Gandersheim, Convent of

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A former benedictine establishment in the Diocese of Hildesheim located in the town of Bad Gandersheim, Lower Saxony, Germany. It was founded in Brunshausen in 852 as a free imperial abbey of canonesses by Margrave Liudolf of Saxony (d. 866), ancestor of the Ottonian dynasty, and was moved to Gandersheim in 856. Three daughters of Liudolf ruled their family's foundation: Hathumod (d. 874), Gerberga (d. 896), and Christina (d.919). Under Abbess Gerberga II (9591001), daughter of Duke Henry I of Bavaria, the abbey school achieved great fame through the poetic works of roswitha. In her Primordia coenobii Gandeshemensis, the important donations of Bishop Altfried of Hildesheim (852874), which resulted in proprietary rights for the Diocese of Hildesheim, are passed over in silence. To break the ties with Hildesheim, otto iii's sister, Sophie, abbess from 1002 to 1039, persuaded Archbishop willigis of mainz to claim the abbey for his see on the basis of Fulda's ancient rights over Brunshausen and Gandersheim. After a struggle of more than seven years, Bishop bernward of hildesheim saw his rights recognized by his metropolitan, Willigis, in 1007. However, Archbishop aribo renewed the claims against godard, Bernward's successor, in 1023, and a final settlement was not reached until 1028. Emperor henry ii added a county to the possessions of the wealthy abbey in 1021, and the Salic emperors continued to entrust the convent, together with other Saxon abbeys, to an imperial princess because of its political importance. A Low-German adaptation of an early 12th-century Latin chronicle, made by Eberhard, deacon of Gandersheim (c. 1216), reflects the abbey's century-long struggle for independence from the bishop. Pope innocent iii's privilege finally brought Gandersheim exemption from Hildesheim in 1208. The free imperial abbey became a Protestant convent in 1589 and was dissolved in 1810.

Bibliography: l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés 1:1250. l. wolff, Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters 1:470474. w. wattenbach, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter 1:3738, 6162. h. goetting, "Die Gandersheimer Originalsupplik an Papst Paschalis II. als Quelle für eine unbekannte Legation Hildebrands nach Sachsen," Niedersächs. Jahrbuch 21 (1949) 93122; "Zur Kritik der älteren Gründungsurkunde des Reichsstifts Gandersheim," Mitteilungen des Österreich. Staatsarchivs 3 (1950) 362403. o. perst, "Die Kaisertochter Sophie, Äbtissin von Gandersheim und Essen, 9751039," Braunschweig. Jahrbuch 38 (1957) 546. h. engfer, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 2 4:511512.

[a. a. schacher]