How did they do it?

In an age without antibiotics, pain medication or even proper medical science, how did these women manage, between them, to have over 62 children? We’re talking about times of alarmingly high incidences of miscarriages, infant mortalities and stillbirths, and worse still, no proper medical intervention for complications during pregnancy, labor or delivery. It’s hard to wrap my head around a medieval child birthing experience as it sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

I suppose I should count myself lucky to be born in this century—though somehow that has little to no bearing on my anxiety levels, which continue to climb as my due date draws ever closer.


Maria Theresa of Austria, 16 children


Elizabeth Woodville, Queen Consort of England, 12 children


Eleanor of Aquitaine, 10 children


Françoise-Athénaïs, Marquise de Montespan, 8 children, 7 who survived


Queen Anne of Great Britain, 18 children, only 1 of whom lived to the age of 11

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