is impossible for English attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood to be separated from Continental attitudes, and such has only been done here to allow a close focus and analysis of attitudes within the time and space available. It is vital that with the background that has been provided herein, historians should re-examine approaches to menstruation on the Continent. It could arguably he said, for instance, that the concept of male menstruation--an idea that was more prevalent on the Continent than in England--could be seen as an indication of the positive nature of menstruation. Further, it would be valuable for these new arguments about attitudes towards menstruation and menstrual blood to be applied more generally to the sixteenth and early seventeenth century. For instance, it is highly plausible that these new attitudes could be seen as the roots of enlightenment and can contribute a lot to a discourse of change over time, whilst the distinctive and uniquely early modern combination of traditional and innovative beliefs could tell historians much more about how 'early modernity' can be defined and conceptualised. Ultimately then, menstruation and menstrual blood are far more vital for early modern study than many historians have yet acknowledged. Hopefully that is something that this study has gone some way towards correcting.
Department of History
Sheffield S1O 2TN
EEBO--Early English Books Online
DNB--Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
(1.) Patricia Crawford, "Attitudes to Menstruation in Seventeenth Century England," Past and Present 91 (May 1981).
(2.) Bettina Bildhauer, Medieval Blood (Cardiff, 2006).
(3.) Gianna Pomata, "Menstruating Men: Similarity and Difference of the Sexes in Early Modern Medicine," in Valeria Finucci and Kevin Brownlee, (eds.) Generation and Degeneration: Tropes of Reproduction in Literature and History from Antiquity through Early Modern Europe Europe (Durham, 2001), 109-152; Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge, MA, 1990).
(4.) Laqueur, Making Sex, 62.
(5.) Ibid., 35-37.
(6.) Cathy McClive, "Menstrual Knowledge and Medical Practice in Early Modern France, c.1555-1761," in Menstruation: A Cultural History (Hampshire, 2005), eds. Andrew Shail and Gillian Howie, 77-80.
(7.) Thomas Raynalde, The Birth of mankinde, otherwise named the Womans Booke (London, 1598), 47.
(8.) Ibid., 47.
(9.) John Gerard, The Herball Or Generall Historie of Plantes, (London, 1597), 185; William Turner, The first and seconde partes of the Herball of William Turner ... corrected and enlarged with the thirde parte (Cologne, 1568), 117.
(10.) Raynalde, Birth of mankinde, 47.
(11.) Michael Stolberg, "A Woman Down to Her Bones: The Anatomy of Sexual Difference in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries," in Isis 94 (2003): 274-299; Pomata, "Menstruating Men"; McClive, "Menstrual Knowledge," 76-89.
(12.) Laqueur, Making Sex.
(13.) Michael Stolberg, "Menstruation and Sexual Difference," in Shail and Howie (eds.), Menstruation: a cultural history, 93-94.
(14.) For Raynalde, I have looked at Raynalde, Birth of mankinde and have drawn on Ian Gadd "Raynald, Thomas (fl. 1539-1552?)," DNB, Oxford, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/23209, accessed 17 Sept 2006]; for Turner, I have looked at Turner, A new herbal, and Turner, The first and seconde partes of the Herball and have drawn on Whitney Jones. "Turner, William (1509/10-1568)," DNB, Oxford, 2004 [http://www. oxforddnb.com/view/article/27874, accessed 26 April 2006]; for Bright I have looked at Bright, Treatise of Melancholy and have drawn on Page Life, "Bright, Timothy (1549/50-1615)," DNB, Oxford, 2004 [http://www. oxforddnb.com/view/article/3424, accessed 26 April 2006].
(15.) For Jorden, I have looked at Jorden, Suffocation of the Mother and have drawn on J. F. Payne, "Jorden, Edward (d. 1632)," rev. Michael Bevan, DNB, Oxford, 2004 [http://www. oxforddnb.com/view/article/15125, accessed 01 Sept 2006]; for Hester, I have looked at. John Hester, A hundred and fouretene experiments and cures of the famous physitian Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Paracelsus (London, 1596) and have drawn on John Bennell, "Hester, John (d. 1592),"DNB, Oxford, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13134, accessed 15 Nov 2006].
(16.) Gyer, English Phlebotomy, Epistle A9, 82. For Gyer 1 have looked at Gyer, English Phlebotomy. There is no Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article for Gyer, so I have deduced his background from information given by him in his work; for Gerard 1 have looked at Gerard, Herball and have drawn upon Marja Smolenaars, "Gerard, John (c.1545-1612)," DNB (Oxford, 2004) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/10555, accessed 24 Apr 2006]; for Banister, I have looked at John Banister, The Historie of Man, Sucked from the sappe of the most approued Anathomistes (London, 1578) and have drawn on Andrew Griffin, "Banister, John (1532/3-1599?)," DNB, Oxford, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/1280, accessed 01 Sept 2006].
