Community ID
Alternate Names
Caminata; Monasterium . . . virginis Mariae . . . Keminatan (1004); Kymenaden (1147); Caminacense (1300); monasterium S. Margarethae (1507)
near Holzminden
Minden; presently Hildesheim
Medieval Location
situated on the Weser river
Corporate Status
S. Mary (1004); Margaret (1150/60)
Date Founded
Date Terminated
Religious Order
Foundation Information

In 959/965 a chapter of canonesses was established in Kemnade by two daughters of Count Wichmann the Elder, Frederunde and Imma, sisters of Duke Gero. The charter of confirmation from King Heinrich II in 1004 recorded the foundresses as Frederuna, the first abbess, and her sister Imma, the succeeding abbess. The two sisters were supported in the foundation by the Count Gero (d. 965). The convent was dedicated to Mary. The founders conveyed their entire property in Kemnade and in other areas to support the new community (Römer, 298). The community was confirmed by King Heinrich II in 1004 and 1017, and later by Konrad II in 1025 and Heinrich III in 1039. In 1017 the Heinrich II confirmed the community's right to the free election of its abbess and provost, although the king exerted influence on these elections (Römer, 299). It appears that the canonesses followed the Benedictine rule. In 1046 the convent church was consecrated by the episcopal Bishop Bruno of Minden. King Konrad III incorporated the community in 1147 into the abbey of Corvey and transfered it into the abbey's protection (Hoogeweg, 74). After 1147 Abbot Wibald of Corvey disolved the chapter of canonesses at Kemnade and transformed it into a dependency of Corvey (although it is likely the canonesses retained the right to continue dwelling at Kemnade). From circa 1150-1194 the community was composed of monks (Römer, 300). In 1194 Benedictine nuns from S. Peters' convent in Gehrden, north of Warburg in the diocese of Paderborn, assumed possession of the site (Römer, 301). It is likely that the abbot of Corvey was involved in this reestablishment. From 1194-1579 Kemnade existed as a regular Benedictine convent. The nuns from Gehrden followed a particularly strict observance of the Benedictine rule and had lived as "pauperes Christi" at Iburg near Driburg until 1142 (Römer, 301). According to the fifteenth-century chronicle of the house, Jutta was also responsible for bringing the nuns from Gehrden to Kemnade and for instituting the reform of the house. From 1147 on the community no longer held the right to freely elect its provosts; this right was retained by Corvey.

Notable Heads

The first leaders of the convent, when it served as a chapter of canonesses, are called abbesses, but later leaders are termed prioresses. The known abbesses of the chapter of canonesses at Kemnade from 959/965-1147 are: Federuna (Billungerin) (959/965-1025); Imma (Billungerin); Judith (1039); Judith (also the abbess of Eschwege and Geseke (1143-1146); Helmburgis (1146-1147). In 1144 Jutta, who had also served as the abbess of Eschwege and Geseke, became the abbess of Kemnade. Her brother Heinrich was abbot of Corvey in 1143 but disposed by the cardinal legate in 1146, at which time Jutta also had to resign her position as abbess. The criticism of Jutta's "worldly" lifestyle had a political component as the new abbot of Corvey, Wibald von Stablo, sought to bring the convent under the control of Corvey (Römer, 300). He dissolved the chapter of canonesses and transformed the site into a dependency of the abbey. When the convent was refounded as a Benedictine priory, the following women served as prioresses: Judith (Jutta), 1194; Kunigunde 1236/1239-1245; Margarete, c. 1283; Alheid, 1302-1312; Placidia v. Albaxen, before 1314; Alheid, 1321-1322; Ermegard, 1324; Bertrade, 1333; Jutta, 1335; Ermegard, 1340; Mechtild, 1354; Kunigunde v. Halle, 1361; Mechthild v. Uppenburch, 1366; Kunigunde v. Halle, 1373; Ilsebe v. Stöckheim, 1410-1411; Agnes, 1425; Edelind v. Frenke, 1440-1456; Antonia Holtsadel, 1460-1477; Mette Verneuessen, 1500-(1504); Anna v. Hörde 1504-1534; Anna v. Nyhausen, 1534-1540; Mette Sprenthoff, 1544-1545; Damborch v. Visbeck, 1545; Agnes v. Donop (nun from Gehrden), 1549-c. 1552; Agneta v. Bevern, 1553-1561; Eva v. Bocholtz, 1562-1570/71; Maria v. Bocholtz, c. 1571-1579 (Römer, 326). Non-noble prioresses were Antonia Holtsadel 1460-1477 and Mette Veerneuessen, 1500-1504.

