Community ID
Alt-Isenhagen; presently near Hankensbüttel
Medieval Location
In the dukedom of Lüneburg; originally the convent lay 2 kilometers east of the village of Alt-Isenhagen.
Modern Location
The convent is in Hankensbüttel in the district of Isenhagen.
Corporate Status
S. Mary and S. John
Date Founded
1243 (circa) male; between March 24, 1259-September 14, 1261 female
Date Terminated
still extant
Religious Order
Benedictine/ Cistercian (see foundation field)
Foundation Information

Little of the early history of the community is known. The chronicle of the community dates from 1595, written by Heinrich Eggeling. The community was originally founded as a male house. In 1243 the widowed Duchess Agnes von Meissen, widow of Heinrich, count-palantine of the Rhine, received possessions in Alt-Isenhagen from her nephew, Duke Otto von Braunschweig, in order to found a Cistercian monestary. The monks for this new foundation were drawn from the monastery of Riddagshausen, and the new foundation was undertaken by the abbot of Riddagshausen. Early documents show many donations and gifts, so that the convent was presumably well-endowed upon its establishment. In 1259 the buildings burned, and the monks abandoned the location. They moved to the convent of Marienrode at the request of the Bishop Johann von Hildesheim, which had previously been occupied by Augustinian canons (Riggert). Women assumed possession of the location under the initiative of the bishop of Hildesheim; this was also supported by the Abbot of Riddagshausen. The first documentary mention of the female house is in March 16, 1265 (Riggert). The nuns were probably drawn from the neighboring convents of either Wienhausen or Wöltingerode in Goslar. The community moved twice. On March 12, 1327 Bishop Otto von Hildesheim gave the community permission to move to Hankensbüttel. It acquired this location through purchase and was established here by 1329/30 (Riggert). Although it is unclear why the convent moved location, poor economic conditions were a likely factor (Riggert). Hoogeweg and Appuhn state that the convent burned in 1336, causing the nuns to move again(Hoogeweg, 73; Appuhn, 13). After the fire the nuns were forced to rely on alms (they engaged in Brandbettel/"fire-begging") (Riggert). In 1346 the convent moved to its present location (Neu-Isenhagen) under Bishop Erich von Hildesheim. According to one of the convent's documents, the convent again moved due to busy traffic on the trade routes which disturbed the nuns in their spiritual duties. The community especially objected to the music and noise on feastdays which disturbed the nuns' spiritual duties (Riggert). The convent lay on one of the important trade routes between the north and south and probably was plagued with numerous pilgrims seeking refuge within its walls as well. Not desiring to take on such duties, the convent was transferred. The new buildings remained unfinished due to the advent of the plague and the Lüneburg succession war. In 1385 the convent was destroyed by a both of lightening and was rebuilt. The convent probably followed the Benedictine rule and Cistercian customs. Although it considered itself Cistercian, it was never formally incorporated into the order (Riggert).

First Members

The nuns were probably drawn from the neighboring convents of either Wienhausen or Wöltingerode.

Population Counts



Duchess Agnes von Meissen; Bishop Erich of Hildesheim

Architecture & Archaeology

The new buildings (both church and convent) remained unfinished due to the advent of the plague in 1349/1350 and the Lüneburg succession war. In 1385 the convent was destroyed by a bolt of lightening and was rebuilt. The late fourteenth-century structures still stand. IsenhagenIsenhagen, church towerIsenhagen, cloister and church The brick Gothic storage house from the convent, dating to the late fourteenth century, is also preserved. Isenhagen, storehouse

State Of Medieval Structure

The fourteenth-century structures still exist.

Manuscript Sources

The archives for this community are located in the Lüneburger Klösterarchive at Wienhausen.

Published Primary Sources

[1]Geschichte des Dioez. und der Stadt Hildesheim II, p. 200. [2] Bertram, Geschichte des Bistums Hildesheim I, p. 243-4, 284, 324-5, 445.

Miscellaneous Information

In the fifteenth century the convent undertook an internal reform, as did many other convents in the dukedom of Lüneburg. In 1488 this reform was complete. The convent later accepted the Lutheran Reformation after substantial resistance (from 1529-1541). The first protestant abbess was Judith von Bülow (Riggert).

Admin. Notes

More research is necessary on the economic aspects of this community.

June Mecham
Contributors Notes

This was the last foundation in the dukedom of Lüneburg. The convent continues as a protestant women's chapter.

Date Started