Document Type


Peer Reviewed



The Nellenburg family looms large in the historical memory of Schaffhausen. Count Eberhard (ca. 1015-1078/1079) and his wife Ita (d. ca. 1105) had transformed the small city with their patronage, most notably through the foundation of the monastery of Allerheiligen; their children held prominent military and ecclesiastical positions across the Lake Constance region. Together with their son Burkhard, his wife Hedwig, and a cousin known as Irmentrud, Eberhard and Ita were buried prominently in Allerheiligen; their collective funerary monument is one of the earliest and most ambitious of its type that is known from the twelfth century. The monument, however, has only survived in pieces: twentieth-century excavations uncovered two effigies for men and a small fragment of a head from a woman’s effigy, usually identified as Ita. The male figures, largely intact, have received ample scholarly attention from art historians, but the presence of women in the family grave has been overlooked thanks to the near-total loss of their monuments. A recent reconstruction sought to ameliorate this situation by adding a body to complete the fragmentary female head, using the contemporaneous Quedlinburg effigies as a model. The resulting modern monument is beautifully executed and visually gratifying, but like all facsimiles it complicates our view of the original. This article questions the relationship of the fragmentary head and its reception in relation to Ita, whose historical position has been privileged at the expense of her daughter-in-law Hedwig and cousin Irmentrud; it also highlights contextual differences that make the imperial canoness effigies of Quedlinburg a complicated model for reimagining the Schaffhausen women. The goal is not to dismiss the reconstruction but rather to probe the underlying assumptions that continue to impact how medieval bodies, and women’s bodies in particular, are projected into the modern world.


I extend my most sincere thanks to Kurt Bänteli for meeting me at Allerheiligen for a friendly conversation about the reconstructed effigies in July 2018. The greatest challenge in writing the present essay has been balancing my admiration of the reconstructions with my interest in the pitfalls of “remaking” lost monuments. Though intended as an open critique, this essay takes reconstruction seriously and asks how “modern medieval” monuments can be contextualized against the complexities of the originals. I am also grateful to Stephanie Luther for sharing ideas generously, Genevra Kornbluth for helping me find my footing as a fledgling photographer, the editors and reviewers for incisive comments, and the Center for European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and the European Union for research funding.


Schaffhausen; Nellenburg; Tomb Sculpture; Reconstruction; Romanesque