Hildegard of Bingen

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Fiona Maddocks
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Best known today as a fine composer, the twelfth-century German abbess Hildegard of Bingen was also a religious leader and visionary, a poet, naturalist and writer of medical treatises. Despite her cloistered life she had strong, often controversial views on sex, love and marriage too - a woman astonishing in her own age, whose book of apocalyptic visions, Scivias, would alone have been enough to ensure her lasting fame.In this classic and highly praised biography - first published by Headline in 2001 - distinguished writer and journalist, Fiona Maddocks, draws on Hildegard's prolific writings to paint a portrait of her extraordinary life against the turbulent medieval background of crusade and schism, scientific discovery and cultural revolution. The great intellectual gifts and forceful character that emerge make her as fascinating as any figure in the Middle Ages.More than 800 years after her death, Pope Benedict XVI has made Hildegard a Saint and a Doctor of the Church (one of only four women). Fiona Maddocks has provided a short new preface to cover these tributes to an extraordinary and exceptional woman.

Her parents had promised their sick daughter to God, so they placed her in care of a Benedictine nun, Blessed Jutta, in ... Hildegard of Bingen, self-portrait (detail) Hildegard was a complex person, both an inspiration and a challenge to live with. We also know that Hildegard somehow suffered physically, or mentally, or both.

She chose Rupertsberg near Bingen on the left bank of the Rhine, about fifteen miles from Disenberg. Hildegard of Bingen date of birth is uncertain; it was concluded that she may have been was born in 1098 at Bermersheim bei Alzey (Bockelheim, Germany) in the diocese of Mainz. She was raised in a family of free noble; her parents were Hildebert and Mechtilide who came from a Germany education.