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The infertility of Catherine de Medici and its influence on 16th century France
Department of Urology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, USA
Apr 2009 (Vol. 16, Issue 2, Pages( 4584 - 4588)
PMID: 19364432

Abstract

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  • OBJECTIVE: Catherine de Medici, queen consort of King Henry II of France, was a powerful woman at a time when power for her sex was determined by fecundity. A decade long history of infertility might have placed her at risk for condemnation, but her husband's known urologic abnormalities played in her favor. This presentation will address the penile deformity of her husband, Henry II, and how this likely played a crucial role in her eventual rise to power, the interventions undertaken with regard to her purported infertility, and the historical ramifications when Catherine de Medici went on to have children.

    MATERIAL AND METHODS:

    A review of the literature of the lives of Catherine de Medici, King Henry II, and their children was completed.

    RESULTS:

    The inability to conceive an heir in the first decade of Catherine de Medici's marriage was attributed to Henry II, who was born with hypospadias and chordee. Through the intervention of Doctor Jean Fernel, the royal couple went on to have 10 children. When Henry II died in 1559 Catherine de Medici went on to rule France in the name of her sons for the next 3 decades, until her death in 1589.

    CONCLUSION:

    Henry II was born with hypospadias and chordee, and this contributed to the inability of Catherine de Medici to conceive a child for the first 10 years of their marriage. The cure of 'her' infertility changed the course of history, as she subsequently ruled in the name of her sons following the death of Henry II.

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