Gandersheim and Quedlinburg, c. 852-1024: the development of royal female monasteries in Saxony
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This thesis examines the relationships between royal convents and rulers in Saxony from 852 to 1024. The spate of female monasteries founded in Saxony in the ninth and tenth centuries, alongside the close relationships of major convents to the Ottonian dynasty, has led to Saxon female monasticism being described as unique. As such, Saxony’s apparently peculiar experience has been used to make comparisons with other regions about the nature of female monasticism, commemoration and the role of women in early medieval societies. This thesis interrogates these ideas by tracking the development of two major royal convents: Gandersheim and Quedlinburg. By reassessing the origins of these convents, and their later rewriting in sources produced by these monasteries, we can consider how their relationships with the rulers of Saxony developed over time, and how their identity and function as royal monasteries evolved as the tenth century progressed. In doing so, this thesis challenges the dominant understanding of these convents as homes of the Ottonian memoria and provides a detailed view of how these institutions became so prominent in Saxony. The thesis is divided into four sections. After introducing the historiographical importance of this topic in the first chapter, in chapter two I assess the origins of the convent of Gandersheim in Carolingian Saxony. Chapter three turns to the rewriting of these origins by Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim in the 970s. Chapter four reconsiders the early history of the convent of Quedlinburg from 936 to 966. Chapter five tracks how the origins of Quedlinburg evolved into a new narrative across the tenth century, culminating in the version provided by the Quedlinburg Annals in 1008. Finally, the concluding section outlines the significance of this thesis for our understanding of early medieval female monasticism and the history of the Ottonian Empire.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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