List of Imperial abbeys

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Anselm Rittler, last Imperial abbot of Weingarten (1784–1804). Starting in 1555, the abbots of Weingarten cast the collective vote of the Imperial abbots of Swabia at the Imperial Diet[1]
Imperial abbeys in Swabia
Weissenau abbey, circa 1625

Imperial abbeys (German: Reichsabteien, also Reichsklöster and Reichsstifte) were religious houses within the Holy Roman Empire which had been granted the status of imperial immediacy (Reichsunmittelbarkeit) and therefore were answerable directly to the Emperor. The possession of imperial immediacy came with a unique form of territorial authority known as Landeshoheit, which carried with it nearly all the attributes of sovereignty.[2] Particularly after the Peace of Westphalia (1648), all entities of the Empire possessing immediacy enjoyed and exercised de facto sovereign power. Any abbot or abbess, no matter how Lilliputian his or her domain, governed with basically the same political powers as those of any secular prince[3] such as levying taxes, rendering low and high justice, maintaining a standing army, and if they were so inclined, despatching embassies, declaring war, signing treaties, etc. About 45 Imperial abbeys (including priories) survived up to the mass secularisation of 1802–03.

The head of an Imperial abbey was generally an Imperial abbot (Reichsabt) or Imperial abbess (Reichsäbtissin). (The head of a Reichspropstei—an Imperial provostry or priory—was generally a Reichspropst). Collectively, Imperial abbots, provosts and priors were formally known as Reichsprälaten (Imperial Prelates). A small number of the larger and most prestigious establishments had the rank of princely abbeys (Fürstsabtei), and were headed by a Prince-Abbot or a Prince-Provost (Fürstabt, Fürstpropst), with status comparable to that of Prince-Bishops. Most however were Imperial Prelates and as such participated in a single collective vote in the Imperial Diet as members of the Bench of Prelates, later (1575) divided into the Swabian College of Imperial Prelates and the Rhenish College of Imperial Prelates. Despite their difference of status within the Imperial Diet, both the Imperial Prelates and the Prince-Abbots exercised the same degree of authority over their principality.

It was not uncommon for heads of religious houses other than the Imperial abbeys to have similar titles even though their establishments did not have Imperial immediacy. To take three examples, the Prince-Bishop of St. Gall retained his title until the abbey was secularised in 1798, even though it had ceased to be an Imperial abbey in 1648; the abbot of Muri (which had a strong Habsburg connection) was created an Imperial prince in 1710, although by that time Muri was in Switzerland; and the Prince-Abbot of St. Blaise's Abbey in Baden-Württemberg held that title, not on account of the status of the abbey, which was not immediate, but because it was conferred on him by the abbey's ownership of the County of Bonndorf.

Lists of Imperial abbeys[edit]

List A: Imperial abbeys named in the Matrikel[edit]

The religious houses listed here as List A are those named in the Matrikel, or lists of those eligible to vote in the Imperial Diet, including those whose votes were collective rather than individual. Three of these lists survive and are accessible, from 1521, 1755 (or thereabouts) and 1792.

The former Imperial abbey of Zwiefalten in 1890. Most Imperial abbeys belonged to the Benedictine order.

This list includes the Principalities, Imperial abbeys (Reichsabteien and -klöster), Imperial colleges (Reichsstifte), Imperial provostries or priories (Reichspropsteien) and the single Imperial charterhouse (Reichskartause).

The word "Stift", meaning a collegiate foundation or canonry, possibly belonging to a variety of different orders or to none at all, and either with or without rules and vows, for either men ("Herrenstift") or for women (Frauenstift), has been left untranslated, except when it specifically refers to the chapter of a church.

Germania Benedictina

Some of the imperial abbeys were dissolved during the Reformation; others were absorbed into other territories at various times in the general course of political life. Those in Alsace and Switzerland passed out of the Empire in 1648, when Alsace was ceded to France and Switzerland became independent. The great majority of these religious bodies however were secularized during the brief period that included the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and their aftermath, especially as a result of the German mediatization (Reichsdeputationshauptschluss) of February 1803. Any that survived lost their Imperial status when the Holy Roman Empire was wound up in 1806.

