Date of Award

Spring 4-30-2015

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Art and Art History

First Advisor

Dabb, JeanAnn

Second Advisor

Garmon, Carole

Major or Concentration

Art History


Herrad of Hohenbourg was a major contributor to the visual culture of 12th century European monastic tradition. She was the abbess of a female convent known as the Hohenbourg Abbey located on the eastern slope of Mount Odilienberg in the Vosges mountain range of modern day Alsace, France. Herrad seceded her mentor Relinde as Abbess of Hohenbourg in the year 1167; her reign would last from this year until her death in 1195. Amidst the suppression of a patriarchal society, Relinde and Herrad were able to instill the necessity of education within the convent. With the passing of Relinde, Herrad perpetuated the practices of Relinde with the creation of her own illuminated manuscript, the Hortus deliciarum (Garden of Delights) in order to supply a spiritual exegesis for the women of Hohenbourg. The text within focused mainly on the Salvation History with sections throughout that focused on making the text more relatable in an earthly since; text was accompanied by brilliant illuminations, which warned, not only against mortal sin, but also the malevolence of men. Herrad was a scholar in a time when the patriarchy of Europe ruled without the understanding of the necessity for the education of women. She was greatly influenced by not only contemporary materials but also by philosophical texts of classicism; this allowed her to create the Hortus: A text that would not only educate the women of the Hohenbourg Abbey, but also break the stereotype of ignorant women in the 12th century monastic tradition. The Hortus was destroyed in a fire that took place in the Strasbourg Library in the year 1871 resulting in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War. Luckily, there were copies made of the text prior to its loss. Therefore, scholars may examine the text and image synthesis and realize the intentions of Herrad of Hohenbourg in her secluded female convent in Alsace. This women has hardly been spoken for amongst the realm of feminist art history; her contributions to the visual culture of the 12th century are simply too great to overlook. This research hopes to map out the historical context of the 12th century, and to explore the Hortus deliciarum in order to further convey the excellence of Herrad’s contributions to female monastic tradition.