Buxtehude, Neukloster
Community ID
 
1467
 
Alternate Names
 
Neukloster (Bredenbeck); Neukloster bei Buxtehude; novi claustri in Lu (1286); novi claustri apud Buxtehude (1302)
 
Town
 
Buxtehude
 
Diocese
 
Verden; Hildesheim (since 1824)
 
Medieval Location
 
The convent was founded by Neuenkirchen (New Church) in Buxtehude.
 
Modern Location
 
Buxtehude; in the district of Stade
 
Corporate Status
 
Priory
 
Dedication
 
Domina nostra (Mary); John the Evangelist
 
Date Founded
 
1270
 
Date Terminated
 
1705/7 with the death of the last inhabitant of the community
 
Religious Order
 
Benedictine
 
Rule
 
Benedictine
 
Foundation Information
 

The convent was founded from property bestowed by Johannes Schulte, a member of one of the most important ministerial families in the region of Lühe, in 1270. Johannes founded the convent as a pious gesture and with a mind for the future care of his soul, since he lacked any heirs. On April 22, 1270 Bishop Conrad of Verden confirmed the construction of a new church on the property of Johannes Schulte, south of the Lühe. In 1274 the foundation was transformed into a Benedictine convent, and the convent assumed the Benedictine rule. Johannes Schulte, his wife Hildeburg, and the cathedral deacon of Verden were all involved in this establishment. The first nuns came from Buxtehude, Altkloster. The prioress and nuns were allowed to assume the same habit as their mother-house and obtained the privilege to freely elect their provosts. In 1283/1286 Schulte and the provost John decided to transfer the convent to the more fruitful location of Bredenbeke. (The convent remained in Buxtehude less than 10 years). After the convent was moved to Bredenbeck, it was placed within the jursidiction of Buxtehude, Altkloster, which then transferred its legal rights in Bredenbeck to the new convent in return for a payment of 10 Marks gold by Johannes Schulte. After the convent's transfer, the nuns assumed a gray habit in place of their black ones. In 1286 Bishop Conrad of Verden gave his approval for this change in habit, but prohibited the convent from ever electing an abbess. It was only allowed to elect a provost and prioress. They may have been influenced by neighboring Cistercian communities. In 1332, however, the convent returned (again?) to the Benedictine order (Bohmbach, 448-449).

 
First Members
 

The first nuns came from Buxtehude, Altkloster. A fifteenth century reform of the community brought nuns from Ebstorf (see visitations).

 
Notable Heads
 

Known prioresses of the community are: Lutburgis, 1303; Alheyd, 1377; Oda, 1389, 1391; Alheyd, 1402; Oda, 1412; Kunegunde, 1415; Gertrud Bersekamp, 1477; Gertrud de Brake, 1477; Elisabeth de Molendino, 1483; Hartrad, 1485; Ode, 1488; Gertrud Boltsen, 1491; Hartrad, 1494-5; Gertrud 1498-1501; Anne, 1547; Adelheid von Estorpe, 1555-1558; Cecilie Hugen, 1562-1573. Later Dominae were Adelheit von Duringk, 1595-1610, and Catharina Ruters, 1625. Known subprioresses are: Ymmeke Mollers, 1477; Gertrud Kammis, 1477; Adelheit Martens, 1602; and Anne Vortmans, 1608-1625.

 
Population Counts
 

The number of inhabitants in the community in the medieval period is unknown. In 1600 the community included 23 nuns, 16 conversae, the provost, chaplain, and confessor, totalling 42 inhabitants. The convent also had a girls' school with 12-16 girls, who were taught for 30 Marks per year (Bohmbach, 455). In 1611 the still-Catholic convent held 37 members; this had shrunk to 18 by 1625 and 9 by 1650. By 1685 there remained only 2 Catholic and 1 Evangelical inhabitants; the last inhabitant died in 1705.

 
Incorporated Communities
 

The church in Bliedersdorf was incorporated into the convent's holdings sometime prior to 1570. In 1573 the parish complained to the provost of Neukloster, who cared for the church's goods, that he was neglecting to care for the building and the regular performance of services on Sundays and Feastdays (Bohmbach, 451).

 
Dependency Of
  
Other Ecclesiastical Relations
 

The provost of the community was placed under the supervision of the Bishop of Verden. In conjunction with the reform of 1477 the Archbishop Heinrich of Bremen created spiritual confraternities between this community and others in Hamburg and in his diocese. In 1491 the convent entered a prayer confraternity with Heiligenthal? (requires further verification).

 
Visitations
 

Towards the end of 1477 the convent received three visitations from the Bishop of Verden, the prior of S. Michael in Lüneburg, the provost of Ebstorf and Master of Buxtehude, Gerhard Halepaghen, in order to be reformed. The provost of Ebstorf presented the convent with 5 nuns from that community to help with the reform. At this time the prioress and subprioress of Neukloster resigned, and Gertrud de Brake and Gertrud Kammis were elected as prioress and subprioress. The provost and prioress were charged to closely moniter the nuns' claustration (Bohmbach, 450).

