Community ID
Alternate Names
Brunesteshusen; Brunistehusi; Brunesteshuson, Brunistishusun, Bruntzhusen
Niedersachsen, district Borken
Medieval Location
The convent was located in the old county of Gandersheim.
Modern Location
The convent currently sits in the district of Gandersheim and in the diocese of Hildesheim.
Corporate Status
Bonifatius; (S. Anastasius, Innocent, Stephan protomartyr (although not according to Germania Benedictina)); Mary
Date Founded
852-853 (see "foundation information," below)
Religious Order
Foundation Information

The early history of this convent is rather unclear. Brunshausen was founded originally for Benedictine monks. Circa 780 Liudolf transfered property to the abbey of Fulda to build a missionary convent dedicated to S. Bonifatius (Stumpf, 100). The community was founded in 853 by Count Liudolf either as a new foundation or as a refoundation with a new endowment. Supposedly, in 844 Liudolf made a pilgrimage with his wife, Oda, to Rome and obtained confirmation from pope Sergius II as well as the relics of S. Anastasius and Innocent. Circa 852 the community became a chapter of canonesses (Kramer, 124). In either 856 or 881 the community moved to Gandersheim and was reformed according to the Benedictine rule. Brunshausen was a familial convent or "Eigenkloster" in the district of Gandersheim. Circa 1134 the community joined with Clus, but towards the end of the twelfth century this union was dissolved (Kramer, 124). Circa 1192/1205 the community was definitively transformed into a female Benedictine convent under the direction of Abbess Mechtildis I and with the participation of the Bishop of Hildesheim (Stumpf, 101). Although it is unclear where the nuns came from for this community, Stumpf believes they likely came from the nearby Benedictine convent of Lammspringe, which had recently (in the 12th century) undergone an internal reform and switched from the Augustinian rule as canonesses to a Benedictine convent under the rule of Benedict (Strumpf, 101). The convent was governed by a prioress and a provost. The convent continued as a community of Benedictine nuns until 1586/8 when it became protestant.

First Members

In 852 Liudolf's daughter, Hathumod, became the first abbess (this claim appears supurious on the basis of Stumpf's account).

Notable Heads

Recorded prioresses from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries are: Helenburgis (1267); Bertradis (1297); Berhedis (1314); Alheid (1414-1427); N. (1432-1441); and Mechildis (1461).

Population Counts

For the period from the thirteenth century, when the community changed to female, no records reveal the number of women inhabiting the convent. After the Lutheran Reform, in 1544 the convent numbered six nuns and eight lay-sisters. In 1546, 14 women still inhabited the convent (Strumpf, 103). In 1558 nine nuns and five lay-sisters lived in the community (Strumpf, 109).

Priveleges & Papal Exemptions

The first documentary mention of the community is in an privilege of exemption issued to the convent of S. Bonifatius by Pope Innocent III on June 22, 1206 (Stumpf, 100). Pope Innocent III referse to the monastery, "ubi sunt moniales incluse et prepositus regularis," indicating that these were nuns (as opposed to canonesses) who followed the rulle (Stumpf, 101).

Incorporated By

In 1134 the convent was absorbed by the convent Clus and both communities were placed under the abbot from Clus. The was confirmed in 1134 by King Lothar III.

Dependency Of

Fulda and Gandersheim. The prioress had to be presented to the Abbess of Gandersheim for confirmation (Strumpf, 111).

Other Ecclesiastical Relations

The provost of the imperial chapter of Gandersheim oversaw the convent. The provost at Brunshausen held a spiritual office as well; in the governing of the convent, the provost was aided by a prioress (see miscellaneous field). This practice may stem from a Augustinian rule adopted for many convents, which was written by Fructuosus von Braga in the seventh century (Strumpf, 101). Lammspringe had a similar arrangement. 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). Monks from the community of Clus acted as confessors to the nuns. The abbess of Gandersheim confirmed both the prioress and provost in their positions.


Several visitations to the community occurred in the course of the sixteenth century during the years of the Lutheran Reformation.

