Laurie Gates and Philomina Nwokoro

education of Nuns in Medeival times
hildegard_image.jpg




Bibliography


Beach, Alison. "Voices from a Distant Land; Fragments of a Twelfth-Century Nuns' Letter Collection." Speculum 77.1 (2002): 34-54. Web. 20 Apr 2011.


Bell, Susan. "Christine de Pizan (1364-1430): Humanism and the Problem of a Studious Woman." Feminist Studies 3.3/4 (1976): 173-184. Web. 1 May 2011. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3177735.

Bell, Susan. "Medieval Women Book Owners: Arbiters of Lay Piety and Ambassadors of Culture." Signs 7.4 (1982): 742-768. Web. 1 May 2011.

McGuire, Thérèse. "Monastic Artists and Educators of the Middle Ages." Woman's Art Journal 9.2 (1988): 3-9. Web. 5 Apr 2011. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1358313.


Storey, Ann. "A Theophany of the Feminine: Hildegard of Bingen, Elisabeth of Schonau, and Herrad of Landsberg." Woman's Art Journal 19.1 (1998): 16-20. Web. 20 April 2011.





Monastic Artists and Educators
of the Middle Ages
THERESE B. McGUIRE, S.S.J.
Name: Philomina Nwokoro
Focus statement: Researching the history of religious vocation of women in the middle ages was a great challenge especially because the bulk of information regarding this era was written by men and for men. And in this era, the majority of women were illiterate; hence few recorded their thoughts and visions. Again many people did not readily understand the mystery of religious vocation, nor did they comprehend the fact that women can find fulfillment in a monastic milieu. However, such a call to solitude and prayer has been heard by women from the early days of the primitive Church and has continued, with varying degrees of popularity, throughout the centuries up to and including the present. So, many names survived the intervening centuries, whose education enabled them to share their visions and artistic accomplishments. From these survivors, twentieth-century scholars discovered playwrights, calligraphers, illuminators, embroiderers, lace workers, even printers, as well as mystical scholars and writers in the ranks of female medieval monastic.

Educational reformers of the 12th century
Their influence
Jutta
Reclusive nun, noted for her sanctity and learning at the ancient monastery of St. Disibod. Pp.4
Guided Hildegard of Bingen as her gifted student in secular as well as spiritual subjects. Prepared Hildegard for entrance into the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg where she received the Benedictine habit and began her instruction in the rule of St. Benedict at the age of 15. Pp.4
Hildegard of Bingen
Product of Jutta. Elected prioress after Jutta’s death. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) a German Benedictine nun was one of the most learned women of her time. Known to her peers as the "Sibyl of the Rhine," Hildegard excelled as an artist, playwright, philosopher, scientist, doctor, theologian, historian, musician, poet, and administrator.
Established a "daughter" monastery at Eibingen near Rudesheim in the Rhineland about 1165. Pp.4. Influenced by the rebirth of intellectual, scientific, and artistic interests that marked the 12th-century renaissance, Hildegard produced literary and artistic works that exemplified the highest quality of education available to monastic women of medieval Europe. Lead her nuns to great intellectual, artistic, and spiritual heights. Relindis, Abbess of Hohenbourg was one of her nuns. Adelgundis Fuhrkotter was another product of Hildegard, who acknowledged her mysticism.
Relindis, Abbess of Hohenbourg,
Product of Hildegard of Bingen. Relindis (d. 1167), Abbess of Hohenbourg and an inspired spiritual and educational reformer of the 12th century, restored the reputation of her monastery as a haven of sanctity and learning. pp.4
She undertook the education of the nuns, training them in secular as well as sacred subjects. She was "a tangible example of the transmission of the tradition of learning from woman to woman in German convents.pp.4 Herrad of Landsberg was a member of the religious congregation of Augustinian canonesses under Relindis. Pp.7
Herrad of Landsberg
Product of Relindis, Abbess of Hohenbourg. Pp.7. Greatest intellectual woman of the Middle Ages. Another bright light in the assemblage of 12th-century women was the abbess of the Alsatian monastery of Hohenbourg. pp 7
She assisted the abbess in governing and guiding the nuns and in educating the young girls sent to the monastery by their wealthy and noble families. Herrad continued the work of reformation and education. Pp.7. She composed her manuscript to be used at St. Odile for instructions and lessons for her nuns. Pp.8
Hilda of Whitby
Religious
artists of the Middle Ages found inspiration for her creative endeavors in the atmosphere engendered by the sanctity,
erudition, and abbesses. Pp 4
Advanced English poetry when she discovered and
educated her herdsman, Caedmon, who became the
"Father of English Poetry." Saint Bertilla, the first abbess of Chelles in France (c. 658-705) pp.4. She established monastic centers of learning as requests from several kings
Gerberg, Abbess of Gandershein
Great intellectual woman of Middle Ages who influenced the education of women in monasteries. pp. 4
Her greatest accomplishment rest in the erudition and scholarship she fostered in one of her canonesses, the playwright Hroswitha. Pp. 4
Hroswitha
Product of Gerberg. A playwright. Pp.4
In the 10th century
Hroswitha focused a slender but steady beam on classical learning at a time when it was supposed that the classics were scorned by scholars and writers alike. Pp. 4

