Community ID
Alternate Names
Lamspringe; sanctus Adrianus monasterium (873); ecclesia sancti Adriani lamesprinche (1149); ecclesia in Lamesprigge (1169); monasterium beatorum Adriani et Dyonisii martirum in Lammespringhe (1338)
Medieval Location
In the ninth century the convent was located in the territorial holdings of the clan of Ricdag. From the ninth century on, it belonged to Hildesheim. This community was located half way between the convents of Gandersheim and Hildesheim.
Modern Location
In the administrative district of Hildesheim.
Corporate Status
S. Mary (872, 1138, 1335); Hadrian (872); Dionysios (mentioned 1178)
Date Founded
845 (circa)
Religious Order
Augustinian canonesses; end of 12th century, changed to Benedictine convent
Augustinian; Benedictine by 1138
Foundation Information

From the mid-ninth century until circa 1220 a chapter of canonesses existed at Lammspringe, afterwards a Benedictine convent until 1538/71. From 1571-1643 the convent functioned as an evangelical women's chapter (Römer, 331). Lammspringe was founded by a married couple, Count Ricdag and Emhild (Imhild) who provided the property for the foundation and established their daughter, Ricburg, as the first abbess (Heineken, 31). According to the foundation legend, the couple, desiring a son, made a pilgrimage to Rome where Pope Sergius II gave them relics of S. Hadrian, one of the patrons of the convent established at Lammspringe. Bishop Altfried of Hildesheim called the foundation "the church of S. Hadrian" and granted some tithes in Lammspringe for land near Hildesheim in November 872 as well as guaranteed the convent the right to freely elect its abbesses (Römer, 332). In the twelfth century the convent underwent an internal reform and switched from a community of canonesses living under the Augustinian rule to a Benedictine convent adhering to the rule of S. Benedict (Strumpf, 101). Bishop Berthold of Hildesheim imposed the Benedictine rule upon the community as part of the general reform movement of the period. A letter of protection from Pope Innocent II from 1138 mentions the establishment of the Benedictine rule in the community through the bishop. It also mentions strict claustration for the convent (Römer, 349). This letter also allowed the convent to elect its own "provisor" (overseer) to oversee the convent's temporal and spiritual concerns (Römer, 333). The provisor was not identical with the provost. Nuns from this community may have formed the new Benedictine convent of Brunshausen. The convent has belonged to the diocese of Hildesheim since 815!

First Members

Count Ricdag's daughter, Ricburg, was placed as the first abbess when the community was a chapter of canonesses. The daughter of Margrave Albrecht "the Bear" was buried in the community, although it is unclear whether she was a canoness or a nun (Römer, 334).

Notable Heads

The only known abbess of the community of canonesses is Ricburgis (847?). Known prioresses of the Benedictine convent are: Jutta (c. 1178-1205); Beatrix (1253, 1265); Adelheid (1267); Elisabeth (1300-1302); Adelheid (1307-1314); Margarete (1324); Johanna (1325-1336); Elisabeth Trobe (1351-1362); Mechthild (1364-1365); Margarete (1368-1370); Fredeke (1373); Ermendrut (1382); Frederint v. Steinberg (1383-1385); Elisabeth (Ilsebe) v. Steinberg (1390-1391); Margarete v. Helmersen (1404); Helena v. Utze (1417); Grete (1424-1426); Berteke v. Berle (1428); Margarete Gerleves (1450); Gese (1455-1456); Gertrud (1464); Mechthilde Witten (1466); Richeidis Wiesen (1474-1492); Mechthild Koch (1493-1528).

Population Counts

Circa 1405 the convent had 180 nuns as well as servants and a hospital. A visitation report from circa 1568 lists only nineteen nuns and five lay-sisters.

Incorporated Communities

The church in Bönnien was incorporated into the convent in 1308 (Römer, 337). In 1331 the convent incorporated the chapel in Rolfshagen.

Dependency Of

According to one document, the community was subordinate to Hildesheim, although it claimed freedom according to its own rights under the protection of the king. Such claims probably never materialized (Heineken, 32).

