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Anna von Buchwald, prioress of Preetz from 1494 to 1508, left an account of her activities and the reform of the house in the fifteenth century, which provides financial information and social information about the community. This work, known as the "Book in the Choir" (Buch im Chor), was intended to be used by future prioresses. After 1494, Anna was even allowed to take over the financial management of the cloister for four years. As part of her fundraising campaign for the repair of the convent, she allowed donors to include their coats of arms in the stained glass windows that they funded.

Relative Wealth

In the late fifteenth century, under Prioress Buchwald, the convent suffered from financial difficulties. By 1494, the convent was deeply in debt due to a series of incompetent provosts. Under the financial management of Prioress Anna von Buchwald, Anna succeeded in paying off the convent's debts.

Literary Works

Anna von Buchwald composed her "Book in the Choir" in the later fifteenth century as a guide for future prioresses.

Art & Artifacts

As part of her rennovation of the monastic complex, Prioress Anna von Buchwald commissioned an altar as well as numerous frescos and wall decorations for the nuns' choir and the prioress's house. According to her account, she commissioned more than twenty-eight paintings.

Architecture & Archaeology

Under Prioress Anna von Buchwald, the monastic complex was largely rebuilt. Among the improvements Prioress Buchwald made was the repair of the convent's bathhouse, which included the building of a wall to make an enclosed yard where the nuns could go to take fresh air. The repair of the bathhouse included the addition of drains, fireplaces, tables and benches. She oversaw the destruction and rebuilding of the fireplace in the refectory as well as the construction of fifteen new cells for the nuns. Anna von Buchwald faced leaking roofs in the monastic structures, repairing the cloister’s rotting roof at her own expense. Indeed, under Anna von Buchwald the monastery was substantially rebuilt with a new bakery, infirmary, mill, and provost’s house, as well as redecorated with stained glass windows, vaulting, paintings, and an organ for the church. As part of her fundraising campaign for the repair of the convent, she allowed donors to include their coats of arms in the stained glass windows that they funded. Anna von Buchwald also created a private choir for the nuns to ensure a greater division between the monastic and lay communities who had shared access to the high altar when they took communion.

Manuscript Sources

Preetz, Archiv, Klosterpreetz, Manuscript I (1471-87).

Miscellaneous Information

In the fifteenth century, each nun had her own garden plot where she could grow herbs and food for herself. These plots could be transfered from one nun to another. The nuns also received annual distributions of money and special foodstuffs, such as raisins and almonds. In the fifteenth century, the convent had an organ, which was repaired under Anna von Buchwald. Anna von Buchwald also consolidated some of the services and requested permission to reduce the number of readings and to allow the sisters to use a written text in order to reduce the liturgical burden on her community. Anna von Buchwald recounted the difficulties the community had with its provosts, particularly Provost Dornbusch, who neglected to provide the nuns with wood and repaired the convent buildings only partially and reluctantly. The provost also refused to feed the workers, and the nuns had to pay for their food from their own funds.

June Mecham