Implications:
The women who viewed education to be of great significant value, and proposed in their minds to acquire education during the period when educating women was traditional discouraged make me feel the resilience embodied in a female gender. In the early days of Christianity nuns were the first women as a sizeable group to learn to read and write, to develop artistic skills, to achieve cultural goals, to become specialists in education as teachers, and in medicine as nurses. Nuns were the female professional class. Thanks to Hildegard and Herrad who are the intellectual giants among the women artists and educators of 12th-century Germany, especially because they were not only products of monastic schools, but devised a plan to share their knowledge by educating others. Relindis was Herrad’s teacher, and when she died Herrad was elected abbess, a role for which Relindis had prepared her well. Herrad continued the work of reformation and education. Practical as well as cultured, firm yet gentle, Herrad soon won the admiration and respect of her colleagues. Though Not all monastic women achieved the same level of learning, nor did all monasteries of women house intellectuals of Hildegard and Herrad's caliber, but that some women achieved such a level of education in all avenues of medieval learning, including the arts, speaks well for the status of some monastic women in the Middle Ages.


Laurie Gates
“A Theophany of the Feminine: Hildegard of Bingen, Elisabeth of Schonau, and Herrad of Landsberg”
Wiki Article analysis


Focus Statement; Ann Storey focuses on the strength of three women who use their knowledge and talent as artists and theologians, and their experiences of theophanies (an appearance of God to human, a divine manifestation), to create a larger conception of the importance of females in the church. Their vocation occurred prior to the Gregorian Reforms, which enabled these women to express themselves through their imageries and many texts. As popular and great an impression these women made, females were still viewed negatively. Thomas Aquinas reinforced this negativity and used writings by Hippocrates, Aristotle and Galen to support his beliefs that women were biologically inferior to men. Yet the legacy of Hildegard, Herrad, and Elisabeth has been vital to feminine spirituality and their works remained influential for centuries thereafter.

