Skip to content

The Nuns' Networks. Critical Edition and Commentary of the Letter Collection of Lüne Abbey (ca. 1460-1555)

The project aims to make the letter books of the Benedictine nuns of Lüne Abbey near Lüneburg, which are unique in scope and layout and practically unknown in research to date, accessible.

Kloster Lüne, Cover Manuscript 15.
Kloster Lüne, Cover Manuscript 15.

The collection of almost 1800 letters in Latin, Low German, and a specific Low German-Latin mixed language considerably expands the corpus of texts that were independently written by women in the Middle Ages. Thus, the edition brings to light a late medieval culture of letters which, along with the contemporary humanist and early modern letters, have unjustly fallen into oblivion. The edition is to be developed with an interdisciplinary approach in German-English cooperation to provide a comprehensive insight into the nuns' networks as well as their communication and argumentation structures.

The three letter books of the Benedictine Abbey of Lüne, preserving over 1,800 letters, provide one of the largest medieval body of female writing. Most of them were composed during the convent's more turbulent days in the 15th and 16th centuries, especially in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. Since 2016, an international team of medievalists has been working on a critical edition and commentary to shed light on the linguistic, historic and religious significance of this singular collection under the direction of Henrike Lähnemann (Oxford) and Eva Schlotheuber (Düsseldorf).

The two postdoc positions on the project are funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, with additional funding coming from the VolkswagenStiftung, the Klosterkammer Hannover, the Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf, and the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel where the digital edition of the letters is published on an open access. A film series by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung documents the project:

Contact: Prof. Henrike Lähnemann (; Prof. Eva Schlotheuber (


We use cookies to give you the best experience of using this website. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.