Arranged marriages became common in medieval Europe

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The Essen Cathedral

  • Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) wrote medical treatises and composed music; Rights: akg

Hildegard von Bingen and Hrotsvit von Gandersheim, among others, achieved national recognition. Born in 1098, Hildegard was given to the Disibodenberg monastery by her parents when she was eight years old. She was 80 or 81, which was very old by medieval standards. In her long life she founded and directed her own monastery, wrote medical treatises and composed music.

She became a religious celebrity through her visions: Hildegard reported hearing and seeing dreamlike things that she interpreted as divine inspirations. The local bishop ruled that the visions were indeed from God. Hildegard traveled well into old age and preached to her numerous followers. This is how the powerful of her time became aware of her: in 1163, Emperor Friedrich I, known as Barbarossa, called her to his court as an advisor. Many of Hildegard's surviving letters show that she was not afraid to admonish powerful men with clear words. For example, she wrote to Barbarossa: "O King, it is imperative that you are careful in your actions. (...) Make sure that the highest King [meaning God] does not hold you down because of your blindness Eyes that don't really see how you have to hold the scepter in your hand to rule correctly. Be careful: Be so that the grace of God does not go out in you! "

Another example is Hrotsvit (Roswitha) von Gandersheim, who was born around the year 935 and died after 973. She lived in Gandersheim Abbey and is considered the first German poet. She was very educated and wrote outstanding dramas in Latin. Hrotsvit also excelled as a historian. The monastery supported her in her artistic work, which was extremely unusual at the time. Her connection to the ruling house probably also played a role: The abbess of the Gandersheim monastery, Geberga, was the niece of Emperor Otto I. Although there is no clear evidence of this, it is assumed that he was aware of the content of Hrotsvit's poems.

She gained national fame long after her death, when her works were rediscovered and published in printed form at the beginning of the 16th century.