Interpretation of the Woman of the Apocalypse
Gender reversal/sacred womanhood
Hildegard - “modification of 1 Corinthians 11:9, by substituting ‘thus it is written: Woman is created for the man and man is made for woman’, Hildegard conceived of an equality of male and female roles.” (17)
“she transformed the conventional imagery of the Woman of the Apocalypse into a powerful conception of femaleness. ..with rich implications for the visual arts, since many important aspects of Christian belief are depicted in inventive visionary form”. (17-18)
“illumination De operatione Dei (Book of Devine Works) Hildegard inserted woman into the traditionally male Trinity. Since the lamb refers to Christ nasd the bearded male is certainly God the Father, the female figurein the center is the Holy Spirit, the personification of love. (17)
Herrad- “created an illuminated encyclopedia that included natural history, commentaries on the scriptures, and a comprehensive history of humankind”(18)
“ …interpretation of the Woman of the Apocalypse emphasizes female power. She slightly rearranges the order of Biblical text. Her Woman clothed with the Sun. Herrad then jumps from verse 5 to 14 in order to give the woman her most promininent feature, an enormous set of wings.” (18)
“The woman seen in heaven is the Church whom Christ introduces into the celestial kingdom. Herrad, too, worked within the established institutions and iconography of the church but found ways to amend them to emphasize a more egalitarian message of spirituality and power.” (19)
Elisabeth- “approximately 145 written accounts of her visionary experiences were widely disseminated and were partially responsible for the dynamic conception of Mary’s physical, wakeful assumption of both body and soul.”(18)
“had a vision of the Woman of the Apocolypse, beautiful and clothed with the sun. The woman represents the humanity of Jesus, the sun His divinity, and the cloud the triumph of sin in the world.” (18)
“she believed that if Christ is divine as well as human it was logical that Christ’s representation could be female as well as male.” (18)

Implications: this article was very insightful to the works of monastic women and how they molded the path for other women. Hildegard, Herrad, and Elisabeth were influential in their vocation to educate women. They fought to educate themselves and other women during ages when women were not allowed these opportunities and had always been considered weak. Not only did they advocate for female education but their works also proved women were intellectuals. The author quoted the works of Bynum Jesus as Mother which we read in class and also the article Philomina analyzed for our Wiki, “Monastic Artists and Educators of the Middle Ages”. I also now have a new viewpoint on religious imagery as their meanings can be very diverse depending on the artist.

Storey, Ann. "A Theophany of the Feminine: Hildegard of Bingen, Elisabeth of Schonau, and Herrad of Landsberg." Woman's Art Journal 19.1 (1998): 16-20. Web. 20 April 2011.


Laurie and Philomina

Wiki analysis
Beach, Alison. "Voices from a Distant Land; Fragments of a Twelfth-Century Nuns' Letter Collection." Speculum 77.1 (2002): 34-54. Web. 20 Apr 2011.


Focus Statement: In medieval times, it would have been presumed that religious women were entirely swallowed up by their new life of prayer, liturgical devotion, study, and manual labor and their voices were henceforth absent from family and society. However, with discovery of fragments of written correspondence between the Admont nuns, monks, and outside the cloister, it would be naïve to abide by such presumption because of these letters, religious women were found to be highly connected to the world economically, socially, politically, and personally.


Purpose of letters
Traditional/non traditional
economic
“Some letters, such as those seeking support and intercession (i.e., Letters 1, 3, 13, and 17), could be used as models again and again.” (42)
“article on the letters of Hildegard of Bingen, John Van Engen speaks of a similar process: letters recorded in copybooks preserved at Rupertsberg provided the basis for their later public transmission.” (42)
Social
“simply staying visible to patrons outside the cloister seem to have motivated these small favors. Letter 13, another letter from the nuns to a male patron, refers
to the nuns' gift of ‘two useful tourniquets for bloodletting.’ .. and possibly even blessed, by the nuns.”(45)
The answer may be that what has
survived represents an intermediate stage in the process of transmission rather
than an end product. The nuns may have planned to edit this raw copybook, to
polish the letters (42)
political
“Other letters show the nuns taking a more active role in the lives of their patrons and supporters. In Letter 18 two nuns write to the provost of a nearby monastery
and ask him to intervene in a conflict”(45)
special care in the past suggests the possibility that the nuns were addressing their occasional correspondent and consultant
on matters of scriptural interpretation,(42)
personal
“Our nun continues to plead her case in the voice of the Canaanite woman at Jesus' feet, seeking from the archbishop, not an exorcism, but a reunion with her
Daughter” (48)
“some may question their authenticity, for we do not often hear a medieval nun admonishing a prince or pleading passionately
with an archbishop about the fate of her child.” (51)

Implications: This aesthetic article was filled with personal thoughts and information concerning the personal lives and education of the nuns’ of Admont. Although Alison Beach mentions the letters may or may not be authentic due to the nature of some, if they are not authentic, they still remain physical evidence of women’s literacy within the Admont monasteries.