Incorporated By

King Konrad III incorporated the community in 1147 into the abbey of Corvey and transfered it into the abbey's protection (Hoogeweg, 74). The convent was under the control of Corvey from approximately 1150-1194. In 1162 the abbot of Corvey instituted S. Margaret as a patron along with S. Mary (see below).

Dependency Of

When Kemnade was reestablished by the nuns from S. Peter's convent in Gehrden, it became a daughter-house of this convent and of Corvey, which asserted its right of protectorship over Kemnade. Kemnade did not hold the right of its own election of a provost (Römer, 321). It is unclear whether every provost had direct connections to the abbey of Corvey. In the fifteenth century the provosts were primarily drawn from the secular nobility (Römer, 321). From 1245 on the position of the provost gradually declined in power, as the convent with the support of Corvey acquired new income without the involvement of the provosts (Römer, 322).

Other Ecclesiastical Relations

The convent engaged in several prayer confraternities. It established prayer confraternities with the community in Lemego in 1310 and with the canons in Ohsen in 1320. In 1323 it established a prayer confraternity with S. Bonifatius in Hameln and in 1338 and 1340 with the Augustinian canonesses at Derneburg and Wülfinghausen respectively. It also established such a relationship with the Cistercian convent of Walkenried (Römer, 303). The convent acted as patron of the parish church of S. Dionysius. The convent was also involved in the establishment and confirmation of a chapel to S. Nicholas in Bodenwerder (mentioned 1245). The convent exercised an indirect patronage over the churches of S. Nicolaus and S. Gertrud as well (Römer, 323).


The lords of Homburg acted as patrons of the community, beginning during the thirteenth century. In fact, along with the Cistercian convent of Amelungsborn, the convent was the second proprietary monastery of the dynasty (Römer, 301). The Counts of Pyrmont and other noble families acted as patrons of the community as well. From the end of the thirteenth century, the nuns demanded that the patrons indicate a purpose for their bequests and gifts: either for the refectory, for the clothing of the nuns, or for the infirmary (Römer, 303). The last large foundation that the convent received, for the altar of the Holy Cross, S. Erasmus, and the 11,000 virgins, was obtained in 1522 from the parish (cleric?) Barthold Bindemann of Heyen (Römer, 306).

Secular Political Affiliations

The right of the protectorate over the convent was claimed by the nobles of Billungern and King Lothar of Süpplingenburg and after them, the Welfs. Because of this relationship, the community became involved in the later disputes between the Welf and Staufer families (Römer, 299). The convent became administrated by ministerial managers. The lords of Homburg acted as patrons of the community, beginning during the thirteenth century. In fact, along with the Cistercian convent of Amelungsborn, the convent was the second proprietary monastery of the dynasty (Römer, 301). The lords of Everstein, the chief competitors of the Homburg family on the region surrounding the Weser river, recognized the Homburg control of the convent and in 1197 they ceded their holdings and rights in the areas closely surrounding the convent and circa 1280 they did the same in Rene at Kemnade (Römer, 301). In the fifteenth century the count of Pyrmont became more important in the convent's affairs (Römer, 305). Beginning in 1004, when Heinrich II confirmed the refoundation of the convent, the protectorship over the convent functioned as an imperial grant and the German king functioned as the supreme protector of the convent (Römer, 315). In 1147 Duke Henry the Lion granted the protectorship to the abbot of Corvey as a fief. The abbot held the protectorship independently of the abbey's provostship over the convent of Kemnade (Römer, 315). In 1579 Duke Julius of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel reformed Kemnade according to Lutheran teachings (Römer, 315). Beginning in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, members of the nobility purchased the right of advocacy for individual hides of land owned by Kemnade (Römer, 316).

Social Characteristics

In the fourteenth century the presence of local nobility increased in the convent, both in its inhabitants and in its benefactors (Römer, 303). The exact social composition of the community remains unknown; although women of the lower nobility dominated the conventual offices in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Römer, 320). Sophie and Alheidis of Homburg are mentioned as nuns in 1304/5, and Mette of Homburg in 1404-1409.

Relative Wealth

In the fifteenth century the convent's rights became more restricted.


