The Zeven monastery emerged from the women's convent congregatio sanctimonialium monasterium in Heeslingen , which was moved to Zeven around the middle of the 12th century .
Heeslingen was founded as a noble family monastery in the time of Otto I the Great by Count Hed with the participation of Archbishop Adaldag of Bremen in 961. There is no charter, the history of the foundation is partly contradictory. The oldest dated document of the monastery, in which the emergence of Heeslingen was also dealt with, is the diploma of King Otto III. for the Archbishop of Bremen Adaldag of March 17, 986.   Otto confirmed at the request of the Archbishop the monasterium founded by Adaldag's predecessors as a pertinence of the Bremen Church, as well as the provisions on the Election of the abbess and of the bailiff and confirmed the endowment consisting of five courts and various tithes and other grades. The pen received immunity. The founder of the monastery was a Count Hed. Nothing is known about him, most likely he was related to the Udons . His daughter Winnilgerd was the first documented abbess of Heeslingen Abbey.
In the period between the founding and the relocation, the monastery was rarely mentioned in documents. Under the last abbess Hathewich zu Heeslingen, a radical change took place with the implementation of a reform of the history of the church.
Relocation to Zeven
In 1141, Archbishop Adalbero von Bremen decided, at the request of the Provost Liudmund and with the consent of Abbess Hathewich and the discerning part of the convent, primarily of the indiscipline and irreligiousness that prevailed in Heeslingen ,  to move the cenobium Heeslingen to Zeven, four kilometers away secluded and more favorable place for observance. The main reason for this measure was the lack of discipline.  In Zeven, Heeslingen Abbey raised its tithing since it was founded, there was a settlement there and the Abbey was not transplanted into the wilderness.
Certainly, the relocation also meant submission to a monastic rule, the Benedictine rule, and thus the conversion into a monastery, even though the rule of St. Benedict was first mentioned in 1226 as authoritative for the monastery. Only the Zeven monastery can be described as a Benedictine nunnery. The actual initiator of the reform of 1241 was the provost Liudmund, who before his activity in Heeslingen was one of the closest employees of Vizelinsin in the Slavic Mission  in Wagrien and the Augustinian canons of Segeberghad listened to. The patronage and all property of the Heeslingen Monastery were transferred to the Zeven Monastery. After consent to the relocation of the monastery, preparations for the resettlement could begin and the foundation stone for the new monastery buildings and the Romanesque cruciform church that is still preserved today was laid. The move will have been completed around 1150 and the monastery in Heeslingen ceased to exist completely.
Just as the monastery in Heeslingen was built on a hill on the bank of the Oste , the monastery in Zeven was built on the raised right bank of the Mehde . Of the entire complex, which is located in the Zeven city park, the church dedicated to St. Vitus and the current museum building, in which the Zeven Monastery Museum is located, are still preserved today.
Monastery history, constitution and repeal
With the reform, the constitution also changed. This was characteristic of the Benedictine convents founded in the north German dioceses in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Zeven constitution was consistent with the other Benedictine monasteries.
If an abbess was still at the head of the convent in Heeslingen , the management of the monastery in Zeven was now in the hands of a provost and a priory. The provost was supported and represented by clergymen in the fulfillment of his pastoral duties towards the convent and the monastery family. The most important task of the provost was to represent the monastery to the outside world and to protect and manage the monastic goods, those who were just and those behind. However, all important decisions were made jointly by the provost and the convent. The leading position of the provost was clearly shown in the documentary tradition in the only Zeven diploma that touched the monastery constitution in the second half of the 12th century. It is a document issued between 1185 and 1189 in which Archbishop Hartwig II of Bremen established a land exchange between theprepositus de Zciuena cum collegio et familia ecclesie sue on the one hand and the dean of Bremen on the other.  Provost, convent and monastery family were involved in closing the deal. There was no longer any question of an abbess. In the following years, too, only the provost appeared with the convent on legal matters.
