A Companion to Hrotsvit of Gandersheim (fl. 960): Contextual by Phyllis R. Brown

By Phyllis R. Brown

Hrotsvit wrote tales, performs, and histories through the reign of Emperor Otto the good (962-973). Twelve unique essays survey her paintings, displaying old roots and contexts, Christian values, and a shockingly glossy grappling with questions of id and feminine self-realization.

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On the Latin form of her name, see Heb. 5:7 (“cum clamore valido et lacrimis offerens et exauditus pro sua reverentia”). [English translations of Clamor validus have varied, perhaps because of a characteristic ambiguity in Hrotsvit’s choice of words. Dronke, for example, gives “Mighty Voice,” “Hrotsvitha,” p. ] 3 Following the dates given by Goetting, Das reichsunmittelbare Kanonissenstift Gandersheim, p. 293. 4 First Preface, p. 2, line 10. 5 Primordia, p. 326, line 525. 6 First Preface, p. 2, lines 6–8.

Whether or not one may speak of a “crisis” for Gandersheim in the years c. 920–50, the installation of another abbess from the royal family (Gerberga II) in 949 appears to usher in a period of rejuvenation and florescence, a notable part of which was the intense literary activity of Hrotsvit. 50 Hrotsvit was aware and proud of her Saxon identity. She knew the Saxons had been bloodily conquered by Charles the Great and his Frankish armies, but believed that God had brought about the passage of secular rule in Christendom from the Franks to the Saxons, as led by the great Otto.

Wailes and phyllis r. brown Pious. Upon his death in 840, and after three years of violent quarrels among his sons, the realm was indeed divided into three parts, with the German lands passing to a son thereafter known as Louis the German. Albeit with shifting borders, this territory was known as the East Frankish kingdom or East Francia, and it was constituted in large part by the great and powerful principalities of old Germanic peoples—Alemannia, Bavaria, Thuringia, and Saxony—each with its own German dialect, traditions, and customary law.

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