For centuries, scholarship was the purview of men. Women who got an education were rare, and certainly the exception to the rule. By this measure, it might be surprising that the first encyclopedia by a woman—which, incidentally, was created to educate other women—dates back to the middle ages, more than 800 years ago. The Hortus Deliciarum was created by Herrad of Landsberg, an Alsatian nun and the abbess of Hohenburg Abbey high in the Vosges mountains of France. An abbey was one of the few places where women and girls could receive an education, and Hohnenburg Abbey was well respected—and equally well funded—thanks to support from the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. It's evident from the works Herrad left behind that her own education was expansive, covering theology, science, music, and other arts.
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