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Eckenstein, Lina, d. 1931 / Woman under monasticism: chapters on saint-lore and convent life between A.D. 500 and A.D. 1500 (1896)


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Herrad and the 'Garden of Delights.'

A work produced at Hohenburg, a nunnery in Elsass, in the 12th century confirms the belief that given favourable conditions it is possible for women to produce good work and to help to accumulate knowledge. Herrad, the abbess of this house, conceived   [p. 239]   the idea of compiling for the use of her nuns an encyclopedic work which should embody, in pictures and in words, the knowledge of her age. The importance of this work has long survived the attainment of its original purpose, for with its hundreds of illustrations and its copious text it has afforded a wealth of information on the customs, manners, conceptions and mode of life of the 12th century, to which many students of archeology, art and philology have gone for instruction and for the illustration of their own books.'Few illuminated manuscripts had acquired a fame so well deserved as the "Garden of Delights," the Hortus Deliciarum, of Herrad,' says the editor of the great collection of reproductions of the pictures which illustrated her work.[1*] For the work itself is no more. The MS. was destroyed in the fire which broke out in the library of Strasburg when that city was bombarded by the Germans in 1870, and with it perished a complete copy of the text. Our knowledge of the work is therefore limited to the remarks of those who had studied it and to those portions of it which had been copied or transcribed previous to its destruction. The 'Society for the Preservation of the Monuments of Elsass' is at present collecting and publishing a reproduction of all existing tracings and copies of the pictures or of parts of them, and this collection already numbers nearly two hundred. They are mere fragments of course of the work itself, and yet they are of the highest interest. For Herrad's 'Garden of Delights' with its apt illustrations gave a complete picture of life in its domestic and out-of-door aspects as it presented itself in the 12th century. It showed what conceptions and ideas were then attractive to nuns and their estimation of knowledge, and it has given greater insight than any other production into the talents, the enthusiasm and the industry which( were found at this period in a nunnery.

The religious settlement at Hohenburg[2*] was an ancient foundation situated on the flat summit of a spur of the Vosges mountains, which here rise abruptly to a height of over two thousand five hundred feet from the wide expanse of the valley of the Rhine below. The wooded heights on either side of the Rhine were the favourite haunts of missionaries in early times, who settled there and appropriated sites in close proximity to the castles or strongholds of the landed gentry. At one time there were as many as   [p. 240]   sixty religious settlements in the Rhine valley between Basel and Mainz and over a hundred castles or burgs. The nunnery of Hohenburg was of high rank among these religious settlements owing to its extensive property and to its commanding situation. The summit of the hill was surrounded by an ancient wall dating from pre-Christian times which is still known as the heathen wall; it enclosed a wide clearance of fields and meadows, and the numerous buildings of the convent settlement. This height was the goal of numerous pilgrimages and had various associations dating from heathen times. It is at the present day a favourite health resort on account of its aspect and romantic surroundings.

From historical information recently collected by Roth[3*] we gather that a religious settlement of women existed on the Hohenburg as early as the 9th century. Judith, the wife of Ludwig the Pious († 840), took some interest in it. Legendary lore has spun many webs about the religious settlements in the Rhine district including that of Hohenburg, and the majority of modern historians have taken no trouble to unravel them. Legend[4*] tells us that a holy maiden St Odilia fled from the persecution of a cruel father and came to the Hohenburg, where she settled and gathered many women about her. Various stories more or less fanciful are told of her. She was cured of blindness and baptized by Archbishop Hildulf of Trier and Bishop Erhard of Regensburg--who are unknown to history; she was carried down the river in a chest and educated at the convent of Beaume or Palma; and she has been given as a relative to St Leodgar bishop of Autun († 1678) and as a daughter to Eticho duke of the Allemanni. Besides these stories we find the name Odilia locally associated with a cave, a well, three linden-trees and a stone of peculiar shape which are obviously heathen survivals, and encourage the view that Odilia is the representative of some preChristian divinity. Roth has shown that the name Odilia is nowhere on record in these districts before the 10th century, and it occurs in connection with Hohenburg only in the 11th century, that is three or four hundred years after the saint's reputed foundation of the house. When Pope Leo IX (1048--1054), who was an Alsatian, visited his home he was presented with a rhymed 'responsarium' on the local saints of the district. Among them was Odilia, who at that time was directly associated with the nunnery. A hundred years later when the convent was better   [p. 241]   known through the influence and activity of its abbesses Relind and Herrad, St Odilia was looked upon as the daughter of Duke Eticho and the founder of the house--this will be shown from pictures preserved in Herrad's work. But evidently this abbess had no knowledge of the saint's blindness and sufferings, nor of her connection with St Leodgar and other prelates, which are all described in her legend written another hundred years later.