The convent of the Zeven monastery was a community. It was essentially composed of members of the Bremen nobility as well as the patriciate and the lower middle classes of the city of Stade . The convent referred to itself in the documents as ordinis sancti Benedicti . The basis of existence was the possession of goods and rights of various kinds, mainly the possession of land, which was significant for archaeological Bremen conditions, acquired over the centuries through donations, but primarily through purchase.  Due to the very early relationship with the Diocese of Lübeck and the connections to Holstein, since 1199 Count Adolf III was. by Holstein Vogt of the Zeven Monastery The monastery probably owed its contacts and possessions in neighboring Mecklenburg .  For example, between 1231 and 1234, nuns from Zeven moved to the Dobbertine Benedictine monastery, which had been abandoned by the monks from Stade and converted into a nunnery .  When it was founded after 1220, the Dobbertin monastery was settled by monks from the St. Marien monastery in Stade. In addition to its goods in Lower Saxony, the Zeven monastery also owned a village in Mecklenburg . In 1226, Archbishop Gerhard II of Bremen also rightly confirmed that north of Wittenburg in the Ratzeburg diocese located village Döbbersen (Doberse) with the church.  The circumstances of the acquisition of the village, which will probably soon be sold again, are unknown. 
The documents tell almost nothing about the life of the convent in the late Middle Ages. In 1402 the monastery school was mentioned, the decaying officium scolasticum was rebuilt at that time. In 1482, Zeven and the Benedictine abbeys of Harsefeld and Unser Lieben Frauen in Stade came together to form a permanent prayer fraternity following a joint alliance.  In 1520, the General Chapter of the Bursfeld Congregation, at the instigation of the Archbishop of Bremen, gave the abbots of Clus and Oldenstadt the task of visiting and reforming the Zeven Monastery. The success and impact of the Reformation in Zeven are unknown. While the Archdiocese of Bremen became Protestant in the course of the 16th century, the Zeven Convention held on to the traditional belief for a long time. Only after 1609 did the new belief penetrate the Zeven monastery.
With the occupation of the Archbishopric of Bremen by Swedish troops in the spring of 1645, the end of the monastery began. Even before the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the Swedish Queen Christina transferred the Zeven monastery with its possessions as a fiefdom to her lieutenant general, Count Robert Douglas, with a document dated July 10, 1647 . In 1650 the property was assigned by the Stade government, the remaining nine nuns were contractually guaranteed free accommodation in the monastery for life. The royal donation letter for Count Douglas was drawn up on May 30, 1651. The emperor and the Reichshofrat, asked for help by the nuns, continued secularization of the Zeven monastery did not face any serious resistance.
On March 25, 1694, Ilse Mittdorf died as the last Zeven nun at the age of 84; she remained a Catholic until her death. 
The Zeven monastery owned numerous goods and an abundance of rights of various kinds: farms and individual estates, houses and pensions, mills, forests, hunting and fishing rights, court rights, patronage and churches.  The most prominent place among these goods was the possession of land. Nominal owners of the monastery complex were the patron saint of the monastery, St. Vitus,  or the monastery itself, the provost and convent acted as administrators. In the late Middle Ages and modern times, the monastery acquired further properties and developed into one of the richest monasteries of the Archbishopric of Bremen. Although the monastery suffered great damage through feuds and raids in the 14th and 15th centuries, the property, especially in terms of land, grew from year to year. In the 17th century, the monastery received rye levies from around 230 farmers on the Geest of the Archbishopric of Bremen and a cash lease from around 80 people in the Altes Land and near the city of Stade.
At the head of the monastery stood a provost and a priory. No information has survived from earlier times about the size of the convent. According to documents, there were no more than 30 women monasteries with full rights living in the 15th century. In 1445 the convent consisted of 18, in 1482 of 23 and in 1499 of 24 nuns.  Shortly after the turn of the century, the number had risen to 28 nuns. 40 to 50 female monastery inmates are likely to have lived with the spiritual children and lay sisters in Zeven. Among them were 12 to 16 young children who were taught in the monastery and paid a fee.In the 17th century up to 18 virgins lived in the Zeven monastery. In 1601 and 1603 there were 15 nuns, from 1606 to 1607 there were exactly 18 and in 1623 there were 13 nuns. In the following period there were between seven and 13 conventual women. In 1650 there were only nine nuns in Zeven. 