Abbreviations[edit]

  • Description and Imperial status column:
    • RA stands for Reichsabtei (Imperial abbey)
    • RF stands for "Reichsfürstentum" (Imperial Principality)
    • RP stands for "Reichspropstei" (Imperial provostry)
  • Lost imm. column:
    • imm. Imperial immediacy
    • Sec. secularised
    • Med. mediatised
    • Switz. Switzerland
    • Hel. Helvetic Republic
  • College column:
    • RC stands for "Rhenish College"
    • SC stands for "Swabian College"
    • RF stands for "Reichsfürst", i.e., the head of the house in question had an individual vote; there were nine of these (Fulda, Kempten, Ellwangen, Murbach-Lüders, Berchtesgaden, Weissenburg, Prüm, Stablo-Malmedy and Corvey).
CoA Religious house Location Founded Imm. Lost imm. To... Description and status College
Coats of arms of None.svg Baindt Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1240 1376 1802 Sec. Blason Walsee.svg Count of Aspremont-Lynden Cistercian nunnery; reichsunmittelbar but remained subordinate to Salem Abbey. RA SC
Wappen Fürstprobstei Berchtesgaden.svg Berchtesgaden Provostry Bavaria 1102 1194 1803 Sec. Salzburg Wappen.svg Electorate of Salzburg Augustinian Canons. Fürstpropstei ("Prince-Provostry"). RF from 1380 or 1559 RF
Coats of arms of None.svg Buchau Abbey Baden-Württemberg c. 700 1347 1803 Sec. Wappen Thurn und Taxis.svg County of Thurn und Taxis Frauenstift. RA. RF[4] RC
Wappen Abtei Burtscheid.svg Burtscheid Abbey North Rhine-Westphalia (Aachen) 997 1220 1802 Sec. Flag of France.svg Roer Benedictine monastery; from 1220/21 Cistercian nunnery. RF RC
Reichskartause Buxheim coat of arms.svg Buxheim Charterhouse Bavaria c. 1100 1548 1802/03 Sec. Wappen Ostein.svg County of Ostein Canons; Carthusians from 1402 (the only Reichskartause). RP SC and RC
Coats of arms of None.svg Comburg Baden-Württemberg (Schwäbisch Hall) 1070s before 15th century 1587 Med. Wappen Herzogtum Württemberg.svg Duchy of Württemberg Benedictine monastery, later Herrenstift. Mediatised by Württemberg 1587; secularised 1803. RA SC
Party per fess or and gules.svg Corvey Abbey North Rhine-Westphalia (Höxter) c. 820 c. 1150 1803 Sec. Wappen Nassau-Fulda.svg Principality of Nassau-Orange-Fulda Benedictine monastery. RA; RF no later than 1582[5] RF
Disentis Muster wappen.svg Disentis Abbey Switzerland c. 720[6] early 8th century 1798 Hel. Wappen Graubünden matt.svg Three Leagues Benedictine monastery; secularised 1798; re-established 1803. RA SC
Coat of arms echternach luxbrg.png Echternach Abbey Luxembourg 700 751 1794 Sec. Flag of France.svg Forêts Benedictine monastery. Mediatised by Austria sometime after 1521[7] RA
Einsiedeln-Abbey-coat of arms.svg Einsiedeln Abbey Switzerland 934 965 1648 Switz. Wappen des Kantons Schwyz.svg Canton of Schwyz Benedictine monastery. Ceased to be part of the HRE in 1648; secularised 1798; re-established 1803. RA
Coats of arms of None.svg Elchingen Abbey Bavaria 1128 1128 1802 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Benedictine monastery. RA SC
Wappen Probstei Ellwangen.gif Ellwangen Abbey Baden-Württemberg c. 764 1011 1802 Sec. Wappen Herzogtum Württemberg.svg Duchy of Württemberg Benedictine monastery; Fürstpropstei ("Prince-Provostry"). Possibly founded as early as 732. RF RF
Wappen Stift Essen.svg Essen Abbey North Rhine-Westphalia c. 845 betw. 874 and 947 1803 Sec. Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Kingdom of Prussia Frauenstift. RA RC
