On the trail of the first female citizen of Bremen: Countess Emma, also known as ‘Imma von Stiepel‘, is the first Bremen woman mentioned by her name in documents. She was born between 975 and 980. The sources about the famous woman are unfortunately often inaccurate. However, it is certain that she was revered by people as a ‘saint. ‘ Her name means in Old High German ‘the noble. ‘And she had always behaved that way. As her husband Liudger died in 1011, he left her a great inheritance. But, instead of adorning herself, she used it to do people good. She always supported her relative, the Archbishop Unwan of the Cathedral of Bremen and even gave him a church of his own, lying in the village of Stiepel.
But she was especially benevolent towards the poor. As, around 1032, the Bremen citizenry began to protest because of the lack of pasture, Countess Emma wanted to give part of her lands to the citizens. She said she would give away the part of land that a man could circumvent in an hour.
Her brother-in-law (supposedly Bernhard II.) saw his inheritance in danger and, mocking her, asked why she did not give the part of land that a man could circumvent in a whole day.
The countess seemed to like the proposal and she agreed. Angrily, the brother-in-law chose a cripple sitting on the kerb so that he could go and thus determine the size of the pasture. But the cripple is said to have developed unexpected strength and circumvented an area, bigger as the current Bürgerweide. However, the historical proof for this there is only scarce.
Her residence had Emma probably at St. Magnus, at the place where the Lesmona House is standing today. She died in 1038, likewise in Lesum.
Her grave is said to have been placed in the Bremen Cathedral until the 16th century. During excavations, from the year 1973 on, there were no discoveries, though. The benevolent Countess is still immortalized all over Bremen.
In the Bremen Schnoor quarter, she adorns, together with a choir, a window of the St. Johann Church. On the Lesum Marketplace, there is a bronze statue in her honour and in Schwachhausen, there is another statue memorizing her historical ride. Also, the Lake Emma, the upper and lower Emma valley, the streets Emmaberg and Emmastraße are named after her, a venerable Bremen woman which hopefully stays well-remembered.