Quedlinburg Abbey

Quedlinburg Abbey ( _de. Stift Quedlinburg or _de. "Reichsstift Quedlinburg") was founded on the castle hill of Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, in 936 by Emperor Otto the Great at the request of his mother Queen Matilda, later canonised as Saint Matilda, in honour of her late husband, the father of Otto, King Henry the Fowler, and as his memorial.

The "Kaiserlich freie weltliche Reichsstift Quedlinburg" ("Free secular Imperial abbey of Quedlinburg"), as its full style was until its dissolution in 1802, consisted of a proprietary church of the Imperial family to which was attached a college of secular canonesses ("Stiftsdamen"), a community of the unmarried daughters of the greater nobility and royalty leading a godly life [The term "secular" ("weltlich") refers to the fact that they took no formal religious vows and were bound to no monastic order. In the Middle Ages and the early modern period these "Frauenstifte" were important facilities for the care of unmarried and widowed noblewomen. The "Stiftsdamen" or "canonesses" were often learned, and skilled at artistic works] . The greatest and most prominent foundations of this sort were Essen Abbey, Gandersheim Abbey, Gernrode Abbey, Cologne Abbey and Herford Abbey, in the last of which the young Queen Matilda had been brought up by her grandmother, the abbess.

Thanks to its Imperial connections the new foundation attracted rich endowments and was soon a wealthy and thriving community.

After the German Mediatisation of 1803 the abbey was taken over by the Kingdom of Prussia as the Principality of Quedlinburg. Between 1807 and 1813 it belonged to the shortlived Kingdom of Westphalia.


The church of St. Servatius (or "St. Servatii"; sometimes - inaccurately - called Quedlinburg Cathedral or "Quedlinburger Dom") is dedicated to Saint Servatius of Tongeren and Saint Denis and is a significant Romanesque building. Construction of the three-naved basilica on the remains of three predessor buildings began sometime before 997 and finished in 1021. The church has a flat roof. It contains the architectural feature known as the "niedersächsischer Stützenwechsel". ["Lower Saxon support alternation", by which is meant that after every two columns is placed a pillar.]



In the first decades after the foundation the community was favoured by numerous gifts of land, particularly from the Imperial family. All later clearances (i.e., of previously uncultivated land) in the immediate vicinity were also theirs, but in addition they acquired far more distant possessions, such as Soltau, 170 kilometres away, given by Otto I in 936.

Among other property they also received the following:
* In 956 the church of Saint Michael next to the cell of Volkmarskeller (near Blankenburg am Harz) was granted them by Otto I
* In 974 the locality of Duderstadt in south-eastern Lower Saxony was acquired, which the abbey owned for 262 years. The village of Breitenfeld bei Duderstadt belonged to the abbey until its dissolution. [cf. the deeds of grant in the digitised municipal archive of Duderstadt at: [http://www.archive.geschichte.mpg.de/duderstadt/] ]
* On 3 July 993 a deed of gift was executed by Emperor Otto III granting ownership of Potsdam, of which place this is the first documentary evidence. The deed marks a turning point in the struggle to win back territory east of the Elbe, from which the East Frankish lordship had been driven back by the Slav Uprising of 983.
* In 999 the "provincia" of Gera came into the hands of the abbey. In 1209 the abbess appointed the Vögte of Weida as administrators of the territory.
* The gifts of Emperor Otto I: 936, 25 estates; 937, two estates; 944, one estates; 946, two estates; 954, one estate; 956, 11 estates; 961, 7 estates.
* The gifts of Emperor Otto II: 974, estates places; 979, one estate; 985, five estates.
* The gifts of Emperor Otto III: 992, three estates; 993, two estates; 995, four estates; 999, one estate.
* Later acquisitions totalled more than 150 estates. [cf. the presentation by Manfred Mehl: "Die Münzen des Stiftes Quedlinburg". Hamburg, 2006, pp. 42-49.]


The abbey also received numerous gifts of precious books, manuscripts and liturgical items, which were stored in the treasury. At the end of World War II a number of the most valuable items were looted by an American soldier, including the reliquary of Saint Servatius, from the time of Charles the Bald; the 9th century Samuhel Gospels ("Samuhel Evangeliar"); the printed Evangeliary of St Wiperti ("Evangelistar aus St Wiperti") of 1513; and a liturgical ivory comb. The stolen items reappeared in 1987 and after much litigation were returned to the abbey in 1993 [see Theft of medieval art from Quedlinburg] .


The abbey is also known as the home of the "Annals of Quedlinburg" (Latin: "Saxonicae Annales Quedlinburgenses", German: "Quedlinburger Annalen"), begun in 1008 and finished in 1030 in the abbey, quite possibly by a female writer. Quedlinburg was well suited for gathering information on current political affairs, given its connections to the Imperial family and the proximity of Magdeburg, an Imperial centre. The "Annals" are mostly concerned with the history of the Holy Roman Empire [ Thietmar, David Warner, 2001: "Ottonian Germany", p.43] .