Name: Philomina Nwokoro
Course: HIST.220
Education of Nuns in Medieval Times
The process of training and developing knowledge, skills, minds, characters, etc for women in Medieval Times was through monastic education, the only avenue through which they could be educated. Acquisition of education by formal schooling, teaching, or training for women is only made possible in monastic institutions of learning because majority of women in medieval times were not positioned to benefit from the many opportunities that education could offer except through monastery educational arenas, where there was strict routine and discipline. "Tradition held that St. Paul discouraged the education of women" (McGuire, pp.4). As education flourished in the Middle Ages for men, it was not generally encouraged for women, so early education was offered to women from home by their mothers, and as the need for higher education was beyond mothers’ capacities, girls from nobilities or upper class were sent to monasteries. This need for higher education was necessary because they had obligations that required literacy. The records of these forms of early education were probably not documented, and as a result researching the history of women with regards to education in the Middle Ages was not an easy process. According to McGuire, one of the main obstacles encountered in researching the history of women in the Middle Ages is that the bulk of information regarding this era was written by men and for men. I can now begin to understand what McGuire means. Since the education of women were traditionally discouraged, why then should the record of what was not permitted be kept? This mind set regarding education for women can be associated with why few records concerning women were found, especially in an age in which the majority of women were illiterate, "few recorded their thoughts and visions of this world or the next" (McGuire, pp.3).
In order to reverse this debilitating condition, the few women who were fortunate enough to be educated took it upon themselves to educate others, realizing fully well that their visions and educational accomplishments can be their voices, if they utilize it for educational reform in the era where women were not opportune for equal privileges. Among the women who survived these intervening centuries, "twentieth-century scholars discovered playwrights, calligraphers, illuminators, embroiderers, lace workers, even printers, as well as mystical scholars and writers in the ranks of female medieval monastic" (McGuire, pp.3). In order to promote education, these monastic women had to found monasteries where women can find much higher meaning through education. Higher meaning in that according to McGuire, "many people did not readily understand the mysteries of a religious vacation, nor do they comprehend the fact that some women can find fulfillment in a monastic milieu" (McGuire, pp 2). From my understanding, the secular world could not comprehend that there is any type of benefits for women who enter into monastic communities. This notion is a misconception because there were great benefits for women in monastic environment. "New female recruits, like their males counterparts were taught to read and write, and more mature students advanced their skills in the liberal arts in an internal school directed by the nuns themselves" (Beach, pp.35). With this level of literacy, religious women across medieval Europe demonstrated their writing capabilities, leading to wide spread of written correspondence that either addresses historical situations, or social situations, or personal difficulties, or simply for personal reading. "Twelfth-century nuns could be outstandingly skilled and prolific correspondents" (Beach, pp.36).
When it comes to the education of nuns, names like Hildegard of Bingen, Harrad of Landsbery, and Elisabeth of Schonau are of prominence. "All received monastic education, the only kind available to women" (Storey pp.16). In early days of Christianity, nuns were the first women as sizeable group to learn to read and write, to develop artistic skills, to achieve cultural goals, to become specialists in education as teachers, and in medicine as nurses. Nuns were the female professional class (McGuire, pp.8). Within the traditional Christian framework, these great intellectuals created new possibilities for their gender by recording their ideas and gender conceptions as instructions for women in monasteries, making education for women in monasteries an attainable achievement as it was for them. The influence of a powerful abbess was significant in each of their lives (Storey, pp.14). They intend to continue this monastic education by influencing women in their charges. Each managed to create an expanded spiritual and intellectual place for women, in spite of the ever-increasing constraints placed on convents by the eleventh- and twelfth century Gregorian Reforms (Storey, pp.15).
Evidence upon evidence proved that education for nuns in Medieval Times was through monasteries, and by educators who were the products of monastery education. Jutta for example, was a reclusive nun at the ancient monastery of St. Disibodenberg where she obtained her sanctity and learning. When Hildegard was offered as a tithe to the ancient monastery of St. Disibod, Jutta became her guardian in secular and spiritual subjects, preparing her for entrance into the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg where she received the Benedictine habit, consequently began her instruction in the rule of St. Benedict at the age of 15.
Hildegard of Bingen was a Product of Jutta, a German Benedictine nun who was elected prioress after Jutta’s death. As one of the most learned women of her time, she was regarded by her peers as the "Sibyl of the Rhine," (McGuire, pp.4). With her intellectual abilities, artistic nature, and as an educator of 12th-century Germany, Hildegard established a "daughter" monastery at Eibingen near Rudesheim in the Rhineland about 1165 where her work was of the highest quality of education available to monastic women of medieval Europe (McGuire, pp.4). Through her work, Hildegard lead her nuns to great intellectual, artistic, and spiritual height, and her insight brought forth fifty great intellectual minds, notably Relindis, Abbess of Hohenbourg and Adelgundis Fuhrkotter.
Relindis, Abbess of Hohenbourg, who was the product of Hildegard, took up the mission of educating other nuns, training them in secular as well as sacred subjects. She was "a tangible example of the transmission of the tradition of learning from woman to woman in German convents (McGuire, pp.4). The lists of monastic educators and the products of their passion continue to increase in positive ways.
As I read and wrote my paper from the various researched articles, it became highly significant for me to comprehend that the legacy of medieval educators is the spread of education, through which their feminine and spiritual work will remain influential for centuries. For me, the ripple effects of the dedication and insightful attitude of these educators of Medieval Times will be felt forever in history, collaborating with the argument that monastic education was the only avenue for the education of nuns in Medieval Times.

