Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK  It is interesting that Ekirch claims that Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie is guilty of “either misinterpreting the meaning of first sleep or ignoring the term altogether” given that he approvingly quotes him twice (see Footnote 76 here) It is even more interesting that I can find nothing of any relevance on page 366 Silvia Mantini, "Per un'immagine della notte," in La notte: Ordine, sicurezza e disciplinamento in età moderna, Mario Sbriccoli, ed. (Florence, 1991), 592; here  Questa caratteristica rende le ore del buio molto turbate per il malcapitato, ce si tormenta nel giaciglo, in preda agli incubi. Il ‘primo sonno’ è il momento in cui i pensieri che attraversano la mente, se non sono sinonimo di preoccupazioni, possono coniugarsi con la trama di qualche imbroglio. A questo periodo segue quello della notte fonda che è quello in cui il sonno profondo degli altri favorisce maggiormente la azioni trasgressive, quando il crimine è inoltre coperto dal manto dell’oscurità più totale. Ma non sempre il torpor del sonno tiene avvinti gli uomini e le cose fino al sorgere del sol, quamdo inizia ufficialmente la giornata lavorativa L Gowing, "Secret Births and Infanticide in Seventeenth Century England," Past and Present 156 (August 1997): 100; here Ekirch or some reason ignores the term ‘first sleep’ altogether in the passage he refers to but there is good reason to do this as it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AT ALL to do with the point she is making. She is not ignoring it, it is just not relevant. The honest, hard labour expected here is echoed in the testimony of Elizabeth Armytage in Liversedge in 1682. Examined several days after the birth, she deposed: on Thursday last at night about midnight when she awaked of her first sleep she was so taken that she could not stir off the bed if it had been on fire under her and that she called out as loud as she could but nobody came at her and says she bore her child within half an hour after but it was dead and did neither cry breathe or move and at morn the first that came to her was young Lydia Blezard and she crept on her hands and her knees to open her a little door and desired her to go to Ellen Leach to desire her to come to her and speak with her and when she came she told her she had had a night would have killed a horse.32 This labour followed an acknowledged, though illegitimate, pregnancy: Elizabeth had told two other women of her pregnancy and prepared clothes for the child, and she said she only gave birth alone because the child came early. Her relative freedom from the suspicion attendant on more carefully concealed births seems to have allowed her, both at the time of childbirth and later when she was examined, to tell a story of labour that echoed something of the hard pain other women understood. Franco Mormando, The Preacher's Demons: Bernardino of Siena and the Social Underworld of Early Renaissance Italy (Chicago, 1999), page 78, here  “Lo and behold: in the first hours of sleep”  I am at a loss to understand how “in the first hours of sleep” is a misunderstanding. BACK
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2018