Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 8364
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Flanagan , Sabina.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: For God Distinguishes the People of Earth as in Heaven : Hildegard of Bingen's Social Ideas
  • Source: Journal of Religious History 22, 1 (February 1998): Pages 14 - 34.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Hierarchy Hildegard of Bingen, Abbess of Rupertsberg Nobility Power Social Class Tenxwind of Andernach, Abbess Women in Religion
  • Award Note:
  • Geographic Area: Germany
  • Century: 12
  • Primary Evidence:
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  • Abstract: Despite the massive increase in scholarship dealing with various aspects of the work of Hildegard of Bingen over the last decade, her social ideas have been comparatively neglected. This is not surprising since Hildegard made few direct pronouncements on social relations and when she did, most famously in her letter to Tenxwind of Andernach, she appears to be defending an elitist notion of hereditary privilege against the more egalitarian views of her correspondent. This paper seeks to identify and describe Hildegard's social ideas by examining her direct and indirect statements on the subject and comparing her notions about the division of society with those of her contemporaries. The idea that Hildegard's social thought was predicated on a strict division between the free and unfree, particularly the free and non-free nobility ("Edelfrei" and "ministeriales"), a classification peculiar to twelfth-century Germany, is examined in the light of these findings. I argue that Hildegard's views are more complicated than a reading of the Tenxwind letter would suggest and that her understanding allows for a more nuanced view of society than that of her contemporaries. It is also suggested that Hildegard's views refect a real grasp of the power relations operating in the world around her and that her practice is, in turn, founded upon this understanding. [Reproduced by permission of Blackwell Publishers, http://www.blackwellpublishers.co.uk/journals/jorh/ Notice: The abstract is under copyright and may not be reproduced without permission.].
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Melbourne
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1998.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00224227