Other Ecclesiastical Relations

The two convents maintained close ties: in 1217 Provost Werenbert from Brunshausen appears in a document of Bishop Siegfried of Hildesheim for the convent of Lammspringe and in the seventeenth century nuns from Lammspringe are mentioned in documents for Brunshausen (Strumpf, 101). In 1253 the convent sold a hide in Lebenstedt to the convent of Riddagshausen near Braunschweig and in 1383 another in Lobmachtersen to Neuwerk. The provosts of the convent were also archdeacons of the diocese of Hildesheim for the administrative district of the convent since the twelfth century (Römer, 335). The office of provost was a grant (fief) of the bishop of Hildesheim, and the chapter of Hildesheim retained many of the rights and privileges of the provost for itself (Römer, 364). In 1312 provost John and prioress Alheidis formed a prayer confraternity with the convent of Grammont in Belgium, which was also dedicated to S. Adrian (Römer, 350). Two of the prioresses of S. Marien (S. Mary's) came from Lammspringe: Margarete Darnedden (1486-1509) and Mechthild Wolpke (1484). Römer assumes that the close times to S. Marien (S. Mary's) and Brunshausen and their reforms affected the reform of Lammspringe in the fifteenth century; however, supporting documentation of such a connection is lacking (Römer, 350). In 1482 when the reform of S. Marien (S. Mary's) was completed, nuns, novices, and students moved from Lammspringe to S. Marien (S. Mary's) (Römer, 351).


The convent received the patronage of the local nobility. In 1365 the family of Wallmoden founded an altar in the convent, and in 1335-1336 the family of Steinberg provided funds for the celebration of an anniversary (Römer, 339). The two prioresses from the house of Steinberg, Frederint (1383-1385) and Elisabeth (1390-1391) brought with them numerous foundations in 1373, 1383, 1384, and 1385. These gifts were united into a chapel.

Secular Political Affiliations

On June 13, 873 King Louis the German took Lammspringe into his special protection (Römer, 332). During the years of political territorial-building by the local nobility, the convent sought to assert and strengthen its autonomy (Römer, 336). The provosts of Lammspringe in conjunction with the bishops of Hildesheim annexed numerous properties from the local nobility in Ambergau and thus withdrew the legal and political influence of the Counts of Wohldenberg and the overlordship of the Welf-ruled foundation of Gandersheim over the convent (Römer, 336). The economic expansion of the convent during the thirteenth century had the political motive of placing Lammspringe in the position of the chapter of Gandersheim and hindering the ability of Gandersheim to exercise its privileges of overlordship through the Welf dukes (Römer, 338). The convent's rights of patronage and tithes eventually streched into the Welf dukes' area of influence, especially the tithe in Mahlum (Römer, 366). The dukes of Braunschweig granted letters of protection to the convent under Duke Heinrich and Duke Albrecht in 1289 (Römer, 338). In 1405 King Ruprecht promised the convent exemption from imperial taxes, tolls, and military responsibilities (Römer, 340).

Social Characteristics

In the twelfth century the convent was composed primarily of women from the nobility (Römer, 349). A daughter of Margrave Albrecht "the bear" was a nun in 1162; a daughter of Countess Eufemia of Thinkleve was a nun of the community in 1183, and a daughter of Conrad and Richenza von Westerhove was a nun in 1190, among others (Römer, 349). Prioresses generally came from the local nobility. In the mid-fifteenth century prioresses appear with bourgeois names: Margarete Gerleves (1450), Gese (1450-51), Gertrud (1464), Mechthild Witten (1466), Richeidis Wiesen (1474-1492), and Mechthild (Mette) Koch (1493-1528).

