Klarenthal Abbey

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Klarenthal Abbey
Monastery information
Full name Klarissenkloster Klarenthal
Order Order of Poor Ladies
Established 1298
Disestablished 1559
Dedicated to St. Clare of Assisi
People
Founder(s) Count Adolf of Nassau
Site
Location Klarenthal, Wiesbaden, Hesse, Germany
Coordinates 50°05′45″N 8°11′56″E / 50.0958°N 8.1989°E / 50.0958; 8.1989Coordinates: 50°05′45″N 8°11′56″E / 50.0958°N 8.1989°E / 50.0958; 8.1989

Klarenthal Abbey (Kloster Klarenthal in German) is a former convent of the Order of Poor Ladies in the borough of Klarenthal in Wiesbaden, Germany. Klarenthal was the only abbey in present-day Wiesbaden.

History as an active monastery[edit]

King Adolf of Nassau and his wife Imagina of Isenburg-Limburg. Mural at Klarenthal Abbey, drawing by H. Dors, 1632

Klarenthal Abbey was established in 1298 by Count Adolf of Nassau (born before 1250; died July 2, 1298), who was elected King of Germany on May 5, 1292. The monastery was to serve as a tomb for the House of Nassau, and Adolf’s wife Queen Imagina of Isenburg-Limburg and many of his descendants were buried here. This continued until 1370, when, after the division of the Countship of Nassau, the preferred burial places became the central churches of the cities of residence of that particular branch of the House of Nassau. In 1429, Count Philipp I of Nassau-Weilburg-Saarbrücken was buried at Klarenthal, the last reigning member of the House of Nassau to be buried there.

The monastery belonged to the woman's Order of Poor Ladies, also known as the Poor Clares, which was founded on St. Clare of Assisi, from which is derived the name Klarenthal. Many noble women of the surrounding area joined the monastery, in particular from the Rheingau and Rheinhessen.

During the siege of Wiesbaden by Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor in 1318, Klarenthal Abbey was looted and destroyed. It was rebuilt, however, in the following years. One hundred years later, under the abbesses Paze of Lindau (1412? - 1422) and Countess Agnes of Hanau (1446? - 1450), the monastery reached its heyday. Economically consolidated, it could also expand and decorate the ensemble of its monastic buildings. The cloister was redesigned and the church partly painted.

The Mainz Diocese Feud (1461–1462) then presented a serious setback. Although the monastery itself was not affected in the conflict, many of the properties from which the monastery's income was generated were destroyed. The monastery eventually recovered economically.

In the late 15th century and early 16th century, however, Klarenthal Abbey found it increasingly difficult to attract young women. The local gentry, from which most of the nuns once came, found itself falling behind the middle class economically more and more and no longer wanted to pay the high entrance fees for admission to the monastery. Also the reputation of monasteries suffered during the late Middle Ages, so that entry into a monastery has lower social prestige. Even the medieval idea faded that a member of a family in a monastery performed a valuable service by praying for the deceased of her family. Finally, the Protestant Reformation, which turned its back on the monastic life, sounded its death knell in the areas where it prevailed, legitimizing the seizure of the monasteries by the local lord.

From 1553, Count Philip III of Nassau-Weilburg began to take steps to dissolve the monastery. Initially, he transferred the documents and records stored there into his own possession. In addition, he prevented, by no longer issuing the necessary permits, the monastery from receiving novices or choosing a new abbess. He adopted a policy of allowing its membership to decline through attrition. Eventually, in 1559, the remaining five nuns accepted the Count’s proposal to leave the monastery in exchange for appropriate compensation. This, however, did not legally abolish the monastery since, according to the Augsburg Interim, the Count needed the Pope's consent. Nevertheless, the monastery was secularized in 1559.

