Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

  • Title: Guta and Sintram with the Virgin Mary
  • Creator: Guta of Schwartzenthann and Sintram of Marbach
  • Description:

    This illumination comes from the Guta-Sintram Codex, a manuscript created in the female community of Schwartzenthann in Alsace. The scribe identifies herself as Guta several times in the text, and her claim to scribal responsibility is a remarkable statement of individuality, which has earned her acclaim as one of a handful of identifiable female scribes from the twelfth-century. However in Guta’s case, assistance also came from Sintram, a canon and priest at Marbach, who served as the artist of the illuminations.

    The intimacy of Guta’s working relationship with Sintram reflected the close ties that bound their religious communities. It is likely that Marbach had been initially established as a double community, thus housing both men and women, and remained that way until a gift of land enabled the women to create their own house at Schwartzenthann. Significantly, these women maintained their connections with Marbach and honored their shared history, which can be inferred from the fact that the Guta-Sintram Codex, in addition to containing a homilary (a collection of pastoral addresses) and the rules and customs of Schwarzenthann, included the shared necrology of Schwartzenthann and Marbach. In turn, the canons of Marbach maintained a general policy of support for religious women. This policy was inspired by Abelard’s sermons for the Paraclete (an extract from sermon 30 was included in the manuscript), which included the message for men to care for women’s spiritual well being and consider the opportunity to serve women as a tremendous privilege; as brides of Christ, religious women enjoyed access to him unavailable to men. Adherence to this policy was likely one of the reasons that prompted Sintram to assist Guta.

    Sintram’s participation in the production of the manuscript is underscored by this miniature in which he and Guta pay homage to the Virgin Mary. He is located to the right of the Virgin, and Guta is situated at her left. This placement suggests a sort of hierarchy; being at the right hand of a religious figure was considered the highest honor, and in this case, that honor is given to the male figure. Thus, the image subtly maintains the traditional belief that religious men were superior to religious women. However, the visual symmetry of the miniature suggests a sense of partnership and equal division of labor between the two, an analysis which is reinforced by inscriptions within the image’s central panel. These inscriptions present Guta and Sintram as co-supplicants in a prayer to Mary, who graciously confirms their shared responsibility for the codex: “Together, you have adorned this work, which you have dedicated to me, with letters and figures achieved with skill. Together I will make you to share in the same repose.”

  • Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Rights: Public Domain
  • Subject (See Also): Canonesses Canons Guta, Canoness of Schwartzenthann Manuscripts Mary, Virgin, Saint Monasticism Pastoral Care Sintram, Canon of Marbach Women Scribes
  • Geographic Area: France
  • Century: 12
  • Date: 1154
  • Related Work: See six pages from the Guta-Sintram manuscript: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Codex_Guta_Sintram_1154?uselang=it See also a print facsimile: Weis, Béatrice. Le Codex Guta-Sintram: manuscrit 37 de la Bibliothèque du Grand séminaire de Strasbourg. Éditions Fac-similés, en Co-Édition avec les Éditions Coprur, 1982-1983.
  • Current Location: Strasbourg, Bibliotheque du Grand Seminaire, Cod. 37, fol. 4
  • Original Location: Alsace, France, Augustinian monastery of Schwartzenthann
  • Artistic Type (Category): Digital Images; Manuscript Illuminations;
  • Artistic Type (Material/Technique): Vellum (Parchment); Paper
  • Donor:
  • Height/Width/Length(cm): //
  • Inscription: Sintrammi virgo memor huius pauperis esto [Virgin, remember poor Sintram](in the arch above Sintram's head). Per te stirps jesse quod icor deprecor esse [Through you, branch of Jesse, I beg to become good, as I am named - Translation from Volker Schier and Corine Schleif, "Who Made the Geese Book?"](in the arch above Guta's head). Dulcis amanda pia spes nostra beata Maria affectu matris nos nostra simultuearis [Sweet beloved, our hope, blessed Mary, protect us together with motherly feeling] (in the arch above the Virgin Mary). Scriptis figuris (picturis) ope sumptibus arte figuris/ Hoc exornastis opus ambo mihique dicastis/ Ambos ergo pari faciam requie sociari [Together, you have adorned this work, which you have dedicated to me, with letters and figures achieved with skill. Together I will make you to share in the same repose] (on the banderole held by the Virgin Mary).
  • Related Resources: Griffiths, Fiona. "Brides and Dominae: Abelard's Cura Monialium at the Augustinian Monastery of Marbach." Viator 34 (2003): 57-88.;
    Griffiths, Fiona. Garden of Delights: Reform and Renaissance for Women in the Twelfth Century. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006. Pages 35-38;
    Larrington, Carolyne. Women and Writing in Medieval Europe: A Sourcebook. Routledge, 1995. Pages 217-219.;