Community ID
Alternate Names
Schonenvelt (1248); superior Schoennevelt (1255); Oberschienneveld (1499); Campus speciosus superior (1615)
Modern Location
Gessertshausen; in the governmental district of Swabia; near Augsburg
Corporate Status
Blessed Virgin Mary
Date Founded
1200 (circa); some time between 1186-1248
Date Terminated
1803; reestablished in 1836- continues
Religious Order
The convent presently belongs to the congregation of Mehrerau.
Foundation Information

According to tradition, this convent developed towards the end of the twelfth century from a group of Beguines in the region of Oberschönenfeld. Pious women, who joined together into a life- and prayer-community circa 1186 under the leadership of the Countess of Dillinger, Würga, from the family of S. Ulrich, settled in 1211 in Schönenfeld by Augsburg (Wienand, 338). They placed themselves under the abbot of Kaisheim and requested incorporation in the Cistercian order. The foundation is attributed to Volkmar of Kemnat with the aid of Hartmann von Dillingen, bishop of Augsburg (see contributor's notes). The convent was originally founded on the "Oberhof" later the "Weiherhof" for Beguines. In 1211 the community received a formal unification, although it still lacked a definite rule. The first definite mention of the convent comes from a document of 1248 in which Pope Innocent IV promised the community the privileges of the Cistercian order (Krausen, 76-77). The convent's location was obtained by a gift from Volkmar of Kemnathen. In 1256 Volkmar was referred to as the founder of the convent.

First Members

The daughter of Volkmar von Kemnathen became a nun in the convent.

Priveleges & Papal Exemptions

In 1255 Pope Alexander IV took the convent under papal protection, granting the convent exemption from the local bishop.

Other Ecclesiastical Relations

The abbot of Kaisheim served as the community's spiritual advisor and overseer.


Volkmar von Kemnathen; his heirs were regarded as the convent's protectors. Benefactors of the community were above all the Dillinger Counts, Vokmar II von Kemnat, then Konradin, the last Staufer, and Rudolph von Habsburg, as well as King Sigismund, Ludwig I and Ludwig III of Bavaria (Wienand, 338).

Social Characteristics

Inhabitants of the convent were drawn from the lobal nobility and urban patriciate. Towards the end of the medieval period the bourgeois element increased within the convent (Krausen, 77). In 1571 Abbess Barbara Elchinger from Lauingen became the convent's first bourgeois abbess.

Relative Wealth

Until the period of secularization, Oberschönenfeld held extensive property and was the cultural standard-bearer for the whole area of Oberschönenfeld and its settlements (Wienand, 338).


Volkmar von Kemnathen granted the convent rights and property (?) in the parish of Dietkrich, in which the convent resided.

Art & Artifacts

The convent's symbol was a picture of the Virgin Mary sitting on a chest with the baby Jesus in her right arm in the midst of a field of roses (fourteenth century).

State Of Medieval Structure

The present church was built in 1722.

Manuscript Sources

The archives for the abbey are located in the Hauptstaatsarchiv in München (Munich) and in the Staatsarchiv in Neuburg as well as in the convent's own archives.

Miscellaneous Information

The nuns each managed their own household within the convent with their own servants (this would appear to negate a strict adherence to the Benedictine rule). During the course of the Thirty Years War the abbey was damaged and the nuns had to flee the cloister; they found refuge in the Castle Thurnfeld near Hall in Tirol (Krausen, 77). The convent was dissolved in 1803, but in 1836 the last six nuns were able to receive permission to reestablish the community from King Ludwig of Bavaria in 1836. In 1918 the convent was reestablished as an abbey (Wienand, 338). Among the abbey's "subjects" or "vassals" were the families of Mozart, Holbein, and Dossenberger.

Conversi/ae and servants

Since 1552 the convent accepted lay-sisters.

Admin. Notes

Further sources: Caviezel, A. Das Cistercienserinnenkloster Oberschoenenfeld und seine Kirche, Ol. J. ; ibid. Zisterzienserinnenabtei Oberschoenenfeld Hundert jahre seit der Wiederherstellung, 1936.
Puchner, K. Die Urkunden des Kloster Oberschoenenfeld. Augsburg, 1953.

June Mecham
Date Started
Date Finished