Hildegard von Bingen: The Renaissance Woman of Medieval Times

Essay by angel2001College, UndergraduateA, October 2009

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Hildegard von Bingen was the tenth child of a noble German family born in 1098. She had visions as a child and at the age of eight, she was sent to live with the sister of a count whom her father served as a knight. Others believe she was offered as a tithe to the church. She eventually grew up to become a prioress, abbess and was known as a healer, a medieval prophet, author, scientist, philosopher, poet, and last but not least, a composer. Hildegard von Bingen was truly a renaissance woman of her time.

Hildegard was a resident at Disibodenberg in a forest that is now known as Germany. At the age of fourteen, Hildegard had divine visions in which she would only confide in the young lady she was sent to live with, Jutta. Jutta was known as a visionary and had many followers. She taught Hildegard how to read and write.

Jutta decided that instead of entering a convent that she would become an anchoress which was a much harsher route than that of entering a convent. Anchors were shut off from the world and usually lived in small room adjacent to the church to follow services. Hildegard would visit Jutta along with about a dozen other girls from noble families were they would learn the most simple forms of education. It was here that Hildegard was exposed to musical religious services and was inspired to create her own musical compositions. Jutta would die in 1136 leaving Hildegard the head of convent at the age of thirty - eight.

Hildegard had continued to have visions but would only confide in Jutta and a monk named Volmar (figure 1). Volmar was Hildegard's lifelong secretary. In 1141, Hildegard had the most divine vision yet. It was a...