The Palace has recently announced that Princess Eugenie of York and her husband Jack Brooksbank are expecting their first baby. Eugenie of course quite famously showed off the scar from her scoliosis surgery when she got married in a backless wedding dress in 2018. She had idiopathic adolescent onset scoliosis, like Richard III, and was operated on at age twelve, with titanium rods inserted to support her spine and screws placed at the base of her neck.
This article shares the couple’s happy news and also, very importantly, debates what name this modern day royal baby might be called!
The question has arisen, however –were there any other historical female royals who had scoliosis and had children? The answer is yes.
Queen Claude of France–Claude de Valois–was born in 1499 and had severe scoliosis. She was daughter to the French King Louis XII, but because of Salic Law she could not inherit the throne, despite being her parents’ oldest surviving child. The throne instead went to a relative, Francois d’Angouleme, and so Claude married Francois and became Queen Consort instead of Queen Regnant.
Claude was described as being plain, little in stature but ‘strangely corpulent’ with a slight curve to her back and extreme ‘lameness’ in both hips. Nonetheless, she was known for her piety and cultivation, and having interested in building and the production of illuminated manuscripts. Anne Boleyn is thought to have been one of her ladies in waiting when Claude retired to Blois in the later years of her life.
Claude had seven children, spending most of her marriage pregnant. Her children were Louise, Charlotte, Francis, Henry, Madeleine, Charles and Margaret. Five of them survived to adulthood.
Since there was no treatment in her day, poor Claude’s scoliosis grew worse, added to by her constant pregnancy and also growing obesity. She made very few public appearances toward the end of her life. She died in 1524, possibly from childbirth or miscarriage, although some think she may have caught syphilis from her womanising husband.