Neuenwalde
Community ID
 
2450
 
Alternate Names
 
Midlum (1219); Middelheim (1231); Meddelem (1282); Altenwalde; monasterium sancte Crucis in Wolde (1334); Heiliges Kreuzes auf dem Berge; Oldenwolde (1356); Nigenwolde (1334); Nyenwolde (1337); Nigenwolde; Neuwalde; Marienkloster
 
Town
 
Midlum (towards the end of the thirteenth century)
 
Diocese
 
Bremen
 
Medieval Location
 
Midlum (towards the end of the thirteenth century); from 1400 Altenwalde belonged to Hamburg in the archbishopric of Bremen
 
Modern Location
 
In the administrative district of Cuxhaven in the diocese of Hildesheim (since 1824); in the area of Lehe
 
Corporate Status
 
Priory
 
Dedication
 
S. Mary and the holy cross; Mary Magdalene since the sixteenth century
 
Date Founded
 
1219-1227 (circa)
 
Date Terminated
 
1530-1630 (Catholic); continues (see miscellaneous field)
 
Religious Order
 
Cistercian/ Benedictine (see foundation field)
 
Rule
 
Benedictine
 
Foundation Information
 

In 1219 the nobles from Diepholz conveyed their property in and around Midlum to the chapel of the Bremen church with the stipulation that a nunnery should be established there. The six donors were the sons of Wilhelm I and Gottschalk I of Diepholz. Wilhelm's sons were both religious figures, Wilhelm II was the canon in Minden and Konrad II a canon in Halberstadt (Schulze, 429). Gottschalk's son, Johann, was a canon in Bremen. Unfortunately, shortly after the decision to establish this convent was made, a dispute errupted between the bishops of Bremen and Hamburg. The dispute hindered the establishment of the convent, which may not have occurred until as late as 1227 (Schulze, 430). The convent was confirmed in 1232 by Archbishop Gerhard and King Friedrich II. The confirmation charter records the nuns as belonging to the Cistercian order. However, it is the only time that the convent is recorded as Cistercian. The foundation belonged to the Premonstratensian order, according to Hoogeweg (Hoogeweg, 96). From 1282 on, the convent is referred to as Benedictine. In January of 1282 the convent was transferred from Midlum to Wolde, present Altenwalde, and it is possible that a change in order occurred at this time. It is also possible that the convent followed Cistercian customs without formal incorporation. The charter of transfer stated that the nuns suffered from poverty and lived without a secure and regulated supervision in the midst of unruly peasants (Schulze, 431). The charter of transfer dates from January 1282. In August, Bishop Giselbert placed the nuns in their new community, and on September 20 he celebrated the consecration of the church and cloister there. The convent's transfer was combined with a reform of conventual life. Fifty years later, the convent was transferred again by the provost of Altenwalde. Again, he complained of the poverty of the convent in fields, wood, mills, and water, as well as the age and poor condition of the buildings. In 1334 the archbishop gave permission for the convent to transfer to Neuenwalde, where the provost had already established a mill (Schulze, 431). The convent may have returned to Altenwalde. Certainly the relic of the holy cross was returned to Altenwalde, because the pilgrimage to Altenwalde resumed. In 1400 Archbishop Otto of Bremen granted a privilege that authorized the transfer to the parish church and granted an indulgence of forty days to all who aided with the new construction (Schulze, 432). However, further mention of this transfer is lacking.

 
Notable Heads
 

Prioresses from Altenwalde: Mechthilde, 1311-1315; Dorothea von der Heyde, 1319; Yde, 1333. Prioresses from Neuenwalde: katharina von Levenberg, 1356; Adelheid von Dunense, 1363-1383; Liutgard von Gropelingen, 1389-1417; Adelheid Hollynges, 1427-1445; Adelheid Hanenpiepen, 1484-1487; Margarethe Eytzen, 1489-1508.

 
Population Counts
 

According to Schulze, the convent probably never held more than 20 nuns (Schulze, 439).

 
Other Ecclesiastical Relations
 

In 1496 the vicary of S. Michael in the parish church of Altenwalde was incorporated into the convent. Since 1445, the vicary of S. Mary had been incorporated into the convent.

 
Visitations
 

Circa 1508 the convent was visited by the archbishop of Bremen in connection with his mission of reforming the convent along the lines of the Bursfeld Reform. The archbishop promoted a stronger adherence to the Benedictine rule and stricter claustration. During his visit, the convent elected a new prioress, who was consecrated by the archbishop (Schulze, 433). In 1509, at the prioress's request, the archbishop issued a document confirming the election of the prioress and confirming her power in all conventual matters. It also confirmed the convent's right to freely elect its prioresses with the approval of the archbishop. The convent also received the right to freely elect its provosts if necessary, and for twenty years afterwards, it appears to have operated without a provost (Schulze, 433).

