Yolanda of Vianden (1231-17 December 1283)
Description and biography.
Dominican nuns of Augsburg founded the monastery ‘Marienthal’ in the county of
Lützelburg in the valley of the river Eisch, near the castle of Hollenfels, in
1232. This county (Luxembourg) was in possession of Countess Ermesinde II
(1186-17.12.1247), since 1197, after the death of Emperor Heinrich VI. But she
had to leave Namur to her nephew in Haina. So she lost her last base on the river
Countess Ermesinde II (1186-7.12.1247).
Luxembourg 1932, Mi 245-249; Sc B50-B58. Very expensive.
She recognized the foundation of Marienthal on 22 February 1238,
and favoured it.
The seal with the statue of Countess Ermesinde and the text:
SIGILLVM HERMESSENDIS COMITISSE DE LVXEMBVRG
ET DE RVPE
(ET DE RUPE = et Laroche: the city, now named La-Roche-en-Ardenne
in the province of Luxembourg. With thanks to Mr G. Bary.)
Luxembourg 1986, Mi 1159, Sc 762.
Now preserved in the National
Archives in Luxembourg.
She granted the charter of freedom to the towns of Echternach
Diedenhofen and to Luxembourg (1244).
Countess Ermesinde had a very good reputation.
Countess Ermesinde II handed over the letter of freedom to the inhabitants
of Echternach in 1236. Engraving by the Dutch painter P.H. Witkamp,
Luxembourg 1986, M 1158, Sc 761.
Prioress Yolanda of Mersch or of Vianden.
A famous prioress of Marienthal was Yolanda of Mersch, also named of Vianden (1231-17.12.1283).Yolanda, or Yolande, youngest daughter of Count Henry I of Vianden, joined the monastery of Marienthal against the wishes of her parents when she was very young.
The Dominican from the priory of Trier, Hermann von Veldenz,
tells in his epic, written in 1290, that Yolanda’s mother had hoped to arrange a
marriage into the nobility (to Walram of Monschau) in order to consolidate the
influence of the Counts of Vianden, especially in their relations with the
Counts of Luxembourg. Finally in 1245, when Yolanda was 14, her mother,
Margareta of Courteney (French: Marguerite de Courtenay), accompanied her to the
Dominican monastery of Marienthal where Yolanda unexpectedly fled into the
protection of its inner sanctuary and became a novice.
A year later, her mother returned, with the support of several Luxembourg noblemen, threatening to destroy the convent unless
Yolanda agreed to leave. The girl was thus persuaded to return to Vianden where her parents' once again attempted to change her wishes. But Yolanda did not waver. If anything, she was reinforced in her views through discussions with well-known Dominicans such as Walter von Meisemburg and Albertus Magnus (ca 1200-15.11.1283).
Her life in the monastery.
Finally, even her mother relented and agreed that Yolanda should return to Marienthal. Entering a life of prayer and charity, Yolanda went on to become the convent's prioress in 1258.
During this time she collected valuable relics for the monastery, many manuscripts for the library and could expand the territory. She lived in the monastery till her death in 1283. Interestingly, her mother also joined the monastery after the death of her husband Henry I during a crusade (1252).
There is little remaining evidence of the life of Yolanda apart
from a skull, said to be hers, which is displayed at the Gothic church of the
Trinitarians in Vianden (13th century). As the convent in Marienthal was closed
in the 18th century, there is little trace of her there today. In 1825 her grave
was discovered in the monastery.
The epics of Yolanda.
There are two epics of the life of Yolanda of Vianden.
Epic by the Dominican Hermann von Veldenz. 1290.
His work consists of 5,963 lines of rhyming couplets in Moselle Franconian with close similarities to today's Luxembourgish. Brother Hermann's epic appears to have lain in the Marienthal monastery for almost four centuries after he wrote it. Brother Hermann was inspired to write the story of her life and why she has become such a revered figure, above all, for Luxembourg's women.
In 1655 the then lost original was copied on paper by the Belgian
Jesuit, Alexander von Wiltheim. At the same time, Wiltheim wrote a life of
Yolanda in Latin based on Brother Hermann's Middle High German.
Then in November 1999, the Luxembourg linguist Guy Berg discovered the original manuscript, now known as the Codex Mariendalenis, in Ansembourg Castle, a short distance from Marienthal. This was a very important discovery as it is considered to be the oldest manuscript in Luxembourgish.
References: Bruder Hermann: Yolanda von Vianden. Moselfränkischer Text aus dem späten 13. Jahrhundert, übersetzt und kommentiert von Gerald Newton und Franz Lösel (Beiträge zur Luxemburger Sprach- und Volkskunde XXI, Sonderreihe Language and Culture in Medieval Luxembourg 1). Luxembourg 1999.
The second poem about Yolanda, by an anonymous English author,
has also recently come to light. Entitled Iölanda, a Tale of the Duchy of
Luxembourg, it was published in 1832. The author, who was told about Yolanda on
a visit to the castle in Vianden, was apparently aware of Brother Hermann's
account as he explains in his introduction that, for Romentic reasons, he has
changed the story so that it concludes with Iölanda's marriage.
References: Iölanda, a Tale of the Duchy of Luxembourg, anonymous poem in English (1832). D'Land Luxembourg. Retrieved 15 January 2007.
Other references see internet.
Sources: All from Wikipedia
The Black Madonna, wood sculpture from the 15th
of the monastery of Marienthal, today in the church of Saint
John in the city of Luxembourg.
Luxembourg 1963, Mi 672, Sc 394.
The seal of the
monastery 'Marienthal' with the Blessed Virgin
and Child from 1295.
Luxembourg 1974, Mi 881, Sc 545.
Cecilia and Valerian crowned
by angel’ from the church of Marienthal, now in the church of Hollenfels.
Luxembourg 1974, Mi 887 , Sc 534.
Yolanda Tower of the monastery 'Marienthal' in Eischthal.
Luxemburg 2006, Mi 1723, Sc -.
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