Monday, January 21, 2008

What's in a name?



Lots of people have asked me where the name Herrad comes from and when I got a mail from a good friend last night, who knows me as Patricia. I wrote her a long email and told her the story.
After the email was sent I decided to post it too.


I got the name Herrad because my dad promised my mum's sister Herrad that if their baby was a girl they would name it after her.
I hated it as a kid especially as I was teased all the time and called King Herod and told that I was the one that had all the male babies killed.

This really upset me, more so because three of my good friends were jewish, one was my best friend whom I loved very much. As it upset me and I had cried the kids who teased me never stopped. So when we moved from Trinidad in 1962 I started using my second name Patricia and was relieved to have a neutral name.

So you can imagine my shock and horror when I visited Trinidad again for the first and sadly only time in 1997 and my extended family out there called me Herrad-Patricia I was horrified.

After three weeks I kind of liked it too also because it felt right. My visit took me back to my roots and finally everything fell into place and made sense to me. I finally I knew where I was from and it was brilliant seeing my favourite auntie Jo and my cousins and their kids this was a very special and important visit.

When I got back to Amsterdam I decided to find out where the name was from. My auntie Herrad told me the story behind the name which was that her granddad was doing some research and came across an abbess called Herrad of Landsberg. He was so impressed he decided Herrad was a great name and got his son to call his first daughter Herrad.

Richie looked it up for me on the internet and I decided that I rather liked the name in fact I liked it better than Patricia and changed back to my original first name. This was not easy for everyone including myself as it was often quite complicated explaining this to old friends and for them and me to get used to the "new" name.

It felt right, it felt like all the pieces of a puzzle had fallen into place. Here's the story about Herrad of Landsberg, thought she sounded like quite a girl.
Hope you enjoy reading it too. I am not religious by the way but was very impressed with what Herrad had done.


Herrad of Landsberg (d. aft.1196)

In 1147 Frederick Barbarossa appointed a relative, Relinda, to be abbess and to institute needed reforms at the women's monastery of St. Odile at Hohenbourg, near Strausbourg in Alsace, a monastery that had been founded perhaps as early as the 600s. After he became emperor in 1155, Barbarossa continued to support Relinda and her canonesses. Adopting the Augustinian Rule, St. Odile became a rich and powerful monastery, a center of learning, and a school for the daughters of the area nobility.

At Relinda's death in the mid-1170s, another abbess was named, Herrad. At one time historians believed her to be from a powerful family of Landsberg, but that is now questioned, so we are sure of nothing about her background or education. We do know that her education was broad, because she was able to produce an encyclopedic compilation of sources concerning all of salvation history, from the creation to the end of the world and beyond.


Herrad's canonesses already had access to Scripture; what she did was present them with the latest interpretations on the meaning of that Scripture. Therefore, she used not only the older theological authorities but also the work of scholars of the 1100s, such as Anselm and Bernard of Clairvaux, as well as her own contemporaries, Peter Lombard and Peter Comestor, whose works now formed part of the core curriculum of the new all-male schools. She emphasized those texts that reflected the newest thought on theology, biblical history and canon law.


Herrad's goal seems to have been to bring together the best of the old and the new theology in a teaching manual --- of both words and pictures --- that would provide an advanced theological education to her learned canonesses, and that would also be an aid to meditation for the less learned, especially the novices, and perhaps also the lay students. Besides the theological texts, the book also contained poetry and hymns (some accompanied by musical notation).


The result of all this was the Hortus deliciarum (Garden of delight). It consisted of over 300 parchment leaves of folio size. In addition to the Latin texts, over 344 illustrations were used: at least 130 of these were brightly colored full-page illuminations, while smaller ones were put on the same pages as text; there were also drawings and tables. Many of the illustrations were given explanatory rubrics and in some cases detailed captions placed around the figures. In case the Latin terms weren't clear to the younger readers, German was frequently added. The effect was to allow text and image to gloss each other.


Work on the Hortus had begun before 1175; the major part of the work may have been completed by 1185, although additions appear to have been made until Herrad's death. The manuscript (and one complete copy) survived fires and suppression of monasteries, only to be destroyed in an 1870 bombardment during a siege of the city of Strausbourg. All that exists now are copies of part of the text and some tracings and engravings that were made before 1870.


According to scholars who studied the manuscript before its destruction, both the the text and the illustrations were the work of several different hands. The drawings and the copying of the text (at least three copyists were involved) were almost surely done in the scriptorium at Hohenbourg; the coloring of the drawings may have been done there or elsewhere, but apparently under the supervision of a single artist.

What is clear is that text and illustration were conceived together; in some cases it appears that a text was chosen to fit a specific drawing.


Herrad was without question the editor of Hortus deliciarum, so the work reflects her organization and her integration of text and illustration. Until the 1900s all of the 67 poems contained in the work were also attributed to her (or to Relinda). Research has now reduced that number to a probable seven, but in those we can hear the same voice that put together the whole.

1 comment:

Jaya said...

Herrad, this is so informative and what wonderful history behind your name. I found it very easy to change to Herrad despite knowing you as Patricia for so long and I am very glad that you reclaimed your name. Sending you lots of love and hugs and kisses....Jaya