Henriette Christine von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel

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Henriette Christine von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, Abbess of Gandersheim

Princess Henriette Christine von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (born September 19, 1669 in Wolfenbüttel ; † January 20, 1753 in Roermond ) came from the house of the Guelphs and was abbess of the imperial free secular monastery of Gandersheim .


Henriette Christine was a daughter of Duke Anton Ulrich von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1633-1714) and his wife Princess Elisabeth Juliane von Holstein-Norburg (1634-1704), daughter of Duke Friedrich von Schleswig-Holstein-Norburg.

On November 9, 1681, Henriette Christine, who was still a minor, received a canonissi in Gandersheim. On November 2, 1687, she was solemnly introduced to her office in the presence of her father, but she did not yet reside in the monastery. After the death of Abbess Christina zu Mecklenburg († June 30, 1693), Henriette Christine was unanimously elected as the new abbess by the Chapter on December 21, 1693. On April 24, 1694 was enthroned solemnly in the presence of their parents and on 27 September 1694 their choice of Emperor was Leopold I. confirmed.

Her father had the election prepared diplomatically by his chief steward Hermann von Diepenbroick in order to resolve existing conflicts between the Reichsstift and the ducal house. The conditions included the return of the monasteries Clus and Brunshausen , which Duke Julius had withdrawn from the monastery , which was carried out in accordance with the agreement in December 1695, as well as compensation for a lost hunting justice at Ellierode .

Henriette Christine resided in the monastery from then on, apart from temporary stays at the Braunschweig court, and personally chaired the meetings of the General Chapter. One of the first measures under her leadership was the new regulation for the inclusion of new canons, resolved by the General Chapter on June 23, 1696: in order to increase the reputation of the monastery and its income, new canonies had since then had to prove imperial descent to at least 16 ancestors and, when joining, statute payments in Pay an amount of 16,000 thalers.

While the imperial immediacy of the monastery and its abbess had previously been a constant nuisance to the duchy, the monastery under Henriette Christine gained new importance in the context of the imperial political ambitions of her father, who had ruled alone since 1704, and in 1708 his granddaughter Elisabeth Christine with the later Emperor Charles VI . was able to get married and now, in the common interest of his daughter, placed new emphasis on emphasizing the empire of the monastery in his principality. This included not only the regular representation of the abbess at the Regensburg Reichstag , but also the processing of the history of the monastery, with which Henriette Christine entrusted her secretary Johann Georg Leuckfeld in 1701/1702 , and the recording of all monastery archives that the General Chapter received on June 23 1706 and was also taken over by Leuckfeld as a monastery councilor in 1710. On March 5, 1709, a contract was signed between the duke and his daughter, which confirmed the contracts about Clus and Brunshausen again and comprehensively regulated the legal relationships between the monastery and the duke as the co-curator appointed by the emperor, with the duke submitting himself among other things also obliged to renounce the previously used designation "our pen".

Henriette Christine is said to have been very similar to her father not only outwardly, but also in character and shared his tendency towards ostentation. Under her leadership, the monastery experienced a new heyday, which reached its climax under her niece and successor Elisabeth Ernestine . She was also responsible for the renovation of the dilapidated high choir of the collegiate church between 1695 and 1707. In 1697, at Henriette Christine's suggestion, the most valuable pieces of the medieval church treasury were donated to Levin, a Jew, for 1,193 thalers, 37 groschen and 7 pfennigs Lazarus was sold to melt down in Osterrode, and in 1705 was again advised on the sale of lavishly decorated liturgical vestments and vestments.

After she had been a supporter of the Pietist August Hermann Francke for a time, she developed an increasing inclination towards Catholicism , also in unison with her father . Perhaps for this reason, as early as 1698, the Chapter asked her to sign a Creed of Faith on March 24th. When preparations were being made for the marriage of her niece Elisabeth Christine to the Catholic Habsburg Karl, Henriette Christine and the theologian Johann Fabricius were also involved in persuading Elisabeth Christine to convert to Catholicism, who was sent to Gandersheim several times for this purpose in 1705 and 1706 .

Her glamorous reign came to an unexpected end when she gave birth to a son on July 8, 1712, at the age of 42. This child came from her relationship with Georg Christoph von Braun, a former councilor of her father, who was appointed governor of the monastery on September 29, 1710, received a canonical and was appointed steward of the abbey on March 12, 1712. After their child was born, von Braun had to leave the principality and went into exile in Saxony. Since the scandal could not be hushed up despite all the efforts of the ducal house, Henriette Christine renounced her dignity as abbess "for moving reasons" and at the same time announced her conversion to Catholicism. She left Gandersheim on September 6, 1712 to join the Catholic Abbey of Roermond. There she lived until her death without holding any spiritual dignity.

See also


  • Hans Goetting: Das Bistum Hildesheim , Volume 1: Das Reichsunmittelbare Kanonissenstift Gandersheim (= Germania Sacra , New Series 7), de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1973, pp. 138ff., ISBN 3-11-004219-3
  • Ute Küppers-Braun: Princely Abbess Henriette Christine von Braunschweig-Lüneburg (1669-1753) or: Can a woman get pregnant without her knowledge? , in: Martin Hoernes and Hedwig Röckelein (eds.), Gandersheim and Essen. Comparative studies on Saxon women's colleges (= Essen research on women's foundation , Volume 4), Klartext-Verlag, Essen 2006, pp. 229–244, ISBN 3-89861-510-3
  • Kurt Kronenberg : The abbesses of the Reichsstift Gandersheim . Publishing house Gandersheimer Kreisblatt, Gandersheim 1981

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