In the year 1154 Relind,[5*] abbess of Berg, a nunnery near Neuburg on the Danube, was appointed abbess at Hohenburg in accordance with the wish, it is said, of the emperor Friedrich Barbarossa ( 1152--1190). Her influence was most beneficial; many daughters of the surrounding gentry came to study under her, and among them Herrad of the family of Landsperg. The term nun must be applied to these women with a reservation; some writers speak of them as Austin canonesses on account of the liberties they enjoyed. In Herrad's 'Garden' the picture of her nuns represents them wearing clothes that differ little from those worn by women in other walks of life. Their dresses are of different colours, their cloaks are generally brown, and their veils are always brilliantly coloured, some red, some purple.[6*] The only detail of dress which they have in common is a white turban or head-dress, over which the veil is thrown. They wear no wimples. The establishment of the house under Herrad's rule consisted of forty-seven nuns and thirteen novices (or lay sisters?) who are represented as wearing clothes similar to those of the nuns.

Herrad's admission to the house furthered its prosperity in every way, for besides literary and artistic abilities she had considerable powers of management. She succeeded Relind as abbess in 11167, and in 1181 she founded a settlement of Austin canons at Truttenhausen, and later another at St Gorgon, both of which are situated not far below the summit of the hill. The canons of these settlements took it in turn to read mass in the women's chapel. Roth speaks of other improvements which Herrad carried out with the help of her diocesan, the bishop of Strasburg.

The consecration of a church at Niedermünster, situated below the Hohenburg, also falls within the term of Herrad's rule. A second nunnery was founded there as a dependency, which was separated from the parent house probably during Herrad's lifetime,   [p. 242]   owing to the efforts of the abbess Edelind (1195--1200), who according to G&ard was also of the family of Landsperg.[7*] The claim of this abbess to the attention of posterity rests on her having been the possessor of a still extant chased case several feet high, which she had made to hold a fragment of the Holy Cross which a camel was alleged to have brought to Niedermünster of its own accord in the time of Karl the Great. This case is covered with many figures worked in relief and is praised by art students as a curious example of early metal work.[8*]

The history of Hohenburg and Niedermünster in the sequel offers much that is interesting. For while the nuns at Niedermünster accepted the rule of St Benedict, the nuns on the Hohenburg persisted in their independent course. At Niedermünster a stone monument is still to be seen which experts declare to be 13th century work, and which gives a clue to the association of St Odilia with Leodgar, to whom the church at Niedermünster was dedicated. Three sides of this monument are covered with figures. On one stands St Leodgar; on the next St Odilia with long tresses, and Duke Eticho; on the third the Virgin, also with long tresses, and below her the abbesses Relind and Herrad holding a book. Both these abbesses are designated by name, and wear convent garb and wimples utterly different from the clothes worn by them in the pictures of Herrad's book.[9*]

From these general remarks we turn to the great work of Herrad's life, to which she herself gave the title of the 'Garden of Delights.' It consisted of 324 parchment leaves of folio size, which contained an account of the history of the world founded on the Biblical narrative, with many digressions into the realm of philosophy, moral speculation, and contemporary knowledge--and with numerous pictures in illustration of it.

The book was so arranged that the pictures stood alongside of the text; and the pages of the work which were devoted to illustrations were in most cases divided into three sections by lines across, so that the pictures stood one above the other. The figures in each picture were about four inches high. There were, however, a certain number of full-page illustrations with larger figures, and it is among these that the greatest proofs are given of Herrad's imaginative powers and the range of her intellectual abilities.

  [p. 243]  

Engelhardt, to whom we are indebted for the fullest description of the 'Garden of Delights,' made tracings of a number of pictures and copied their colouring.[10*] He comments on the brilliant smoothness and finish of the original miniature paintings. Only the silver, he says, was tarnished; the gold was undimmed and all the colours preserved their full brilliancy, when he had the work before him in the early part of this century. According to him the method of painting was as follows. First the figures were drawn in dark outline, then the colouring was filled in bit by bit; shadows and high lights were next laid on, and then the dark outlines were again gone over.

