Hildegard of Bingen, Heroines of the Medieval World by Sharon Bennett Connolly

heroines-of-the-medieval-worldA few weeks ago we had an interview with author Sharon Bennett Connolly. This week she has launched a blog tour for her book Heroines of the Medieval World.

Medieval Archives is honored to take part in the tour and help support great medieval books!

Sharon was kind enough to provide an excerpt from her book to post on the site. The excerpt focuses on Hildegard of Bingen, a saint and mystic. St Hildegard was named Doctor of the Church in October 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. Follow the link after the excerpt to visit all the blog tour stops and to buy the book! Enjoy.

Excerpt on Hildegard of Bingen from Chapter 11: Literary Heroines

There was also the rather brilliant Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard was born in 1098 in Bremersheim in the Rhineland. Born into a noble family, she was the tenth child of Hildebert and Mechtild and was destined for life in a convent from an early age. She was around eight years old when she was placed with Jutta of Sponheim, a reclusive (possibly an anchorite), religious noblewoman who supervised the education of young girls from noble families. In 1112, at the age of fourteen, Hildegard, along with other girls in Jutta’s charge, took her vows at the monastery at Disibodenberg. Under Jutta, who became prioress at Disibodenberg, Hildegard was taught to read, and Latin, although she was not proficient in the latter, and in later life she relied on her secretaries to correct her Latin grammar.

Hildegard was a woman of many talents, she was a visionary, a musician, philosopher, theologian and an expert in medicine. She lived at the monastery of Disibodenberg for more than thirty years. It was in her early years there that she first experienced visions, which would make her famous even in her own lifetime. Initially, she only revealed her prophetic visions to her mentor, Jutta, and it was only when God commanded to her record them, that she revealed them to her friend and secretary, Volmar. With the permission of the Abbot of Disibodenberg, Kuno, and with the encouragement of Volmar and a fellow nun, Richardis of Stade, Hildegard started writing down her visions when she was in her forties. It was only after much encouragement from her Archbishop, Henry of Mainz, that her first work, Scivias, was published. The beautifully illustrated work was given approval from a commission set up by Pope Eugene III and was also supported by the saintly Bernard of Clairvaux.

Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux was one of a number of theologians with whom Hildegard maintained a correspondence. She regularly asked the venerable abbot for advice and guidance, and help in interpreting her visions. In one letter, she would tell him, ‘I have from earliest childhood seen great marvels which my tongue has no power to express but which the Spirit of God has taught me that I may believe … Indeed, I have no formal training at all, for I know how to read only on the most elementary level, certainly with no deep analysis. But please give me your opinion in this matter, because I am untaught and untrained in exterior material, but am only taught inwardly, in my spirit.’
Hildegard corresponded with the great personalities of her time, with emperors, popes and even queens. Sometime between 1154 and 1171, she responded to a letter from Eleanor of Aquitaine, asking for advice, with the words ‘Your mind is like a wall which is covered with clouds, and you look everywhere but have no rest. Flee this and attain stability with God and men, and God will help you in all your tribulations. May God give you his blessing and help in all your works’.

In 1148 Hildegard had a vision in which God commanded her to take her nuns and establish her own nunnery. Although Abbot Kuno was reluctant to see Hildegard leave Disibodenberg – her reputation had brought the monastery pilgrims and prestige – she eventually prevailed and established a new convent at Rupertsberg. Hildegard’s convent admitted only noblewomen, she did not believe in mixing the classes within a convent, writing that different ‘classes of people should not be mixed, or they will fall out through deceit or arrogance, and the shame occasioned by their differences. The greatest danger of all is a breakdown in peaceful manners through mutual backbiting and hatred when the upper-class pounce on the lower or when the lower is promoted above the higher.’

