Hadewijch of Antwerp Criticism - Essay

Stephanus Axters (essay date 1954)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Axters, Stephanus. “Before Ruysbroeck.” In The Spirituality of the Old Low Countries, translated by Donald Attwater, pp. 9-28. London: Blackfriars Publications, 1954.

[In the following excerpt, Axters sums up Hadewijch's mystical and literary sensibility, arguing that she “spiritualized courtly love” in the thirteenth century.]

The identification of the mystic called Hadewijch has been a nightmare to philologists for nearly a century. One of the latest hypotheses is that of Father J. van Mierlo, S.J., who seeks to identify her with a béguine of Nivelles named Helwig of Saint Cyr, who was buried at the abbey of Villers in 1269. However that may...

(The entire section is 999 words.)

Theodoor Weevers (essay date 1960)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Weevers, Theodoor. “The Netherlands in Medieval Literature.” In Poetry of the Netherlands in its European Context 1170-1930, pp. 7-45. London: The Athlone Press, 1960.

[In the following excerpt, Weevers concentrates on Hadewijch's style and major poetic influences: Henric van Veldeke, Provençal troubadours, Rhineland Minnesingers, and Latin devotional verse.]

[T]he appearance of the lyrical genius Hadewijch in the first half of the thirteenth century well-nigh compels us to assume a continuation of the Dutch courtly lyric in the period after 1180. Such consummate mastery as hers is inexplicable but for the existence of a native tradition of...

(The entire section is 5007 words.)

Mother Columba Hart (essay date 1980)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Hart, Mother Columba. Introduction to Hadewijch: The Complete Works, translated by Mother Columba Hart, O.S.B., pp. 1-42. New York: Paulist Press, 1980.

[In the following excerpt, Hart surveys the life of Hadewijch, highlighting significant themes and concepts in her letters, stanzaic poetry, and mystical visions.]


In the early thirteenth century the religious currents stirring in western Europe showed particular vitality throughout the Low Countries. In this new and strong movement of devotion, which sought a return to the pure spirit of the Gospel, both nuns and secular women took part. A number of women mystics...

(The entire section is 12055 words.)

Ria Vanderauwera (essay date 1984)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Vanderauwera, Ria. “The Brabant Mystic: Hadewijch.” In Medieval Women Writers, edited by Katharina M. Wilson, pp. 186-203. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984.

[In the following excerpted introduction to her selected translation of Hadewijch's writing, Vanderauwera summarizes the content and critical history of Hadewijch's literary works, as well as her status as the representative Dutch mystic writer of the thirteenth century.]

Of Hadewijch, we know only her name, texts (poetry and prose), and a few scattered references. Nonetheless we recognize her as one of the foremost representatives of early minnemystiek, a brand of mysticism to which...

(The entire section is 3663 words.)

Emilie Zum Brunn and Georgette Epiney-Burgard (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Zum Brunn, Emilie, and Georgette Epiney-Burgard. “Hadewijch of Antwerp: Introduction.” In Women Mystics in Medieval Europe, translated by Sheila Hughes, pp. 97-139. New York: Paragon House, 1989.

[In the following excerpt, Zum Brunn and Epiney-Burgard relate what is known of Hadewijch's life and survey the spiritual themes of her written works.]


After having been acclaimed and quoted in the fourteenth century by John Ruysbroeck and his disciple, John of Leeuwen,1 Hadewijch's works, of which only four manuscripts remain, were more or less entirely forgotten until they were rediscovered in the nineteenth...

(The entire section is 7202 words.)

Theresia de Vroom (essay date fall 1990)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: de Vroom, Theresia. “Hadewijch van Antwerpen (c. 1250).” Canadian Journal of Netherlandic Studies 11, no. 2 (fall 1990): 4-10.

[In the following essay, de Vroom encapsulates Hadewijch's literary depiction of the theme of Minne (Love, or “the way in which the soul experiences its relation to God”).]

Hadewijch's works were both popular and influential. Translated from Diets (the middle-Netherlandic dialect in which she wrote), they survive in several medieval versions.1 The great Flemish mystic Jan van Ruysbroek (1293-1381) took some of his most important ideas from Hadewijch and passed his reverence for the “heylich glorieus wijf,...

(The entire section is 3686 words.)

John Giles Milhaven (essay date 1993)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Milhaven, John Giles. “Hadewijch and the Mutuality of Love.” In Hadewijch and Her Sisters: Other Ways of Loving and Knowing, pp. 3-72. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

[In the following excerpt, Milhaven evaluates Hadewijch as a theologian, comparing her views on divinity and her experience of God with those of Bernard of Clairvaux, Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, and others.]

The theologian, Hadewijch, lived in a Beguinage somewhere in the Low Countries during the middle of the thirteenth century.1 Beguines were devout women largely of noble families, who lived in self-supporting community, and breaking with precedent, chose to...