Secular Political Affiliations

The provost of the imperial chapter of Gandersheim oversaw the convent. In the thirteenth century, the right of advocacy for the convent transferred to the dukes of Braunschweig and Lüneburg. In the sixteenth century, the dukes placed increasing taxes and economic burdens on the convent (Strumpf, 109).

Social Characteristics

Since the thirteenth century, the convent recruited its members from the daughters of the patrician families in the neighboring regions, such as Gandersheim, Gremsheim, Klein-Rhueden, Einbeck, and Bornum. A few of the nuns stemmed from noble families. Before the fifteenth century, no lay-sisters are mentioned.

Relative Wealth

At the time of initial foundation, in the eighth century, the community was relatively well endowed. The convent appears to have suffered economic difficulties in the thirteenth century. It sold property in Nauen to the community of Frankenberg near Goslar (Strumpf, 101). It continued to suffer economic hardships in the fourteenth century as well. In the first half of the fifteenth century, the convent experienced an upswing in its finances.


The original foundation was composed of gifts of personal property and 70 serfs (Unfreien) from Count Liutolf of Sanony. Between 780-802 Hadolf of Saxony bestowed goods on the community and 49 serfs. He also bestowed 15 hides of land with all the inhabitants in the areas of Flenithigau and Gandersheim. The convent thus possessed a large portion of the land in the area of Gandersheim, including the villages of Altgandersheim, Gremsheim, Gehrenrode, Ackenhausen, Wolperode, and Dannhausen (Strumpf, 107). In the area of Rhüden the convent possessed the villages of Klein Rhüden and presumable two hides in Nauen Amt Lutter. According to documents, in 1220 fields in Gronstedt bei Bustedt and in 1251 a hide in Reddeber were sold off. At the beginning of the eleventh century, other properties were transfered to Gandersheim (Strumpf, 107). No inventories of possessions of the community exist until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Other Economic Activities

Archaelogical excavations have revealed needles, indicating that the nuns likely engaged in handwork, such as the production of textiles or liturgical items, such as vestments (Strumpf, 110).

Architecture & Archaeology

Under the present late-gothic church, four distinct building phases have been uncovered. The first dates to the foundational period in the eighth century; the second building phase consisted of a carolingian church. Between 852-881 the carolingian structure was extended with a choir and rectangular west-wing. This third building phase incorporates the burials of Duke Liudolf and his daughter, Hathumod. The final building phase occured circa 1134. The west-wing of the convent complex was reserved for the provost and chaplains. In the fourteenth century the convent was partially destroyed by fire in the wars of Otto of Braunschweig-Göttingen. At this time the community lost its library as well. This led to a rebuilding of the church in a late-gothic style. In this fifth building phase a nuns' choir was begun in the West. All five churches at Brunshausen were oriented to the East. The convent buildings lay to the north(Strumpf, 118). In 1627 the community was destroyed, except for the church.

State Of Medieval Structure

The late-gothic church at Brunshausen was restored in the 1960-70s. In 1983 further restoration efforts took place.


The community had relics from S. Anastasius and S. Innocent.

Manuscript Sources

No documents from Brunshausen's monastic period survive today. Around the turn of the fourteenth century the community's archives were destroyed with the destruction of the monastery. Documents relating to the history of Brunshausen are found in the documents of other monastic communities, namely Clus, Gandersheim, S. Marien (S. Mary's) and in the documents of the city of Gandersheim, of the counts, nobles and noble families, and the Varia Brunsvicensia (Strumpf, 124). Other documentary materials are located in the Herzog-August-Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, #Helmst. 256 (289), 392 (427), and 576 (624), which include a Latin vocabulary. A fragment of Hieronymus is located in the Schloßarchiv in Wrisbergholzen, sine numero.

Published Primary Sources

[1]Urkundenbuch des Hochstifts Hildesheim
[2]Vit. Bernw. 12 MGH, Ser. IV, p. 762.
[3]Urkundenbuch des in der Grafschaft Wernigerode gelegenen Klosters Cruebeck, ed. E. JACOBS (1874).
[4]Annales Hildesheimenses, ed. G. WAITZ, MGH, SS, rer. Germ. 1978.
[5]Annales Quedlinburgenses, ed. G. H. PERTZ, MGH, SS 3, 19-90.
[6]Agius, Vita Hathumodae Abbatissae Gandersheimensis primae, ed. G. H. PERTZ, MGH, SS 4, 165-189 and 754-782.
[7]Annalista Saxo, ed. G. WAITZ, MGH, SS, 6, 542-777.
[8]Chronicon Episcoporum Hildesheimensium, Ed. G. H. PERTZ, MGH, SS, 7, 845-873.
[9]Hrotsvithae Opera, ed. P. von Winterfeld, MGH, SS, rer. Germ. (1902), 229-246.

