Brass of the Month
Copyright © 2016 Monumental Brass Society (MBS)
Page last updated 16 April 2016
Print this page ge:
April 2016, Barbara Antoni,1510, Isenhagen, Germany
This month’s brass will be new to our readers and is a significant and striking addition to the list of brasses in Germany
Isenhagen is one of six female monasteries in the area between Lüneburg and Celle, Niedersachsen, originally intended for Cistercian nuns, and which at the Reformation were not demolished, but transformed into a sort of beguinage, at first confined to unmarried young ladies from wealthy Protestant families, nowadays open to all single, Protestant, self-
There is also one incised brass tablet to be admired. It is set into a strong metal frame and placed to the left of the interior church-
By the middle of the 15th century, life in the German monasteries had generally become decadent, assumed quite worldly manners, the old conventual rules having fallen into desuetude, the buildings decaying. The new individual piety of the “devotio moderna”, propagated by the Brethren of Communal Life in Deventer and other cities of western Europe, revived the Christian religion. As a result, a wave of reform-
Also the leaders of Cistercian monasteries felt the need of reform and were supported by the princes, such as Duke Heinrich V. of Mecklenburg and Anna von Nassau, widow of Otto II Duke of Braunschweig-
Not so long afterwards, the Protestant Reformation put an end to monasteries. Ernst der Bekenner (the Confessor) Duke of Lüneburg used persuasion, trickery and pressure to convert or oust the nuns of Isenhagen, causing strife and misery for many. The house became a convent of single Protestant ladies – today there are only five left.
Clamps hold a profiled brass frame over the epitaph, pressing it against the wall at eye-
In the bottom left-
Thus she kneels in adoration before the vision of the Madonna who has appeared to her. The Mother of God stands within a ring of fiery rays of light that seem to be emanating from her. She wears the imperial crown on her head, from under which her open hair streams down, as a mark of her virginity. She holds her child, who leans over to the abbess, stretching out his arms towards her in token of sympathy.
Behind the abbess is a tree that branches out at the top of the picture, and on the left-
The rest of the plate contains a text.
The Latin prose text is an epitaph in textura-
The frame that holds the tablet has obliterated a small margin of design and text (the artist had engraved it in its entirety), so a few seemingly unfinished words need to be understood as correctly prolonged – there is no blemish in the lettering.
Barbare · hui?· cenobij · Abbatis / se · Regularisqz · vite · reduc / trici– · vt · pij– ·
sororum / intercessionib? · perheni– / apud · misericordem · deu(m) / habeatur · memoria /
positu(m) · est · hoc · mon(u) / mentum ~/ Obijt · anno· salut’ / 1510 nona februarij
Expansion (and correction) shown, punctuation added, and line-
Barbaræ, hui(us) cenobii Abbatisse Regularisq(ue) vitæ reductricis, ut piis sororum intercessionib(us) per(/ )en(n)is apud misericordem deu(m) habeatur memoria, positu(m) est hoc mon(u)mentum.
Obiit anno salut(is) 1510 nona (die) Februarij.
This monument has been placed here in order that, with the help of the sisters’ pious and continuous intercessions, the memory of Barbara, this convent’s abbess and restorer of its life-
She died on February 9th in the year of grace 1510.
1 Dickmann, Günter, Kampf ums Kloster, p.11.
Copyright: Reinhard Lamp
Rubbing by Reinhard Lamp, photo by Klaus Krüger, Halle