Laurie Gates
Education of Medieval Monastic Women

Although historians of medieval centuries have noted the lack of evidence on the education of women, it is my understanding after reading many articles that females, namely nuns, were well educated during the Middle Ages. Upon entering the convents monastic life enabled women to further their education; moreover, it was only through being a part of these monasteries that women were able to increase their learning, express their talent, convey their intellectual abilities, and eventually record their work. Otherwise education focused exclusively on sons or males. At that time the majority of women were educated early as children by their mothers. Since mothers were generally not in a position to further their own education, the idea of offering a daughter as tithe to the church may have been appealing. mothers knew their daughters would gain the opportunity to obtain a more thorough education in the arts, theology and philosophy. According to Susan Groag Bell’s article, Christine De Pizan (1364-1430): Humanism and the Problem of a Studious Woman, “intellectual pursuits for women throughout the medieval centuries were purely the condition for communion with God and therefore strictly reserved for those who devoted their lives to his service, namely nuns” (Bell, 173).
There were many orders of monastic institutions for women, from the Benedictines to the Ursula’s. Monasticism was attractive to women largely to avoid arranged marriages, which was a very common form of proposal that women encountered. Girls and women entered monastic houses for a variety of reasons such as; they were tithe by being the tenth child and so offered to the Church, women sought refuge from bad marriages, women wanted to increase their knowledge and further their education, as well as women who only sought to serve God and who might have felt called by God through visions. As with those children who were tithed to the Church, many women who chose monastic life were also from noble backgrounds which meant they had some earlier education in reading and writing.
We can thank women such as Hildegard of Bingen, who was the tenth child and whose family dedicated her as tithe to the church, and Christine de Pizan, who entered the convent as a widow instead of remarrying, for their advocacy concerning the education of women. Both women empowered the female gender with their ingenious works. These monastic women were compelled to educate other women so it became their vocation to be educators rather than just their religious beliefs which called them to the world of monasticism.
It was through Hildegard, along with Herrad of Landsberg and Elisabeth of Schonau, who learned under Hildegard, that women’s education in monastic institutions became a ripple effect allowing women’s religious orders to expand. Schools were created within the convents to be a financial resource for nuns. Not only did religious women seek autonomy through their own scholarly work, they also accepted payment to teach children of wealthy families who could afford to send their children to the convent schools. Hildegard herself had the opportunity to learn from an Anchoress named Jutta, and through her mentoring, allowed Hildegard as abbess to establish her own monasteries in Rupertsberg and Eibingen. Hildegard, as did Elisabeth and Herrad, used female personification in order to create new possibilities for their gender. Herrad was an abbess of the Alsatian monastery of Hohenbourg. Christine de Pizan was a great intellect born several centuries after Hildegard and Herrad. Christine wrote poems and books like Le Liver de s Trois Vertus which was a treatise on the education of women, during a time when humanists like Boccaccio had published works such as Concerning Famous Women. While Boccaccio “wrote to amuse, he could not resist embroidering his material with stories of love and sexual prowess, Christine aimed only to teach by example. She was concerned mainly with demonstrating women’s