Reconstruction and Research of Late Medieval Convent Libraries in Lower Saxony

In Co-operation with the Zentrum für Mittelalter- und Frühneuzeitforschung at the Universität Göttingen

The Herzog August Library and the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Research (ZMF) at the University of Göttingen have established a cooperative project to conduct research libraries on the convents of Lower Saxony.

Over a period of five years the project researched the contents of libraries in late medieval convents. The Herzog August Library contributed to the project by investigating the literary culture and educational background of the Augustinian choir women in Steterburg and Heiningen (both founded circa 1000 by aristocratic women) and Dorstadt (founded by a male founder in 1189). In the wake of the Reformation (1568) and of secularization, these convent libraries contained 107 partly illuminated Latin and Low German manuscripts, 102 of which belong to the Herzog August Library. In addition, there was a considerable number of early prints. Current research methods permitted a detailed evaluation of these library holdings, especially as the history of the libraries in all three foundations has not yet been researched. Our research focused on teaching practices, scriptoria which may have existed and the repositories of codices. Furthermore, any other materials found in the library – whether convent-made tapestries with inscriptions or other textiles and objects of art – were subjected to investigation. Our objective was to interlace the historical findings to create an overall multi-faceted picture which was presented in the exhibition "Rosenkränze und Seelengärten" in 2013 and published as a monograph in 2016.

The University of Göttingen contributed to the project by conducting comparative research on the manuscripts, incunabula and early prints in the Cistercian nunneries in Wöltingerode, the Benedictine and Cistercian libraries in Helmstedt and the Augustinian library in Georgenberg near Goslar.

Homepage of the project partner at the ZMF Göttingen

Materials for the monasteries of interest



Rosenkränze und Seelengärten: Bildung und Frömmigkeit in niedersächsischen Frauenklöstern. Ausstellung der Herzog-August-Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel vom 3. März bis zum 25. August 2013, ed. by Britta-Juliane Kruse. Ausstellungskataloge der Herzog August Bibliothek 96 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013).
Catalogue  HAB Publications

Jessica Kreutz: Die Buchbestände von Wöltingerode. Ein Zisterzienserinnenkloster im Kontext der spätmittelalterlichen Reformbewegungen (Wolfenbütteler Mittelalter-Studien 26), Wiesbaden 2014.

Jochen Schevel: Bibliothek und Buchbestände des Augustinerchorherrenstifts Georgenberg bei Goslar. Ein Überblick über die Entwicklung im Mittelalter bis zur Zerstörung 1527 (Wolfenbütteler Mittelalter-Studien 27), Wiesbaden 2015.

Britta-Juliane Kruse: Stiftsbibliotheken und Kirchenschätze: Materielle Kultur in den Augustiner-Chorfrauenstiften Steterburg und Heiningen. Wolfenbütteler Mittelalter-Studien 28 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2016).
Catalogue  HAB Publications

Funding: Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur
Duration: July 2008 – June 2013 (publication is still pending)
Contact: Dr. Christian Heitzmann, PD Dr. Britta-Juliane Kruse
Phone: +49(0)5331-808-129, Fax -165