Coats of arms of None.svg Frauenchiemsee Abbey (aka Frauenwörth) Bavaria 782 782 1803 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Benedictine nunnery. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Fraumünster Abbey Switzerland (Zürich) 853 1218 1524 Sec. Wappen Zürich matt.svg Canton of Zurich Benedictine nunnery. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Fürstenfeld Abbey Bavaria (Fürstenfeldbruck) 1258 Uncertain 1803 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Cistercian monastery. RA SC
CHE Köniz COA.svg Fulda Abbey Hesse 744 765 1802 Sec. Wappen Nassau-Fulda.svg Principality of Nassau-Orange-Fulda Benedictine monastery. RF[8] RF
Party per pale sable and or.svg Gandersheim Abbey Lower Saxony 852 919 (de facto 877) 1810 Sec. Armoiries de La Falloise.svg Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel Frauenstift. The abbey asserted Imperial immediacy but owned no reichsunmittelbar estates, and was claimed until 1709 by Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. RA RC
Coats of arms of None.svg Gengenbach Abbey Baden-Württemberg 727–35 9th century 1803 Sec. Coat of arms of Baden.svg Margraviate of Baden Benedictine monastery. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Gernrode Abbey Saxony-Anhalt 959 961 1728 Med. Flagge Herzogtum Anhalt.svg Principality of Anhalt-Dessau Frauenstift. De facto sovereignty lost to Anhalt in 1570. RA RC
Coats of arms of None.svg Göss Abbey Austria (Leoben) 1004 1020 1782 Sec. Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Habsburg Monarchy Benedictine nunnery. RA SC
Wappen Kloster Gutenzell.svg Gutenzell Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1237 1417 1803 Sec. Blason ville fr Vernantes (Maine-et-Loire).svg County of Toerring Cistercian nunnery. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Heggbach Abbey Baden-Württemberg (Maselheim) 1231 1429 1803 Sec. Armoiries Walpode de Bassenheim.svg County of Bassenheim Beguines; Cistercian nunnery from 1248.[9] RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Helmarshausen Abbey Hesse (Bad Karlshafen) 997 997 1538 Sec. Coat of arms of Hesse.svg Landgraviate of Hesse Benedictine monastery. RA SC
POL heraldy - pas.svg Herford Abbey North Rhine-Westphalia 832 1147 1802 Sec. Ravensberg Arms.svg County of Ravensberg Frauenstift. Lutheran from 1533. RA RC
Wappen Bad Herrenalb.png Herrenalb Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1147/48 1275 1497 Med. Coat of arms of Baden.svg Margraviate of Baden
Wappen Herzogtum Württemberg.svg Duchy of Württemberg
Cistercian monastery. RA SC
Reichsabtei Hersfeld.svg Hersfeld Abbey Hesse 736–42 775 1648 Sec. COA family de Landgrafen von Hessen.svg Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel Benedictine monastery. De facto mediatised to Hesse-Kassel from 1606. RA RC
Reichsabtei Irsee coat of arms.svg Irsee Abbey Bavaria 1186 1695 1802 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Benedictine monastery. RA SC
Wappen Markt Kaisheim.png Kaisheim Abbey (sometimes Kaisersheim Abbey) Bavaria 1135 1346 1802 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Cistercian monastery. Immediacy was not recognised by the Wittelsbachs, who were the Vögte; a legal agreement was reached with their successors in 1656, confirming Reichsfreiheit. RA SC and RC
Wappen Kaufungen.png Kaufungen Abbey Hesse (Kassel) 1017 1089 1527 Med. Coats of arms of None.svg Hessian Knighthood Benedictine nunnery. Given to the Hessische Ritterschaft 1532; still extant as a private foundation. RA
Fuerststift Kempten coat of arms.png Kempten Abbey Bavaria 752 1062 1803 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Benedictine monastery; Fürststift from 1524. RA / RF RF
