Complied between 1167 and 1185 by a nun called Herrad of Landsberg at the Hohenburg Abbey in Alsace (now known as Mont Sainte-Odile) in France, Hortus deliciarum (Latin for Garden of Delights) is a manuscript that was meant to serve pedagogical purposes in the convent. It contains theological, philosophical, literary and musical material.
The manuscript was burnt in 1870 when the library housing it in Strasbourg was bombed during a siege on the city. Parts of it were later reconstructed because portions had been copied before.
In the 2007 book The Garden of Delights: Reform and Renaissance for Women in the Twelfth Century (University of Pennsylvania Press), scholar Fiona J. Griffiths of Stanford writes:
The reconstructed Hortus provides a valuable witness to the culture of an otherwise little-known and little-celebrated monastic community during the last decades of the twelfth century. That this community was a women’s community and the Hortus uniquely a women’s book only adds to its intrigue: the Hortus was the product of a female mastermind and likely also the work of female scribes and artists. The purpose of the manuscript enhances its significance…Herrad herself confirms her authorship of the manuscript and intentions for it in her prologue. Describing herself as “a bee inspired by God” as she gathered the texts of the Hortus from “the various flowers of sacred Scripture and philosophic writings,” Herrad dedicated the work to the women of her community with the hope that they would find “pleasing food” and spiritual refreshment in its “honeyed dew drops”. “May this book be useful and delightful to you,” she wrote to them, “May you never cease to study it in your thoughts and memory.”
Here are four pages: