Community ID
Alternate Names
Assini (968/978); Esne (1186); Essene (c. 1200); Essen (from 1279)
in 1194 the convent moved to Malgarten
Osnabrück; today Münster
Medieval Location
in the duchy of Tecklenburg
Modern Location
in the district of Cloppenburg
S. Pacratius (968/978); S. Bartholomew (first mentioned 1521); there is no mention of a particular patron saint for the convent.
Date Founded
Religious Order
uncertain (presumably Benedictine)
Foundation Information

Between 968-978 the noble woman Aldburg (or Alaburg) founded a proprietary church in Essen. Her two sons, Bishop Liudolf of Osnabrück and Count Godeskalk agreed to her foundation. Liudolf consecrated the church and later confirmed the foundation and placed it under his episcopal authority. Count Godeskalk promoted a renewal of the buildings later, and Bishop Kuno (possibly Dodo) consecrated the new buildings and confirmed the renewed foundation. The foundation provided for the erection of the church and the provision for a priest. A convent is not apparent at this time. In 1175 a convent is mentioned in the documents; this is when the conventual history of the site began. Another foundation charter from 1186 speaks definitely of nuns. According to Schuler, this was a female community, although it has often been incorrectly thought to have been male (Schuler, 217). In 1175 Count Simon von Tecklenburg and his mother Eilika, born the countess of Oldenburg, founded the convent from their inherited property in Essen and granted it the church that had already been established there. In 1177 Bishop Arnold von Osnabrück consecrated the buildings and placed the foundation in his protection. The foundation charter was drawn up in 1186 (Schuler, 218). On the basis of chronicles from other convents, it appears that the convent was destroyed by fire in 1194 and moved afterwards to Malgarten. The convent's adherence to Benedictine monasticism is questionable. The oldest mention of the convent as Benedictine comes from the seventeenth century. According to Schuler, it is likely that the convent comprised a noble women's chapter, which gradually assumed Benedictine practices over its lay-sisters, provost, and conversae (Schuler, 218).

Dependent Communities

The parish of S. Pacratius in Essen was incorporated into the community at the time of its foundation.

Secular Political Affiliations

The counts of Tecklenburg held the rights of advocacy. The convent was guaranteed that this right of advocacy would not be bestowed as a fief.

Social Characteristics

The nuns presumably came from the circle of the founding family.

Relative Wealth

The convent was not well endowed and was relatively poor.


The original donation of Aldburgs comprised 10 farms in the region of Essen as well as a portion of the tithes here. The foundation of the convent added to this 20 farms and 2 mills. This foundation was not very generous for the survival of a convent (Schuler, 218).

Architecture & Archaeology

There are no remains of the medieval church or convent. According to reports, the church consisted of a single transept structure with a single tower. The church was destroyed in a fire in Essen in 1601. The convent had been destroyed by fire in 1194 and moved to Malgarten (Schuler, 219).

Manuscript Sources

There are no archives for the community. A copy from the mid-fifteenth century in the Staatsarchiv Osnabrück rep. 2, Nr. 177 contains the foundation documents for the church, convent and chapels.

Published Primary Sources

[1]SUDENDORF, H. Urkunden zur Geschichte der Klöster Malgarten und Essen. Osnabrücker Mitteilung 1 (1848): 55-59. and 2 (1850): 56-63.
[2]KLOPPENBURG, W. "Sinndeutung der Gründungsurkunden von Essen aus den Jahren 968-978 und 1175-1186." 968-1968. 1000 Jahre Gemeinde Essen (Essen, 1968): 10-25.

Secondary Sources

SCHULER. Zur Gründung der Kloester in Essen (Old.) und Malgarten . Osnabrücker Mitteilung 89 (1983).
SUDENDORF, H. Die Klöster Essen und Malgarten. Osnabrücker Mitteilung 1 (1848): 30-43.
[4]DELLA VALLE, H. Die Benediktinerinnenkloester des Bistums Osnabrueck. Osnabruecker Mitteilung 39 (1916): 155-158; 166-173.
[5]Verzeichnis der Stifter und Klöster Niedersachsens vor der Reformation
Bemerkungen zum Bücherbesitz des Essener Damenstifts um 900

June Mecham
Date Started