Herrad of Hohenbourg
Birth Date:
Death Date:
after 1196

unknown; connection wtih the Landsberg family has been rejected.



Other Family:



Herrad describes herself as having been “appointed and instructed according to the admonitions and examples of Relinde”—the previous abbess of Hohenbourg. This description suggests that Herrad may have been educated at Hohenbourg and that Relinde may have been her teacher.

Social Status:

Abbess (c. 1176-after 1196)



Religious Titles:


Ecclesiastical Relationships:

Herrad was the founder of two communities for regular canons: St. Gorgon, founded in 1178, and Truttenhausen, founded two years later. She arranged that both of these male communities would remain dependent on the female community and, most important, that they would provide spiritual service in Hohenbourg’s chapels, thereby alleviating the problems the women faced in securing pastoral care. In addition, Herrad probably maintained ties to the male reform center at Marbach, which Hohenbourg’s previous abbess, Relinde, had established at the mid-century.

Secular Affiliations:

During Herrad’s abbacy, Henry VI (d. 1197) imprisoned Queen Sibylle of Sicily at Hohenbourg, following her exile from Sicily in 1194. Sibylle’s presence at Hohenbourg is recorded in Otto of St. Blasien’s Chronicle, where she is mentioned together with one daughter, and possibly also on folio 323r of the Hortus, where a woman identified simply as ‘Sibilia’ appears among the conversae of Hohenbourg.

Charitable Works:
Herrad was the author of the Hortus deliciarum (Garden of Delights), a major work of Latin learning and manuscript illumination that drew from a wide range of sources, both monastic and scholastic. Herrad designed the Garden of Delights<
Brief Profile:

Herrad became abbess of Hohenbourg at the death of Relinde, probably in 1176. Herrad’s name first appears as abbess in charters for Hohenbourg in 1178. The last charter issued during her lifetime is dated 1196; she must have died after 1196. Nothing is known of Herrad’s origins or family. She may have gained her education at Hohenbourg, as her tribute to Relinde, the previous abbess, suggests. Her major achievement, the Hortus deliciarum (Garden of Delights), is one of a handful of medieval Latin works to have been written both by and for women. Since the Hortus was not known outside Hohenbourg during the medieval period, it is likely that it was only ever intended for domestic use: the education of the women of the community. The manuscript is a testament to Herrad’s wide reading and erudition and provides evidence of the sophistication of women’s education within the monastery.

Fiona Griffiths