1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gandersheim
GANDERSHEIM, a town of Germany in the duchy of Brunswick, in the deep valley of the Gande, 48 m. S.W. of Brunswick, on the railway Böissum-Holzminden. Pop. (1905) 2847. It has two Protestant churches of which the convent church (Stiftskirche) contains the tombs of famous abbesses, a palace (now used as law courts) and the famous abbey (now occupied by provincial government offices). There are manufactures of linen, cigars, beet-root sugar and beer.
The abbey of Gandersheim was founded by Duke Ludolf of Saxony, who removed here in 856 the nuns who had been shortly before established at Brunshausen. His own daughter Hathumoda was the first abbess, who was succeeded on her death by her sister Gerberga. Under Gerberga’s government Louis III. granted a privilege, by which the office of abbess was to continue in the ducal family of Saxony as long as any member was found competent and willing to accept the same. Otto III. gave the abbey a market, a right of toll and a mint; and after the bishop of Hildesheim and the archbishop of Mainz had long contested with each other about its supervision, Pope Innocent III. declared it altogether independent of both. The abbey was ultimately recognized as holding directly of the Empire, and the abbess had a vote in the imperial diet. The conventual estates were of great extent, and among the feudatories who could be summoned to the court of the abbess were the elector of Hanover and the king of Prussia. Protestantism was introduced in 1568, and Magdalena, the last Roman Catholic abbess, died in 1589; but Protestant abbesses were appointed to the foundation, and continued to enjoy their imperial privileges till 1803, when Gandersheim was incorporated with Brunswick. The last abbess, Augusta Dorothea of Brunswick, was a princess of the ducal house, and kept her rank till her death. The memory of Gandersheim will long be preserved by its literary memorials. Hroswitha, the famous Latin poet, was a member of the sisterhood in the 9th century; and the rhyming chronicle of Eberhard of Gandersheim ranks as in all probability the earliest historical work composed in low German.
The Chronicle, which contains an account of the first period of the monastery, is edited by L. Wieland in the Monumenta Germ. historica (1877), and has been the object of a special study by Paul Hasse (Göttingen, 1872). See also “Agii vita Hathumodae abbatissae Gandershemensis primae,” in J. G. von Eckhart’s Veterum monumentorum quaternio (Leipzig, 1720); and Hase, Mittelalterliche Baudenkmäler Niedersachsens (1870).