(17.) For Forman, I have looked at B. H. Traister, "'Matrix and the pain thereof': A sixteenth-century gynaecological essay" in Medical History 35 (1991): 436-451 and James Orchard Halliwell, (ed.) The Autobiography and personal diary of Dr. Simon Forman, the celebrated astrologer, from AD 1552 to AD 1602 (London: privately printed, 1849) and Lauren Kassell, Medicine and Magic in Elizabethan London: Simon Forman: Astrologer, Alchemist and Physician (Oxford, 2005) and have drawn on Lauren Kassell, "Forman, Simon (1552-1611)," DNB, Oxford, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/9884, accessed 15 June 2006]; for die 'homish apothecarye' I have looked at Anon, "A most excellent and perfecte homish apothecarye or homely physick booke for all the grefes and diseases of the bodye" in William Turner, A new herball wherein are conteyned the names of herbes (London, 1551).
(18.) For Dee I have looked at John Eglington Bailey, (ed.) Diary for the years 1595-1601 of Dr John Dee, Warden of Manchester, 1595-1608 (London: privately printed, 1880) and Edward Fenton (ed.), The Diaries of John Dee (Oxfordshire, 1998) and have drawn upon Julian Roberts, "Dee, John (1527-1609)," DNB, Oxford, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/7418, accessed 15 June 2006].
(19.) For Hoby I have looked at Dorothy Meads, (ed.) Diary of Lady Margaret Hoby: 1599-1605 (London, 1930) and drawn on Paul Slack, "Hoby, Margaret, Lady Hoby (ba 1571, d. 1633)," rev., DNB, Oxford, 2004 (http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37555, accessed 22 July 2006]; for Herbert I have looked at Margaret Hannay, "'How I these studies prize': the Countess of Pembroke and Elizabethan Science," in Women, Science and Medicine 1500-1700: Mothers and Sisters of the Royal Society, eds. Lynette Hunter and Sarah Hutton (Thrupp, 1997), and drawn on Margaret Patterson Hannay, "Herbert [Sidney], Mary, countess of Pembroke (1561-1621)," DNB, Oxford, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13040, accessed 22 June 2006]; for Mildmay, I have looked at Pollock, With Faith and Physic and drawn on Linda Pollock, "Mildmay, Grace, Lady Mildmay (c. 1552-1620)," DNB, Oxford, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2005 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/45817, accessed 26 June 2006].
(20.) For Partridge I have looked at John Partridge, The Widdowes Treasure (London, 1599) and John Partridge, The Treasury of commodious Conceits, and hidden Secrets (London, 1584) and drawn on Joyce Boro, "Partridge, John (fl. 1566-1582)," DNB, Oxford, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/21483, accessed 17 Sept 2006].
(21.) For example, see Sarah Wigges, medical receipts, 1616: Royal College of Physicians, London, MS. 654, fo.73, in Crawford, "Attitudes to Menstruation," 71.
(22.) Andrew Wear, "Medicine in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700," in The Western Medical Tradition: 800BC to AD 1800 eds. by Lawrence Conrad et al. (Cambridge, 1995), 231, 234, 298
(23.) For Napier I have looked at. Michael MacDonald, Mystical Bedlam: Madness, Anxiety and Healing in Seventeenth-Century England (Cambridge, 1981) and drawn upon Jonathan Andrews, "Napier, Richard (1559-1634)," DNB, Oxford, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/19763, accessed 16 June 2006]; Nottingham Record Office, Saville MS 221/97/7, in Pollock, With Faith and Physic, 94; Napier casebooks, Bodleian library, Ashmolean MS. 239, fol. 152, in Crawford, "Attitudes to Menstruation," 69.
(24.) Partridge, The Widdowes Treasure and Partridge, Treasury of commodious Conceits.
(25.) Mary Lindemann, Medicine and Society in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 1999), 109-119, 194.
(26.) See for example, Gyer, English Phlebotomy; Edward Jorden, A Briefe Discovrse of a Disease called the Suffocation of the Mother (London, 1603); Timothie Bright, A Treatise of Melancholy (London, 1586).
(27.) Gyer, English Phlebotomy, 6-8.
(28.) Galen, Opera, 11:165-166, in Pomata, "Menstruating Men," 138-139.
(29.) Galen, Use of Parts, XIV, vi; On Seed, II, I; I, vii, in Joan Cadden, Meanings of Sex Difference in the Middle Ages: Medicine, science, and culture (Cambridge, 1993), 33-34; Aristotle, Generation of Animals 2.4.738b20-23, in Laqueur, Making Sex, 29-30, 42.