 
Patrons/Benefactors
 

The convent received numerous grants and bequests from the families in the neighboring cities of Hamburg, Buxtehude, Stade, and Lüneburg. In the fourteenth century the convent acquired substantial holdings through the noble families of Schulte, Borch, von Eschete, von Bliederstorpe, and from the old Stade patrician families of De Cimiterio and de Arena (Bohmbach, 453).

 
Social Characteristics
 

Most of the nuns appear to have been drawn from the surrounding cities of Hamburg, Buxtehude, Stade and Lüneburg.

 
Relative Wealth
 

The first systematic compilation of the community's holdings was made in 1335 and seems to indicate that the convent had substantial wealth. The convent appears to reflect a positive economic development throughout the fourteenth century. In the fifteenth century, the community experienced some economic decline. In 1454 Clau Tamme, from the city of Stade, granted a yearly annuity to the convent of 5 Marks, so that the nuns living there no longer had to beg at the biannual markets in Stade. Such a grant appears to indicate the difficult economic position of the community at that time. Likewise, sometime before Septermber 1465, Bishop Johann of Verden decreed that on account of the number of nuns and the poverty of the community no more nuns might be accepted into the community without an annuity of 3-4 Marks, which would fall to the convent upon their death. The convent had clearly exceeded the bounds of its economic means. In 1473 the Bishop also declared that the convent could not join the Bursfeld reform due to its limited economic means; the convent was so poor it had only one cooking pot (Bohmbach, 450). In 1495 the convent appealed to the mayor of Lüneburg, Cord Lange, for aid, due to its financial difficulties. The same year the convent received aid from the city council (Bohmbach, 451). In 1499 the convent was destroyed and the nuns were forced to reside in the residences of citizens of Buxtehude. The convent was able to be rebuilt due primarily to the support of Lüneburg. The destruction and rebuilding presumably left the convent in great poverty. A now-lost income register for 1600-1608 recorded the convent's income at about 1600 Marks at that time; half of its fourteenth-century income (Bohmbach, 455).

 
Assets/Property
 

Johannes Schulte provided the initial endowment for the community from his own residence. The convent also received a portion of moorland in 1274. The convent retained these possessions even after it was transferred to Bredenbeck in 1286. In 1302 the convent sold its income from salt in Lüneburg and acquired a farm in Grauen (Bohmbach, 449). The convent held patronage rights in Neukirchen (since 1286) and Bliedersdorf (before 1570-1638). The first detailed documentation of the convent's holdings comes from an inventory of 1335. According to this document, the convent had acquired through gifts houses in Mekkelsen and Holwede; a farm in Twielenfleth; land in Rübke, Huttfleth, Hamelwörden, and Wisch; a salt rent in Lüneburg; and the new church in Lu with land and a farm in Nottensdorf (Bohmbach, 453). The convent also acquired tithes in Sittensen, Daghestorp, Grundoldendorf, Hardestorp, Hedendorf, Wulmstorf, Sotrumm, Vierden, and Frankop, which totaled approximately 2000 Marks. The convent held land and farms in Meckelsen, Holwede, Geldbeck, Emmen, hardestorp, Hedendorf, Estebrügge, Leswig, Rübke, Frankop, Jork, Neuenkirchen, Huttfleth, Hollern, Wethe, Assel, and Oldenbetenen, amounting to 1200 Marks. The convent's holdings, which totaled more than 3000 Marks since 1300, were concentrated in the land and city of Geest, primarily south-east of the Lühe river. The convent also held numerous rights in the saltworks in Lüneburg. In the mid-fourteenth century, the convent received further donations from the city council of Lüneburg (Bohmbach, 453). The community's assets and property remained much the same after 1350 despite the occurrence of sales and gifts. In 1363 the convent acquired a farm in Wisch with 44 hides. In 1385 Marquard of Zesterfleth gave the convent his house and farm near the mill in Buxtehude; in 1391 the convent sold this for 230 Marks to the city council of Buxtehude. Particularly important among the convent's possessions were its portion of the forest in Buxtehude. The rights of both Buxtehude convents were frequently threatened by the citizens of Horneburg (see litigations). The fifteenth century witnessed increased donations to the convent by the citizens of Hamburg; in 1445 the city council established a book to record entries of donations to the convent. From 1445-1460 the convent received an income from rent of 6.067 1/2 Marks. The donations and income coming from Hamburg are likely a result of the convent's role in educating and caring for the daughters of wealthy Hamburg families. The fifteenth century, however, also witnessed a drastic decline in the convent's income, evidenced by the nuns' begging at the biannual markets in Stade and the 1465 decree that new entrants must receive a pension of 3-4 Marks that would fall to the convent upon their death (Bohmbach, 454). (See relative wealth) An income register of 1479 indicates that the convent held only the tithes in Bliedersdorf, Wulmstorf, Nienkop, and Neuenkirchen; property and assets in Hedendorf, Nottensdorf, Daghestorp, Wiersdorf, Sittensen, Vierden, Kehdingen, and Hollern, Steinkirchen, Mittelnkirchen, Jork, Borstel, Estebrügge, and Nienkop had been given up or sold.