Relative Wealth

The convent was wealthy during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, so much so that it was able to accumulate surplus wealth through the purchase of properties, such as four saltpans in Salzdetfurth in 1194, confirmed by Bishop Harbert in 1214, and six hides and 12 meadows in Honstedt in 1213 (Römer, 335). In 1178 Bishop Adelog of Hildesheim confirmed the possessions of the convent and took the community into his protection. At that time, the possessions of Lammspringe numbered 278 hides (1 hide = 120 acres), 10 mills, tithes from 17 places, and proprietary rights in 4 parish churches (Römer, 335). In addition, the convent began to acquire legal and political rights in the areas where it held property. Count Ludger "von Werder" declared in 1225 that the properties of Lammspringe within his county were free, i.e. he could not levy taxes and held no right to criminal courts/or scaffolds in those areas (Römer, 336). In 1362 and 1368 two documents refer to the poverty of the convent. In 1370 some of the convent's goods were mortgaged in order to provided bread and beer for the nuns (Römer, 340). The convent apparently faced economic difficulty in the fifteenth, as the sale of certain tithes and the relinquishment of outlying farms indicate (Römer, 367). In 1404 eight hides of land in Neuhof and in 1406 possessions in Banteln were transferred to the chapter of the Holy Cross in Hildesheim (Römer, 340). In 1405 the convent complained to the German king about its difficulty in providing for its nuns and members of the community due to the alienation of several villages, possessions, and tithes. It also complained that several of the cloister's buildings were old and in ruins (Römer, 340). From 1480 on, the convent's finances improved again. In 1518 the convent re-acquired its alienated property in Neuhof (Römer, 367).


The original foundation for canonesses consisted of a small area in which the community held rights and possessions. This core holding comprised the village of Lamspringe (Römer, 366). The main complex of possessions of the convent were located in the area between the Heber, Hohe Dehne and Harplage (Römer, 355). The convent possessed 15 hides in 1149 and 1178, which were worked directly by the convent itself (Römer, 356). The chapter of Hildesheim confirmed the bestowal of property which lay in the area of Hildesheim to the convent of Lammspringe and ceded the tithes to the convent as well (Heinken, 32). Earlier gifts from Duke Henry the Lion and Count Albrecht of Brandenburg in Banteln were confirmed in 1182 by the bishop of Minden (Römer, 335). The convent held 1/2 hide in Banteln, a hide in Bikem bei Gronau in 1178, 4 hides in Quickborn bei Eldagsen, 1 hide in Sickeroth, and 8 1/2 hides in Herebergen bei Schulenburg. The convent possessed 3 and 1/2 hides in Gestorp in 1178 and portions of the church in Apelern, mentioned in a grant of Duke Henry "the lion" and Margrave Albrecht "the bear" (Römer, 360). In the thirteenth century the convent acquired several hides of land and farms in Ilde and Moteshausen in 1264 (in Groß Ilde it had 9 hides in 1149/1178 and in Klein Ilde it held 14 in the same years), in Wöllersheim (7 hides in 1149; 10 in 1178), in Holthusen (6 hides in 1149 and 1178), in Liermunde in 1272, 1274, in Ammenhusen in 1291, and in Brodesende 1283 (Römer, 337). The episcopacy of Hildesheim stood behind much of Lammspringe's economic expansion in the thirteenth century. By the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries the convent's control of land in Lammspringe, Neuhof and Wöllersheim was complete, only the area of Ammenhausen remained outside the control of the convent (Römer, 356). During the thirteenth century, the convent also acquired tithes from several areas: from Rolfshagen and Hieshausen in 1285, in Groß Rhüden in 1289, in Mahlum (5 hides and tithes from the entire area) in 1285 and 1295, and tithes in Hildeveshausen in 1296, Evensen (10-15 hides in 1149 and 1178)(Römer, 337). In Wohlenhausen the convent acquired 20 hides by 1198. The convent also held possessions within the parish of Woltwiesche and in its surrounding areas, which were presumably quite ancient holdings (Römer, 361). The convent acquired tithes and patronage rights in 1285 and 1296 in Stoery and in the church of S. Adrian. In Königsdahlum the convent held 37 hides in 1302 (Römer, 361). The convent also held scattered possessions to the northwest in Gronau, Eldagsen, Springe as well as in Woltwiesche and Lafferde (Römer, 358). By circa 1330 the period of expansion of Lammspringe's territories was complete. In the fourteenth century, there were fewer donations of money and goods and a rise in payments for the support of the nuns in connection with donations for masses and memorials (Römer, 338-9).


