Abbesses have a right to demand absolute obedience of their nuns, over whom they exercise discipline, extending even to the power of expulsion, subject, however, to the bishop. As a female an abbess is incapable of performing the spiritual functions of the priesthood belonging to an abbot.
In England abbesses attended ecclesiastical councils, e.g.
By Celtic usage abbesses presided over joint-houses of monks and nuns.
On the west it is commanded by the castle, formerly the residence of the abbesses of Quedlinburg, connected with which is the interesting Schlosskirche, which was dedicated in 1129 and completely restored in 1862-82.
The abbesses, who were frequently members of the imperial house, the second of them being Otto's daughter Matilda, ranked among the princes of the empire, and had no ecclesiastical superior except the pope.