The doucment of Heinrich II of 1004 referring to the time of the community' first foundation by Frederun and Imma provides only the names of villages where the convent had property: in the diocese of Minden it held property in Kemnade, Heyen, Börry, Tündern and Ohr; in the diocese of Paderborn it held property in Forst on the Weser river; and in the diocese of Hildesheim in "Rothe in Wikanavelde," an undetermined location (Römer, 311). The convent also held possessions in the northern diocese of Verden and Bremen. At the main farm of the convent in Wichmannsburg the convent possessed 29 hides of land which it loaned out, 12 hides "de indominicata terra" and three houses as well as 20 villages (Römer, 311). Almost all of the property once held by the earlier community had been given out as fiefs or become inheritable property by the time the convent was reestablished as a Benedictine priory; the convent thus relied on gifts and purchase to establish its income once again. From 1194 onwards the community possessed only Kemnade completely and retained considerable properties in Heyen and Rene (Römer, 317). In the thirteenth century the convent strived to re-acquire property that had been loaned or alienated. Since 1206/1216 the convent's holdings tended to come from the holdings of nobles in primarily three areas: the nobles from Kemnade, from Bishoperode, and from Osterrode, which the convent purchased from the time of Provost Konrad von Homburg. The convent purchased or acquired the land-holdings of the nobles, primarily the Homburgs, within the region of Kemnade. By 1305/9 no more noble holdings existed within Kemnade (Römer, 317). In 1219 Abbot Hugo of Corvey conveyed these holdings to the convent; the holdings had been held by the lords of Homburg as fiefs and had once belonged to Corvey itself (Römer, 302). In 1298 the convent leased the large farm in Heyen from its Homburg lord, in return for the payment of a third of the fruits of the property (Römer, 317). In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the convent sold and exchanged its alienated properties. The convent did retain its rents in the saltworks of Lüneburg (1306) as well as the rents from Salzhemmendorf (1339) and from Hammeln(1365). In 1333 the convent purchased a property in Scharnebeck from the convent Scharnebeck. Likewise in 1333 Medingen purchased control over income from Geesthacht and S. Dionys from Kemnade (Römer, 312). In the fourteenth century the convent's property shrank to the areas surrounding the Weser River. In the course of the sixteenth century, the convent came to control almost completely the district of Kemnade, as the local nobility repeatedly conveyed their land in this area to the convent (Römer, 312). To the right of the Weser in the district of Wickensen, the possessions of the convent were the most extensive. In the village of Heyen, the convent must have possessed over half of the fields (Römer, 313). The convent had further possessions in the villages of Daspe (1243: one hide; 1309: 2 hides); Kreipke (before 1400: 1/2 a hide); Linse (1226: possessions/estates); Uppendorf bei Dohnsen (1410: 2 hides exchanged with some in Halle). In 1309 the convent acquired a farm with two hides in Grave, and in Dölme the convent acquired one hide from Corvey (Römer, 313). The convent also acquired properties from the sovereignty of the dukedom of Calenburg and the community received tithes from the city of Bodenwerder. In Pegestorf, south of Bodenwerder, documents record the receipt of a hide in 1283, 1284, and 1295 (Römer, 313). The convent also held land in Esperde, Börry, Latferde (4-41/2 hides from a gift of Luckhardis von Homburg), in Grohnde and in Snesle (4 hides and a farm).


The convent derived tithes from nearby communities, primarily Kemnade, Berbon near Bodenwerder, Heyen, Grave and Vesper, near Lüdge (Römer, 314). All except for the last community lay within the diocese of Minden. The convent acquired these tithes through gifts from the dukes and nobles of the area between 1263 and 1347. The personal property of the convent, however, was free of tithes (Römer, 314). The convent acquired its tithes in Heyen in 1316 from the bishop of Minden. The convent became the primary tithe-holder in the village of Grave between 1335 and 1483 (Römer, 315). The tithes in Vesper bei Lügde came from the knightly families of the area (a tenth of them in 1314 and a fourth of them in 1343 came from such gifts). In the fifteenth century the convent's possession of tithes declined, and by 1427 1/8 of the convent's tithes from Kemnade had been sold (Römer, 318). The total income and property of the convent may be divided into three categories: the total conventual income (administrated by the abbot of Corvey and the provost of Kemnade); the property of the priests (incompassing the provost's income or individual income of the priests); and finally, the income of the convent itself (composed of the income of the prioress, celleraria, and female inhabitants) (Römer, 322).

Art & Artifacts

Wooden crucifixes from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries remain. In the fifteenth century the convent had an altar dedicated to Mary, which held a figure of S. Adriane, the patron of the Benedictine nuns at Lammspringe. A carved figure of the Madonna enthroned also belonged to the convent, although it is unclear whether these art objects belonged to the nuns' choir (Römer, 304-5). An altar to S. Dionysius is mentioned in 1149. A figure of Christ in Misery from the end of the fifteenth century and a pieta (c. 1500) still survive, as does a case for the sacrament with the figures of the apostles Peter and Paul from circa 1500 (Römer, 325). No accounts of the artworks within the convent exist from the Middle Ages. A report from the Lutheran officials in 1579 record two altars and a number of missals, graduals, crucifixes, pictures or figures, a chalice, and box for the host, altar-clothes, lights, and robes for the priests and deacons (Römer, 325).