 
Other Economic Activities
 

The convent was known for its education of daughters of the Hamburg patriciate. In 1445 the mayor and city council created a special book to enter all the grants of annuities to the convent, and in the second half of the fifteenth century the convent received considerable sums.

 
Litigations
 

From 1321 continual disputes with the ministerial family of Borch over holdings in Hedendorf, Goldbeck, and the forest in Buxtehude appear in the records. In 1332 the provost and convent appealed to the pope over the family's hinderence of the community's rights in these areas. In 1335 the Archbishop Burchard of Bremen and Bishop Johann of Verden established a definite area of the forest held by the two convents. In 1418 Iwan de Borch claimed the protectorship over the forest in Buxtehude, which provosts from both Buxtehude, Altkloster and Neukloster denied. The provosts claimed that this protectorship was granted out on a yearly basis and not hereditary, as Iwan claimed. In 1443 a new conflict arose with Johann von Borch over the borders of the portions of forest owned by the convent (Bohmbach, 449). The result was that the portions established in 1335 as belonging to the convents were re-confirmed (Bohmbach, 454). In 1472 the right of the convents to cut wood within the forest was again re-confirmed. In 1575 a dispute arose between the convent and its provost. The prioress and convent complained that the provost neglected the care of the community's goods on account of his being married and asked the archbishop for permission to elect another provost. The archbishop denied the convent's request, but his decree also seems to indicate the end of provosts' residence within the cloister (Bohmbach, 451-2).

 
Art & Artifacts
 

The provost's seal from 1377 is still extant. It depicts the Madonna with child under a Baldachine in an oval frame. The convent's seal is round and depicts the Madonna and child. Both are in a poor state of preservation. Two chalices dating from between the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries are still extant.

 
Architecture & Archaeology
 

The conventual church, built circa 1300, was a single-nave brick structure with a pentagonal apse in the east and west. The cloister buttressed the church on the northern wall. In 1499 the convent was destroyed. In March 1500 the prioress and convent wrote to Lüneburg that the church, choir, and total convent had burned, requiring the nuns to dwell in the houses of pious laity in the city of Buxtehude. The city council of Lüneburg sent 60 Marks and lime for the rebuilding, and in the following year it supplied windows for the new church. The convent was apparently rebuilt in a rather unaltered form. In 1902 the church and convent was demolished due to its state of ruin. The altar (c. 1500) and crucifix (c. 1400) were transferred to the new church (Bohmbach, 456).

 
Manuscript Sources
 

The convent's archive is held in the Staatsarchiv in Stade 1324-1610 (Urk. Neukloster Nr. 1-15). Earlier documents were perhaps destroyed in 1499 when the convent was destroyed. Copies of the earlier (?) documents are held in the Landesbibliothek in Hannover, Ms. XXIII 1079.

 
Published Primary Sources
 

SILLEM, C.H.W., Hamburgs Beziehungen zum Neukloster bei Buxtehude (ZHG 9, 1894, 77-121). MULLER, J.F.H., Ein Guterverzeichnis des Neuen Klosters bei Buxtehude aus dem Jahr 1335 (Stader Jb. 59, 1969, 130-151). VOGT, J. Monumenta inedita Rerum Germanicarum, praecipue Bremensium 1, Bremen (1740), 258-266.

 
Secondary Sources
 

Neukloster
ROTERMUND, W., Vom alten und neuen Kloster bei Buxtehude (Neues Vaterlandisches Archiv 9, 1826), 333-354 and 11 (1827), 378-392. REINHARDT, W. Katholische Minderheiten im Erzstift Bremen (Stader Jb. 64, 1974, 7-21). FOERSTE, A.C., Die Ministerialen der Grafschaft Stade im Jahr 1219, Stade 1975.
Checklist of manuscripts microfilmed for the Monastic Manuscript Microfilm Library, Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota

 
Miscellaneous Information
 

In 1481 Bishop Bertold of Verden confirmed the convents' request to be freed from its responsibility for holding numerous requiem masses, which prevented the nuns from strict adherence to the rule (Bohmbach, 450). Despite the Protestant Reformation, Neukloster remained adamently Catholic. Up until 1569, Catholic masses were still held in its church.

 
Contributors
 
June Mecham
 
Date Started
 
1270
 
Date Finished
 
1705
 
Length
 
9357