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Blood and expertise: the trials of the female medical expert in the ancien-régime courtroom.

Authors
  • McClive, Cathy
Type
Published Article
Journal
Bulletin of the history of medicine
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2008
Volume
82
Issue
1
Pages
86–108
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1353/bhm.2008.0039
PMID: 18344586
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

This article explores the obstacles faced by the female medical expert in the early modern courtroom through a close reading of three case studies: Marie Garnier, expert midwife tried for false testimony in 1665, and Angélique Perrotin and Barbe-Françoise D'Igard, accused of false accusation of rape and infant substitution, respectively, in the 1730s. The difficulties of determining the veracity of the corporeal signs of a crime were particularly acute with regard to the reproductive female body, which was perceived to be less reliable than its male counterpart. The ability of the female medical expert to accurately and truthfully interpret such signs was also questionable, and at times she seems to have been as much "on trial" as the bodies of those she examined.

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