The story of the nun Guda, who has the earliest signed self-portrait of a woman in Europe.
During the 11th and 12th century, the output of books increased dramatically. Monastic scriptoria (workshops) were at the center of book/manuscript production.
In the Romanesque period (1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 12th century), women were involved in the production of books as authors, scribes, painters, and patrons.
In c. 1020, the abbess (the leading nun of a group of nuns) of Meschede, Germany, Hitda, commissioned a codex (a sort of picture book of selected Bible passages). Her likeness is drawn in miniature portraiture in the beginning of the Hitda Codex.
The nun, Guda, from Westphalia was a scribe and painter during this time. She managed to insert self-portrait into the letter "D" of a book of homilies she was working on and it is the earliest signed self-portrait of a women in Europe.
Signed, "Guda, the sinful woman, wrote and illuminated this book," shows the cheeky pride of a pious profession.