The 12th-century German abbess Hildegard of Bingen (German “von Bingen”) is renowned as an herbalist, a correspondent with kings, a mystic visionary, a poet, a playwright, and a brilliantly original composer. Recordings of her music abound, including a Euro-disco version of her chants; new-age seekers earnestly prescribe her herbal remedies, and the textbook I used for teaching World Civilizations considers her important enough as a poet to discuss her at some length without ever mentioning that she was also a composer. (She is also often called an artist, but the paintings associated with her were evidently executed by nuns under her supervision.)

Although the frenzy surrounding Hildegard threatens to rival the Virginia Woolf industry in fervor if not in scale, her existence comes as news to most undergraduates, who seem to have great difficulty in remembering her name on tests.

Herewith is a list of some of the many variations on the spelling of her name I have encountered in student papers and examinations.

      • Bingen of Hildegard
      • Grunen Hidelburg
      • Haldegard
      • Heldagaurd
      • Heldigard
      • Hidegar
      • Hidegard
      • Hidegard of Bilgard
      • Hildaberg
      • Hildagar
      • Hildagard of Bigen
      • Hildagrad
      • Hildegard Beign
      • Hildegard de Benin
      • Hildegard de Bergen
      • Hildegard de Bingen
      • Hildegard di Bingen
      • Hildegard of Begnign
      • Hildegard of Begnin
      • Hildegard of Benen
      • Hildegard of Bengin
      • Hildegard of Benin (this student actually identified her as a West African)
      • Hildegard of Beningn
      • Hildegard of Bignen
      • Hildegard of Bingham
      • Hildegard of Bingin
      • Hildegard of Branigan
      • Hildeguard of Bingen
      • Hildemar
      • Hildergard of Bingen
      • Hildergard of Bingling
      • Hildgard Bingd
      • Hildgen of Bigen
      • Hildigar of Bingens
      • Hildigard of Bingen
      • Hildiguard
      • Hiledarg
      • Hilegrad
      • Hilegard of Bingen
      • Hileburd of Bingin
      • Hilgard of Benign
      • Hilgrad of Bringam
      • Hyldegard of Bingen
      • Heldegard de Bingen
      • Heligard of Bingam
      • Heligard of Bingen
      • Hidilar Bingen
      • Hildegar of Bingen
      • Hildegar of Binger
      • Hildegard Benign
      • Hildegard Duarde of Bingen
      • Hildegard de Bennin
      • Hilden of Rergan
      • Hillgard of Bengen
      • Hillgard of Bengin
      • Hildigar of Bingin
      • Saint Bengam

and the winner in the category of most bizarre misspelling:

    • Higard of Briggians

Prof. Katherine Meyer contributed these gems from her students:

  • Hidegarde of Bingen was an abyss in the Middle Ages. She was very learned and deep.
  • As a teen, Hildegard was a renounced virgin. When she was 42 years old, she hired a secretary who wrote of her illusions.
  • Hildegard turned to the Church for conformation. She was also a leading proponent of the Gregorian Revolts.

Inspired by this page, Don Noble wrote the following poem in which each line is composed of an anagram of Hildegard of Bingen’s name (as properly spelled):

Bed for hiding angel

Hildegard of Bingen
If gardening, behold
Finding age old herb,
Binding her feal god

Binge, oh glad friend!
Heralding bed of gin
Bring God, heal fiend,
Her old fading begin

Hiding blend of rage
Finding her age bold –
Ringing bed, halo fed,
In her fading be gold

Honing fabled dirge
Frigid hag ennobled.

If you have encountered other variations and would like to contribute to this list, please write me: Paul Brians.

Last updated May 8, 2004.

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