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1. Introduction: Mysticism and Devotion in Northern Germany

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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book, which starts with Mechthild of Magdeburg, Mechthild of Hackeborn and Gertrude of Helfta, before turning to the later anonymous devotional writing that feeds off and engages with the mystical tradition. What emerges clearly is the substantial and vibrant nature of the texts produced by communities of women, such as the nuns in the Lüneburg convents, who write learnedly in Latin and fervently in Low German. The book is divided into two parts. Part I deals with the beginnings and formations of much of the material which shapes later thinking in northern Germany in the 13th and 14th centuries. Part II stretches into the 15th century, tracing the impact of reforms, transformations, and ideas generated in the previous centuries, and foregrounding the devotional aspect of mystical thinking.

Keywords: Lüneburg convents; mystical tradition; northern Germany



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