 
Patrons/Benefactors
 

The dukes of Sachsen-Lauenburg circa 1307 and the knights of Bederkesa acted as patrons of the community. According to Hoogeweg, Archbishop Giselbert of Bremen provided for the community richly after its transfer to Altenwalde (Hoogeweg, 96).

 
Social Characteristics
 

The exact social composition of the convent is unknown, although it appears to have drawn its members from the local nobility. With the convent's transfer to Altenwalde, however, women from Bremen and from the upper levels of the peasantry may have been admitted to the convent.

 
Relative Wealth
 

Following disputes between the nobles and peasantry in this area over rights to fields and woods, the convent grew more impoverished. The charter of transfer stated that the nuns suffered from poverty in 1282. The convent's transfer to Altenwalde and connection to the pilgrimage church of the Holy Cross undoubtedly was intended to place the convent in a better financial position (Schulze, 437). The convent's transfer to Neuenwalde circa 1334 appears to have been economically profitable, and the fourteenth century probably was the most profitable in the convent's history. At this time the convent's possessions and rights reached southwards towards Sievern, Wehden, Spaden and Lehe. The convent acquired goods and tithes from the holdings of the knights of Bederkesa and their vassals. However, in 1428, when Archbishop Nikolaus of Bremen issued another privilege for the convent, the nuns were again described as poor. According to Schulze, it appears as if during the fifteenth century, the convent was systematically "robbed" of its possessions and dependents (Schulze, 432). In 1499/1500 all the convent buildings were destroyed and burned.

 
Assets/Property
 

With the foundation of the convent in 1219, the nobles of Diepholz granted the convent their possessions and rights in and around the village of Minden. The convent then purchased (rights?) in the villages of Honstede, Dalem, Krempel, and rights to tithes in Wenekenbutle (Schulze, 437). By 1280 the provost of the convent had at his disposal taxes from the villages of Holßel, Esingstedt and Sorthum. With the convent's transfer to Altenwalde in 1282 came new acquisitions in the villages of Northum and Walle. The convent grew in land possessions and tithes from Gudendorf, Oxstedt, Berensch, Arensch, Holte and Spangen (Schulze, 437). When the convent was transferred to Wolde, the chapels of the Holy Cross and S. Willehad were placed at the disposal of the convent. These chapels served as pilgrimage sites. The convent also received a third of the income from the parish church. The convent owned a mill in Neuenwalde. The convent acquired goods and tithes from the holdings of the knights of Bederkesa and their vassals and also purchased other lands. In 1389 the convent acquired the rights to construct a brickworks from the knights of Elm (Schulze, 432).

 
Income
 

The convent only possessed lower jurisdictional rights in the areas around Midlum and Neuenwalde. The convent possessed patronage rights over its convent church and the parish church in Midlum. The pilgrimage chapel of Holy Cross and S. Willhad also belonged to the convent (Schulze, 440). The transfer from Altenwalde to Neuenwalde in 1334 was combined with the incorporation of the Holy Cross chapel into the convent. The convent also possessed the right of presentation in the parish church in Wanna prior to 1417 and in the chapel in Holßel prior to 1495. In 1496 the vicary of S. Michael in the parish church of Altenwalde was incorporated into the convent. Since 1445, the vicary of S. Mary had been incorporated into the convent. In the course of the Reformation, the convent lost its presentation rights.

 
Other Economic Activities
 

In the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the convent may have provided loans for the peasantry in return for regular rents, but records of definite possessions are lacking from this period (Schulze, 438).

 
Art & Artifacts
 

One chalice from the convent remains; it is silver traced with gold. The chalice comes from the late fourteenth century. A patene in the same style has also been preserved. The convent had a seal prior to 1282, but it is no longer extant. The earliest conventual seal dates to 1289. Unfortunately, the seal has shattered into several splintered pieces and cannot be reconstructed. It is believed, from documentary references to it, to have depicted Mary next to the cross or that an older seal from Midlum with the Virgin was used (Schulze, 446). A later seal from the fourteenth century depicts the cross with the words, Sigillum Sancte Crucis in Wolde. Another, smaller seal was also used up until 1417. It is round and depicts a sheild with a cross on it with the words, S. des cruce to nienwolde. Both seals appear with the seal of provost Herbord (1360) in the appendix of the Urkundenbuch (Schulze, 446).

 
Architecture & Archaeology
 

The convent and the S. Pankratius chapel were established sometime after 1219. After 1219 the nave of the church was lengthened and a larger choir built. The church was built, according to Schulze, in the Romanesque style (Schulze, 441). Some of the church's rounded windows were later enlarged with pointed arches. The western tower in brick dates from the fourteenth century. With the exception of this tower, the basic form of the present church is the same as the one prior to 1282. A leaden baptismal font may date from the late thirteenth or fourteenth century; this is the only remnant of the internal fixtures or decoration of the medieval church (Schulze, 441). No remains of the cloister or the conventual outbuildings remain, and there are few documentary references to them. A bequest in 1289 for lights in the dormitory is one of the few records of the cloister buildings. The transfer from Altenwalde to Neuenwalde undoubtedly entailed a new building program, but no documentary records reflect this. References to the repair of the roof appear in 1389. On November 30, 1390 the convent also received a papal indulgence, presumably for repairs to the Holy-cross church (Schulze, 441). In 1389 the convent erected a brickworks or tile-making works and acquired the rights, land and wood to build this. In 1444 a new refectory was built. In 1499/1500 all the convent buildings were destroyed and burned. Choirbooks, documents, tapestries, and chalices were lost in the fire (Schulze, 442). In 1503 the convent received an indulgence-privilege allowing for the reconstruction of the cloister, granted by the papal legate, Cardinal Raimund von Gurk.