(30.) Pliny, Natural History, VII, xv, in Cadden, Meanings of Sex Difference, 41; Isidorus Hispalensis, Etymologiarum sive originum libri XX, bk XI, Ch. I, fol. 141, in Cadden, Meanings of Sex Difference, 175; Albertus Magnus, Quaestiones, lib. IX, Q.9, 265, in Helen Rodnite Lemay, Women's Secrets: A Translation of Pseudo-Albertus Magnus' De Secretis Mulierum with commentaries, (Albany, 1992), 49.
(31.) Gerard, Herball, 341; Raynalde, Birth of mankinde, 50.
(32.) Geneva Bible, Leviticus 15: 19-25 http://www.genevabible.org/files/Geneva_Bible/Old_Testament/Leviticus.pdf.
(33.) Kocher, "God in Elizabethan Medicine," 24.
(34.) Linda Pollock, With Faith and Physic: The Life of a Tudor Gentlewoman: Lady Grace Mildmay, 1552-1620 (London, 1993) 111, 121; Turner, The first and seconde partes of the Herball; Bright, Treatise of Melancholy.
(35.) Bright, Treatise of Melancholy, iii.
(36.) See, for example, Raynalde, who defends himself against what women might think of his work, Birth of mankinde, and Nicholas Gyer, who defends his right as a divine to write about phlebotomy in The English Phlebotomy or, Method and way of healing by letting of blood (London, 1592). Even more contemporary writers tend to defend their decision to write their tracts in English.
(37.) Crawford, "Attitudes to Menstruation," 57-65.
(38.) Ian Maclean, Logic, Signs and Nature in the Renaissance: The Case of Learned Medicine (Cambridge, 2002), 256-259; Timo Joutsivuo, Scholastic Tradition and Humanist Innovation: The Concept of Neutrum in Renaissance Medicine (Helsinki, 1999).
(39.) Andrew Wear, Knowledge and Practice in English Medicine, 1550-1680 (Cambridge, 2000), 136-137.
(40.) Jorden, Suffocation of the Mother, 19-20.
(41.) Ibid., 19-20.
(42.) Raynalde, Birth of mankinde, 56.
(43.) Ibid., 48-49.
(44.) Ibid., 56.
(45.) Life, "Bright, Timothy"; Bright, Treatise of Melancholy.
(46.) Bright, Treatise of Melancholy, 264.
(47.) Anon, "A homish apothecarye," 28, 11.
(48.) Jorden, Suffocation of the Mother, 20; John Hester, A hundred and fouretene experiments of Paracelsus, 2, 4-5, 5, 9, 10, 12, 13.
(49.) Traister, "'Matrix and the pain thereof'," 444.
(50.) Ibid., 438.
(51.) Alfred Leslie Rowse, The Case Books of Simon Forman: Sex and Society in Shakespeare's age' (London, 1974), 167.
(52.) Pollock, With Faith and Physic, 121-125, v.32, fols. 36r-42v; Crawford, "Attitudes to Menstruation," 70-71.
(53.) Gyer, English Phlebotomy, 39; Anon, "A homish apothecarye," 28; Pollock, With Faith and Physic, 120, v. 32, fol. 32r.
(54.) Crawford, "Attitudes to Menstruation," 69.
(55.) Ibid., 112, v. 32, fols.9v-10r.
(56.) Hester, A hundred and fouretene experiments of Paracelsus, 8.
(57.) Gyer, English Phlebotomy, Epistle A9, 82.
(58.) Traister, " 'Matrix and the pain thereof'," 442; Rowse, Case Books of Simon Forman, 203.
(59.) Gyer, English Phlebotomy, 22.
(60.) Ibid., 39.
(61.) Ibid., 125.
(62.) Galen, On Seed, II, I;I, vii, in Cadden, Meanings of Sex Difference, 34; Aristotle, Generation of Animals 2.4.738b20-23, in Laqueur, Making Sex, 30; Pliny, Natural History, VII, xv, 66 and vi-xiv, in Cadden, Meanings of Sex Difference, 41.
(63.) Raynalde, Birth of mankinde, 48-49.
(64.) Ibid., 65.
(65.) Traister, " 'Matrix and the pain thereof'," 441.
(66.) Jorden, Suffocation of the Mother, 17.
(67.) Gyer, English Phlebotomy, 157, 32-34.
(68.) Raynalde, Birth of mankinde, 58; Gyer, English Phlebotomy, 155-157.
(69.) Rowse, Case Books of Simon Forman, 230, 9.
(70.) Bodleian library, Ashmolean MS. 1491, 738, in Kassell, Medicine and Magic, 188.
(71.) Raynalde, Birth of mankinde, 66.
(72.) Fenton, The Diaries of John Dee, 45, 227, 236.
(73.) Kassell, Medicine and Magic, 188; Traister, " 'Matrix and the pain thereof'," 440.
