Woman on a birthing stool This is an illustration from the first printed textbook for midwives, written by a German physician, Eucharius Rösslin (d. 1526), at the request of Catharina, Duchess of Brunswick, and published in 1513. The text was largely compiled from the writings of Soranus although Rösslin added his own woodcuts. The book went through at least 40 editions and, in 1540, was translated into English as The byrthe of mankynde. It maintained its place as a textbook of midwifery until the 18th century. In fact, Rösslin had scant regard for midwives, and summarised what he thought of their knowledge in just one verse: ‘I'm talking about the midwives allWhose heads are empty as a hallAnd through their dreadful negligenceCause babies' deaths devoid of sense'. Source: Eucharius Rösslin. Der swangern frawen und hebammen roszgarten. H Steiner, Augsburg 1528.