(The entire section is 11241 words.)

Elizabeth Alvilda Petroff (essay date 1994)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Petroff, Elizabeth Alvilda. “Gender, Knowledge, and Power in Hadewijch's Strophische Gedichten.” In Body and Soul: Essays on Medieval Women and Mysticism, pp. 182-203. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

[In the following essay, Petroff studies Hadewijch's representation of desire and gender reconciled through love in her Strofische Gedichten.]

Hadewijch's Strophische Gedichten1 is a collection of poems on the theme of Minne, or Lady Love. In these sophisticated and confident lyrics, the great Dutch mystic and poet re-creates some of the themes, images, and metrical forms of the Provençal love lyric to explore the...

(The entire section is 8175 words.)

Saskia Murk-Jansen (essay date 1994)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Murk-Jansen, Saskia. “Hadewijch and Eckhart: Amor intellegere est.” In Meister Eckhart and the Beguine Mystics: Hadewijch of Brabant, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Marguerite Porete, edited by Bernard McGinn, pp. 17-30. New York: Continuum, 1994.

[In the following essay, Murk-Jansen traces thematic affinities between Hadewijch's works and those of German theologian Meister Eckhart.]

Academics today may be forgiven for wondering why so little attention has been paid to the question of influence between Hadewijch and Eckhart, or at least to the possibility of common themes in their work. Hadewijch, after all, was writing around the middle of the thirteenth...

(The entire section is 6364 words.)

Mary A. Suydam (essay date fall 1996)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Suydam, Mary A. “The Touch of Satisfaction: Visions and the Religious Experience According to Hadewijch of Antwerp.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 12, no. 2 (fall 1996): 5-27.

[In the following essay, Suydam offers a comparative analysis of Hadewijch's Visions, Letters and Mengeldichten using the tools of feminist criticism to discover the manner in which these mystical writings challenge the hierarchies and dichotomies of religious literature.]

Hadewijch of Antwerp, a thirteenth-century Dutch Beguine, was a gifted writer, poet, and mystic. She was one of the first authors to shape the Dutch language into written form.1...

(The entire section is 10278 words.)

Saskia M. Murk-Jansen (essay date 1996)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Murk-Jansen, Saskia M. “The Use of Gender and Gender-Related Imagery in Hadewijch.” In Gender and Text in the Later Middle Ages, edited by Jane Chance, pp. 52-68. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996.

[In the following essay, Murk-Jansen explores Hadewijch's use of gender reversal and gendered imagery to create a language of God oriented toward a female audience.]

Images are multivalent, and none more so than images of gender, which not only reflect a multiplicity of meanings to any one reader but also mean different things to men and women. Furthermore, gender-related images are not always primarily, or even at all, about gender, about the...

(The entire section is 6376 words.)

Shawn Madigan (essay date 1998)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Madigan, Shawn. “Hadewijch (Thirteenth Century): I Am All Love's and Love Is All Mine.” In Mystics, Visionaries, and Prophets: A Historical Anthology of Women's Spiritual Writings, edited by Shawn Madigan, C.S.J., pp. 166-90. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1998.

[In the following excerpt, Madigan introduces Hadewijch's love songs and provides background information regarding her status as a thirteenth-century beguine.]

Hadewijch probably lived in the thirteenth century, a century of many diverse movements. On the one hand, the papacy had reached a height of political power. On the other hand, the papal office had lost its influence as a spiritual and...

(The entire section is 2490 words.)

Mary Suydam (essay date 1999)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Suydam, Mary. “‘Ever in Unrest’: Translating Hadewijch of Antwerp’s Mengeldichten.Women’s Studies 28 (1999): 157-84.

[In the following essay, Suydam considers the problems inherent in translating medieval texts and contends that it is a mistake to assume that Hadewijch’s use of gendered pronouns was based on the gender of the noun referent.]

In recent years scholars addressing religious works written by women in the medieval period have become increasingly attuned to the interconnections between gender and power. This focus is partially attributable to the growth of feminist scholarship and partially to post-structuralist theories....

(The entire section is 8356 words.)

Donald F. Duclow (essay date July 2000)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Duclow, Donald F. “The Hungers of Hadewijch and Eckhart.” Journal of Religion 80, no. 3 (July 2000): 421-41.

[In the following essay, Duclow highlights mystical symbolism associated with eating and hunger in the works of Hadewijch and Meister Eckhart.]

“During these last decades the interest in professional fasting has markedly diminished. It used to pay very well to stage such great performances, … but today that is quite impossible.”1 So begins Kafka's story “The Hunger Artist,” featuring the fictional last of a starving breed. Yet as Kafka and his artist knew, with changing tastes, “fasting would surely come into fashion again at...

(The entire section is 8306 words.)