The convent's income came from its property-holdings and land rents. Besides the convent complex, Lammspringe also had "external farms" in Neuhof, Wöllersheim, Hieshausen (1325), Wohlenhausen (1237, 1362), Ilde (1362) and presumably in Redingehausen, Ammenhausen, and Rolfshagen (Römer, 367). The outlying farms were managed by "brothers." The convent held the rights of patronage over the church in Graste, which were confirmed in 1305, and in the chapel in Störy. The conven'ts patronage in Ilde and Graste, where the convent held few proprietary rights, may have stemmed from a grant of the chapter at Hildesheim (Römer, 366). The church in Bönnien (S. Adrian) was incorporated into the convent in 1308 (Römer, 337). The convent also received income from numerous tithes. In 1149 Bishop Bernhard enumerated the areas in which Lammspringe retained tithes from its predecessor (canonesses). These areas were: Lamesprinche, Neuhof/Liermunde, Holthusen, Waldersheim, Getteroth, Sehlem, Evensen, Klein Ilde, Groß Ilde, Bruneshusen, Modeshusen, Pithele, Eilberneshusen, Redingheshusen (south of Lammspringe), Ekehardeshusen (west of Lammspringe) and Banteln (Römer, 362). In 1178 Bishop Adelog confirmed the convent's right to these tithes. In 1178 then the convent received tithes from 11 places and partial tithes in 6 other places (Römer, 362). A large portion of these tithes came from a few hides, which later went wild. The tithes stemmed primarily from grants made circa 1149 and 1178. In 1285 the convent acquired new tithes in Bönnien (Römer, 363). Another group of tithes of the convent was formed in the thirteenth century around the villages of Groß Rhüden, Mechtshausen and Rolfshagen (Römer, 363). Tithes consisted of portions of grain and meat. In the fourteenth century, families who gave their daughters to the convent no longer created funds for memorials but more often provided them with dowries (Römer, 339). From 1450-1460 the convent received several bequests. Eight bequests are apparent for the nuns and ten for the lay-sisters from 1446-1515 (Römer, 342). In 1478 Ekbert Bex gave the convent a document ensuring it an income of 30 Marks upon the entrance of his daughter, Dorothea; Margarete Kramer from Hildesheim was provided for in the convent in 1488 with almost 160 pounds (Römer, 351). The convent held proprietary rights in the church in Graste (Römer, 359).


The convent ran a hospital until the beginning of the fifteenth century and appears to have educated young women.

Other Economic Activities

The convent exercised jurisdictional rights only in the villages of Lammspringe, Neuhof (Liermunde), Wöllersheim, and Wohlenhausen. The convent's jurisdiction incompased laws "commanding or forbidding" action but not the right of criminal trials(Römer, 364). From its first foundation, the convent also held proprietary rights over the smaller churches within its immediate district (Römer, 368). A chapel in Neuhof is designated the "filia" of the conventual church in 1312, and the parish churches of Graste and Groß Ilde, north of Lammspringe, were confirmed as part of the convent's domain in 1178 (Römer, 368). In 1331 the convent incorporated the chapel in Rolfshagen. Lammspringe acquired patronage over the churches in Störy in 1296 and Bönnien in 1308. The convent exercised patronage rights over the church of S. Adrian in Woltwiesche presumably since its foundation; this was confirmed in 1149, 1178, 1542, and 1568 (Römer, 369).

Art & Artifacts

Many of the convent's material goods and artworks were taken from the convent in the wake of the Protestant reformation. Only a clock and one picture from the late fifteenth century remain in the convent. The seal of the convent from circa 1250 depicts S. Hadrian (Adrian) with a long cloak, holding in his left hand a palm branch and in his right, a sword. The inscription reads "SCS Adrianus Martir in Lammessprigge" (S. Adrian, marytr in Lammspringe) (Römer, 376).