With the exception of the priories, nuns have been known since the late 13th century. From the 17th century until modern times, the convent was largely aristocratic. Almost all of the noble conventual women came from the lower nobility of the Archbishopric of Bremen. Since the middle of the 15th century, members of the Kehdingian aristocratic families can be identified, members of these families also belonged to the patriciate of the city of Stade. With a few exceptions, the conventual women of bourgeois origin came from the petty bourgeoisie of the city of Stade. Some nuns were in Bremen , an even smaller number in the city of Verden .
The monastery building was used for official administration in the following period. In 1757 a declaration of neutrality by the Duke of Cumberland towards the French in the Seven Years' War was concluded in the monastery with the Convention of Kloster Zeven .
Both the personal and economic relations of the monastery were almost entirely limited to the Archbishopric of Bremen. The monastery never entered into a closer relationship with foreign powers, the emperor or the pope.
Church in Heeslingen
Only the church built by Abbess Hathui after 973 has survived from Heeslingen Abbey. It was built from stones, a material that was still unusual in this area at the time. It is a stone church in the shape of a single nave, vaulted in the late Romanesque period with a broad apse. The round tower was demolished at the end of the 18th century because it was in disrepair and replaced by a new building in 1897.
The church was built around the middle of the 12th century, probably between 1141 and 1158 from field stone masonry on a cross-shaped floor plan. The tower is square up to the eaves height, then merges into an octagon and is crowned by a baroque dome. The provost's chapel was on the ground floor of the tower, and above it was the nuns' choir , which was connected by a corridor to the upper floor of the remainder of the monastery building, the old room . This was where the dormitory and cells of the nuns were.
The church was supposed to be demolished in 1867, but it was saved by the Hanover consistorial builder Conrad Wilhelm Hase and restored in 1872 by the Oldenburg architect L. Wegen, with the entrance being relocated from the south aisle to the tower.
The equipment of the former monastery church included a monumental crucifix from the first half of the 13th century. Two crypt slabs from around 1400, one of them that of the provost Johannes Monik, who died in 1397. Remains of the painting of the nuns' choir date from the 15th century, they depict Christ with the wise and foolish virgins. The baptismal font was cast in 1469 by the Bremen ore caster Ghert Klinghe on behalf of the provost Luder Bramstede . There is also the carved pulpit donated by Provost Ludolf von Varendorf in 1565 . A somewhat younger singing desk decorated with flat carvings is rare. There are also aBrass chandelier from 1660 and the organ brochure from Christian Vater from 1750. 
In the church there is now a stone image of Vitus from the 16th century that was once attached to a wall outside.
Klostergebäude in Zeven
In the 12th century the convent buildings were directly connected to the north side of the church. Today only the west wing remains. It is connected to the church by a wooden bridge over the north-south dividing path "Klostergang". Gaps and damage in the quarry stone masonry have been filled with brick since at least 1500. Today this building houses the monastery museum.
It was not until 1585 that the provost Jodocus von Galen and the domina Anna von Wersabe had a building built that contained the apartment of the provost and the prioress, now Domina, and later served as the office of the Zeven office. It was demolished in 1840.
According to a description from 1690, in addition to the provost's office , the domina's house, the women's refuge and the new logament, there were other farm buildings and stables as well as the brewery with vaulted brewery cellar and the gate with the porter's apartment. The farm building with the passage through the New Thor , the school building and the large ten-fold barn stood in front of the Amtshof . 
Provosts, abbesses, priors and dominatrixes
Pröpste von Heeslingen-Zeven
Names and years indicate the documented mention as provost. Until 1141 provost of Heeslingen, since 1141 provost of Zeven.
- 1139-1164 Liudmund
- 1181–1193 Dietrich I (from 1186 bishop of Lübeck )
- 1221–1236 Dietrich II.
- 1247 Henricus
- 1254–1257 Dietrich III.
- 1269–1273 Sifridus
- 1288–1295 Bernhard von Wölpe
- 1314 before 28 June Andreas
- 1318 Johann
- 1318–1328 Bertram Woltmanni
- 1330–1332 Borchard
- 1333–1339 Bertold Witte (Albus)
- 1357–1359 Erich
- 1361-1370 Arnold von Weyhe
- 1372–1396 Johannes Monik
- 1396–1398 Magister Ropertus
- 1398 Thidericus de Molendino (renounces the office of provost in Zeven)
- 1398–1402 Magister Ropertus de Nortlo
- 1408–1409 Erpo from Lunsberg
- 1414–1445 Ortgis Spade
- 1445–1468 Diedrich Peynis
- 1468 Konrad von Horn (does not accept the office)
- 1468–1499 Luder Bramstede
- 1499–1518 Konrad Klenke
- 1518–1546 Dietrich Frese
- 1548–1554 Andreas Mundemann
- 1554–1571 Ludolf von Varendorf
- 1571–1575 Christoph Bicker
- 1575-1601 Jodocus (Jost) von Galen
- 1601–1603 Ahasver (Assver) of Langen
- 1603–1624 Adolf Bremer
- 1624–1628 Levin Marschalck
- 1628–1629 Emmerich Fünkler (Fonckler)
- 1630–1632 Gerhard Carll, called Becker
- 1632–1634 Vakanz
- 1634–1641 Otto Ascan Frese
- 1641–1648 Clement von der Kuhla (as Protestant abbot of the Marienkloster zu Stade until the abbey was abolished)
Abbesses of Heeslingen
Names and years indicate the documented mention as abbess.
- approx. 961 – before 973 Winnilgerd (Wendilgerd), daughter of Count Hed
- vor Mai 973 Winnilgerd
- from May 973 Hathui, daughter of Count Heinrich I of Udonen, the Bald
Priories of Zeven
Names and dates indicate the documented mention as priory.
- 1286 Gertraud Bremen
- 1288-1294 Jutta
- 1318–1332 Gertrud
- 1336–1339 Alheydis
- 1364 Elseben
- 1366 Beke
- 1367–1397 Ghese (Ghertrudis) Tyvers
- 1400-1401 Mechthildis
- 1402 Elizabeth
- 1414–1426 Abele
- 1436–1445 Anna
- 1450–1458 Beke van Haghen
- 1481–1484 Grete van Weyge
- 1498–1502 Heylwich of Dincla (Dinglage)
- 1503–1515 Margarete (Grete) van Idtzendorp (Issendorf)
- 1516–1518 Aleke (Alheyt) Hemelinges
Domina von Zeven
Names and years indicate the documented mention as domina.
- 1542–1542 Katharina Grabow (Domina and Priorissa)
- 1548 Goste van Idzendorpe
- 1560 Margareta Bickers
- 1585–1589 Anna von Wersabe
- 1592–1618 Jutta Brummers
- 1619 Anna Hoppe
- 1620–1643 Eileke von Varendorf
- 1644–1648 Cristina Bandex (until the abolition of the monastery)
The documents issued by the monastery were sealed with the provost and convent seal. The provost seals were individually designed. The oldest surviving provost's seal is from 1288. A round five-centimeter convent seal from 1288 has also been preserved. In it, Mary sitting with the baby Jesus on her lap, to her right is St. Vitus in a long robe, his left arm in Mary's hand, holding a palm branch in his right hand. The inscription above Vitus reads: + SIGILVM SCANTI VITI IN SZEVENA. 
- State Archives Stade
- Repertory Möhlmann I. (documents), II. (Copies)
- Originalurkunden Kloster Zeven Nr. 1–236
- Stade 5a Swedish Archives, Stade 5b Archbishop's Archives, Stade Rep. 74 Zeven, Stade Rep. 27 Imperial Court of Justice.
Lower Saxony State Archives Hanover
- Deposit 2, original documents from the city of Uelzen 1395–1418.
- State Archives Bremen
- Reichsarchiv Z. 4. b. Nr. 58, 101.
City Archives Stade
- Stader Stadbücher I, II A, II B, III A, III B, VII.
Archive of the Stader History and Local History Association
- Original documents 1593, 1645. General von Scharnhorst manuscripts
Bremervörde district archive
- Stock book of the Bremervörde office, Zeven office, burials in the church at Zeven 1694–1733.