The question has naturally arisen whether Herrad did the whole of the work herself. The text which stood at the beginning and at the end of it referred to her as its sole author. Students are generally agreed that the outline drawing and the writing were entirely her work, but the colours may or may not have been laid on by her. For the work was wonderfully complete in plan and execution--the conception of one mind, which laboured with unceasing perseverance to realize the conception it had formed.

The style in which the pictures were drawn has likewise been the occasion of much comment. We are here on the border-land between the conventional Byzantine and the realistic Gothic styles. 'We see very clearly,' says Woltman,[11*] 'how the new ideas which scholastic learning and poetry had generated required new modes of expression, and led to conceptions for which the older art yielded no models and which had to be taken from real life.' In most cases Herrad no doubt had a model before her and adhered to the traditional rendering, but where the model was wanting she may have drawn on her powers of imagination and supplied details from her surroundings. Thus incidents of Biblical history are represented by her in a manner familiar to the student of early Christian art. A grave and serious dignity which recalls the wall mosaics at Ravenna characterizes the figures of God, Christ, Mary, and the angels; Engelhardt has pointed out the close similarity of Herrad's picture of the Annunciation to that contained in a Greek MS. of the 9th century.[12*] But in other cases Herrad either composed herself or else drew from models which were nearer to her in time and place.   [p. 244]   Thus the picture of the sun-god Apollo represents him in a heavy mediaeval cart drawn by four horses, and the men and women in many pictures are dressed in the fashion of the time. The pictures drawn from real life especially delight the archaeological student. A water-mill grinding corn, men at the plough, soldiers on the march and fighting, are drawn with minute exactness and with considerable skill. Some of these scenes are powerfully realistic in spite of a certain awkwardness in the figures; for example, that of a traveller who is waylaid by robbers, coupled with the story of the good Samaritan, which is illustrated by a series of pictures. In the first of these a man is depicted lying by the roadside; in the second we see him on a horse which is led by the Samaritan, and in the third he has arrived at the inn and is being lifted down from the horse.

Herrad executed her work between 1160 and 1170, but additional entries were made as late as 1190. This period falls in the reign of the emperor Friedrich Barbarossa (1152--1190), which followed upon that of the luckless Konrad III, and was one of comparative quiet and prosperity in Germany. The power of the Pope had passed its climax, there was schism in the Papacy, which was greatly aggravated by the line of conduct Friedrich adopted, but the scene of their struggle had shifted to the cities of northern Italy. We shall see later on that political changes were watched with much interest in some nunneries, and that the conduct of the Emperor, the Pope, and the bishops was keenly criticised among nuns. It is difficult to tell how far events affected Herrad. The prose narrative which her work contained, as far as we know, has perished and we have no definite clue to her interpretation of contemporary affairs, but probably she was content to devote her energies to rearranging and interpreting the intellectual wealth of the age without entering into party conflicts. The illustrations of the 'Garden of Delights' which have been preserved are invaluable for the study of contemporary life, but they contain no information as to contemporary events.

The study and enjoyment of the work in its original form were facilitated by the addition to the picture of the name of every person and every implement in Latin or in German, sometimes in both; and in many cases an explanatory sentence or a moral maxim was introduced into the picture, so that the nun who studied the work naturally picked up Latin words and sentences. Through the industry of Engelhardt all these sentences and words have been   [p. 245]   preserved, and the coupling of implements with their names forms a valuable addition to our knowledge of terms as applied in early mediaeval times. The book also originally contained a continuous history in Latin for more advanced students, but unfortunately that is lost. Engelhardt says that it described the history of the world from the Creation to the coming of Antichrist, with many extracts from various writers. He enumerates twenty writers from whose works Herrad quotes. Among them are Eusebius Pamphili († c. 350), Jerome († 420), Isidor of Seville († 636), Bede († 735) Frechulf († 838), and others who were her contemporaries, such as Petrus Lombardus († 1164) and Petrus Comestor († 1198). When quoting from secular writers the abbess invariably made mention of the fact. In one instance she remarked that 'all these things have been described by philosophers by aid of their worldly wisdom (per mundanam sapientiam), but this was the product of the Holy Spirit also.'