It was at Rupertsberg that Hildegard wrote two medical works, Causes and Cures and Physica, after studying the illnesses of the sick who she cared for. Her writings suggested remedies for different ailments, using a wide variety of plants; for example, Hildegard explains how cloves could be used to remedy against gout, swollen intestines and hiccups.4 She also extolled the virtues of the rose as a cure for many ills, saying: ‘Rose is cold, and this coldness contains moderation which is useful. In the morning, or at daybreak, pluck a rose petal and place it on your eyes. It draws out the humour and makes them clear. One with small ulcers on his body should place rose petals over them. This pulls the mucus from them. One who is inclined to wrath should take rose and less sage and pulverise them. The sage lessens the wrath, and the rose makes him happy. Rose, and half as much sage, may be cooked with fresh, melted lard, in water, and an ointment made from this. The place where a person is troubled by a cramp or paralysis should be rubbed with it, and he will be better. Rose is also good to add to potions, unguents, and all medications. If even a little rose is added, they are so much better, because of the good virtues of the rose.’

Hildegard’s prolific writing career continued in her new surroundings. She produced religious poems, music and even a play, Ordo Virtutum. She also wrote two further books of her visions, Liber vitae meritorum (Book of Life’s Merits) and Liber divinonim operum (Book of Divine Works), and a life of the abbey’s patron saint, St Rupert. Ricardis of Stade and her friend and secretary, Volmar, had accompanied Hildegard from Disibodenberg to Rupertsberg and continued to help her as secretaries and assistants. A succession of secretaries came after Volmar and Richardis, including Hildegard’s nephew, Wesclein, her brother, Hugo of Tholey, and her last secretary, Guibert of Gembloux. Guibert and an earlier secretary, Godfrey of Disibodenbrg, both wrote biographies of Hildegard. The main purpose of the secretaries was to edit Hildegard’s works as her Latin grammar was far from proficient; however, they were under strict instructions not to change any of her words as they came from God, exhorting ‘Let no man be so audacious as to add anything to this writing lest he be blotted out from the book of life’.

— End Excerpt —

Visit all the stops on the Heroines of the Medieval World blog tour:

About the Author

Sharon Bennett Connolly Sharon Bennett Connolly has been fascinated by history for over 30 years now and even worked as a tour guide at historical sites, including Conisbrough Castle. Born in Yorkshire, she studied at University in Northampton before working in Customer Service roles at Disneyland in Paris and Eurostar in London.

She is now having great fun, passing on her love of the past to her son, hunting dragons through Medieval castles or exploring the hidden alcoves of Tudor Manor Houses.

Having received a blog as a gift, History…the Interesting Bits, Sharon started researching and writing about the lesser-known stories and people from European history, the stories that have always fascinated. Quite by accident, she started focusing on medieval women. And in 2016 she was given the opportunity to write her first non-fiction book, Heroines of the Medieval World, which was published by Amberley in September 2017. She is currently working on her second non-fiction book, Silk and the Sword: The Women of the Norman Conquest, which will be published by Amberley in late 2018.

Connect with Sharon!
Blog: https://historytheinterestingbits.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Thehistorybits/
Twitter: @Thehistorybits

Buy Heroines of the Medieval World
Amazon UK Link
Amberley Publishing Link
Amazon US Link

Murrey and Blue by The Legendary Ten Seconds

Murrey and BlueEarlier this year we featured The Legendary Ten Seconds on an episode of the podcast. If you haven’t listened to it yet I highly recommend it.

Ian and the band are back with another album, Murrey and Blue. Featuring more songs inspired by King Richard III and the Wars of the Roses.

Below is the press release for the new album. Visit thelegendary10seconds.co.uk to find all their work.

— Press Release —
Murrey and Blue by The Legendary Ten Seconds to be released on 1st November 2017 which is the anniversary of when Richard, later Richard III, was created the Duke of Gloucester in 1461. A concept album of songs by The Legendary Ten Seconds about the Wars of the Roses and England in the late fifteenth century.

