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Marsha Meskimmon

(b nr Mainz, Sept 16, 1098; d Rupertsberg, nr Bingen, Sept 17, 1179).

German ecclesiastic, visionary, philosopher, composer and visual artist. Hildegard of Bingen is one of the best known and most significant figures of 12th-century Europe. Her father was a knight in the Count of Spanheim’s court and throughout her life she corresponded with prominent European leaders, such as King Henry II of England, Queen Eleanor and Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. Hildegard took her Benedictine vows in 1117 and became an abbess in 1136. She articulated a specifically female mystic theology that was, at the same time, a powerful and acknowledged message (see fig.).

Her work as a visual artist is primarily ascribed to her contribution to the Rupertsberg Scivias (c.1165, destr. 1945; facs. Eibingen, Bibl. St Hildegard, see fig.); a manuscript that contains images and texts that record her visions. Throughout the 1140s there is evidence of her writing and drawing in tandem, and scholars have made the important point that her work breaks with conventional divisions between text and image (Caviness, ...