Women’s Secrets – Review
A Translation of Pseudo-Albertus Magnus’ De Secretis Mulierum with Commentaries
Helen Rodnite Lemay
This is an English translation of either a late 13th or early 14th century text written by a disciple of Albertus Magnus. It is currently unknown what the disciple’s name actually was (hence Pseudo Albertus Magnus). The text is about human reproduction and demonstrates how 13th and 14th monks saw women (spoiler, it’s not super complimentary….)
This version also has two separate commentaries on the text – one from Lyons 1580 edition of the text and one from Venice 1508, which are interesting reading themselves.
This is NOT a medical text book and is not even representative what people in this time period understood about reproduction. It’s a social cultural explanation of what the (celibate) clergy understood about life and women.
As part of an overall collection on medieval texts, this would be a good book. It was an influential book in it’s time and provides good insight into what they were thinking.
But it’s not a good book for anyone whose just starting out or who is interested in the more practical aspects of medieval medical and health. It’s incredibly dry in places and is pure text. Even the commentaries are quite dry in places so it’s more for people interested in reading academic texts.