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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Louyse Bourgeois

b.1563, France; d. 1636, France

Louyse (Louise) Bourgeois, a midwife in the French royal court, was a pioneer in the development of her profession. She assisted Marie de Medici, wife of King Henry IV, through the birth of six children, including the future king Louis XIII. Dedicated to advancing the practice of midwifery, she wrote Observations diverses sur la sterilité (Observations on Infertility) in 1609. The treatise, considered the most comprehensive text on obstetrics since the work of Trotula, went through many revised editions over the next century; the 1617 printing included an account of her education and a list of her clinical cases.