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“Lest He Should Come Unforeseen”: The Antichrist Cycle in the Hortus Deliciarum

Nathaniel Campbell
Gesta
Vol. 54, No. 1 (March 2015), pp. 85-118
DOI: 10.1086/679399
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/679399
Page Count: 34
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“Lest He Should Come Unforeseen”: The Antichrist Cycle in the Hortus Deliciarum
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Abstract

AbstractIn her massive compilatory encyclopedia, the Hortus Deliciarum, the twelfth-century abbess Herrad of Hohenbourg goes to great lengths to present her audience with a coherent and compelling account of salvation history and their personal role within it. She shares a particular interest with other twelfth-century thinkers in how her own time relates to the ultimate end of that salvation history and especially the eschatological role of the Antichrist. Herrad’s textual accounts of the Antichrist draw on the writings of Adso of Montier-en-Der and Honorius Augustodunensis, but they have been little studied. Although more attention has been paid to the pictorial vita of the Antichrist that precedes the texts and is the earliest extant example of such an image cycle, the connection between the images and text also has received little notice. This article examines Herrad’s innovative use and modification of Adso’s text and the relationship between this new textual vita of the Antichrist and its pictorial representation. Furthermore, it investigates Herrad’s place within the reform movements of her time in order to make sense of her ingenious use of these texts and traditions, especially her links to such other important twelfth-century historical thinkers as Honorius, Rupert of Deutz, and Gerhoch of Reichersberg. Ultimately, it demonstrates how Herrad’s concern for the proper care of the women under her watch prompts and shapes her treatment of the end of salvation history, a historical process in which she sees herself and her canonesses as important actors.

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