Featuring the following songs:-

  1. The Boars Head, a song inspired by the chapter in a book by Toni Mount about a medieval Christmas.
  2. John Judde, who died at a battle at St Albans, another song inspired from Toni Mount’s book about life in medieval London.
  3. The Medieval Free Company, inspired by a display of archery and medieval life of a Wars of the Roses reenactment group at Buckland Abbey.
  4. Plantagenet Pavane, a stately dance usually in slow duple time but in true Legendary Ten Seconds style this instrumental is played in triple time.
  5. Francis Cranley, a song about the main character in a Ricardian novel called The Woodville Connection written by Kathy Martin.
  6. The Woodville Household, a song for the fifteenth century reenactment group who portray the retinue of Sir Anthony Woodville.
  7. The Month of May, a fictional exchange of letters written during 1483.
  8. John Nesfield’s Retinue, this instrumental is for the retinue of John Nesfield.
  9. The Seventh of August, Henry Tudor lands at Mill Bay in August 1485 with his French mercenaries. A song inspired by a book written by Chris Skidmore.
  10. The Dublin King, a song about Lambert Simnel and the battle of Stoke in 1487, inspired after reading a book of the same name by John Ashdown-Hill.
  11. Lambeth MS 474, an instrumental for the book of hours of Richard III
  12. Shining Knight, written by Riikka Katajisto and Ian Churchward for all the Ricardian ladies who have fallen in love with Richard III of which there are very many.
  13. Court of King Richard III, a new 2017 recording of the song which was originally featured on the Tant le desiree album. The version of this song features new bass guitar and singing.
  14. White Surrey August 1485, another new 2017 recording of the song which was originally featured on the Tant le desiree album which features a mix of new recordings and also old recordings of the original version of this popular song.

Album artwork (above) painted by G Harman of Red fox illustrations.

Ian Churchward vocals, guitars and mandola.
Lord Zarquon keyboards, bass and drums.
David Clifford bass guitar on John Jude, The Medieval Free Company, The Seventh of August, Court of King Richard III and White Surrey August 1485.
Rob Bright guitar on John Judde, John Nesfield’s Retinue and The Seventh of August.
Pippa West vocals on The Boars Head, The Medieval Free Company, Francis Cranley and The Month of May.
Elaine Churchward vocals on The Seventh of August.
Camilla Joyce vocals on the 2017 versions of Court of King Richard III and White Surrey.
John Bessant lap steel guitar on The Dublin King and Lambeth MS 474.

All songs written by Ian Churchward except Shining Knight written by Riikka Katajisto and Ian Churchward.

All songs arranged by Lord Zarquon.

Recorded in Torbay at Rock Lee and Rainbow Starshine studios for Richard The Third Records.


Dearly beloved I greet you this day
So much has happened in the month of May
The stench from the street assaults my nose
How I do long for the scent of a rose

The news of the queen is very disturbing
Remaining in sanctuary so we are learning
The date of the coronation is set
One Sunday in June it’s not happened yet

Dearly beloved I greet you good day
So much has happened since the month of May
Of true honesty there’s nought to be had
And the stench from the Thames it is terribly bad

The news of Lord Hastings is very disturbing
Of his execution this we are learning
The date of the coronation draws near
Of its cancellation I really do fear


A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the album will be donated to S.A.U.K.

Email:- thelegendarytenseconds@gmail.com

MAP#77 – The Masque of the Red Death



The Great Plague or Black Death ravaged Europe in the 14th century, killing around 200 million people. No one was immune to the Plague! But as we’ll find out in today’s episode one man thought his wealth could keep him safe.

Today on the Halloween inspired episode we are going to listen to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death. It’s a story of the lower class suffering while the Nobles stay safe in their castle…but with Poe there is always a twist…

The creepy cool background music was by Natureworld1986. You can find all his music on his Youtube Channel.

Please send any comments or suggestions to podcast@medievalarchives.com

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Download the MP3 and listen to it on your favorite MP3 player. Subscribe to the feed so you do not miss a single episode.

The intro music was provided by Tim Rayburn. It is available at Magnatune.com

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Tant le desiree cover

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