1 The present essay is a synopsis of selected aspects of the author’s in–depth study of Mosan Gothic manuscripts, Gothic Manuscript Illumination in the Diocese of Liège c. 1250–c. 1330, Corpus van verluchte handschriften uit de Nederlanden vols. 2–3, ed. Maurits Smeyers (Leuven: Peeters, 1988). This essay incorporates material from a paper given by the author in the Vox Benedictina session at Kalamazoo in 1989 and from her essay “Begijnenspiritualiteit en boekenproduktie in het oude bisdom Luik” in Sint–Truiden, Provinciaal Museum voor Religieuze Kunst, In Beeld Geprezen: Miniaturen uit Maaslandse devotieboeken 1250–1350 (Leuven: Peeters, 1989): pp. 32–52, reprinted here by courtesy of Peeters Uitgeverij. Further studies of beguine spirituality are currently in press: “Je pecherise renc grasces a vos: Some French Devotional Texts in Beguine Psalters” in Studies for Keith Val Sinclair; “Gothic Women and Merovingian Desert Mothers,” based on a paper given in the Vox Benedictina session at Kalamazoo in 1992, has been submitted for publication; “Reflections on Beguines and Psalters” Oons geestelijk erf (in press), response to Walter Simons, “Beguines and Psalters” Oons geestelijk erf 65 (1991): 23–30.
2 For a survey of the extant vitae and English translations of them, see Margot H. King, The Desert Mothers, Peregrina Papers series. 2nd ed. (Toronto: Peregrina Publishing Co., 1989), pp. 35–37. To her list I would add the life of Odilia of Liège. “Vita Odiliae virginis” Analecta Bollandiana 13 (1894): 197–287.
3 See, most recently, the comprehensive and thought–provoking survey of beguine literature by Ursula Peters, Religiöse Erfahrung als literarisches Faktum: Zur Vorgeschichte und Genese frauenmystischer Texte des 13. und 14. Jahrhunderts, Hermæa: Germanistische Forschungen, Neue Folge vol. 56 (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1988).
4 The most thorough recent survey of statutes is Roze–Marijn Quintijn, Normen en normering van het begijinenleven: Vergelijkende studie van de begijnenregels in de Nederlanden van de XIIIe tot de XVIIIe eeuw, licentiaat thesis (Ghent: Rijksuniversiteit, 1984). I am grateful to Ludo Milis for making this thesis accessible.
5 For Liège, see now Michel Lauwers, “Testaments inédits du chartrier des Dominicains de Liège (1245–1300)” Bulletin de la Commission royale d’histoire 154 (1988): 159–197. Regrettably, his article does not transcribe the beguine wills to be discussed here.
6 Veronica Sekules, “Women and Art in England in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries” in Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England 1200–1400, eds. Jonathan Alexander and Paul Binski (London: Royal Academy, 1987), p. 44; Nicholas Orme, From Childhood to Chivalry: The Education of the English Kings and Aristocracy 1066–1530 (London: Methuen, 1984), pp. 130 and 161; M. Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record: England, 1066–1307 (Cambridge MA: Blackwell, 1979, pp. 153 and 184.
7 Herbert Grundmann, “Die Frauen und die Literatur im Mittelalter: Ein Beitrag zur Frage nach der Entstehung des Schrifttums in der Volkssprache” Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 26 (1936): 134–135. Juliana of Mont–Cornillon learned the psalter by heart as a child, as did Ida of Louvain and Beatrice of Nazareth. See The Life of Blessed Juliana of Mont–Cornillon, translated by Barbara Newman, Peregrina Translations series (Toronto: Peregrina Publishing Co., 1988), pp. 36–37; Acta Sanctorum Aprilis 1 (1675; rpt. Brussels, 1968): p. 445 para. 3; The Life of Ida of Louvain, translated by Martinus Cawley, ocso (Lafayette OR: Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey, 1990), p. 67; Acta Sanctorum Aprilis 2 (1675; rpt. Brussels, 1968): p. 183 para. 4; Roger de Ganck, The Life of Beatrice of Nazareth, Cistercian Fathers series 50; Beatrice of Nazareth and the Thirteenth Century Mulieres religiosæ of the Low Countries, vol. 1 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1991), pp. 24–25, para. 20.