The attitude which Herrad assumed towards learning generally can be studied in the pictures which deal with abstract conceptions. They are usually of folio size and contain illustrations which are instructive to the student of mediaeval scholasticism. Two pictures introduced into the history of the Tower of Babel which illustrate the falling away from true faith deserve especial attention. The one is a representation of the 'Nine Muses' on it female heads of quaint dignity in medallions are arranged in a circle. The other represents the 'Seven Liberal Arts,' in accordance with the mediaeval interpretation of the teaching of Aristotle.[13*] On it Philosophy, a female figure, is seated in the centre of the picture wearing a crown with three heads. These heads are designated as 'ethica, logica, phisica' by means of these three branches of learning philosophy adds to her powers of insight. Socrates and Plato, who are designated as 'philosophers,' sit below, and from the figure of Philosophy 'seven streams of wisdom flow which are turned into liberal arts as the text explains. These arts are personified as female figures in 12th century dress, and are so arranged that each figure stands in a separate division forming a circle round Philosophy and the philosophers. The Liberal Arts are robed in different colours, and each holds an emblem of her power. 'Grammar,' dressed in dark red, has a book and a birch rod; 'Geometry,' in light red, has a measuring rod and a compass; 'Arithmetic,' in light blue, holds a string of alternate white and black beads; 'Music,' dressed in   [p. 246]   purple, has a lyre, a zither and a hurdy-gurdy; 'Astronomy,' in dark green, holds a measure and looks up at the stars; 'Rhetoric,' in dark blue, has a stilus and a writing-tablet (tabula); and 'Dialectic,' in light green, holds the head of a howling dog. Each figure is encircled by a sentence explaining the special nature of her power. In the lower part of the picture are four men, seated at desks, with books, pens and penknives, engaged in reading and writing. These are the 'poets or magi, who are filled with a worldly spirit' black birds appear to be whispering in their ears.

The whole of this picture is doubtless traditional; its admission into the work shows that Herrad's conception of ' profane' learning was one of distinct appreciation. The idea conveyed by means of the pictures to the young women students was by no means superficial or derogatory to learning. On the contrary, we see them under the influence of a teacher through whom their respectful attitude towards the means and modes of knowledge was assured.

Another picture of folio size, called 'The Ladder to Perfection,' shows that Herrad accepted a critical attitude towards the members of religion. A ladder is drawn diagonally across the page and a number of figures are seen ascending it on their way towards heaven. The highest rung has been reached by Christian love (Caritas) personified as a woman to whom a crown is proffered from heaven. Below her stand the representatives of different branches of the religious profession and laymen arranged in order of excellence, and with each is given a picture of the temptation which prevents him from ascending further up the ladder. Among these the hermit (heremita) stands highest, but he is held back by the charms of his garden. Below him stands the recluse (inclusus), -whose temptation is slothfulness, which is represented by a bed. Then comes the monk (monachus), who leans towards a mass of gold; 'he is typical of all false monks,' says Herrad, 'whose heart is drawn from duties by the sight of money, and who cannot rise above greed.' The nun (sanctimonialis) and the cleric (clericus) have reached the same rung on the ladder. She is the representative of false nuns who yield to the temptation of persuasion and gifts, and return to their parents, never attaining the crown of life; he is drawn away by the allurements of the table, and by a woman (amica) who stands below. There are also figures of a lay woman and a soldier who are respectively attracted by the charms of a city and of war.   [p. 247]   They are absorbed by vanities, and we are told 'rarely reach the crown of life through contemplation.' The picture is further crowded with demons who are attacking and angels who are defending the people on the ladder. The devil lurks below in the form of a dragon ready to seize upon those who fall.

In further illustration of Herrad's attitude towards the clergy, Engelhardt cites a passage from her work in which she severely censures the customs which the clergy tolerate in church on festal days. In company with laymen and loose women they eat and drink, and indulge in jokes and games which invariably end in uproariousness. How worthy of praise,' she exclaims, 'if the spiritual princes of the Church (principes ecclesiae spirituales) restored the evangelical teaching of early times in the place of such customs.[14*]

From these general remarks we turn to the pictures which illustrate the Biblical narrative in a number of scenes containing a store of imagery and a wealth of design. We cannot but admire the ready brush of the abbess and the courage with which she grappled with difficulties, drawing with equal skill human figures and divine personifications, dramatic incidents and allegorical combinations.

The pictures which illustrated the Creation were led up to by a number of diagrams and digressions on astronomy and geography, with lists of technical terms in Latin and their German equivalents. Among these was a picture of the signs of the zodiac and a 'computus' or table for determining the festal days of the year. The desire to fix the date of incidents of Old and New Testament history absorbed much attention at this period, and Herrad's table of computation was looked upon as so important that it was recently used by Piper as the starting-point for an investigation on the Calendar generally.[15*] In Herrad's table the date of Easter was worked out for a cycle of 532 years, that is from 1175 till 1706; leap-years were marked, and the day of the week on which Christmas fell was given for the whole period.

