Dutch Mysticism

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Course about Christian spirituality
in a cultural-historical context

Medieval Dutch Mysticism in the Low Countries

Hadewijch and John of Ruusbroec, their faith and way of thinking

Rozemarijn van Leeuwen
© 1999-2001


About the teacher

The course Medieval Dutch Mysticism in the Low Countries was created and taught by Rozemarijn van Leeuwen.

Rozemarijn ('rosemary') studied Dutch Language and Literature at Utrecht University. She specialised in Historic Literature, with an emphasis on Middle Dutch literature. She studied several medieval mystics and the late medieval religious literature at Antwerp University (lectures and tutorials by profs. Mommaers, De Baere and Mertens).

She completed her specialization cum laude and worked in the meantime as student-assistant at the department of Middle Dutch Literature in Utrecht. She graduated, with prof. W.P. Gerritsen as supervisor, on a survey of the meaning and function of 'light', 'darkness' and 'warmth' in the mystical writings of Hadewijch and Ruusbroec.

Until 2003 Rozemarijn van Leeuwen worked at the Dutch Song Database for prof. Louis Grijp (at the Meertens Research Institute, KNAW) in Amsterdam; after that she was employed at the museum of Utrecht University. Besides her job (from 1998 onward) she gave lectures and courses about medieval literature and Dutch poetry. She was asked to prepare a research proposal to promote in the field of medieval literature or medieval songs.

However, since her graduation she became more and more ill and in 2004 she had to call in sick definitively (in 2013 this turned out to be chronical lyme), so she had to finish her job, her beloved research on historic literature and her teachings. In 2018-2020 the complete course about Dutch mysticism was therefore published online, on her personal website, available for whoever is interested in the subject. And in 2020-2021 the English translation came online.

middeleeuwse harpiste harpspeelster middeleeuwen

Medieval noble woman playing the harp
15th century
(BnF, MS Français 599, f.68).

Word of thanks

I'm very grateful to all my professors and teachers for their efforts concerning their fields of expertise and for their inspired, contagious and/or profound lectures during my study time. It has increased my joy in reading historical texts and my love for historical literary research year after year.

I will mention two names explicitly. Paul Mommaers familiarised me with the world of Hadewijch and Ruusbroec, thanks to his lectures and publications, and taught me that reading the content of the text is always related to the scientific analysis of the text based on the history of literature, religion and culture. His scientific work on mysticism will always remain a big example for me.

Orlanda Lie introduced me, during her lectures about medieval artes texts, in the medieval way of thinking, cosmology and the history of ideas. Her academic teachings, in which she shared her marvel, enthusiasm and love for medieval studies, were very inspiring and will stick in my memory for ever.

But also Wim Gerritsen, Guido De Baere, Thom Mertens, Frank Willaert, Dieuwke van der Poel and Louis Grijp did shape me as a student and I'm grateful for their education, research, pleasant contacts, personal help, constructive criticism, trust, their knowledge and never ceasing dedication.

naam rozemarijn handtekening handschrift

Original Dutch course

•  This page in Dutch: Over de docente.

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Follow the whole course Medieval Dutch Mysticism in the Low Countries online:

    first lesson hour (cultural-historical background) second lesson hour (reading texts)
  1 The Middle Ages What is mysticism?
  2 The medieval world view Hadewijch: vision and mysticism
  3 Hadewijch: glimpse of her life Hadewijch: roads towards God
  4 Women in the Middle Ages Hadewijch: bridal mysticism
  5 Ruusbroec: course of his life Ruusbroec: Active Life
  6 The horrible 14th century Ruusbroec: Inward Life
  7 Image and resemblance of God Ruusbroec: To meet Him