Sophia (Gandersheim)

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Sophia (* summer / autumn 975 (?); † January 30, 1039 in Gandersheim ) was the daughter of Emperor Otto II , Empress Theophanu and thus the sister of Emperor Otto III. She founded the Cyriakusstift Eschwege , was abbess at Gandersheim Abbey from 1002 until her death and from 1011 abbess at Essen Abbey .


The order in which names were given to the children of Otto II and Theophanus suggests that Adelheid (born 977) is the older sister and Sophia was therefore only born after 977. In 975 a child was born who did not survive.

From a deed of gift from Otto II from the year 979, with which an estate was transferred to the Gandersheim Monastery at Theophanus' proposal, it is known that Sophia was handed over to the Gandersheim Monastery for education that year. At that time , the abbess was Gerberga , the sister and confidante of Heinrich the Quarrel .

In 989 she was dressed as a nun. In connection with this clothing, it caused a conflict between the Hildesheim bishop Osdag , who was responsible for Gandersheim, and Willigis , the bishop of Mainz and chancellor of the empire. Sophia refused to accept the veil from Osdag , who, however, insisted on his rights and demonstratively had his bishop's seat set up next to the altar. She wanted to receive the holy veil from Archbishop Willigis of Mainz. Previously, according to the Vita Bernwardi , the two bishops should have quarreled in the presence of Theophanus and the court about the incident with Sophias dressing. This situation put a strain on the relationship between Mainz and Hildesheim. The conflict was settled for the time being and the clothing of Sophie was carried out by both bishops, while the clothing of the other nuns was done by Osdag alone. This dispute was called the Gandersheim dispute and was not resolved until the Synod of Frankfurt in 1027 under Conrad II (HRR) .

Sophia was very close to her brother Otto until 997. In a document he referred to her as dilectissima soror ( beloved sister ) and presented her with many goods. She was not only distinguished by her involvement in the Gandersheim dispute, but also by her influence on the politics of her brother. Among other things, she functioned at the court of Otto III. as an intervener. After 997, however, it no longer appears in the vicinity of the emperor. Sophia became abbess in Gandersheim in 1002. In 1011 she was also the successor to the most important Essen abbess Mathilde . Her sister Mathilde was originally intended to be the successor there , but she was married around 990 for political reasons. Sophia was in charge of both foundations until her death. She died on January 30th (other sources mention January 27th or 31st) 1039 in Gandersheim and was buried in the collegiate church there.

Sophias Abbatiat in Essen

Since George Humann is subject of the Essen local history that Sophia had neglected their duties in Essen, as several projects begun by Mathilde as the reliquary of St.. Marsus , a processional cross (the so-called younger Mathilde Cross ) and possibly also of the west wing of the Essen Cathedral only under Sophia's successor in Essen, her niece Theophanu , had been completed. Sophia preferred Gandersheim and left no traces in Essen.

The younger Mathildenkreuz was not started by Mathilde, but by Theophanu. It is possible that Sophia's apparent inactivity in Essen is due to incomplete tradition. Sophia convened a regional synod in 1029 , in which the Essen tithe territory was reorganized with the participation of the Archbishop of Cologne and the Bishops of Münster and Paderborn . In a document she received a gift from a free man who donated himself to the Essen monastery with his family. The cross with the large melts of the Essen cathedral treasure, which was created around the year 1000, was redesigned with the help of craftsmen from southern German workshops from the circle of Emperor Heinrich II , for which only Sophia can be considered as the client.


Web links



  1. Wolfgang Wagner: The prayer commemoration of the Liudolfinger as reflected in the royal and imperial documents from Heinrich I to Otto III. In: Archives for Diplomatics . Vol. 40, 1994, pp. 1-78.
  2. Thomas Schilp: Women build Europe. International integration of the women's foundation . In: Thomas Schilp (ed.): Essen research on the women's foundation . 1st edition. tape 9 . Klartext, Essen, ISBN 978-3-8375-0672-3 , p. 96 .
  3. ^ MGH DO III 255 from 1. X. 997.
  4. Thomas Schilp: Women build Europe: international entanglements of the Essen women's foundation . In: Thomas Schilp (ed.): Essen research on the women's foundation . 1st edition. tape 9 . Klartext, Essen, ISBN 978-3-8375-0672-3 , p. 99 .
  5. Beuckers, Knapp: Colored Gold. 2006, p. 10 f.