Beguines apparently served as teachers to young girls; their pupils included Beatrice of Nazareth and probably Ida of Léau, but the vitae give no explicit information on the substance of their teaching. See De Ganck, Life of Beatrice, p. 25. For Ida see Acta Sanctorum Octobris 13 (1869; rpt. Brussels, 1970): pp. 110 para. 11, note e, and Appendicula prior, p. 125 by Remigio de Buck; The Life of Ida of Léau, translated by Martinus Cawley (Lafayette OR: Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey, 1985), pp. 11 and 15.
8 A rare exception is Darmstadt, Hessische Landes– und Hochschul–Bibliothek MS. 934 which was made for a prosperous married laywoman who is depicted kneeling in prayer in the historiated initial for Psalm 101. The simple textual contents of this book are typical of psalters made for lay use throughout Europe. Usually preceded by a calendar of liturgical feasts (now missing from Darmstadt MS. 934), the one hundred and fifty psalms of David are followed by an additional group of songs called canticles, drawn from the Old and New Testaments, and the book concludes with a litany and two or three short prayers called collects.
9 Acta Sanctorum, Junii 5 (1709; rpt. Brussels,1969): p. 553, para. 26 and 29; Jacques de Vitry, The Life of Marie d’Oignies, translated by Margot King, Peregrina Translations series (Saskatoon: Peregrina Publishing Co., 1986), pp. 26 and 28.
10 “Vita Odiliae,” p. 214.
11 Lives of Ida of Nivelles,Lutgard,and Alice the Leper, translated by Martinus Cawley (Lafayette OR: Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey, 1987), p. 5; Chrysostom Henriquez, Quinque prudentes virgines (Antwerp: Apud Johannem Crobbaert, 1630), p. 201.
12 Thomas de Cantimpré, The Life of Margaret of Ypres, translated by Margot H. King, Peregrina Translations series (Toronto: Peregrina Publishing Co., 1990), p. 35; Gerard Meersseman, “Les Frères Prêcheurs et le mouvement dévot en Flandre au XIIIe siècle: Appendice: “Vita Margarete de Ypris” Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum 18 (1948): 110.
13 Oliver, Gothic Manuscript Illumination, I, p. 113. Psalters are mentioned in the wills of beguines in Tongres in 1272 and 1331: Charles Thys, “Histoire du béguinage de Tongres [St. Catherine]” Bulletin de la Société scientifique et littéraire du Limburg 15 (1881): 293 and 328. Psalters are mentioned in two beguine wills in Tournai dating to 1316: A. de la Grange, “Choix de testaments tournaisiens antérieurs au XVIe siècle” Annales de la Société historique et archéologique de Tournai n.s. 2 (1897): 42, no. 53 and 43–44, no. 59. For an analysis of the Tournai wills emphasising book ownership by women, see Geneviève Hasenohr, “L’Essor des bibliothèques privées au XIVe et XVe siècles” Histoire des bibliothèques françaises: Les bibliothèques médiévales du VIe siècle à 1530, ed. André Vernet (Paris: Promodis, Éditions du cercle de la librairie, 1989), pp. 215–263.
14 “Ge sui ichis lambers, nel tene pas a fable, ki fundai sain christophle, ki enseri ceste table;” “Cist prudom fist prumiers lordne de beginage, les epistles sain poul mist en nostre lengage.” See Oliver, Gothic Manuscript Illumination, I, pp. 109–112 and II, pp. 262–264.
15Jean Goossens, De Kwestie Lambertus “li Beges” (d. 1177), Verhandelingen, Klasse der Letteren, Jaargang 46, Nr. 110 (Brussels: Koninklijke Academie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van België, 1984), pp. 66–77.
