Book Series Sanctimoniales, vol. 2

The Dedicated Spiritual Life of Upper Rhine Noble Women

A Study and Translation of a Fourteenth-Century Spiritual Biography of Gertrude Rickeldey of Ortenberg and Heilke of Staufenberg

Anneke B. Mulder-Bakker

  • Pages: 271 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:1 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2018

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57431-8
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57905-4
  • E-book
  • Available

A study, edition, and translation of the story of two independent Upper Rhine women living a spiritual life together.


“The text itself is remarkably rich, a useful teaching tool for graduate and undergraduate classes on late medieval spirituality and urban life (…) The translation of the Life is a rich resource for those wishing to explore such questions further.” (Lucy Barnhouse, in Reviews in History, 2273, 9/08/2018)

“In the final analysis then I found the book valuable because it describes a psychological world that to me is often quite alien.” (Simon Kemp, in Parergon, 35/2, 2018, p. 228)

“This valuable offering should be the first of many to explore this new addition to the canon of medieval women’s writing.” (Barbara Newman, in Speculum, 94/2, 2019, p. 570)

“Emphasizing the overlooked ascetic domestic household, this book is a remarkable contribution. Fulfilling the goals of the Sanctimoniales series from Brepols Press to foster dialogue between German and English-speaking scholars, the bibliography, annotations, as well as the collaborative effort in translation, brings a tangible excitement for future collaborations.” (Shelley Amiste Wolbrink, in The Medieval Review, 27/08/2019)

Mit dem vorliegendenBuch– und hier vor allem mit der englischen Fassung der Vita, die nun einem breiten Publikum zugänglich ist –wird das Wissen über die Formen der spätmittelalterlichen Frauenreligiosität insbesondere in den Regionen des Oberrheins, wo das Leben der Protagonistinnen als „lives of contemplation in action within a secular setting“ (108) stattfand, erheblich erweitert.” (Jörg Voigt, Rom, in Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, 46/2, 2019, p. 328)

“This volume is (…) a significant contribution to the growing body of work on female spirituality in the central and later Middle Ages and Mulder-Bakker should be celebrated for bringing the two central figures, Gertrude Rickeldey and Heilke of Staufenberg, to life for a modern audience. This complex work will provide fodder for further textual and historical study of these neglected figures.” (Linda E. Mitchell, in Church History and Religious Culture 99 (2019), p. 78)

“It will be gratefully used and read in courses and seminars for university students of Medieval Studies. Together with the introductory monograph, it also offers more experienced scholars a very accessible initial acquaintance with this highly original spiritual biography and a thorough insight into southern German urban lay spirituality in the early fourteenth century.” ( J. Deploige, in Scriptorium, 2, 2019, p. 72)

“Mulder-Bakker’s study of the lives of Gertrude and Heilke and the English translation of The Saintly Life of the Blessed Lady Rickeldey, Named Gertrude provided here not only make us yearn for a thorough edition of the original Middle High German text, they also invite us to learn more about the lives of Gertrude and Heilke and their relationship with each other and the mendicants in fourteenthcentury Offenburg and Strasbourg.” (Claudia Bornholdt, in Journal of English and Germanic Philology, October 2020, p. 411-412)



Lady Gertrude Rickeldey of Ortenberg (d. 1335) was a noble widow who lived a spiritual, but secular life in her own household, first in Offenburg and later in Strasbourg, the economic and cultural heart of southern Germany. Her life story was written by a lay woman from Gertrude’s entourage and was based on numerous stories told by Gertrude’s lifelong companion, Heilke of Staufenberg (d. after 1335). The biographer gives us a view of the aristocratic household, reports the many conversations that the women held with fellow believers and learned mendicants, and shows how they led a life of devotion in their own home,  but at the same time, operated as full citizens of the city, taking part in both the civic and religious politics of Strasbourg. The details of her account reveal that the women did not take vows or renounce their possessions. They did not abandon their own decision-making power. Instead, they were mistresses of their own lives and developed into ethicae of stature.

Following historical investigations into Gertrude’s and Heilke’s life (Part I) is an edition and translation of the fourteenth-century text on which these studies are based (Part II).




List of Abbreviations

Part I: Study

Gertrude Rickeldey of Ortenberg and Heilke of Staufenberg: Two Upper Rhine Noble Women Seeking Religious Perfection

Anneke B. Mulder-Bakker, Translation Robert Olsen

  • Introduction
  • Sources
  • Historical Background: Lives of Gertrude Rickeldey of Ortenberg and Heilke Of Staufenberg
  • Poor Sisters in an Ascetic Domestic Household:A Home for Religious Formation and Communication
  • Heralds of Divine Love on the Upper Rhine
  • House of Souls

Part II: Edition and Translation

The Saintly Life of the Blessed Lady Rickeldey, Named Gertrude, and the Great Wonders Our Dear Lord Accomplished with Her, By an Anonymous Female Author

Translated from the Manuscript by Gertrud Jaron Lewis and Tilman Lewis, Edited and Annotated by Michael Hopf, Freimut Löser, and Anneke B. Mulder-Bakker