Architecture & Archaeology

Medieval documents refer to a nuns' choir, perhaps in the upper story of the church. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries there was a rise in the number of altars established in the church, although the exact location of several of them is uncertain (Römer, 371). During the fifteenth century the church of Lammspringe was renovated in the Gothic style. Isolated references appear to a kitchen, the provost's house, and a hospital (Römer, 372).

State Of Medieval Structure

None of the medieval structures remain.


The documents indicate that the convent held either relics or perhaps the entire corpse of S. Hadrian (Heineken, 31).

Manuscript Sources

The Herzog-August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel possesses 18 manuscript volumes, which belonged to the library of the convent. These are primarily theological and spiritual works, written from the tenth to the sixteenth century. Other documents are located in the HauptStaatsarchiv in Hannover.

Published Primary Sources

[1]Hildesheim Urkundenbuch
[2]Goslar Urkundenbuch

Miscellaneous Information

Secondary patrons of the community, which had altars in the convent were: Katharine (1259, 1261, 1399, 1487); Lebuinus (1471); John the Apostle and John the Evangelist (1483, 1499); Peter (1513); all apostles (1516). In the fifteenth century the convent joined the reform movement and underwent an internal reform that emphasized stricter religiosity and a more communal lifestyle. The reform in Lammspringe sprang from close ties to Gandersheim during this period (Römer, 341). In 1455 Mechthild Wolpke, a nun at Lammspringe, who had served as Prioress in the reformed S. Marien (S. Mary's) , renounced her profession (Römer, 341). In the fifteenth century several altars were erected or renewed in the convent: an altar to Mary in 1446, one to S. Levinus in 1471, one to S. John the Evangelist and S. John the Baptist in 1483, one to S. Katharine in 1513, and one to all apostles in 1516. None of these foundations were made by the laity but rather by priests from Lammspringe, Gandersheim and Holy Cross in Hildesheim (Römer, 342). The convent became involved in the Hildesheim feud between the dukes of Calenberg and and the dukes of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel . In 1522 the convent was burnt to the ground (Römer, 342). The convent was not yet dissolved but suffered in subsequent years from economic hardships and high taxes. Beginning in 1542 officials tried to impose Lutheranism in the convent, but reports of the reformers display that the nuns did not observe the new teachings (Römer, 343, 351). In 1569 the convent became a Lutheran women's chapter. The convent undertook the education of girls. In 1643 the convent ceased to be female. The community was transferred to a group of English Benedictine monks, who resided in Lammspringe from 1643-1803 (Römer, 348).

Manuscripts Produced

A book from the convent (preserved in the Herzog-August-Bibliothek) mentions the nun Ermengarde (c. 1178/1205) as the scribe and as the painter of a miniature of S. Augustine. It is thus likely that the convent did possess a scriptorium (Römer, 370). There are 18 extant books from the convent, 12 stem from the twelfth century. Of the twelve, there are four works of Augustine, two of Gregory the Great, two from Venerable Bede, and one each by Hieronymus, Clemens, John Chrysostomos, and Hugo of S. Victor. Römer ascribes these works to the influence of provost Gerhard (1178-1205) (Römer, 335).

Conversi/ae and servants

There was also a community of priests located at Lammspringe, although not organized into a chapter of canons. The priests serviced the convent and the surrounding parish churches and chapels (Römer, 334). The community was composed of the nuns, a community of priests, and lay-brothers, who worked the covent's farms (Römer, 349). The provost stood over both the nuns and the community of priests for the community (Römer, 353). The community of priests developed in the direction of a chapter of canons.

Admin. Notes

link to Riddagshausen near Braunschweig & Belgian community of S. Adrian's convent Grammont in Hennegau(not in database 6/1/99)

June Mecham
Contributors Notes

The foundation of this community is recorded in a forged document; in a document from Ludwig the German, which exists in a later copy; and in a transcript of Bishop Adelog from the year 1187 (Heineken, 32). Besides the prioress, the records mention the offices of cantoress, sacristan, chamberlain, cellerar, and financial/economic head (Römer, 350).

Date Started