Original Research

Besinning oor filosofie in die mistieke kloosterteks Hortus deliciarum (ca. 1185) deur Herrada Landsbergensis (ca. 1130–1191)

Johann Beukes
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 1 | a2199 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v42i1.2199 | © 2021 Johann Beukes | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 January 2021 | Published: 26 August 2021

About the author(s)

Johann Beukes, Department of Philosophy and Classics, Faculty of the Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa; Center for the History of Philosophy and Science, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands


Reflection on philosophy in the mystical cloistral text Hortus deliciarum (ca. 1185) by Herrada Landsbergensis (ca. 1130–1191). The aim of this article is to reappraise the understated philosophical aspects in the mystical cloistral text Hortus deliciarum, finalised around 1185 by Herrada Landsbergensis (ca. 1130–1191; also Herrad of Hohenburg), the abbess at Mont Saint-Odile, with specific reference to reflection on the nature and the limits of philosophy. Drawing on the most recent specialist research regarding its historical artistic and theological contributions (per Fiona Griffiths, Danielle Joyner and Nathaniel Campbell), and situating Herrada within a clear Platonic Augustinian framework, her life and the unique aesthetic appeal of the Hortus deliciarum are explored in this article. The reconstructed manuscript (under guidance of Rosalie Green in 1979) is henceforth engaged with, regarding its philosophical selfreflection (on the ‘nine Muses’ and ‘Lady Philosophy and the seven allegorical figures of the liberal arts’, as its entrance points), as well as Herrada’s modest participation in the intellectual discourse of the twelfth century, regarding cosmology (‘the human being as microcosm’) and ethics (‘both a contemplative and speculative distinction of the good’). Herrada’s self-reflective and aesthetic presentation of philosophy and her deeply conservative reflections and emphasis on the didactic nature of philosophy are described as a unique offering from philosophy in the central Middle Ages to the broader landscape of the Western history of ideas.

Intra/interdisciplinary implications: As a millennium-long discourse, Medieval philosophy functions in a Venn diagrammatic relationship with Medieval history, Church history, patristics and the philosophy of religion. Whenever ‘mainstream’ or ‘canonised’ Medieval philosophy is impacted by niche research, it may well have implications of which these closely related disciplines could take note. Such is the case in this reappraisal of the philosophical aspects in the Hortus deliciarum by the abbess of Hohenburg, Herrada Landsbergensis.


Augustinian Medieval philosophy; Cloistral mysticism; Rosalie Green; Fiona J. Griffiths; Herrada Landsbergensis (ca. 1139–1191); Herrad of Landsberg; Herrad of Hohenburg; Hohenburg Abbey; Hortus deliciarum (ca. 1185); Female Medieval philosophers


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