In the late seventeenth century, little-known Dutch physician and anatomy professor Jan Baptiste van Lamzweerde published a treatise entitled The Natural History of Uterus Molas. Van Lamzweerde, a Roman Catholic living in Cologne, aimed to dispel theories about women’s unnatural pregnancies -- such as the uterus mola-- with the lengthy Natural History. Molas, the subject of his work, were known in this period as a type of ‘false conception’, a form of pregnancy that did not produce a foetus, but a formless fleshy lump. In this seminar, I focus on some of Van Lamzweerde’s key issues with contemporary knowledge of false conceptions, particularly his concerns about female sexuality, Mary’s virginal conception of Christ, and demonic impregnation. While Van Lamzweerde’s treatise was largely preoccupied with academic theological and scientific concerns, by examining a few of his patient case studies, I will show that Van Lamzweerde believed such learned theories had serious consequences for lay people, particularly young ‘maidens’.


E319, Level 3, Forgan Smith Building East