The history of the Biblical narrative opens with a picture illustrating the creation of the animals. The lion, the elephant, the unicorn and the giraffe are most fantastic, but the ox, the ass, the horse, the domestic fowl, the sylvan animals of northern latitudes,   [p. 248]   and fish, are drawn with tolerable correctness. God is represented in classical robes moving slowly across a wave of the waters. In another picture He is depicted in a simpler manner seated and fashioning the small figure of Adam, which He holds between His knees. Again He is seen breathing life into Adam's nostrils, and then holding in His hand a rib out of which projects the head of Eve, while Adam is lying asleep on the ground. There is a series of pictures illustrating the temptation and expulsion from Paradise. A full-sized one gives the Tree of Life, which has many ramifications out of which human faces are peeping. Adam and Eve are throughout pictured as of the same height and are several times drawn in the nude. There is a very graceful picture in which Adam is seen delving while Eve spins.

Poems on the First Man and on the Fall accompanied by musical notation are here introduced. The poems are preserved, the music is apparently lost; it is not stated whether Herrad wrote the music herself.

The story of Noah and his sleeping in the vineyard, and the building of the Tower of Babel, are illustrated by scenes details of which are presumably drawn from real life. Here we see wooden vats and buckets, the various implements used in the vintage, pictures of masons at work dressed in short kirtles, and the various implements and arrangements for building.

After the pictures on secular learning above referred to the thread of Biblical narrative is resumed, and there are many scenes from the lives of the patriarchs, such as Jacob giving his blessing, a picture of Jacob's dream, Pharaoh seated on his throne with sumptuous surroundings, and the passage over the Red Sea, in which the soldiers are clad in chain-mail and march with standards borne aloft. Soldiers similarly accoutred are drawn in one picture fighting under the leadership of Joshua; in another picture they are seen attacking a city, a scene taken from the story of the assault of Dan. The adoration of the golden calf gave occasion for a picture which also illustrates contemporary manners. Men and women dressed in the costume of the day are seen joining hands in a ring and dancing round the idol. We also have pictures of the Holy Ark and of the Tabernacle; the seven-branched candlestick is most elaborately drawn, and the twelve tribes of Israel are grouped in medallions around it.

The next remarkable picture is the burial of Moses. In a solitary rocky surrounding God lays the patriarch in his grave,   [p. 249]   while a demon holds him by the legs and is pushed away by' an angel. The demon was obviously a living reality to Herrad, and he frequently appears in her pictures with his wide mouth, long nose, pointed ears and green-coloured body, a figure grotesque rather than terrible. When the moment of death is represented he invariably puts in an appearance and claims the soul, which in one case escapes from the dying person's mouth in the shape of a small black demon. In another picture the soul is wrapped in swaddling clothes and is borne aloft by angels. This was a pre-Christian conception, that life is a small living thing which dwells inside a human being and escapes at death. On classic soil one comes across escaping life represented as a babe; in German folk-lore it is often a mouse or a toad.

The story of Goliath and of David is also illustrated. David is a diminutive figure wearing a kirtle, Goliath is huge and clad in chain-mail. Another picture represents David playing on the harp. There were also a number of scenes from the books of Kings, of Job, and of Tobit; none of these have as yet been reproduced. A picture of the prophets has, however, been published, in which a number of figures of different ages are depicted in different attitudes standing side by side. One of the most curious and dramatic pictures is the full-page illustration of Jonah being cast up by the fish. The fish is a carp of huge size, but it is designated as a whale.

The New Testament pictures follow on the Old Testament, but between them stand several which illustrate their unity. One is an allegorical figure with two heads, the one the head of Moses, the other that of Christ. There is also a picture in folio size of the mystic family of Christ. At the bottom is Abraham, who holds the mystic vine which grows upwards and divides into beautiful twisted ramifications forming circles, and in these are arranged the heads of patriarchs, kings, and groups of other members of Christ's family. A picture of Leviathan is extremely curious. He is depicted floating below. God stands above with a rod and line, and uses the cross as a fish-hook, dragging out of the huge creature's mouth the heads of the prophets which are strung together in a row.

