Sophia I, Abbess of Gandersheim

Sophia ( * Summer / Fall 975 ();? † January 30, 1039 in Gander home ), the daughter of Emperor Otto II and Empress Theophano and thus sister of Emperor Otto III was .. you donated the Cyriakus pin Eschwege, was from 1002 until her death abbess in the monastery Gander home and from 1011 at the same time abbess in the monastery food.


The order of the naming of the children of Otto II and Theophanus suggests that Adelheid (born 977 ) is the older sister and Sophia was thus born after 977. 975 is therefore a child is born, did not survive.

From a deed of gift of Otto II from the year 979, with the proposal Theophanus the pen Gandersheim a Good was handed over, it is known that Sophia was the pen Gandersheim be handed over this year for education. Abbess there was at this time Gerberga, sister and confidante of Henry the Wrangler.

989 she was dressed as a nun. In connection with this guise it caused a conflict between the authorities responsible for Gander Home Hildesheim Bishop Osdag and Willigis, the Bishop of Mainz and Chancellor of the Reich. Sophia refused to accept the veil of Osdag, but who insisted on his right and left demonstratively establish his episcopal throne beside the altar. Before that, should the two bishops, according to the Vita Bernwardi which depicts the life of Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim and partisan reproduces the operation at Sophia's garb in favor Osdags, in the presence Theophanus, the child's Otto III. have argued and the court. The dispute was initially settled after that the clothing of Sophie should make both bishops, during the investiture of the other nuns Osdag took over alone.

Sophia stood up to 997 her brother Otto, who she referred to as dilectissima soror ( much beloved sister ) in a document and had handsomely rewarded with goods, near, but not more then dive on in the immediate vicinity of the emperor. Sophia's character is referred to as greedy, even corrupt, proud and imperious. Even taking into account that due to the dispute over Gander Home, in which she was involved leader, such designations must be mistrusted from Hildesheim sources, a subsequent failure to act was interpreted as abbess of Essen as a sign of certain weaknesses of character.

1002 Sophia Abbess was in Gander home, as it was believed to have been planned in her surrender to the monastery 979. In 1011, she also became the successor of the most important Essen Abbess Mathilde. For the local succession her sister Mathilde had originally been intended that had been married for 990 but for political reasons. Sophia stood two pins before until her death. She died on January 30 ( other sources mention 27 or 31 January) for 1039 in Gander home and was buried in the local church.

Sophia's abbacy in Essen

Since Humann it is constant topos 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 the west building of Essen Cathedral only had been under Sophia's successor in food, her niece Theophano, is completed. Sophia had Gandersheim brought forward and left no traces in food. The latest research shows this in question. For the Marsusschrein is now proven that Humann pointed the only copies to traditional inscriptions wrong. The younger Mathilde cross was not started by Mathilde, but only by Theophanu. It is possible that Sophia's apparent inaction is based in Essen only patchy tradition. Sophia convened in 1029 a regional synod, in which the participation of the Archbishop of Cologne and the Bishop of Münster and Paderborn, the Essen tithe area was reorganized. In a document, which has been preserved by chance in Nottuln, she received the gift of a free, over the appropriated with his family the stylus food. Beuckers also noted on the cross with the big Senkschmelzen the Essen Cathedral Treasury, that this cross created around the year 1000 has been redesigned with the assistance of South German craftsmen workshops from the vicinity of Emperor Henry II, for which only Sophia comes as Contracting Authority into consideration. The topos of the idle abbess may apply to them as outdated.

It is possible that Sophia was little thought into food for reasons other than failure to act: Your predecessor Mathilde had lain with Emperor Henry II in the dispute. Vogt of the pin was Count Palatine Ezzo, husband of Sophia's sister Mathilde and leader of the Lower Rhine aristocratic opposition to Henry, who had belonged to the deceased Abbess Mathilde. The establishment Sophia, under Henry aunt was whose faithful partisan because of their upbringing, Henry brought the kingdom pin may against the will of Sanctimonialen back under control. Although Sophia's successor Theophano was her niece, but also the daughter Ezzos, and stood deliberately in the tradition of Sophia's predecessor Mathilde. The care of the Memoria Sophia was these circumstances are not conducive.


  • Thangmar: Vita Bernwardi episcopi Hildesheimensis. In: Georg Heinrich Pertz et al (eds): Scriptores ( in folio ) 4: Annales, chronica et historiae aevi Carolini et Saxonici. Hannover 1841, pp. 754-782 ( Monumenta Historica Germaniae, digitized )