16 Ibid.,pp. 67–68, and 69, n. 14. This glossed psalter may perhaps be identified as that written in French in the mid–twelfth century for Laurette d’Alsace. See Charles Liebman, “Palæographical Notes on MS. Morgan 338 of the Old French Psalter Commentary,” Codices Manuscripti 11 (1985): 65–77 with earlier bibliography which identifies the author as Simon of Tournai. Stewart Gregory, however, notes in his “The Twelfth–Century Psalter Commentary in French for Laurette d’Alsace” in The Bible and Mediæval Culture, ed. W. Lourdaux, Mediævalia Lovaniensia 7, (Louvain: University Press, 1979), pp. 109–126, that it was written by three authors, the first of whom was a Walloon who may have been Laurette’s confessor and who apparently studied in Laon and was influenced by the Cistercians.
17 Contrary to Ernest McDonnell, The Beguines and Beghards in Mediæval Culture with Special Emphasis on the Belgian Scene (1954; rpt. New York: Octagon Books, 1969), p. 389 n. 13. Two twelfth–century psalters from the Liège diocese survive. They are: Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale MS. 6386–7, a psalter from Stavelot; and Liège, Bibliothèque de l’Université MS. 267, a glossed psalter from Saint Trond with glosses by early church fathers. Both are for monastic use.
18 For an assessment of the stylistic qualities of contemporary thirteenth–century nonnenbücher, see Renate Kroos, “Sächsische Buchmalerei 1200–1250: Ein Forschungsbericht” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 41 (1978): 298, n. 117. One manuscript made by the Cistercian nuns of Nazareth in the Liège diocese – an Antiphonal dated to 1244 – is signed by the scribe Agnes and notator Christina. Its penwork decoration is undoubtedly by the nuns as well: Lier, Stedelijk Museum, 750 Jaar Abdij van Nazareth (Lier, 1986): no. 16, pp. 132–140 by Patrick Valvekens.
A comparable primitivism characterises the work of Jean de Stavelot, monk of Saint Laurent in Liège in the early fifteenth century. His draftsmanship is decidedly that of a non–professional and his pen drawings presumably consciously imitate such elements as facial features from twelfth–century models in his abbey library. See Georges Dogaer, Flemish Miniature Painting in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (Amsterdam: B.M. Israël 1987), pp. 49–50. The survival of a Romanesque folk idiom may also be detected in the facial features of the Exercitium super Pater Noster blockbook of the 1430s. Presumably it too was by an amateur monastic artist, working at Groenendaal near Brussels: Arthur M. Hind, An Introduction to a History of Woodcut I (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935): pp. 216–218, fig. 91.
19 Yves Willemaers, Franciscains et Dominicains à Liège au XIIIe siècle, thèse de licence (Université de Liège, 1973–74): pp. 57–58 n. 2. Beguine book production ignores the repeated prohibitions against psalter making by women under their supervision which had been promulgated by the Dominicans in 1249–1263, but these statutes were also ignored by Dominican nuns in the Rhineland: Oliver, Gothic Manuscript Illumination, I, p. 206 n. 12. They may, however, have had some impact, since book production later in the century was to a large extent in professional hands.
20 Others are Oxford, Keble College MS. 17 and Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, McClean MS. 41.
21 Frederick Stein, The Religious Women of Cologne 1120–1320, PhD dissertation (Yale University, 1977), p. 218.
22 Oliver, Gothic Manuscript Illumination, I, pp. 101–108; Meersseman, “Les Frères Prêcheurs,” pp. 69–130; Dayton Phillips, Beguines in Mediæval Strasbourg , Stanford University (Ann Arbor: Edwards, 1941), pp. 161–176.
23 Four beguine establishments are known which housed groups of women on the île where the Dominican house was also located; Saint Christophe was across the river. See Godefroid Kurth, La Cité de Liège au moyen âge II (Brussels: Dewitt, 1909–1912): p. 257; Lodewijk Philippen, De Begijinhoven: Oorsprong. Geschiedenis. Inrichting (Antwerp: Courtin, 1918): pp. 85–86; Théodore Gobert, Liège à travers les âges: les rues de Liège II (Liège: Demarteau, 1925), pp. 177–183.