The history of Christ was led up to by an account of the birth of John the Baptist. The Nativity was celebrated by several poems, the words of which have come down to us; the music which accompanied them is apparently lost. Among the most realistic pictures   [p. 250]   preserved is that of the 'Murder of the Innocents' agony is characteristically expressed in the attitude and faces of the mothers who watch the soldiers fulfilling their task.

Other pictures, copies of which have been preserved, illustrate the arrival of the three kings and Christ's baptism. In this latter picture the Jordan is personified as a river-god sitting in the water; the doors of heaven above are wide open and a dove drawn in the accepted style is descending. Christ's parables gave the abbess many occasions for depicting scenes taken from real life, many of which in their simplicity are truly delightful. Biblical stories were supplemented by incidents taken from legendary history, which were likewise accompanied by pictures, few of which seem to have been preserved. The story of the healing power of the statue of Christ, the legend of the Vernacle, and the story of the True Cross were all illustrated. There was Adam planting the Tree of Life, King Solomon fetching its wood to Jerusalem and making a bridge over the river with it, and the Queen of Sheba coming on a visit and hesitating to cross the bridge.

The pictures of the story of the Agony, the Resurrection, and the Acts of the Apostles met with great praise from all who saw them. There were folio-sized pictures setting forth the Universality of the Church, and the Contending of Virtues and Vices.[16*] Of this latter series several pictures have just appeared in reproduction; some are arranged in pairs, facing each other. The chief Vices, each with a band of attendants, are depicted confronting and then overcome by the chief Virtues; all are represented as women. Thus Pride, 'Superbia,' seated on horseback on a lion's skin and brandishing a spear, is leading a band of women, who are clad in chain-mail with robes flowing about their feet and carrying spears, against a band of Virtues similarly attired but carrying swords. A most interesting picture is that of Luxury, 'Luxuria,' who is seen with fourteen attendant Vices riding in a sumptuous four-wheeled car; Luxury is in front throwing violets. She is confronted by a band of Virtues led by Temperance, ' Temperantia,' who are in front of the horses and hold up their hands in reprobation. On the next picture the car of Luxury is smashed, the horses are overturned, and she herself is under the wheels. Of her attendants 'Voluptas' has cast aside her rings and ornaments and is caught in a briar-bush, 'Amor' has thrown away bow and quiver, and 'Avaritia' is   [p. 251]   seizing upon what the others have dropped. On another picture Liberality, 'Largitas,' has stripped Rapine and Avarice, and has transfixed Avarice with a spear.

Some of the pictures which illustrate Solomon in his glory and Solomon's Vanity of Vanities have also been preserved. Among them is Solomon lying on a sumptuous couch and surrounded by his warriors. A representation of two mannikins occurs among the Vanities; these mannikins were moved by threads, exactly like a modern toy. The pictures illustrating the experiences of the Church, the position of her members from Pope to cleric, the means of repentance, and the coming of Antichrist, all roused the enthusiasm of those who saw them; none of these have till now been reproduced. Gérard, who was probably the last to see and handle the work of Herrad, was especially struck by the pictures of the Last Judgment and of Heaven and Hell. His descriptions of them were lying in the library at the time of the bombardment, and were only rescued by the devotion of a friend.[17*] On the strength of these pictures he numbers Herrad among the most imaginative painters the world has known. Engelhardt also was greatly struck by them. He describes a picture of Hell in the following terms (p. 51):

'A mass of rocks was arranged so as to make a framework to this picture, in the chasms of which rocks flames were flaring and the condemned were seen suffering torments. Rivers of flame divided the inner part of the picture into four divisions. In the lowest of these, at the bottom of Hell, sat Lucifer or Satan in chains holding Antichrist in his lap. Next to him a demon carried along a covetous monk, whose punishment was then represented:

He lay on his back without clothes and a demon poured molten gold into his mouth. In the second division counting from below two boiling caldrons hung suspended: in the one were Jews, in the other soldiers (the text says 'milites vel armati '). Demons stood by holding men of either kind ready to add them to those already in the caldrons; other demons were stirring the caidrons with forks. In front of the Jews' caldron a demon was depicted holding a naked sinner to whom he administered punishment by beating him. In the division above this a usurer had hot gold poured into his hand; a slanderer was made to lick a toad; an eaves-dropper had his ears pinched; a vain woman was assisted at her toilet by demons (they seemed to be lacing her); the woman [18*]   [p. 252]   who had murdered her child was forced to devour it. The following peculiar picture filled the highest division: a rope was drawn through chasms in the rocks so as to form a swing; on this a grinning demon sat swinging. At the ends of the rope which hung on the other side of the rocks two sinners were hanging bound head and foot so as to balance each other; demons held them by the hair. Another sinner hung suspended by his feet, with a block of stone hanging from his neck on which a demon was swinging. Sensual pleasures personified were wound around and bitten by snakes, and a man who had committed suicide was depicted plunging a knife into his own body.'

