Anna Erika von Waldeck

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Anna Erika von Waldeck-Eisenberg (born September 17, 1551 in Korbach , † October 15, 1611 at Arolsen Castle ) was abbess of the Gandersheim monastery from 1589 to 1611 .

Pen lady

Anna was the fourth of 13 children of Count Wolrad II von Waldeck-Eisenberg (1509–1575) and his wife Anastasia Günthera von Schwarzburg-Blankenburg (1528–1570). On June 23, 1575 she became canoness in Gandersheim, and already on September 30, 1577 she was elected dean of the Gandersheim imperial monastery, which had become Evangelical-Lutheran in 1568 under pressure from Duke Julius von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel . Anna Erika, who came from the Protestant Count House of Waldeck , supported the abbesses Magdalena von Chlum and Margareta von Chlum , who remained Catholic, in their resistance to the efforts of the Duke to transfer the imperial canonical monastery into state ownership or at least to incorporate its possessions, as she was responsible for its actions brutal was:

  • Magdalena was imprisoned there by the Duke after the monastery building had been occupied and died in custody on the night of January 28-29, 1577;
  • her sister and successor Margarete had to live in the Neuenheerse Abbey for more than 11 years because the duke did not want to recognize the unyielding woman as the abbess of Gandersheim. It was not until 1587 that he recognized her choice.


On April 23, 1589, Anna Erika von Waldeck was elected abbess with only one vote against, her own, as the successor to Margareta von Chlum, who died on April 10, 1589. She became the first Protestant abbess after 36 Catholic predecessors. Duke Julius agreed to the election. For the first time, papal approval for the election of abbesses was no longer obtained; Anna Erika explained that his consent was no longer required, the duke was her pope enough.

Duke Heinrich Julius , son and successor of Duke Julius, who died on May 3, 1589, two weeks after the election of the new abbess, sent his councilors to Gandersheim on January 26, 1590 to re- establish the relationship between the principality and the monastery organize. The negotiations dragged on for more than three years and ended with a success for the monastery: the contract signed on August 20, 1593 confirmed its status as an “imperial free imperial monastery”. However, the duke preserved his rights as sovereign, so that the abbess always had to take his wishes into account. Anna Erika had a good relationship with the ducal family throughout her life.

As early as December 14, 1590, Emperor Rudolf II recognized Anna Erika's election and granted her the regalia and thus the confirmation as imperial princess .

Fire and rebuilding of the abbey

Gandersheim Abbey (2009)

On May 17, 1597, a fire that broke out in a house on the Hagen destroyed the northeastern part of Gandersheim and the abbey. Duke Heinrich Julius assigned the ducal Wilhelmsburg (today the district court and penal institution) to the monastery, sent his master builder Paul Francke , the builder of the Marienkirche in Wolfenbüttel , to Gandersheim, and gave the monastery plenty of building materials for its reconstruction. Anna Erika had the magnificent two-winged Renaissance building of the new abbey built next to the collegiate church in the years 1598–1600 .

Canon and dean at Herford Abbey

In addition to her office in Gandersheim, Anna Erika also held a canonical position at Herford Abbey . When the dean died there in 1607, the chapter there elected Anna Erika as the new dean on October 14, 1607, although she wanted to reside in Gandersheim and not in Herford .


On August 11, 1611 Anna Erika traveled once again to her home in Waldeck. She died on October 15, 1611 in Arolsen Castle . She was buried on October 24th in Mengeringhausen . Her grave slab can still be found in the local St. George's Church. Her portrait can be seen in the Imperial Hall of the Abbey in Bad Gandersheim.


  • Kurt Kronenberg : An important woman from the Waldeck family. Countess Anna Erika von Waldeck ruled the Reichsstift Gandersheim from 1589 to 1611. In: Waldeckischer Landeskalender. Vol. 243, 1970, ZDB -ID 513652-0 , pp. 51-66.
  • Erich Sinramm: The Kaisersaal in Bad Gandersheim and its paintings. City of Bad Gandersheim, Bad Gandersheim 1976.
  • Kurt Kronenberg: The abbesses of the Reichsstift Gandersheim. Publishing house Gandersheimer Kreisblatt, Bad Gandersheim 1981.
  • Axel Christoph Kronenberg: Countess Anna Erika von Waldeck: The first Protestant abbess. (PDF; 2.7 MB) In: Kurzeitung Bad Gandersheim. Edition 2, 2004, ZDB -ID 1412232-7 , pp. 10-11.