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3. Hadewijch of Brabant and the Beguine Movement

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Chapter Summary

Hadewijch, the Brabantian beguine (active ca. 1240), is one of the most significant mystical writers of the 13th century, not least because of the variety of literary genres she employed in tailoring her texts to specific audiences. The spiritual network she belonged to stretched deep into Germany and fragments of her work have survived in German mystical miscellanies. The rich texture of Hadewijch's oeuvre shows the wide range of literary forms available to vernacular mystical writing and helps to contextualize its emergence in northern Germany. According to the Vitae, the spirituality of the mulieres religiosae focused on the Eucharist and on Christ. The Lives raise issues of devotion and theology that echo those discussed at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215: the importance of communion and confession, the dogma of transubstantiation, and the Trinity.

Keywords: Beguine movement; Hadewijch of Brabant; mystical writing; northern Germany



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