The Princesses of Essen Minster

Photo by Moniek Bloks

Essen Minster was founded in 845 by the Bishop of Hildesheim. The present building, although reconstructed after the Second World War, was built after 1275. The abbey was ruled by an abbess, who were often of noble or royal descent.

  • Gerswid I (about 850; relative of Saint Altfrid)
  • Gerswid II (about 880)
  • Adalwi (d. 895)
  • Wicburg (about 896–906)
  • Mathilde I (907–910)
  • Hadwig I (910–951)
  • Agana (951–965)
  • Ida (966–971)
  • Mathilde II (971–1011; granddaughter of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor)
  • Sophia (1012–1039; daughter of Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor; Abbess of Gandersheim Abbey from 1001)
  • Theophanu (1039–1058; granddaughter of Otto II)
  • Svanhild (1058–1085)
  • Lutgarde (about 1088–1118)
  • Oda (1119–1137)
  • Ermentrude (about 1140–after 1154)
  • Hedwig von Wied (1154–about 1172; Abbess of Gerresheim Abbey)
  • Elisabeth I (1172–before 1216; Abbess of St. Maria im Kapitol (Cologne) and of Vreden Abbey)
  • Adelheid (1216–1237)
  • Elisabeth II (c. 1237–1241)
  • Bertha of Arnsberg (before 1243–1292)
  • Beatrix of Holte (1292–1327)
  • Kunigunde of Berg (1327–resigned 1337, died 1355; Abbess of Gerresheim)
  • Katharina of the Mark (1337–1360)
  • Irmgard of Broich (1360–1370)
  • Elisabeth III of Nassau (1370–resigned d. 1412)
  • Margarete I of the Mark-(Arensberg) (1413–resigned 1426; d. 1429)
  • Elisabeth IV Stecke von Beeck (1426–1445)
  • Sophia I von Daun-Oberstein (1445–1447)
  • Elisabeth V von Saffenberg (1447–1459)
  • Sophia II von Gleichen (1459–1489)
  • Meina von Daun-Oberstein (1489–resigned 1521; d. 1525)
  • Margarete II von Beichlingen (1521–1534) (Abbess of Vreden)
  • Sibylle von Montfort (1534–1551)
  • Katharina von Tecklenburg (1551–1560)
  • Maria von Spiegelberg (1560–1561)
  • Irmgard von Diepholz (1561–1575)
  • Elisabeth VI von Manderscheid-Blankenheim-Gerolstein (1575–resigned 1578 and married)
  • Elisabeth VII von Sayn (1578–1588) (Abbess of Nottuln Abbey)
  • Elisabeth VIII von Manderscheid-Blankenheim (1588–1598)
  • Margarete Elisabeth von Manderscheid-Blankenheim (1598–1604; Abbess of Gerresheim, Schwarzrheindorf and Freckenhorst)
  • Elisabeth IX von Bergh-s’Heerenberg (1604–1614; Abbess of Freckenhorst and Nottuln)
  • Maria Clara von Spaur, Pflaum und Vallier (1614–1644; Abbess of Nottuln and Metelen Abbeys)
  • Anna Eleonore von Stauffen (1644–1645; Abbess of Thorn Abbey)
  • Anna Salome von Salm-Reifferscheidt (1646–1688)
  • vacant: Regency of the General Chapter (1688–1690)
  • Anna Salome of Manderscheid-Blankenheim (1690–1691; Abbess of Thorn Abbey)
  • Bernhardine Sophia of East Frisia and Rietberg (1691–1726)
  • Countess Palatine Francisca Christina of Sulzbach (1726–1776; Abbess of Thorn Abbey)
    • Princess Anne Charlotte of Lorraine named abbess by her sister in law Maria Theresa of Austria
  • Maria Kunigunde of Saxony (1776–resigned 1802; d. 1826; Abbess of Thorn Abbey)









Essen Abbey and the Treasury, although beautiful, lack something. On the day of my visit, the crypt was closed, which is a shame because I missed the crypt of Theophanu. The Treasury was cold and unfriendly.


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About Moniek 1698 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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