Evangelical Lutheran St. Mary's Church
|• Mayor||Lothar Wille (SPD)|
|• Total||18.29 km2 (7.06 sq mi)|
|Elevation||6 m (20 ft)|
|• Density||270/km2 (700/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
Himmelpforten is a municipality west of Hamburg (Germany) in the district of Stade in Lower Saxony. Himmelpforten is also the seat of the Samtgemeinde ("collective municipality") Oldendorf-Himmelpforten.
Himmelpforten belonged to the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen. The families von Brobergen and von Haseldorf donated a Cistercian nunnery in Rhaden near Lamstedt. In 1255 it moved to Himmelpforten, then named Eulsete. The nunnery used to be called in Latin: Porta Coeli (heaven's gate), which became the place's name Himmelporten (in Low Saxon) or Himmelpforten (in High German) respectively. The church of the nunnery was also used as a parish church, headed by a provost, first mentioned in 1255 (a certain Albert). The provost had the privilege to provide priests to the churches in the Himmelpforten parish.
Nunnery had traditionally been institutions to provide unmarried daughters of the better off, who couldn't be provided a husband befitting their social status or who didn't want to marry, with a decent livelihood. So when an unmarried woman of that status joined a nunnery she would bestow earning assets (real estate) or – restricted to her lifetime – regular revenues paid by her male relatives, on the nunnery, making up in the former case part of the nunnery's estates.
In 1556 Himmelpforten's then Lutheran Provost Segebade II von der Hude appointed the first Lutheran pastor, Peter Schlichting, in Himmelpforten. When in the mid-16th century the majority of the population in the Prince-Archbishopric adopted Lutheranism, the function of the nunnery, to provide sustenance for unmarried women, wasn't to be given up. So the formerly Roman Catholic nunnery of Himmelpforten with its estates was turned into a Lutheran foundation (German: das Stift, more particular: Damenstift (German), literally in English: Ladies' foundation).
During the Leaguist occupation under Johan 't Serclaes, Count of Tilly (1628-1630), the administrator of the Bremian See, John Frederick had to agree to Catholic visitations in the nunneries. By November 1629 the Roman Catholic visitors issued an ultimatum to the prioress of the Lutheran conventuals to convert to Catholicism or to leave the nunnery. No conversion had been recorded, so on 6 August 1630 all Lutheran conventuals were thrown out of the nunnery. In accordance with the Edict of Restitution the estates of Himmelpforten's nunnery were then bestowed to the Catholic Jesuits, in order to finance them and their missioning in the course of the Counter-Reformation in the Prince-Archbishopric. The expelled conventuals were denied restitution of the real estate which they bestowed on the nunnery when they entered it.
After the Leaguist troops left Himmelpforten, the Lutheran conventuals returned and elected a new provost in 1638, Casper Schulte. After the Swedes had occupied Himmelpforten in 1645, Queen Christina of Sweden donated Himmelpforten's nunnery and its estates to Count Gustav Adolf Lewenhaupt as a fief for life (27 October 1647). On 30 July 1651 Lewenhaupt was officially invested with the nunnery, while the eleven still remaining conventuals under Prioress Gertrud von Campe were to be supplied a livelihood until their death. New conventuals were not to be accepted anymore.
In 1648 the Prince-Archbishopric was transformed into the Duchy of Bremen, which was first ruled in personal union by the Swedish and from 1715 on by the Hanoverian Crown. In 1807 the ephemeric Kingdom of Westphalia annexed the Duchy, before France annexed it in 1810. In 1813 the Duchy was restored to the Electorate of Hanover, which - after its upgrade to the Kingdom of Hanover in 1814 - incorporated the Duchy in a real union and the Ducal territory, including Himmelpforten, became part of the Stade Region, established in 1823.
- Landesbetrieb für Statistik und Kommunikationstechnologie Niedersachsen, Fortgeschriebene Einwohnerzahlen zum 31. Dezember 2012
- Von der Hude lived c. 1500-1578. At the end of his career he served as senior of the Cathedral Chapter in Bremen, where his epitaph is shown in St Peter's Cathedral.
- Matthias Nistal, "Die Zeit der Reformation und der Gegenreformation und die Anfänge des Dreißigjährigen Krieges (1511-1632)", In: Geschichte des Landes zwischen Elbe und Weser: 3 vols., Hans-Eckhard Dannenberg and Heinz-Joachim Schulze (eds.) on behalf of the Landschaftsverband der ehemaligen Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden, Stade: Landschaftsverband der ehem. Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden, 1995 and 2008, (Schriftenreihe des Landschaftsverbandes der ehem. Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden; No. 7), vol. III: Neuzeit (2008), pp. 1-158, here pp. 78seq. ISBN 978-3-9801919-9-9
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