These pictures illustrated with forcible directness conceptions which were current throughout the religious world and served as a means of teaching the lesson of reward and punishment in the world to come. Later on in treating of mysticism we shall again see these conceptions stimulating the imaginative powers of women living in convents.

Copies of the last pages of the 'Garden of Delights,' which are devoted to a representation of the Hohenburg and of its convent of women, have fortunately been preserved. Here we see the settlement as it presented itself to Herrad and the thoughts she associated with it. The picture is the size of two folio pages. High above in the centre stands Christ in front of the convent church, holding in His right hand a golden staff which is touched by the Virgin and St Peter, and the end of which is supported by Duke Eticho, whom Herrad looked upon as the father of St Odilia. St John the Baptist and St Odilia are seen standing on the other side of Christ. A green hill is represented below roughly studded with bushes or brambles,--this is the hill of the Hohenburg. On one slope of it Duke Eticho is seated, and he hands the golden key of the convent to St Odilia, who advances towards him followed by a band of women. Relind, Herrad's teacher and predecessor, also stands on the hill with her hand resting on a cross on which are inscribed verses addressed to the nuns. The fact that she restored the church and the discipline at Hohenburg, which had fallen entirely into decay, is commemorated in a sentence which is placed on the other side of her. Over against her stands Herrad herself, who also holds verses addressed to the nuns. And between these two abbesses all the members of Herrad's congregation are drawn, six rows of women's heads placed one above the other. There is no attempt at portraiture, but the name of each nun and each novice   [p. 253]   is added to her picture. Among these names are those of families of the surrounding landed gentry, from which we gather that the nunnery was chiefly for the upper classes. The nuns in the picture address lines to Christ begging Him to number them among the elect.

Such in rough outline was the 'Garden of Delights,' the loss of which is greatly to be deplored, both from the point of view of culture in general, and from that of women in particular. But even in its fragments the work is a thing to dwell upon, a monument which bears the stamp of wide knowledge and lofty thought. It shows how Herrad found her life's interest in educating the young women given into her care, how anxious she was that they should be right-minded in all things, and how she strove to make their studies delightful to them. The tone which she took towards her congregation is apparent from the words in which she directly addressed them. For besides occasional admonitory words, two long poems, one at the beginning, the other at the end of the work, are devoted to the admonition of the nuns. Herrad's poems are composed in different metres; some have the dignity of the hexameter, some the easier flow of shorter-lined dactylic verse. The poems addressed to her nuns are of the latter kind. Their incisive rhythm and ringing rhyme, in which their value chiefly lies, make a translation difficult. Still a version of the first of these poems in English prose will help to give the reader some idea of the tone of the abbess; the form of address is necessarily determined by the mode of expression of the 12th century, the meaning of the original is by no means always clear.

This is: 'The rhyme of Herrad, the abbess, in which she lovingly greets the young maidens (virgunculas) of the Hohenburg and invites them to their weal to faith and love of the true Bridegroom.

'Hail, cohort of Hohenburg virgins, white as the lily and loving the Son of God, Herrad, your most devoted, your most faithful mother and handmaiden sings you this song. She greets you times countless and daily prays that in glad victory you may triumph over things that pass. 0, mirror of many things, spurn, spurn those of time, and garner virtues, Band of the true Bridegroom. Press on in the struggle to scatter the dread foe, the King of Kings aids you for His desire is towards you. He Himself strengthens your soul against Satan; He Himself will grant the glory of His kingdom after victory. Delights await you, riches are destined for you,   [p. 254]   the court of heaven proffers you countless joys. Christ prepares espousals wondrous in delights, and you may look for this prince if you preserve your chastity. Mean time put around you noble circlets (?) and make your faces to shine fair, freed from mental strife.