- Ernst Andreas Friedrich : The Zeven Monastery. In: If stones could talk. Volume I, Landbuch-Verlag, Hannover 1989, ISBN 3-7842-0397-3 , pp. 136-138.
- Eduard Schumacher, The construction of the Zeven nunnery and the north German women's convents (in: Studies on Building Research No. 16). o. O. 1989 (Dissertation Technical University Darmstadt, 1988)
- Elfriede Bachmann: Zeven. In: GERMANIA BENEDICTINA Volume XI. Northern Germany: The women's monasteries in Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Bremen. Ottilien 1984, ISBN 3-88096-611-7 , pp. 550-566.
- Georg Meyer: The history of the monastery Heeslingen-Zeven and the parish of Zeven. In: Zeven and his Benedictine nunnery St. Viti. Publisher JF Zeller, Zeven 1976.
- Urs Boeck: The St. Viti Church in Zeven. ( Large architectural monuments , issue 268). Munich / Berlin 1973
- Elfriede Bachmann: The Heeslingen-Zeven Monastery. Constitutional and Economic History. Stade 1966.
- G. Meyer: History of the monastery Heeslingen-Zeven and the parish of Zeven. Zeven 1925.
- H. Gerdes: The economic situation of the Zeven monastery in 1644. NF 12, 1922.
- KEH Krause: Aebte Dietrich von Zeven and Abbot Dietrich von Stade. AF 7, Stade 1880.
- Adolf Kottmeier : Brief history of the Zeven monastery. AF 5, Stade 1875.
- HW Rotermund: Some news from the former monasteries in the Duchy of Bremen. Brunswick 1829.
- P. von Kobbe: History and country description of the duchies of Bremen and Verden. I. Göttingen 1824.
- H. Schlichthorst: Additions to the explanation of the older and more recent history of the duchies of Bremen and Verden, I. Hannover 1797.
- Elfriede Bachmann: The foundation of the Heeslingen canonical monastery in the 10th century. In: The Heeslingen-Zeven Monastery. 1966, pp. 14-24.
- MGH DO III. 24b.
- Albert Hauck: Church history of Germany. IV. 1958, p. 421, note 6.
- ZUB 8 About convent allocation. 1141.
- Helmolds Slavenchronik I. 1937, S. 54 p. 105.
- ZUB 10 issued by the Archbishop of Bremen Hartwig undated, is to be set in the period between 1185–1189.
- Elfriede Bachmann: Das Kloster Heeslingen-Zeven. 1966, S. 150.
- ZUB 7 Adolf III., Count of Holstein 1199.
- Mecklenburgisches Jahrbuch MJB 31 (1866) p. 10.
- Mecklenburgisches Urkundenbuch MUB I. (1863) No. 425.
- MUB I. (1863) Nr. 320.
- Wolfgang Huschner, Ernst Münch, Cornelia Neustadt, Wolfgang Eric Wagner: Mecklenburgisches Klosterbuch. Volume 2, 2016, p. 1295.
- ZUB 146.
- Paulus Volk: 500 years of the Bursfeld Congregation. I. 1950, p. 430 p. 484.
- Bremervörde district archive: Amt Zeven. Compartment 20 No. 1–1694.
- Elfriede Bachmann: Das Kloster Heeslingen-Zeven X. List of goods 1966, pp. 187–235.
- ZUB 26 St. Vitus was often referred to in 1282 as the owner of the monastery's own people.
- ZUB 125 year 1445, ZUB 146 year 1482, ZUB 156 year 1499.
- Elfriede Bacchmann: The monastery Heeslingen-Zeven. IV. Directory of conventual women, spiritual children and lay sisters of the Zeven monastery. 1966, pp. 167-177.
- Elfriede Bachmann: Zeven GERMANY BENEDICTINA XI. 1984, p. 562.
- Elfriede Bachmann: Zeven GERMANY BENEDICTINA XI, 1984, S. 561.
- Elfriede Bachmann: Zeven GERMANY BENEDICTINA XI. 1984, p. 566.