Marienkamp Monastery (Esens)

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The deserted monastery in 2012.

The monastery Marie Kamp (originally Esingfelde ) is a former monastery on the territory of the town Esens in Ostfriesland , the Benedictine docked in a fen area southwest of Esens. It was converted into an Augustinian canons monastery in 1420 . In 1530 Balthasar von Esens destroyed the monastery, of which no structural remains have survived today. The archive and furnishings have also been largely lost, with the exception of small remains.


It is unknown when the Benedictines founded the monastery. Documents that provide information about this are still missing. Later traditions ascribe the foundation to the Holy Hatebrand († 1198), which has not yet been confirmed. He was abbot of the Feldwirth monastery (later referred to as the Oldekloster ) near Appingedam , which is considered the mother monastery of the East Frisian Benedictine monasteries. Marienkamp was together with Pansath Monastery , like the other early settlements of the order in East Friesland, a double monastery whose nuns lived in Pansath while the monks were housed in Marienkamp. Most of them came from the local population.

Marienkamp is mentioned for the first time in 1235, at that time it was probably still about five kilometers southwest of the later location in place of the area now known as the Oldekloster . It is striking that the name is identical to the mother monastery. Oldekloster was an important Marian shrine that attracted many pilgrims every year during the Middle Ages .

Before 1420 Marienkamp must have been relocated to its current location. The monks then continued to use the facility in Oldekloster as a branch. Apparently a period of decline began in the 15th century. After the Reformation, Esens pastor Hieronymus von Grest (Hieronymus Grestius) wrote in his Gesta Harlingiorum published in 1555 : “Lack of people and lacking goods forced the Benedictine brothers to give up Marienhof (Marienkamp) before Esens. For this, Wieb has prescribed regulare. They have now moved into the monastery. He was weighted to them with rights and goods ”.

Conversion into an Augustinian canons monastery

At the urging of the Esens chief , Wibet von Stedesdorf , and with the support of Bremen's Archbishop Johannes II von Schlamstorf , Marienkamp and its Oldekloster branch and all of the Benedictine property in the Esens area passed into the possession of Augustinian canons from Frenswegen Abbey in 1420 . This was the first German monastery to join the Windesheim congregation in 1400 . Wibet had previously driven the Benedictine monks from Marienkamp north to the Marienthal monastery . The Frenswegen Prior Henricus Loeder then reformed the Marienkamp Monastery. The monastery was finally renamed "Marienkamp" ( Campus Beate Marie ) after the new patron saint Maria von Esingfelde . Marienkamp subsequently became the most important monastery of the order in East Friesland, to which several monasteries and outworks in the immediate and wider area were subordinate.


The new owners continued to operate the branches in Margens , Oldekloster and Pansath as Marienkamp's agricultural works. Another Vorwerk possibly existed in Nyenhuus (presumably the later domain Schafhaus, which is about 1.5 kilometers from the monastery area). At first only a few monks settled at the headquarters. This only changed when Arnold von Crefeld became prior in 1424 . Subsequently, the monastery experienced rapid economic development. For example, von Crefeld had the Premonstratensian monastery of Sconamora, which had been abandoned by its residents, bought up and converted into another branch. New agricultural buildings were built in other sub-works. In Oldekloster the prior had a new choir built. Von Crefeld also ended long-running disputes over lands with the chief Wibet von Stedesdorf and the clergyman von Oldendorf (now submerged in the sea). He died of the plague on September 23, 1431 with 13 other friars. Despite the epidemic, the monastery grew vigorously. In 1431 there were more than 100 inmates in Marienkamp, ​​in 1450 there are 36 clergymen and over 100 lay brothers. In the same year, the premonstartenser nunnery of Hopels , which was very dilapidated at the time, was incorporated as well as of the Coldinne monastery , which continued to operate as a nunnery. On the initiative of Marienkamp, ​​the Benedictine monastery Sielmönken was also converted into an Augustinian canons monastery. After the convent had elected Johannes von Bentheim as prior in 1484, he had a new church added to the choir in Marienkamp.