 
State Of Medieval Structure
 

Excavations in 1969 revealed the remains of a clay floor for a wooden church dating from the ninth century underneath the present building (Schulze, 441). With the exception of this tower, the basic form of the present church is the same as the one prior to 1282. A leaden baptismal font may date from the late thirteenth or fourteenth century; this is the only remnant of the internal fixtures or decoration of the medieval church (Schulze, 441). No remains of the cloister or the conventual outbuildings remain, and there are few documentary references to them. They were no longer in existance after 1629.

 
Relics
 

The chapels of the Holy Cross and S. Willehad, which were placed under the convent's control, were pilgrimage sites. The chapel of the Holy Cross held a relic of a fragment of the cross (Schulze, 431). (In 1620 the relics of the community were purchased by the archbishop of Bremen).

 
Manuscript Sources
 

Archives for this community are scattered in a variety of repositories. The primary holdings are located in the Archiv der Bremischen Ritterschaft Stade, Stadtmuseum Hildesheim, Dombibliothek Hildesheim (?), Staatsarchiv Stade, and the Staatsarchiv Bremen.

 
Published Primary Sources
 

Urkundenbuch des Klosters Neuenwalde, ed. H. RUTHER, (Hannover and Leipzig, 1905).
Repertorium Germanicum 2 (Berlin, 1933/38).
Bremer Geschichtsquellen, ed. W. v. HODENBERG, 1. Das Stader Kopiar. (Celle, 1856).

 
Secondary Sources
 

Neuenwalde Verzeichnis der Stifter und Klöster Niedersachsens vor der Reformation
ZEPPENFELDT, I. Historische Nachrichten von dem Kloster Neuenwalde im Herzogthum Bremen. Neues vaterliches Archiv des historischen Vereins für Niedersachsens, 1825), 233-245.
ROTERMUND, H. W. Einige Nachrichten von den ehemaligen Klöstern im Herzogthum Bremen. Neues vaterliches Archiv des historischen Vereins für Niedersachsens, 1829), 191-232.
RUTHER, H. Kloster Neuenwalde. Niederdeutsche Heimatsbl., 1933. Nr. 4.
RUTHER, H. Geschichte des Klosters Neuenwalde. (Otterndorf, 1950).
Kunstdenkmale der Provinze Hannover. Die Kunstdenkmale des Kreises Wesermunde. I: Der fruhere kreis Lehe, ed. O. KIECKER u. E. v. LEHE (Hannover, 1939, repr. Osnabrück, 1980).

 
Miscellaneous Information
 

In 1389 the convent erected a brickworks or tile-making works and acquired the rights, land and wood to build this. In 1428 Archbishop Nikolaus of Bremen renewed the convent's privilege of granting indulgences both for visits made to the church on certain feast days as well as for material aid in building and decoration the church building (Schulze, 432). Again, the nuns were described as poor at this time. The reconstruction of the convent circa 1500 coincided with a reform of the convent according to the guidelines of the Bursfeld Reform. At this time, the prioress was removed and a new prioress installed in the community. The convent's entrance into the Bursfeld Reform was acknowledged in 1514. The convent suffered with the advent of the Lutheran Reformation and lost several of its properties and spiritualities. With the death of Dorothea von Hude and Archbishop Georg of Bremen, who had remained Catholic, the convent became Protestant (Schulze, 434). Nevertheless, all the nuns did not adhere to the Protestant religion until perhaps 1629. On June 6, 1629 the church and cloister were almost totally destroyed by fire. In June of 1630 the convent was restored to the Catholic religion, but the convent and its income was used to help establish Jesuit colleges in the area (Schulze, 436). The nuns received their dowries and were provided with pensions from the church. By 1634, however, the convent had been reestablished under a prioress. In 1683 the convent was converted to an evangelical women's chapter and continues to function as such today.

 
Manuscripts Produced
 

References to a monastic library only occur quite late in the historical record. In 1630 reference is made to Catholic books and choir books which were destroyed, but it does not record the age of these books (Schulze, 441).

 
Contributors
 
June Mecham
 
Contributors Notes
 

Besides the prioress, the only other positions mentioned are those of custrix and vestiaria (Schulze, 439). (Prioresses from 1508-1654 are not listed).

 
Date Started
 
1219
 
Date Finished
 
1530
 
Length
 
10947