Standard Article

Hadewijch (Mid 13th Century)

  1. Michelle Voss Roberts

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0628

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Roberts, M. V. 2011. Hadewijch (Mid 13th Century). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


The Flemish beguine Hadewijch was one of the loveliest flowers of the beguine movement in northern Europe in the 13th century. Very little is known about the historical Hadewijch. Her dialect and the location of her manuscripts place her near Brabant. Her mastery of Dutch and Latin, her apparent familiarity with French, and her facility with the customs and genres of the court suggest aristocratic descent. She was likely the leader of an early community of beguines, pious laywomen who committed to contemporary ideals of apostolic renewal (poverty, chastity, service, and contemplation), but without taking formal or permanent vows. She contributed to the late medieval flourishing of vernacular literature by writing visions, spiritual letters, and poetry (Poems in Stanzas and Poems in Couplets) in her native Middle Dutch. According to Paul Mommaers, Hadewijch “created a new genre — [she] is the first in Western European literature to write mystical love lyric” (Mommaers and Dutton 2004).


  • Hadewijch (mid 13th century);
  • Flemish Beguine Hadewijch, in northern Europe;
  • leader of an early community of Beguines, pious laywomen;
  • writing visions, spiritual letters, and poetry;
  • Hadewijch’s recurrent motif, on the love of God