The decline of the monastery began before the Reformation . In the struggle for supremacy in the Harlingerland , the Saxon feud , the East Frisian Count Edzard I plundered the monastery. From Marienkamp alone, his troops stole 210 oxen, 19 cows, 50 sheep, 19 pigs and numerous valuables, and the East Frisians stole other animals from the Schoo and Margens farms. In the course of further disputes with the Counts of East Friesland , the Harlingerland chief, Junker Balthasar von Esens, Marienkamp burned down in 1530 and appropriated his property. In the process, the archive and the library were probably destroyed, which have disappeared apart from a few remains (only five manuscripts from Marienkamp are known to date). Only parts of the organ, which the St. Bartholomew Church in Dornum took over , remained of the monastery equipment . Of this instrument are after the construction of Gerhard von Holy some registers have been preserved to this day. After the destruction of Marienkamp, ​​the remaining monks moved to Pansath, which Balthasar apparently had five years later dissolved. A farm was built on the deserted land, which the sovereigns leased along with the land. When East Frisia became a Prussian province from 1744, the new owners had the farm privatized in 1777. In 1917 a fire destroyed the courtyard, which was not rebuilt afterwards.

Current condition

Coming from Esens, the wurt ( terp ) of the monastery, overgrown with old trees, is about one kilometer southwest of the city, south of the road "Mühlenstrich". The former monastery grounds are around 325 meters long, up to 140 meters wide and a maximum of 1.5 meters high. No buildings have survived from the monastery. What it once looked like is unclear. Excavations have not taken place to date. Remains of the foundations of seven large buildings are suspected to be in the ground. Today only street names (Marienkamper Straße or Klosterweg) as well as field names (Münkenland - Mönchenland) and the abbot in the Holtgast municipal coat of arms remind of the existence and importance of the monastery in the later Middle Ages.

Location and economic activity

The basis of economic activity was the monastery property. The monastery lay on a flood-proof ridge between Esens and Holtgast. In the south there were large areas of forest and moorland, and in the north fertile marshland was owned by Marienkamp. The monastery was also connected in terms of traffic. The old Oldenburg-East Frisian trade and military route led directly past Marienkamp, ​​which also had direct access to the open North Sea with the Benser Tief.

Marienkamp owned a portrait of the Virgin Mary in Oldekloster , to which the believers went on pilgrimages from all over the region because of supposed miracles. With the influx of people, the “Brotherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary” celebrated Pentecost for four days with processions. A fair was held to accompany this. The donations of money and land by the pilgrims are said to have been extraordinarily numerous and very rich. In addition, the monastery operated a horse mill and later also a stand windmill, which is called 1424. The first documented windmill in East Frisia.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Folkert J. Bakker: The sources for the common medieval history of the North German-Dutch area. In: Dick Edward Herman de Boer, Gudrun Gleba, Rudolf Holbach (eds.): "... in good friendly neighborly behavior and handling ...". Migration of people, dissemination of ideas, exchange of goods in the Dutch and German coastal regions from 13.-18. Century. Bis, Oldenburg 2001, ISBN 3-8142-0753-X , pp. 37-68.
  2. ^ Hemmo Suur: History of the former monasteries in the province of East Friesland: an attempt . Hahn, Emden 1838. p. 51 f.
  3. a b c d e Axel Heinze: Marienthal . In: Josef Dolle with the collaboration of Dennis Kniehauer (Ed.): Lower Saxony Monastery Book. Directory of the monasteries, monasteries, comedians and beguinages in Lower Saxony and Bremen from the beginnings to 1810 . Part 2, Bielefeld 2012, ISBN 3-89534-958-5 , p. 1003 ff.
  4. ^ Karl Ernst Hermann Krause:  Grestius, Hieronymus . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 9, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1879, p. 644.
  5. Here quoted from: Hans-Georg Hunger (Heimat- und Verkehrsverein Holtgast): The Benedictine Age , viewed on November 17, 2012.
  6. ^ Ostfriesische Landschaft , Staatsarchiv Aurich (ed.): Reformation in Ostfriesland: an exhibition for the Reformation anniversary in 1967 , catalog for the exhibition p. 12.
  7. a b Field name collection of the East Frisian landscape: Marienkamp . Accessed November 29, 2012.
  8. Axel Heinze: Marienkamp  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed November 20, 2012.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  

Coordinates: 53 ° 38 ′ 12 "  N , 7 ° 35 ′ 56"  E