skip to content

Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Public lectures on 18 & 25 June 2013

This summer, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is due to give birth to an heir to the throne. Come and join us for a pair of lectures in which leading historians explore how Tudor and Stuart monarchs begat children. We'll go from throne to bedchamber, from weddings to ballads as we examine how Henry VIII's fertility struggles and the scandal over the 'warming pan baby' shed light on the history of fertility, pregnancy and childbirth in the British Isles.

Born to Rule is presented by Generation to Reproduction, a research group at University of Cambridge that is studying the history of reproduction with funding from the Wellcome Trust.

Henry VIII: The Quest for an Heir

5pm, Tuesday 18 June 2013
Little Hall, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge
Peter Jones, King's College, Cambridge

Producing an heir obsessed all the Tudor monarchs, for the future of a fragile dynasty was at stake. In the case of Henry VIII we usually focus on the pregnancy history of his wives, but not on Henry's own issues with fertility. This lecture will look at his anxieties, and the resources – medical, religious, political – on which he drew to secure a male heir.

Mary of Modena: A Royal Scandal

5pm, Tuesday 25 June 2013
Little Hall, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge
Mary Fissell, Johns Hopkins University

The first royal birth to become a media circus was that of James Stuart in 1688, the so-called 'warming-pan baby'. In this lecture, we'll look at the newspaper stories, medals, maps, songs, and pamphlets that told conflicting and sensational tales about the child born to James II and his second wife, Mary of Modena. Exceptional though this birth was, it also tells us about the moments in more ordinary women's lives when they too gave birth.

Generation to Reproduction


Cambridge historians of medicine and biology are taking a long-term, cross-disciplinary approach to the history of reproduction.

More >

Making Visible Embryos


Explore our online exhibition on the history of embryo images.

More >

The Casebooks Project


Browse and search Simon Forman's and Richard Napier's records of thousands of consultations.

More >