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Primary Source 1

Rupertsberg_Codex.jpg
Hildegard of Bingen from the Rupertsberg Codex. approx. 1180


This source actually depicts something that Hildegard is famous for. In this illustration, Hildegard is having a vision (shown by the flames 'descending from the heavens') and dictating what she sees to Volmar, a monk who is also her secretary and writing her vision down on a wax tablet. Hildegard had many visions during her lifetime and hence what she is depicted to be doing in the picture would be something that was quite normal for her. From the picture, you can also tell that Hildegard was a nun from the way that she is dressed.

Primary Source 2

"The devil keeps man from good with a thousand machinations spewed from his belly, so that when a person sighs to do good, he pierces him with his shafts; and when he desires to embrace God with his whole heart in love, he subjects him to poisonous tribulations, seeking to pervert good work before God. And when a person seeks the viridity of virtue, the devil tells him that he does not know what he is doing, and he teaches him that he can set his own law for himself." Hildegard of Bingen, letter to the Abbot, c. 1166

This source is an example of the way that Hildegard would provide advice to those who asked her for it. She wrote in ways that illustrate part of her visions whilst explaining them in order to allow others to understand what she sees in her visions. In this way, Hildegard uses the wisdom and understanding that she gains from the visions to advise others upon their own current situations. In this particular source, she might be advising or encouraging the Abbot to make wise decisions, based on virtue and not desire, despite that "the devil tells him that he does not know what he is doing, and he teaches him that he can set his own law for himself."

Primary Source 3

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Illustration that accompanied the third part of the Scivias Codex (Know the Ways of the Lord). Also known as "The Holy Trinity" this picture would have come out around 1151 or 1152



Including colourful and elaborate illustrations in written books was quite a common practice for writers and scholars in the Middle Ages. In this source, you see just one of there illustrations that is found at the beginning of part 3 of her most famous work- Scivias (Know the Ways of the Lord). From the source, you can tell that Hildegard would often interpret her visions through visual explanations that would often involve symbolic figures because although the illustration is meant to be depicting the Trinity, there is nothing in the picture that is seen thrice. In this way, Hildegard must have used something else included in the picture to represent the Trinity and the way that it relates to and connects to the human seen in the middle.
Different perceptions of Hildegard from the sources:
From looking at the clothes that she is wearing in the first source, Hildegard could be seen to be a very humble and modest nun. Her facial expression also might show that she is calm and collected and almost completely used to the experience of receiving 'divine revelations'. The fact that she is writing as well as the quote from source two also shows that Hildegard was educated and literate. The language used in the second source may also cause the perception that she was quite blunt and forward in her manner of speaking and advising others and was confident with what she was saying. This perception is mainly derived upon the fact that she would speak plainly to those that she would write to. Finally, the second source may also result in the perception that Hildegard was a woman who was very set in her ways and was not easily swayed upon her opinion. This can also be supported through her use of strong and persuasive language in her quote from her letter.