A fascinating account of one of the most remarkable women of the Middle Ages, the world in which she lived, and her enduring contributions to science, theology, mysticism, and music. Best known today as the composer of breathtakingly beautiful music, the abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) brought her lively intellect and deep-seated spirituality to an astonishing variety of pursuits. Transcending the many limits imposed on women of her time, she produced major works of theology; wrote seminal books on natural history, the medicinal use of plants, and other natural remedies; and explored the nature of sexuality with an openness and honesty rare for twelfth-century writers of either gender. Her book of apocalyptic visions, Scivias, with its compelling illustrations, remains a landmark of mystical writings. Hildegard of Bingen is a vivid portrait of Hildegard's life from her entry into a male monastery at the age of eight to her establishment of a thriving convent (where her acclaimed musical plays were first performed) and the explosion of her genius in her middle years, to her eventual admission to the canon of saints. Set against the rich background of the Crusades, the flowering of monasticism, numerous religious schisms, and the first stirrings of the Renaissance, it brings to life a woman who would have been remarkable in any age. The revival of interest in her music has given contemporary audiences a tantalizing hint of Hildegard's many talents: Meticulously researched, combining an appealing style and scholarly expertise, and featuring full-color maps and illustrations, Hildegard of Bingen presents the full scope of her life and achievements.