Sonnefeld
Community ID
 
2310
 
Alternate Names
 
Sonnental (1260); Campus solis (1260); Kloster Hofstädten (after 1288)
 
Town
 
Sonnefeld
 
Diocese
 
Würzburg
 
Medieval Location
 
The convent was established in a meadow in Ebersdorf within the Lichtenfelser forest; later Hofstädten.
 
Modern Location
 
Sonnefeld; in the administrative district of Oberfranken, in the district of Coburg
 
Corporate Status
 
Abbey
 
Dedication
 
S. Mary (Blessed Virgin)
 
Date Founded
 
1262
 
Date Terminated
 
1525-1531
 
Religious Order
 
Cistercian
 
Rule
 
Benedictine
 
Foundation Information
 

The community was founded by Heinrich II of Sonneberg and his wife, Kunigunde. In 1260 Heinrich transfered the villages of Ebersdorf and Frohnlach, which he held as a fief from the cathedral chapter, to the Bishop of Bamberg in order to establish a Cistercian convent with the abbess of Maidbronn. The bishop took the new convent into his protection and permitted the nuns certain rights to the wood in the forest where their convent was founded (Krausen, 94). (This led to friction with the cathedral chapter in later ages). In February the bishop of Würzburg granted his approval of the foundation, giving the convent the name of campus solis, and confirming the privileges of the Cistercian order within it. In 1262 at the request of both bishops, the convent was formally incorporated within the Cistercian order (Krausen, 94). The duty of 'inspectio' was given to the abbots of Ebrach and Bildhausen. The convent was formally declared a daughter of Citeaux, but the abbot of Langheim acted as its spiritual supervisor and provided from his convent the father-confessor, provost, and conversi for the convent. Following a large fire in 1287 the convent was rebuilt in the village of Hofstädten, which the nuns obtained in exchange from the abbot of Saalfeld. In 1288 the abbess obtained lower jurisdictional authority over the convent's dependents form the counts of Henneberg.

 
Population Counts
 

In 1371 the number of choir nuns was restricted to fifty nuns.

 
Priveleges & Papal Exemptions
 

In 1281 Pope Nicolaus III confirmed the convent and permitted the nuns to acquire property by any means except by fief. In 1291 Pope Nicolaus IV renewed the papal protection of the convent. In 1312 Clement V appointed the abbot of S. Jakob in Erfurt as advisor to the convent.

 
Other Ecclesiastical Relations
 

The duty of 'inspectio' was given to the abbots of Ebrach and Bildhausen. The convent was formally declared a daughter of Citeaux, but the abbot of Langheim acted as its spiritual supervisor and provided from his convent the father-confessor, provost, and conversi for the convent.

 
Secular Political Affiliations
 

In 1361 King Karl IV granted the convent imperial protection.

 
Social Characteristics
 

The choir nuns were presumably drawn from the local nobility.

 
Relative Wealth
 

The convent was never very wealthy. The convent was frequently forced to sell its property, and in 1371 the number of nuns was restricted to fifty. The economic decline of the convent continued into the fifteeenth century.

 
Income
 

In 1288 the abbess obtained lower jurisdictional authority over the convent's dependents form the counts of Henneberg. The convent also possessed rights of patronage in the villages of Eberdorf and Weißenbrunn.

 
Art & Artifacts
 

The symbol for the convent was a shining sun over a field of corn (Krausen, 96).

 
Architecture & Archaeology
 

The interior of the church was damaged by fires in 1380 and 1401; however, the church, built in the mid-fourteenth century survived. The church was built by the master builder Steinmetz Heinrich; between 1379-1407 a Konrad Parler is recorded as a stone-mason and builder. Konrad Parler was also the creator of the pair of knights carved in sandstone in the eastwall of the choir (Krausen, 95). The convent church was transformed into an evangelical parish church in 1540. Portions of the convent served as cattle stalls in the sixteenth century. In 1634 the church and convent both perished in a fire. In 1856 the grounds were restored.

 
State Of Medieval Structure
 

The convent church, dating to the mid-fourteenth century, is still extant.

 
Manuscript Sources
 

The archives for the convent are held in the Hauptstaatsarchiv in München (Munich) as well as in the Staatsarchiv in Coburg and Bamberg. A few manuscripts may be found in the Stadtarchiv in Coburg, in the Staatarchiv in Weimar and Meiningen.

 
Secondary Sources
 

Die Klöster des Zisterzienserordens in Bayern
HUEMER, B. Verzeichnis der deutschen Cisterzienserinnenkloester. (StMBO 37, 1916).
HOTZ, J. Zisterzienserkloester in Oberfranken, 64-70.

 
Miscellaneous Information
 

Repeated dispensations from the vow of abstinence show that the convent departed ever more radically from its original strict rule (Krausen, 95). In 1503 an internal dispute erupted in the convent over the newly-elected abbess Dorothea von Pfersfeld. Six 'unruly' nuns were placed in prison during this dispute. By 1524 the convent had a lutheran preacher, and by 1525/6 the convent had fallen into the prince's possession. Helena von Dobeneck, the last of the noble nuns of the convent, died in 1572.

 
Conversi/ae and servants
 

The convent had conversi, who came from the abbey of Langheim, until the mid-fourteenth century.

 
Admin. Notes
 

further source: Wank, H. Markt und Kloster Sonnefeld. Coburg, 1925.

 
Contributors
 
June Mecham
 
Contributors Notes
 

Conventual life ended in 1525 and formal dissolution followed in 1531.
http://www.bayern.de/HDBG/ks/ksstart.htm

 
Date Started
 
1262
 
Date Finished
 
1525
 
Length
 
4002