Secondary Sources

Verzeichnis der Stifter und Klöster Niedersachsens vor der Reformation
Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands
Brunshausen Gandersheim, St. MarienHandschriftenerbe des Deutschen Mittelalters, vol. 1, p. 124.
LINNEBORN, J. Die Reformation der Frauenkloster im 15. Jahrhundert durch die Bursfelder Congregation. B. Die Reformation der Frauenkloester (SM 21, 1900, 53-67).
HENNECKE, E. and KRUMWIEDE, H. W. Die mittelalterlichen Kirchen- und Altarpatronzinien Niedersachsens (STudKG Nieders. 11, 1960).
KRONENBERG, K. Clus und Brunshausen. Verlassene Kloester, Gandersheim 2. Ed. (1966).
GOETTING, H. Das Reichsunmittelbare Kanonissenstift Gandersheim (GSNF 7, Die Bistuemer der Kirchenprovinz Mainz. Das Bistum Hildesheim 1), Berlin-New York (1973); ibidem, Das Benediktiner(innen)kloster Brunshausen, das Benediktinerinnenkloster St. Marien vor Gandersheim, das Benediktinerkloster Clus, das Franziskanerkloster Gandersheim (GSNF 8, Die Bistuemer der Kirchenprovinz Mainz. Das Bistum Hildesheim 2) Berlin-New York (1974).

Miscellaneous Information

In the nineth century, (as a male community) the convent had a school with approximately 16 students (Strumpf, 117). The prioress of the community was responsible for discipline in the community as well as for the convent's archive (Strumpf, 111). The documents also mention a subprioress since 1512. The first provost is mentioned in a document from August 11, 1201. The provosts of Brunshausen held economic/managerial duties as well as spiritual/religious obligations. In the thirteenth century, two priests and a subdeacon served below the provost in the community. In 1488 under Abbess Elisabeth, the convent was reformed according to the statutes of the Bursfelder Union with the aide of the abbot from Clus. The abbot of Clus now oversaw the convent and was responsible for naming its father-confessor. Nevertheless, Brunshausen was never formally incorporated into the Bursfeld Union(Strumpf, 101-102). The convent participated in the reform of the Benedictine convent Ebstorf. Although it participated in reforming efforts, the actual reform at Brunshausen appears not to have taken effect immediately. In February 1495 Bishop Barthold of Hildesheim directd the abbots of Clus and S. Michael in Hildesheim to reform the convent according the strict monastic principles, particularly enclosure (Strumpf, 102). In the sixteenth century the convent came under cross-fire in the Hildesheim bishops'-feud. In 1528 the convent burned. Circa 1542-44 the convent assumed the Lutheran Reform.

Admin. Notes

Hoogeweg, 21/ Hauck, 553,

June Mecham
Contributors Notes

During the course of the sixteenth century, the convent gradually transformed itself into an evangelical house, yet retained its character as a "spiritual community." By 1589 the convent had fully accepted the Protestant Reform. The convent suffered during the Thirty Years War. A great fire in 1627 destroyed all the buildings and the convent was placed in economic difficulties again. In March of 1629 an Edict of Ferdinand II called for a return to Catholicism and many nuns sought acceptance into other convents (Strumpf, 105). New catholic nuns, presumably from Hildesheim were installed in the convent (only one name from the previous inhabitants remained after this return to catholicism). During the war with Sweden in the seventeenth century much of the convent was again destroyed. In 1655 the convent returned to its evangelical status. In 1695 the convent's possessions were returned to Abbess Henriette Christine von Gandersheim and the convent was rebuilt. In the sixteenth century the convent ran a school. The community continues today as an evangelical women's chapter.

Date Started