Hildegard of Bingen provides us a chance to examine the role of women in the Church during this period. At first glance, it may appear that women had little influence. They could not be ordained nor could they write theology or preach. Women like Hildegard lived in enclosed convents, seldom venturing out into the world. Nevertheless, there were ways that women in Hildegard’s circumstances could make an exceptional impact. First, the abbesses, or spiritual leaders of convents were usually noblewomen with excellent contacts and good educations. Hildegard’s reputation as a spiritual and political advisor grew with her correspondence (not unlike someone with a much followed blog today). Because women were usually the source of devotion within the home, women could and did write ‘devotional’ works. The difference between such ‘devotionals’ and theology is a lot narrower than you might think. Hildegard created art to illustrate her devotional books and wrote a good deal of music for religious services. Her art and music are still influential and it is easy to find recordings of her work. I have reproduced some of her images below and here is link to some of her music: Hildegarde, Art and Music.
Once you have read the chapter and the documentary material, write an essay of 250-400 words explaining how Hildegarde incorporated her original work into formates that would be acceptable to church authorities. Do you think that her astuteness here is partly responsible for the Church authorities being willing to listen to her opinions? When you have posted your own essay, comment on two others.
Textbook- A History of Western Society 13th edition, Vol. 1
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