Meerhusen Monastery

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The forester's house on the former monastery area.

The Meerhusen Monastery is a former double monastery in East Friesland , which the Benedictine order founded at the end of the 12th century east of what was then the Westermeer near Aurich . Little is known about the history of the monastery. After the Reformation, the archives were destroyed and the buildings fell into disrepair.


After Reepsholt, Meerhusen is the second oldest monastic settlement in East Friesland. The Benedictines founded the convent between 1183 and 1198 at the instigation of the Aurich regional community , which thus created a sacred regional center. It belonged with other branches of the Benedictine order to a monastery association, which possibly goes back to the Holy Hatebrand († 1198). He was abbot of the Feldwirth monastery near Appingedam , which is considered the mother monastery of the East Frisian Benedictine monasteries. Like the other early settlements of the order in East Friesland, Meerhusen was a double monastery. The name of the monastery goes back to the location of the monastery between the former lakes Oster - and Westermeer .

In 1216 the inhabitants of Meerhusen asked to be accepted into the Cistercian order. They turned their request to the abbot of the Klaarkamp monastery (province of Friesland), the oldest Cistercian monastery in Friesland . The decision on this, however, rests with the General Chapter of the Order in Cîteaux (France). After this had obtained a closer picture of the conditions in Meerhusen through two inspectors, it approved the admission of the nuns and monks of Meerhusen into the Cistercian order in 1219. However, these did not tolerate double monasteries. The Cistercians therefore built a new monastery for the monks in Ihlow, about ten kilometers away , while the nuns stayed in Meerhusen. The Abbot of Ihlow was in the future also responsible for Meerhusen, which is called Colonia von Ihlow and was dependent on the men's monastery in economic and legal terms.

In 1514 the monastery was badly damaged during the Saxon feud when Count Edzard I had it set on fire while fleeing from the troops of Count Johann V von Oldenburg . A large part of the monastery archive was probably lost in the process.

After the Reformation, the Counts of East Friesland slowly let the monastery die out. However, like most of the other convents in East Friesland, Meerhusen was not dissolved. In addition to Barthe and Thedinga , it existed for decades after 1560. However, it suffered from the fact that the offspring ran out, so that it slowly died out. Meerhusen eventually became an asylum for the poor. The buildings were slowly falling into disrepair. In 1556, Countess Anna had part of the building removed and a small hunting lodge built on the foundations. In 1561 the monastery was massively restricted in its economic base when the Vorwerk in Terheide was drawn in by the lords of the Harlingerland . It is not known when the last nuns left Meerhusen. In 1604, the entire monastery property, including around 250 hectares of cultivated land, passed to the Counts of East Friesland, who converted it into a domain and used it for sheep farming.

In 1812 reforestation began on the sandy areas around Meerhusen. At the same time a forester's house was built. Domain and forestry were combined in 1860 to form the Tannenhausen manor district. After the domain was dissolved in 1872, its property passed to the forestry. Today the Meerhusener Forest is around 700 hectares in size.

Today there are hardly any remains of the monastery and the hunting lodge. The last foundations were removed from the ground in 1845. Today there is a forester's house on the site of these buildings.

Economic activity

The monastery had a maximum of 1,500 hectares of pasture land. Due to its location between heather and moor, the economic success of the Meerhusen monastery remained modest. It lived mainly from livestock farming, especially from sheep breeding. Meerhusen had several farms, for example in Terheide and the “Groß-Heikeland” farm in the Engerhafer Marsch. The possession of a town house in Emden is documented for 1516 .

Archaeological investigation

So far only one excavation campaign has taken place in Meerhusen. The East Frisian landscape examined the area in 1958. Forest workers had previously come across human remains. As a result, the Prehistory of the East Frisian Landscape working group dug three excavation cuts, in which some burials in brick boxes, remains of a tile floor and the inner edge of the apse foundation came to light.


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Karl-Ernst Behre / Hajo van Lengen : Ostfriesland. History and shape of a cultural landscape . Ostfriesische Landschaft, Aurich 1995, ISBN 3-925365-85-0 , p. 194.
  2. Hajo van Lengen: A country without cities? Description and explanation of a special phenomenon in medieval East Frisia ( memento of October 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 2.2 MB), viewed on May 28, 2013.
  3. a b Fritz Arends, Paul Weßels (local chronicle of the East Frisian landscape): Tannenhausen, city of Aurich, district of Aurich (PDF; 1.1 MB), accessed on April 28, 2010.
  4. a b c d e f g Herbert Reyer : Meerhusen . 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 3, Bielefeld 2012, ISBN 3-89534-959-3 , p. 1050 ff.
  5. ^ Marion Brüggler and Rolf Bärenfänger (eds.): Ihlow - archaeological, historical and scientific research on a former Cistercian monastery in East Friesland . Publishing house Marie Leidorf, Rahden / Westf. 2012, ISBN 3-89646-936-3 . P. 254 f.

Coordinates: 53 ° 30 ′ 57.4 "  N , 7 ° 29 ′ 58.4"  E