Community ID
Medieval Location
The convent was erected between the mouths of the Aa and Werre Rivers.
Corporate Status
S. Mary; S. Pusinna
Date Founded
823 (circa -- although Schmitz-Kallenberg puts the date at c. 789)
Date Terminated
1631; 1802
Religious Order
Foundation Information

There is much controversy about the history of the foundation of Herford. Much of the debate revolves around the accuracy of the Vita Waltgeri, dating to the early thirteenth century. The foundation of this convent dates back to the missionary phase of German Christianization (Lobbedey, 335). According to Schmitz-Kallenberg, tradition states that the convent was founded circa 789 in the district of Bielefeld by Waltger, and in 819 the convent moved to Herford. The most accepted view is that the convent was founded by Adelhard and Wala, along with Corvey, based on the example of Marienkloster at Soissons. In contrast, some scholars accept the accuracy of the Vita Waltgeri, which relates that a Saxon noble established the convent in Herford after two failed attempts at Müdehorst and Altenherford (Lobbedey, 335). According to the Vita, the noble had the relics of S. Oswald brought to the convent from England. When he heard of the foundation of Corvey, the founder of Herford reputedly went to Louis the Pious and placed the convent of Herford under his care (Lobbedey, 335). For Corvey the Benedictine rule is mentioned but not for Herford. No mention is made of the election of abbesses for the community either. Because Herford is said to have been founded on the model of Corvey, it is possible that the community followed the Benedictine rule, but definite confirmation is lacking (Heineken, 98-99).

First Members

According to the Translation of S. Pusinna, the abbess of Herford was the sister of Count Cobbo.

Notable Heads

The first abbess named in a document of Louis the German is Addila (Heineken, 98).

Other Ecclesiastical Relations

The administration of the property of the convent was not granted to the abbess of Herford; jurisdictional rights were likwise never granted to the abbess alone. The abbot of Corvey acted as the overseer for the convent (Heineken, 76). The relationship between Corvey and Herford was very close during the ninth and tenth centuries (Lobbedey, 335). Herford also had close ties to the convent of Mary (Marienkloster) at Soissons, where a sister of Adalhard and Wala, Theodrada, was abbess from circa 810-846.

Secular Political Affiliations

Herford was an imperial chapter. The history of Herford is closely tied to that of the Carolingians. Nevertheless, no imperial diplomas record Louis the Pious as the actual founder of the convent (Lobbedey, 336).

Relative Wealth

Herford was an imperial convent and doubtless grew rich from the gifts of Louis the Pious and his successors (Lobbedey, 335). The convent received many rich gifts, for which the intercession of the convent (on behalf of the patrons) was taken for granted (Heineken, 75).


Herford had to protect itself against the claims of the counts of Sachsen-Lauenburg and later against those of Brandenburg, as the heirs of the counts of Ravensberg (Heineken, 127).

Architecture & Archaeology

The convent was built during the reign of Louis the Pious. Two distinct building periods appear in the archaeological record; one from the Carolingian period and one from the Ottonian period. The earliest period indicates a Basilica with three naves and an apse in the east; it also had a choir. Lobbedey dates the Herford Basilica to the tenth century (Lobbedey, 337).


The convent held the relics of the S. Pusinna which were brought to Herford by Count Cobbo.

Manuscript Sources

The community's archive is located in the Staatsarchiv in Münster and in the Staatsarchiv at Herford. The Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz containes a manuscript of Aristotle "De caelo et mundo," dating from the fifteenth century, #Lat. 2o324 as well as the Dialogues of Gregory I, dating from the 9-10th centuries, #Theol. lat. 2o432. It aslo preserves three further works belonging to this house, #Theol. lat. 2o1 (265); Theol. lat. 2o18 (266); and Theol. lat. 4o198 (264) (10th c.). The Staatsarchiv in Münster preserves the Vita Waltgeri (13-14th c.), #VII. 5208.

Published Primary Sources

Vita Waltgeri confessoris, fundatoris monasterii Hervordie, Wilmans, Kaiserurkunden der Provinz Westfalen (Münster).

Miscellaneous Information

The community was a house of Augustinian canonesses according to Hilpisch; however, most sources refer to the house as Benedictine. At the time of the Reformation, the convent converted to Lutheranism and became a secular women's chapter.

Admin. Notes

combined with 1379/same community 2/5/99
more research necessary Hilpisch, 26.

June Mecham
Date Started
Date Finished