Producing Private Prayerbooks. Female Agency and Reform Theology in Manuscripts of a North-German Convent

The small prayerbook (Herzog August Library, Cod. 307.1 Extra) is an intriguing example of female agency in the Late Middle Ages. It is one of more than 50 manuscripts currently attributed to the Cistercian convent of Medingen near Lüneburg. About half of the Medingen prayerbooks known today show traces of intense manuscript reworking. This also applies to Cod. 307.1 Extra. Several generations of Medingen scribes reworked the prayerbook according to the changes introduced by the North-German monastic reform (1479) and the Lutheran reformation (1524/1554). The changes illustrate how the Medingen nuns curated their convent’s devotional profile in the late Middle Ages, and acted as reformatrices behind convent walls. With the help of Cod. 307.1 Extra, my project aims to further illuminate the role of the Medingen nuns in the reform processes.

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