24 Jerome, “Breviarium in psalmos” Patrologiae Latina 26, ed. Jacques Migne (Paris: Garnier, 1844–80): col. 871.
25 Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Mediæval Women (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), p. 269. Bynum emphasises the christological focus of female piety.
26 See for example, Rodolphe Hoornaert, “La plus ancienne règle du béguinage de Bruges”Annales de la société d’émulation de Bruges 72 (1929): 53.
27 Jean Lejeune, Liège et son pays: Naissance d’une patrie (XIIIe–XIVe siècles), Bibliothèque de la faculté de philosophie et lettres de l’Université de Liège 112 (Liège: Faculté de philosophie et lettres de l’Université, 1948): pp. 281–282.
28 Meersseman, “Les Frères Prêcheurs,” p. 75. See now Quintijn, Normen, pp. 28–29 who notes Dominican involvement in the composition of the original rule of the Ghent house in 1236. The earliest extant copy dates only to 1354 (Meersseman, op. cit., pp. 85–86) but incorporates earlier regulations.
29 Gerard Meersseman, Der Hymnos Akathistos im Abendland I, vol. 2. Grüss–Psalter, Grüss–Orationen, Gaude–Andachten und Litaneien, Spicilegium Friburgense, Bd. 2–3 (Freiburg: Universitätsverlag, 1958): pp. 79–96; Simone Roisin, L’Hagiographie cistercienne dans le diocèse de Liège au XIIIe siècle (Louvain: Bibliothèque de l‘Université,1947): p. 114 and n. 5; Roger de Ganck, Beatrice of Nazareth in her Context, Cistercian Studies series 51; Beatrice of Nazareth and the Thirteenth Century Mulieres religiosæ of the Low Countries, vol. 2 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1991): p. 174, n. 114.
30 Ilene Forsyth, The Throne of Wisdom: Wood Sculptures of the Madonna in Romanesque France (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972), passim. The statue depicted in the Huy Psalter is veiled and crowned and extends its right hand to the kneeling woman. The Child sits on the Virgin’s left knee, bends his left arm across his chest and raises his right hand in blessing. The poses of these figures are very similar to those of a statue from Saint Jean Baptiste in Liège dating to the first half of the thirteenth century, although here the Child holds an orb. Paris, Musée du Petit Palais de la Ville de Paris, Trésors du Musée d’arts religieux (Liège: Massoz, 1981): p. 33 no. 27. The Virgin’s hand is lower than in the related Sedes sapientiæ of Saint Jean l’Evangeliste in Liège of c.1235–1240 and hence is closer to the Huy Psalter figure.
31 Acta Sanctorum Junii 5, p. 571, para. 106; King, trans., Life of Marie d’Oignies, p. 102.
32 Acta Sanctorum, Aprilis 1, p. 448 para. 16; Newman, trans., The Life of Juliana, p. 56.
33 Caroline Walker Bynum, “Women Mystics and Eucharistic Devotion in the Thirteenth Century” Women’s Studies 11 (1984): 179–214.
34 Hadewijch, Vision 7, 11, 97–105. See Hadewijch, The Complete Works, translated by Mother Columba Hart (New York: Paulist Press, 1980), pp. 280–282: “Then he gave himself to me in the shape of the Sacrament, in its outward form as the custom is; and then he gave me to drink from the chalice, in form and taste, as the custom is. After that he came himself to me, took me entirely in his arms, and pressed me to him; and all my members felt his in full felicity, in accordance with the desire of my heart and my humanity. So I was outwardly satisfied and fully transported.”
35 Philippen, De Begijnhoven, pp. 313 and 336; Hoonaert, “La plus ancienne règle,” pp. 42, 53, and 65. For their ardent desire for frequent communion see Alcantara Mens, “De Vereering van de H. Eucharistie bij onze vroegste begijnen” Studia eucharistica DCC1 anni a condito festo sanctissimi Corpus Christi 1246–1946 (Antwerp: Nederlandsche Boekhandel, 1946): pp. 157–186, especially 170 ff.
36 Interspersed Latin and vernacular prayers and rubrics became a major part of private lay devotions at Mass in the fourteenth century. See Paul Saenger, “Books of Hours and the Reading Habits of the Later Middle Ages” Scrittura e civilità 9 (1985): 239–269 .