Later use[edit]

Initially, the assets of Klarenthal Abbey were used to assist the poor, run by priests and teachers paid by the Countship. In 1607 the buildings were transformed into a state hospital by Count Louis II of Nassau-Weilburg. In 1632 or 1650, the epitaphs of the Counts of Nassau and their relatives interred at Klarenthal were dismantled and set up in the Mauritius Church in Wiesbaden, where they would later be destroyed in the Great Fire of 1850.

In the Thirty Years War, the buildings of Klarenthal Abbey were heavily damaged. The church was without a roof, declined to ruin, and was eventually demolished in 1756. During a time of Catholic rule during the war, the Kloster was once again used as monastery, this time of the Jesuit order. But in 1650, it was again yielded.

In 1706 it became a factory for glass. This operation existed until 1723, when a fire severely damaged the facility. From 1724, it then became a paper mill. This lasted until 1840 when another fire damaged the building and this use ended. In 1730, the small settlement, which had formed around the factory, erected a chapel, which was overseen by a pastor from Wiesbaden.

Remains[edit]

Of the original monastery buildings, little remains visible after to the repeated destruction. The present buildings partially use the foundations of the monastery buildings and in some places the walls preserve medieval stonework, including some of the arcades of the cloister. Also, spolia can be seen in various places. Anything else remaining of the original monastery is invisible to all but archaeologists. On the fields formerly belonging to Klarenthal Abbey, the housing development of Klarenthal was built in 1966, taking its name from the former monastery.

Abbesses[edit]

Abbottess Term Notes
Countess Richardis of Nassau until 1311
Countess Adelheid of Nassau 1311–1338
Imagina I. 1338? - 1347
Katherina 1348–1350?
Jutta I. of Laurenburg 1350? – 1353?
Countess Agnes of Nassau 1353–1356
Imagina II. 1356? – after 1360
Countess Gele of Nassau in the 1360s
Jutta II. of Laurenburg 1360s / 1370s
Countess Margarethe of Nassau 1370s /1380s 16 years in total
Paze of Hofheim 1380s – 1390s 6 years total
Cecilia 1390s – 1400s of the Mainz Patriziat
Paze of Lindau 1412? - 1422
Countess Agnes of Hanau 1422–1446 Her sister Adelheid of Hanau was also a nun in Klarenthal
Margarethe of Eppstein (Adelsgeschlecht) 1446–1450
Sophie of Bernbach 1450–1453
Countess Bertha of Nassau 1453–1457
Margarethe of Scharfenstein 1457–1466
Countess of Wild und Rhein Katharina von Dhaun-Kyrburg 1466–1473 Daughter of Johann IV, Count of Wild und Rhein und the Countess Elisabeth of Hanau (died 1446)
Countess Margarethe of Nassau 1473–1486
Sophie von Hunolstein 1486–1508
Schenkin Magdalena von Erbach 1508–1512
Margarete von Dern 1512–1518
Countess Maria von Hanau-Lichtenberg 1518–1525
Anna Brendel 1525–1553 of Homburg

Sources[edit]

  • This article incorporates text translated from the corresponding German Wikipedia article, as of 2009-01-19.

Further reading[edit]

  • Walter Czysz: Klarenthal bei Wiesbaden. Ein Frauenkloster im Mittelalter 1298–1559. Wiesbaden 1987.
  • Hermann Langkabel: Kloster Klarenthal (= Repertorien des Hessischen Hauptstaatsarchivs Wiesbaden, Abt. 18), Wiesbaden 1981.
  • G. Maag: Die Klausurgebäude und die Kirche des Klarissenklosters Wiesbaden-Klarenthal. In: Nassauische Annalen 83 (1972).
  • Fr. Otto: Clarenthaler Studien I. Die Äbtissinnen des Klosters Clarenthal bei Wiesbaden, in: Nassauische Annalen 29, 1897/98, S. 173-201.
  • Langkabel, Hermann: Das Kloster Klarenthal als nassauisches Hauskloster im Mittelalter, in: Nassauische Annalen, Bd. 93, Wiesbaden 1982, S. 19-33