intellect, courage, and moral virtue” (Bell, 176).Virtually all the great intellectual women of the Middle Ages were products of monastic schools” (McGuire, 3). Christine de Pizan is one woman who entered monastic life as a widow. Christine used her studies as an “escape from loneliness of widowhood”, and the discomfort of her physical existence… debts and creditors” (Bell, 175). Christine acquired a reputation from her books which aided her in financial support for herself, her children and even other family members. Christine wrote books on the education of women and strongly challenged misogyny (the hatred or dislike of women) which prevailed throughout the male dominated medieval culture. Not only did Christine conform to a life of solitude but she encouraged her daughter to seek a more well renowned convent where she could flourish while absorbing a high standard of education without the solitude that she herself was criticized for living with.
Hildegard is famed for creating iconography to include the feminine sacredness “with rich implications for visual arts, since many important aspects of Christian belief are depicted in inventive visionary form” (Storey, 17-18). “Herrad created many works or art also, along with an illuminated encyclopedia that included natural history and commentaries on the scriptures” (Storey, 18). Herrad’s encyclopedia included over 9000 figures within 600 illuminations. Elisabeth like Hildegard and Herrad, also had visions, and used this gift to convey her influence with her use of gender imagery as well as authoring books.
It cannot go unmentioned that education was focused on boys, however, it was assumed of the times that mothers had the responsibility of finding tutors for their sons but most importantly they were in charge of educating their daughters in the household. Throughout the middle ages, materials such as Psalters, Gospels and Book of Hours were used to teach young children. Book of Hours were typically the only books in a home and they instructed lay women how to live, what their chores and responsibilities were, and encouraged women to represent themselves in a Christian manner, “girls were encouraged to busy themselves in reading and writing, girls could escape harmful thoughts and the pleasures of vanities of the flesh” (Bell, 755).
A Book of Hours was a most popular reading and it contained prayers and devotional exercises and often covered the whole range of human experience” (Bell, 753). Those who could afford it ordered Book of Hours with lavish embellishments but some illustrations were found in most Book of Hours. These illustrations could be a way for women to gain an understanding of the Latin language, (which was the language of most written works) that they otherwise may not have had the opportunity to learn.
Because men’s attitude toward women was negative and as women suffered much oppression, monastic life became prominent and continued to rise throughout the middle ages. Women went to monasteries because they were a safe haven and for this reason the number of educated women continued to increase. Women of all ages, some married or widowed, looked to monastic institutions as an outlet where they could develop their talents and where they could obtain a “certain degree of autonomy” (McGuire, 8).
So women in religious orders found monastic life to be an outlet where they could study, teach, express their frequent visions in their imageries and produce their many scholarly talented works. Hildegard, Herrad, Elisabeth, and Christine were all great female scholars whose works may not have even been created nor recorded and saved outside the walls of monastic institutions. Without their sacrifice and their dedicated service to God and to the education of other women, Christianity may not have been as cultured and as successful throughout the Middle Ages. As Christine so cleverly put it, “it was simply a question of ‘learning’ and so was the apparent intellectual difference between women and men” (Bell, 177).