(74.) Rowse, Case Books of Simon Forman, 95; Traister, " 'Matrix and the pain thereof'," 440.
(75.) Rowse, Case Books of Simon Forman, 226-7; Crawford, "Attitudes to Menstruation," 70.
(76.) Kassell, Medicine and Magic, 188.
(77.) Partridge, The Widdowes Treasure, A2, A5.
(78.) Gerard, Herball, 298.
(79.) Anon, "A homish apothecarye," 10; Gerard, Herball, 298.
(80.) Fenton, Diaries of John Dee, 204.
(81.) Kassell, Medicine and Magic, 188.
(82.) Bildhauer, Medieval Blood; Crawford, "Attitudes to Menstruation."
(83.) Cadden, Meanings of Sex Difference, 59-62.
(84.) Crawford, "Attitudes to Menstruation," 50-51; Gadd, "Raynald, Thomas"; Raynalde, Birth of mankinde, 56.
(85.) Gadd, "Raynald, Thomas."
(86.) Crawford, "Attitudes to Menstruation," 58.
(87.) Barnabe Barnes, The Devil's Charter (London, 1607), in Crawford, "Attitudes to Menstruation," 58.
(88.) For example, see Katharine Park, Secrets of Women: Gender, Generation, and the Origins of Human Dissection (New York, 2006), 186.
(89.) Gianna Pomata, "Menstruating Men: Similarity and Difference of the Sexes in Early Modern Medicine," in Valeria Finucci and Kevin Brownlee, (eds.) Generation and Degeneration: Tropes of Reproduction in Literature and History from Antiquity through Early Modern Europe (Durham, 2001), 109-152.
(90.) Partridge, The Widdowes Treasure, E5.
(91.) Gerard, Herball, 290-291.
(92.) Gyer, English Phlebotomy, 268.
(93.) Ibid., 39.
(94.) Ibid., 58.
(95.) Ibid., 249-251.
(96.) Ibid., 21-22.
(97.) Ibid., 58.
(98.) Laqueur, Making Sex, 5.
(99.) Pomata, "Menstruating Men."
(100.) Stolberg, "Menstruation and Sexual Difference," 95-97.
(101.) Ibid., 95-97.
(102.) Partridge, The Widdowes Treasure, A2, A5; Kassell, Medicine and Magic, 188; Anon, "A homish apothecarye"; Gerard, Herball, 298.
(103.) Wear, "Medicine in Early Modern Europe," 234-
(104.) Statement that women were expected to be familiar with and provide medicine to their families and communities taken from Wear, "Medicine in Early Modern Europe," 231,234,298.
(105.) Crawford, "Attitudes to Menstruation," 69.
(106.) Pollock, With Faith and Physic, 35, fol. 46.
(107.) Ibid., 98.
(108.) Meads, Diary of Lady Margaret Hoby; Pollock, With Faith and Physic, 119, v. 32, fol. 32r.
(109.) Partridge, Widowes Treasure, A2; Raynalde, Birth of Mankinde, 1.
(110.) Turner, The first and seconde partes of the Herball, 40; Gerard, Herball, 555.
(111.) Traister, "'Matrix and the pain thereof'," 438.
(112.) Wear, Knowledge and Practice, 67.
(113.) Margaret Pelling, "Food, Status, and Knowledge: Attitudes to Diet in Early Modern England," in Margaret Pelling, The Common Lot: Sickness, Medical Occupations and the Urban Poor in Early Modern England (London, 1998), 38-62.
(114.) Hester, A hundred and fouretene experiments of Paracelsus, 2-5.
(115.) Wear, Knowledge and Practice, 116.
(116.) Partridge, The Widdowes Treasure, A2, A5; Kassell, Medicine and Magic, 188; Anon, "A homish apothecarye"; Gerard, Herball, 298.
(117.) Clark, The Working Life of Women, 258, in Pollock, With Faith and Physic, 94; Partridge, The Widdowes Treasure and Partridge, Treasury of commodious Conceits.
(118.) Richard Banister, A Treatise of One Hundred and Thirteene Diseases of the Eyes, (London, 1622), no. 279, in Pollock, With Faith and Physic, 109.
(119.) Raynalde, Birth of Mankinde, 66.
(120.) Ibid., 60.
(121.) Franz Kudlein, "The Seven Cells of the Uterus: the doctrine and its roots," Bulletin of the History of Medicine 39 (1965): 415-423.
(122.) Raynalde, Birth of Mankinde, 29.
(123.) Banister, The Historie of Man, 79; Raynalde, Birth of mankinde, 63-64, 65.
(124.) Traister, " 'Matrix and the pain thereof'," 444.
(125.) Raynalde, Birth of mankinde, 49-50.
By Bethan Hindson
University of Sheffield
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