Joan of Arc and Hildegard von Bingen

Subject: Gender Studies
Type: Synthesis Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 751
Topics: Feminism, Social Studies

Studies claim that the medieval society was ruled by hegemonies and institutions while the contemporary society is overwhelmed by individuality and agency. Moreover, they also reveal that films set in the medieval ages, stage-managed history to make the characters seem more “modern” more like people who follow up on their own agency than like the medieval individuals who acted in light of a legitimate concern for family, government or church. Despite the fact that women were particularly subject to the requests of such hegemonies and institutions, some unprecedented women appear to be “modern” even in their own circumstances. Two such women were Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), who was a pious devotee, abbess, performer, spiritualist visionary, scholar and political leader and Joan of Arc (1412-1431), the uneducated young woman of a peasant who heard voices and spared the French kingdom. The two ladies were notable during their time. Hildegard was splendid polymath who was headed to finish objectives that pushed the limits that Church had built up for religious women. Joan was similarly headed to achieve an objective that was incomprehensible for women and, in doing as such, transgressed sexual orientations limits and wound up consumed at the stake of nineteen years old. The aim of this paper is to examine the way in which medieval society was controlled by hegemonies and institutions as well as the way it differs from the modern society center on individuality and agency. Further, the paper also shortly talks about the lives of women in the medieval times, then after that looks into the Hildegard von Bingen’s life and later converse how she is depicted in the movies. Thereafter, it will examine the life of Joan of Arc.

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The medieval society was characterized by an assumed patriarchal control. In that kind of society, women usually fall under the control of men in spite of class. The manner in which peasant women were treated in the Europe best exemplifies this hegemony and institution (Møller 663). The life of a peasant woman at that time was edged by prohibition and limit. In fact, women in England were generally not allowed to hold land for long, discouraged from learning any craft and hardly advanced past the position of assistant and could not become officials. Individuality and agency in the modern society is typified by the birth of capitalism as an economic system (Williams 999). Capitalism accentuates the individual both as a holder of interest and as a basis of all legal rights. Hegemony and institution in the medieval society and individuality and agency differ in the sense that the later advocate economic individualism, in which every person seeks to benefit without references to any overarching schemes of justice.

The women in the medieval times mainly engaged in various diverse social roles. In fact, in the medieval society women assumed the roles of wife, mother, peasant, artisan and nun and other vital leadership functions like abbess or queen regnant (Williams 998). The place of women in such society was commonly dictated by biblical texts, whereby the authority of men over women were emphasized, hence inhibiting them from teaching and training them to stay unspoken.

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Hildegard of Bingen – (born in 1098 and died in 1179) – grouped among medieval single women, noted down, in her 12th century treatise physical and Causae et Curae, about various issues concerning the health of women (Writings of St. Hildegard von Bingen). Hildegard was among the most famous medical authors in the medieval times. Predominantly, she wrote contributed much valuable knowledge in the use of herbs and other observations concerning the physiology and spiritually of women (Larsen n.p). Hildegard also explored such issues as laughter, tears and sneezing. Hildegard’s work brought together a religious environment but also depended on past wisdom and fresh findings on the health of women. Her work concentrated on both illness and cures as well as investigating the theory of medicine and the nature of women bodies.

Joan of Arc, born in 1412-died 1431, was a peasant girl who believed to be acting under divine guidance (Joan of Arc @ She led the French army in a victory against English who tried to conquer France during the hundred years of war. She is known as the greatest national heroine of her compatriots, and her accomplishment was a decisive factor in the later awakening of French national consciousness (Nider n.p). Joan experienced a great deal of injustice in her lifetime. She used to see visions that made people skeptic of her.

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  1. “Joan of Arc @” Re-QUEST Dot Net ™ – Online Library of Internet and Reference Resources
  2.  Hildegard von Bingen.  “Writings of St. Hildegard von Bingen (11098-1179) on the Holy Spirit Wisdom.” Trans. Barbara Newman from Sister of Wisdom, St Hildegard’s Theology of the Feminine (1987).
  3. Larsen, A. E. “Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen.”  An Historian Goes to the Movies – exploring history on the screen.
  4. Møller, Jørgen. “Why Europe avoided hegemony: a historical perspective on the balance of power.” International Studies Quarterly 58.4 (2014): 660-670.
  5. Nider, Johan.  “On Joan of Arc.”  Fordham University, Medieval Sourcebook.
  6. Williams, John A. “Moritz Föllmer. Individuality and Modernity in Berlin: Self and Society from Weimar to the Wall.” The American Historical Review 119.3 (2014): 998-999.
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