Hortus Deliciarum

The Hortus Deliciarum is a large compilation of texts from Biblical, traditional and theological sources to treat the history of the world from creation to its final consummation at the end of time. This compilation made by Herrad, abbess of Hohenbourg in Alsace between 1176-1196, also includes numerous illustrations of high quality that explain the text and entertain the reader. The following excerpts from the creation cycle present texts and illustrations relating to the Biblical creation story and the Life of Adam and Eve.

Folio 2v

Concerning the Angels

All the companies of the angels are named as being spiritual in nature. Moreover, they have received diverse titles based on different duties, namely: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, sovereigns, powers, virtues, archangels, angels. Those companies of holy beings are called "seraphim," who, because of their unique nearness to the Maker, burn with incomparable love for Him. For those who burn are called "seraphim." Further, Cherubim are named due to fullness of knowledge, because they are filled by knowledge to such great perfection as they contemplate in clarity God more closely. Those companies are called "thrones," whom the omnipotent God appoints for the constant exercise of justice. Those are called "dominions," who surpass even the powers of the sovereigns to a high degree. Those are called "sovereigns," who have command over the good spirits of the angels themselves. They are called "powers" who have received greater power than the others in their order, so that the virtues act humbly toward their authority. Those spirits are called "virtues" through whom, signs and miracles frequently occur. The greatest messengers are called "archangels." For messengers are called "angels." For those who are angels bring tidings concerning lower things, while indeed those who bring tidings of the greatest things are called "archangels."

Again concerning angels, in the "Mirror of the Church."

Nine orders of angels are recorded, which are admirably arrayed for the highest service of the Trinity, namely: I) angels, who are sent for the protection or comfort or support of individual people, and by whom the demons are restrained lest they do so great harm as they wish; II) archangels, who are sent for the greatest matters that need either to be announced or accomplished, who are also believed to be set over individual nations; III) virtues, through whom signs and miracles are administered.

Folio 3r

Reproduction made by the Comte Auguste de Bastard between 1832 and 1869. In R. Green, Herrad of Hohenbourg:Hortus Deliciarum, pl. I.

Two panel miniature illustrating the first day of creation. Panel 1 depicts the moment when God pronounces "Let there be light," which is understood here to mean the creation of the angels. God is enthroned and giving the sign of blessing to his creation, the angels who stand on either side of the throne. Panel 2 depicts Lucifer arrayed in distinctive garb, and holding the tokens of authority: a staff and orb. His wings extend over his attending angels, who display a scroll with the text of Ezekiel 28:12 written on it.

The captions to this miniature are preserved in the sketch of the illustration published by A. Straub and G. Keller (1879-1899). Click here to see the captions on this folio.

Folio 3v

From the tracing made by the Christian Moritz Engelhardt (1812). In R. Green, Herrad of Hohenbourg:Hortus Deliciarum, pl. 2.

Two panel miniature illustrating further events on the first day of creation. Panel 1 shows Lucifer plotting rebellion against God with his conspiring angels. He no longer holds the tokens of authority that distinguished him in Folio 3r. The conspiring angels hold an unfurled scroll with the text of Isaiah 14:13-14 written on it. Panel 2 shows the struggle of the loyal angels under the leadership of the archangel Michael agains the rebel angels. Michael strikes the fallen Lucifer with a trident, while other angels similarly cast down rebel angels from the heavenly sphere to the lower realms. Click here to see the captions on this folio.

Folio 4r

Concerning the Holy Trinity

Q. Where does God live? A.

Folio 4v

Q. When were the angels made? A. When it was said: "Let there be light." Did God say these words? A. No. But through these words, their lofty natures are hinted at for us, in that they are called "light." Q. What is the angelic nature? A. Spiritual fire, as it is said, "Who made your angels from flame of fire."

Folio 8r

Reproduction made by the Comte Auguste de Bastard between 1832 and 1869. In R. Green, Herrad of Hohenbourg:Hortus Deliciarum, pl. 3.

Two paneled miniature representing the events of the second day of creation. Panel 1 shows the Trinity enthroned, depicting each member of the Trinity identically. Panel 2 represents the separation of the waters, showing air and water as personified figures.

The captions to these panels are preserved in the tracings of Christian Moritz Engelhardt (1812), published by Straub and Keller. Click here to see the captions on this folio.

Fol. 8v Panel 1 (Day 4: Creation of Sun and Moon). Captions 1. In the heavens: Sun, stars, moon. 2. Right of the heavens: The greater light is the sun, the lesser light is the moon. 3. Near the creator: God the creator of all said: let there be lights in the firmament of heaven and let them divide day and night. 4. The figure bearing lamps: Light, light. 5. The figure bearing a cloth: Darkness. Panel 2 (Day 5 and Day 6: Creation of Animals) 1. Across the top of the panel: God, the Creator of all, said: let the waters bring forth living, creeping beings and birds above the earth, and let the earth produce living beings according to its own species, beasts of burden and reptiles, and wild animals (Gen 1:20, 24). 2. Right of the Creator's head: Everything that the creator wished, he made in heaven and in the earth, in the sea and in every abyss (Ps. 134:6). 3. Left of the Creator's head: God made everything simultaneously and once for all through matter, so that it is said that he has made what will be in the future. Afterward, he distinguished the entirety into its species. Folio 16v Microcosm Inscriptions Folio 17r Panel 1 (Formation and Animation of Adam) 1. The Lord God formed the man from the mud in Hebron. 2. He himself made us, and we did not make ourselves. 3. Lord God. 4. Adam 5. Adam is called "red" because he was formed from red earth. 6. A rational creature--that is, either an angel or a human being--is created to praise God, to serve him, to enjoy him, because just as human beings were made on account of God--that is, so that he might serve him--thus also the world was made on account of humans and that it might serve them. 7. And he blew in his face the breath of life and the man became a living being (Gen. 2:7). Panel 2 (Creation of Eve, Instruction of Adam and Eve) 1. The Lord cast a stupor on Adam and took one of his ribs and built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman (Gen. 2:21-22). 2. Tree of life 3. Eve is formed from the rib of Adam while he sleeps. 4. The Lord said to Adam: From every tree in paradise you may eat, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat; moreover, on whatever day you eat from it, you will die by death, that is you will be subject to the devil. 5. Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 6. Adam and Eve. Inscriptions, fol. 3r

Panel 1 (translation)

Panel 2 (translation)

Fall of the Rebel Angels

Hortus Deliciarum, fol. 3v., ca. 1176-1196, Hohenbourg (Alsace), from R. Green, Herrad of Hohenbourg:Hortus Deliciarum, pl. 2. Original destroyed in fire in 1870; the image here reproduces a tracing of the miniature by Christian Moritz Engelhardt (1812-1818).

Miniature consists of two panels. In the upper panel, Lucifer plots rebellion against God. The composition is similar to fol. 3r, but Lucifer no longer wears his embroidered robe or holds the tokens of authority; he instead stretches out his hands to his fellow conspirators. The attending angels hold out a scroll with the text of Isa. 14:13-14 written on it.

In the lower panel, Michael and his angels cast down the rebel angels. Lucifer is still shown in his distinctive garb with the orb and staff, but his face is disfigured.

Inscriptions, fol. 3v

panel 1

panel 2

Bibliography: R. Green, Herrad of Hohenbourg:Hortus Deliciarum, London, 1979.