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IST 605: Women's Monastic Communities in Early Medieval Germany

Hildegard of Bingen


Until recently, there has been a relative lack of scholarly interest on the topic of women’s monastic communities in early medieval Germany, also known as East Francia. Any work within a field that focuses on the experiences of marginalized or oppressed peoples should be viewed as inherently important as a counter to dominant narratives. As the list of published works on the topic continues to grow, it also becomes important to provide a guide to select resources that not only evaluates them for authority and content, but also gathers them into one place for future use. This Research Guide is intended to address that need. 

Medievalists or those working in the field of women’s studies at the postsecondary level will find this guide useful to assist with the analysis of such information and the attainment of a deeper understanding of subcategories in the field. While this is a niche research interest, it is also an expanding one. As such, this guide should not be considered as comprehensive, but rather as a usable starting point for further study. 

While all sources are listed in APA format on the References page, I have separated them into topical areas, such as an Overview of Women's Monastic Communities, Architecture, Artwork & Manuscripts, Intellectual Networks, and Culture, Politics & Society, which have received their own pages in the sidebar of this guide.

A Note about Germany 

I will often use “Germany” as a matter of convenience, but during the medieval period, especially from the 9th century CE onward, it was more properly known as “East Francia”. See below for a map of the geographic area that is focused on in this guide.

Map of 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th century Germany

This map has been adapted from Gandersheim and Quedlinburg, C. 852-1024 by S. Greer. 


Carolingians : the Frankish ruling dynasty of the territory that would come to be the modern nations of France, Germany, and Italy, and the Low Countries from the 8th century until the 10th century

Early Medieval Period, Dark Ages : a period of roughly 500 years from the end of Antiquity through the 10th century

Frank, Frankish : a group of Germanic people who settled between the Rhine and Meuse Rivers, in modern Belgium, in the 3rd century CE

Liturgy : the material means by which worship is conducted

Memoria : the remembrance of the dead through prayer and ritual

Ottonians : named after Otto I, the Saxon family that ruled what would become Germany from the 10th century until the 11th century CE

Saxon, Saxony : the term for the Germanic people who lived in/the northern parts of what would become modern Germany


I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Professor Helene Scheck at the University at Albany. Under her honest, yet kind guidance, I have been able to explore and grow an academic interest in women's monastic communities in early medieval Europe.