Christ hates spot or stain, He abhors time-worn lines (of vice); He desires beauteous virgins and drives forth women who are unchaste. With a dove-like faith call upon that your Bridegroom, that your beauty may become an unbroken glory. Living without guile, be admonished by praise giving, so that you may complete your best works of ascent. Do not hesitate amidst the doubtful currents of the world, the truthful God holds out rewards after danger. Suffer hardships now, despising the world's prosperity, be now fellow of the cross, hereafter sharer of the kingdom. Steer across the ocean freighted with holiness, till you leave the bark and land in Sion. May Sion's heavenly castle with its beauteous halls be your home when the term of life is past. May there the virgin Ruler, Mary's Son, receive you in His embrace and lift you up from sadness. Setting aside all the wiles of the mean tempter, you will be abundantly glad, sweetly rejoicing. The shining Star of the Sea, the one virgin Mother will join you to her Son in bond eternal. And by your prayer do not cease to draw me with you to the sweetest Bridegroom, the Son of the Virgin. As He will be partner of your victory and of your great glory, He will draw you from earthly things. Farewell, chaste band, you my exceeding joy, live without offence, ever love Christ. May this book prove useful and delightful to you, may you never cease to ponder it in your breast. May forgetfulness not seize you like the ostrich (more Struthineo),[19*] and may you not leave the way before you have attained. Amen.

This address in verse was followed by these lines in prose-- 'Herrad, who through the grace of God is abbess of the church on the Hohenburg, here addresses the sweet maidens of Christ who are working as though in the vineyard of the Lord; may He grant grace and glory unto them--I was thinking of your happiness when like a bee guided by the inspiring God I drew from many flowers of sacred and philosophic writing this book called the 'Garden of Delights' and I have put it together to the praise of Christ and the Church, and to your enjoyment, as though into a sweet honeycomb. Therefore you must diligently seek your salvation in it and strengthen your weary spirit with its sweet honey   [p. 255]   drops; always be bent on love of your Bridegroom and fortified by spiritual joys, and you will safely pass through what is transitory, and secure great and lasting happiness. Through your love of Christ, help me who am climbing along a dangerous uncertain path by your fruitful prayer when I pass away from this earth's experiences. Amen.'

Thus far we have followed Herrad in her work and in her relations towards her nuns; the question naturally arises, What inner experiences prompted her to her great undertaking and in what spirit did she carry it through? It has been noticed that a sombreness is characteristic of certain parts of the work, and is peculiar to some of her poems also. Two short verses which occur in the work seem to reflect her mental state. The one urges great liberality of mind. It discusses the basis of purity, and comes to the conclusion that purity depends less on actions than on the spirit in which they are done. The other follows the mind through its several stages of development and deserves to be chronicled among the words of wisdom. It runs as follows: 'Despise the world, despise nothing, despise thyself, despise despising thyself, --these are four good things.'


[1*] Reproductions par la Société pour la conservation des monuments de l'Alsace, Sept livraisons containing Plates 1--53 inclusive (till 1895).

[2*] Silbermann, J. A., Beschreibung von Hohenburg, 1781.

[3*] Roth, K.L. 'Der Odilienberg' in Alsatin, 1836, vol. I, pp. 91 ff.

[4*] Comp. Above, pp. 22, 24.

[5*] Wiegand, in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, article 'Relind.'

[6*] It is possible but hardly probable that the miniaturist in colouring the picture gave free play to bis fancy.

[7*] Gérard, Ch., Les artistes de l'Alsace, 1872, p. 92.

[8*] Ibid.; Engelhardt, Herrad von Landsberg und ihr Werk, 1818, p. 16, footnote.

[9*] The monument is represented in Schoepflin, Alsatia Illustrata, 1751, vol. I, ad pag. 797.

[10*] Engelhardt, Herrad von Landserg and ihr Werk, 1818, with sheets of illustrations, which in a few copies are coloured.

[11*] Woltman, in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, article 'Herrad.'

[12*] Engelhardt, Herrad von Landsperg and ihr Werk, 1818, Vorwort p. xi.

[13*] Cf. Above, p. 180.

[14*] Engelhardt, Herrad von Landsperg und ihr Work, 1818, p. 104.

[15*] Piper, F., Kalendarien und Martyrologien der Anglsachsen, 1862.

[16*] Apparently following the 'Psychomachia' of Prudentius, a Christian poet of the 5th century.

[17*] Gérard, Ch., Les artistes de l'Alsace,1872, Introd. p. xix., p. 46, footnote.

[18*] Gérard, Ch., Les artistes de l'Alsace, 1872, Introd. p. xix., p. 46, footnote.

[19*] Probably with reference to Job xxxix., 14-15.

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