Architecture & Archaeology

The conventual church, built during the eleventh century, still exists, although it is currently only half the size it was in the Middle Ages. Originally the church had apses to the sides and a longer nave and ended in a west facade with towers (Römer, 324-5). The western portion of the church held the nun's choir. In the late thirteenth century the convent undertook a rennovation and building program. This renewal revolved primarily around the cloister buildings, as the church itself was not renovated in the gothic style (Römer, 302). Reference to a refectory, kitchen, bakehouse, and bathing house appear in 1389. In 1334 a chapel to S. Peter is also mentioned (Römer, 325). (See present state of medieval structure)

State Of Medieval Structure

The conventual church, built during the eleventh century, still exists, although it is currently only half the size it was in the Middle Ages. Originally the church had apses to the sides and a longer nave and ended in a west facade with towers (Römer, 324-5). From the gothic period the church retains glass windows on the East side of the northern trancept. These depict Christ on the cross between Mary and John and the arisen Christ. A portion of an altar to Mary from the fifteenth century exists. Other artistic objects are still extant (see art/artifacts). One of the economic buildings remains today.

Manuscript Sources

Existing documents are located in the Staatarchiv Wolfenbüttel and in the Staatarchiv Münster. Documents with references to the convent of Kemnade are found in the HauptstaatsArchiv Hannover in acts concerning the city of Bodenwerders. The Landeskirchliches Archiv Braunschweig contains documents concerning the convent as well, including the reports from the Lutheran visitations of 1542 and 1544.

Published Primary Sources

[1]JAFFE, Ph. Bibliotheca Rerum Germanicarum I: Monumenta Corbeiensia. Berlin, 1864.
[2]DUERRE, H. "Origines Kaminatenses." Programm des Herzoglichen Gymnasiums zu Holzminden. Ostern, 1879; Holzminden 1879, 1-27 (no. 1-71).
[3]DUERRE, H. Die Regesten der Edelherren von Homburg. Zeitschrigt des Historischen Vereins fuer Niedersachsen. 1880, 1-168; 1881, 1-21.
[4]WILMANS, R. and H. FINKE. Die Urkunden des Bistums Paderborn (1201-1300). Muenster, 1877-1894.
[5]HOOGEWEG, H. Die Urkunden des Bistums Minden (1201-1300). Münster, 1898.
(See Römer for greater detail)

Secondary Sources

KemnadeVerzeichnis der Stifter und Klöster Niedersachsens vor der Reformation
DUERRE, H. Das Kloster Kemnade zur Zeit der Aebtissin Judith von Bomeneburg. Ein Zeitbild aus der mitte des 12. Jahrhunderts. Zeitschrift des Historischen Vereins für Niedersachsen, 1881, 39-59.
PFEIFER, H. Das Kloster Kemnade und seine Kirche. Zeitschrift fuer Bauwesen 49: 1899, 349-362.
OELER, H. 1000 Jahre kemnade. Hameln, 1964.
HEUTGER, N. "Kemnade." Germania Benedictina. Vol. 6. St. Ottilien: Erzabtei St. Ottilien, 1979, 267-269.
STUEWER, W. "Corvey." Germania Benedictina. Vol. 8. St. Ottilien: Erzabtei St. Ottilien, 1980, 236-293.

Miscellaneous Information

The convent had two altars dedicated to Jacob, Andreas, and Erasmus and the Holy Cross, Katherine, and Barbara respectively. In 1410 the convent also had a chapel dedicated to S. Peter and Paul; priests for this chapel are mentioned in 1425, 1440 and 1449 (Römer, 304). The convent underwent a reform beginning in 1501-1505. The reform concerned primarily the increased claustration of the nuns (Römer, 306). The convent was also freed from the oversight of Corvey. In return the convent promised duke Heinrich the Elder, who had supported the reform, a yearly mass for his soul. In return, the convent obtained the right to lease out the spiritual fief of the Homburger chapel (Römer, 306). The duke also conferred on the convent the "service" from the village of Kemnade and certain rights regarding marriages, which brought important benefits to the convent (Römer, 306). The convent faced economic sanctions from Heinrich the Younger, who wished to impose Lutheranism in his territories. From 1549-1556 the convent experienced a brief revival of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, but this was ended by Duke Julius. By August 22, 1579 the convent had finally dissolved and all the nuns had left its compound (Römer, 309). The abbot of Corvey complained strongly against the dissolution of the convent and the Dukes' involvement in this matter. Kemnade reverted to being a holding of Corvey without a convent, as it had been c. 1170-1194.

Conversi/ae and servants

Conversi are mentioned in the mid-thirteenth century. The convent also employed several priests under the provost.

Admin. Notes

link to Iburg and S. Peters convent Gehrden, Walkenreid, Scharnebeck? when in-put

June Mecham
Contributors Notes
Date Started
Date Finished