Jean Cottiaux and Jean–Pierre Delville, “La Fête–Dieu: Eve, Julienne etla Fête–Dieu à
38 H. Nimal, “Les béguinages” Annales de la Société archéologique de l’arrondissement de Nivelles 9 (1911): 70; Philippen, De Begijnhoven, p. 313, both citing a fourteenth–century statute for the béguinage of Saint Trond.
39 Madeleine Pissart, “L’Administration du béguinage de Saint–Christophe à Liège” Bulletin de la Société Royale ‘Le Vieux Liège’ 97 (1952): 115 n. 9 and 117.
40 Jean–Claude Schmitt, Mort d’une hérésie: L’Église et les clercs face aux béguines et aux béghards du Rhin supérieur du XIVe au XVe siècle (Paris: C.N.R.S., 1978), pp. 46–47; Stein, Religious Women of Cologne, p. 66; Acta Sanctorum Aprilis 1, p. 452, para. 27.
41 For two instances of this practice in the Vita Julianae, see Acta Sanctorum Aprilis 1, p. 467, para. 28 and p. 474, para. 50; Newman, trans., Life of Juliana, pp. 134 and 159.
42 Bynum, Holy Feast, pp. 121 and 235.
43 Acta Sanctorum Junii 5, pp. 566–567, para.88; King, trans., Life of Marie d’Oignies, pp. 85–86. On poems celebrating festival days, see also David Fowler, The Bible in Middle English Literature (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1984), pp. 53–127.
44 Grundmann, “Die Frauen,” pp. 156–8. David Jeffrey, The Early English Lyric and Franciscan Spirituality (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1975) studies poetry written in thirteenth–century Italy and England by Franciscan friars. Jeffrey’s association of the English poems with the friars is now disputed by John Frankis, “The Social Context of Vernacular Writing in Thirteenth–Century England: The Evidence of the Manuscripts” in Thirteenth Century England I: Proceedings of the Newcastle upon Tyne Conference 1985, eds. P. Coss and S. Lloyd (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1986), pp. 175–184.
45 Sixten Ringbom, “Devotional Images and Imaginative Devotions: Notes on the Place of Art in Late Mediæval Private Piety” Gazette des Beaux–Arts 73 (1969): 159–170. See most recently, Jeffrey Hamburger, “The Visual and the Visionary: The Image in Late Mediæval Monastic Devotion,” Viator 20 (1989): 161–206.
46 Vita Odiliae, p. 214,
47 Acta Sanctorum Aprilis 1, p. 452 para. 28; Newman, trans., Life of Juliana, p. 72. For the Veronica as a private devotional image, see Hans Belting, Das Bild und sein Publikum im Mittelalter: Form und Funktion früher Bildtafeln der Passion (Berlin: Mann, 1981), pp. 102–104, 200 n. 3, and figs. 30, 80.
48 Acta Sanctorum Junii 5, p. 550–551, para. 16, p. 560; para. 59; King, trans., Life of Marie d’Oignies, pp. 17 and 59.
49 Ibid., p. 567, para. 90; King, trans., Life of Marie d’Oignies, p. 87.
50 Such carvings inspired numerous visions. Earlier in the twelfth century, the Liège monk Rupert of Deutz was transported in a vision and pressed against such a hanging crucifix in an embrace: Hubert Silvestre, “Trois témoignages mosans du début du XIIe siècle sur le crucifix de l’arc triomphal” Revue des archéologues et historiens d’art de Louvain 9 (1976): 225–31.
51 For Marie’s verses, see Acta Sanctorum Junii 5, pp. 569–570, para. 98–102; King, trans., Life of Marie d’Oignies, pp. 95–98.
52 For Beatrice, see now de Ganck, Life of Beatrice, pp. 288–345 (i.e. Seven manieren van minne with English translation).
53 Acta Sanctorum Octobris 13, p. 113 para. 20, p. 114 para. 24, and p. 115 para. 26; Cawley, trans., The Life of Ida of Léau, pp. 27, 31 and 34.