List of Abbesses

* Queen Matilda, later Saint Matilda, founded and led the abbey (but was not abbess) 936-966

Roman Catholic abbesses

# Matilda of Quedlinburg, daughter of Emperor Otto I 966-999
# Adelheid I of Quedlinburg, daughter of Emperor Otto II 999-1045
# Beatrix I of Gandersheim, daughter of Emperor Henry III 1045-1062
# Adelheid II of Gandersheim, daughter of Emperor Henry III 1062-1095
# Eilica 1095-1110
# Agnes I of Gandersheim, daughter of Władysław I Herman, niece of Beatrix I and Adelheid II 1110-1126
# Gerburg [also Gerberga] , Countess of Kappenberg 1126-1137
# Beatrix II of Quedlinburg or of Winzenburg (of the family of the Counts of Formbach) 1137-1160
# Meregart or Meregard 1160-1161
# Adelheid III of Sommerschenburg, Countess of Saxony 1161-1184
# Agnes II, Margravine of Meissen [ [http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/compass/ixbin/goto?id=OBJ2329 commemorative coin, British Museum] ] 1184-1203
# Sophia I, Countess of Brehna 1203-1226
# Bertradis I of Krosigk [also Bertrade] 1226-1230
# Kunigunde, Countess of Kranichfeld and Kirchberg 1230-1231
# Osterlinde, Countess of Falkenstein 1231-1233
# Gertrud of Amfurt 1233-1270
# Bertradis II [also Bertrade] 1270-1308
# Jutta of Kranichfeld 1308-1347
# Luitgard, Countess of Stolberg 1347-1353
# Agnes III von Schraplau 1354-1362
# Elisabeth I von Hakeborn 1362-1375
# Margarete von Schraplau, sister of Agnes III 1376-1379
# Irmgard, Burggravine of Kirchberg [also Ermgard] 1379-1405
# Adelheid IV, Countess of Isenburg 1405-1435
# Anna I, Countess Reuss von Plauen 1435-1458
# Hedwig, Duchess of Saxony, daughter of Frederick II, Elector of Saxony 1458-1511
# Magdalene, Princess of Anhalt-Köthen-Zerbst 1511-1515
# Anna II, Countess of Stolberg (as last Roman Catholic abbess) 1516-1540

Protestant abbesses

# Anna II, Countess of Stolberg (as first Protestant abbess) 1540-1574
# Elisabeth II, Countess of Regenstein-Blankenburg 1574-1584
# Anna III, Countess of Stolberg-Wernigerode 1584-1601
# Maria, Duchess of Saxe-Weimar, daughter of Johann Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Weimar 1601-1610
# Dorothea, Duchess of Saxony 1610-1617
# Dorothea Sophie, Duchess of Saxe-Weimar, daughter of Frederick Wilhelm I, Duke of Saxe-Weimar 1617-1645
# Anna Sophie I, Countess bei Rhein (Pfalz-Birkenfeld) 1645-1680
# Anna Sophie II, Countess of Hesse-Darmstadt 1681-1683
# Anna Dorothea, Duchess of Sachsen-Weimar, daughter of Johann Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Weimar 1684-1704
# Maria Aurora, Gräfin von Königsmark, governed as prioress during the vacancy 1704-1718
# Marie Elisabeth, Duchess of Holstein-Gottorp 1718-1755
# Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia 1756-1787
# Princess Sophie Albertine of Sweden (last abbess) 1787-1803


* Matilda of Ringelheim
* Henry the Fowler



* Kremer, Marita, 1924. "Die Personal- und Amtsdaten der Äbtissinen des Stifts Quedlinburg bis zum Jahre 1574. Leipzig (= Phil. Diss. Univ. Leipzig 1924).
* Wilberg, Max, 1906, repr. 1987. "Regententabellen: Eine Zusammenstellung der Herrscher von Ländern aller Erdteile bis zum Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts". Original edition Frankfurt/Oder, reproduced in facsimile by Transpress VEB Verlag für Vehrkehrswesen, Berlin. ISBN 3-344-00094-2


* Gerchow, Jan (ed.), 2003: "Essen und die sächsischen Frauenstifte im Frühmittelalter". Essener Forschungen zum Frauenstift 2. Essen.
* Giese, Martina (ed.), 2004: "Die Annales Quedlinburgenses". Hanover: "Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores Rerum Germanicarum In Usum Scholarum Separatim Editi, vol. 72.
* Heydenreuter, Reinhard, 1993: "Kunstraub. Die Geschichte des Quedlinburger Stiftsschatzes". Munich.
* Honan, William H., 1997: "Treasure Hunt. A New York Times Reporter Tracks the Quedlinburg Hoard". New York.

External links

* [http://www.domschatzquedlinburg.de Dom und Domschatz zu Quedlinburg] de icon

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