Coats of arms of None.svg Klingenmünster Abbey Rhineland-Palatinate 636? 1115 1567 Sec. Arms of the Palatinate (Bavaria-Palatinate).svg Electorate of the Palatinate Possibly founded in 636, definitely before 780. Benedictine abbey until 1490; then Herrenstift. RA / RP RC
Coats of arms of None.svg Königsbronn Abbey Baden-Württemberg (Heidenheim) 1303 probably 15th century 1553 Med. Wappen Herzogtum Württemberg.svg Duchy of Württemberg Cistercian monastery, taken over and made Protestant by Württemberg. It remained Protestant despite failed attempts to revert to Catholicism in 1630–32 and 1635–48; it was finally secularised in 1710. RA
Wappen Reichsabtei Kornelimünster.svg Kornelimünster Abbey North Rhine-Westphalia (Aachen) 614 by mid-9th century 1802 Flag of France.svg Roer Benedictine monastery. RA[10] RC
Coats of arms of None.svg Kreuzlingen Abbey Switzerland c. 1125  1145 1648 Switz. Wappen Thurgau matt.svg Canton of Thurgau Augustinian Canons. Dissolved by the cantonal government in 1848. RA
Coats of arms of None.svg Lindau Abbey Bavaria c. 822 1466 1802 Coats of arms of None.svg Principality of Bretzenstein Frauenstift, possibly later a Reichsfürstabtei; RA. SC
Coat of Arms of the Bishopric of Konstanz.svg Lorsch Abbey Hesse (Darmstadt) 764 852 (confirmed) 1232 Med. Mainz Arms.svg Archbishopric of Mainz Benedictine monastery until 1248; thereafter Premonstratensian until dissolution in 1556. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Malmedy Abbey Belgium 645 651? 1794 Sec. Flag of France.svg Ourthe Benedictine monastery, forming a single principality with Stavelot. RA RF
Wappen Kloster Marchtal.svg Marchtal Abbey (also Marchthal) Baden-Württemberg before 776 1500 1803 Sec. Wappen Thurn und Taxis.svg County of Thurn und Taxis Premonstratensian monastery. Refounded 1171. RA SC
Blason ville fr Marmoutier Bas-Rhin.svg Marmoutier Abbey; also Maursmünster[11] Alsace by 659 659 1789 Blason département fr Bas-Rhin.svg Bas-Rhin Benedictine monastery. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Maulbronn Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1147 1147 1806 Sec. Flagge Königreich Württemberg.svg Kingdom of Württemberg Cistercian monastery. Seized by Württemberg in 1504, secularised in 1534, alternated between Cistercianism and Protestantism until settled to the latter by Peace of Westphalia in 1648. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Memleben Abbey Saxony-Anhalt 975 uncertain, poss. late 10th century 1548 Med. Reichsabtei Hersfeld.svg Hersfeld Abbey Benedictine monastery. RA RC
Wappen Siegburg.png Michaelsberg Abbey (also known as Siegburg Abbey) North Rhine-Westphalia (Siegburg) 1064 1512 1676 Med. Bergischer Löwe.svg Duchy of Berg Benedictine monastery. Secularised in 1803. RA RC
Wappen Rot an der Rot.svg Mönchrot Abbey, also Mönchroth, Münchenroth, Rot or Rot an der Rot Abbey Baden-Württemberg (Rot an der Rot) 1126 1497 1803 Med. Coats of arms of None.svg County of Wartenberg Premonstratensian monastery. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Mondsee Abbey Austria 748 788 1791 Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Habsburg Monarchy Benedictine monastery. Imperial immediacy lost to the Bishopric of Regensburg 831–1142. RA SC
Blason de la ville de Munster (68).svg Abbey of Münster im Gregoriental[12] Alsace 660 1235 1789 Sec. Blason département fr Haut-Rhin.svg Haut-Rhin Benedictine monastery. RA SC
Blason Murbach.svg Murbach Abbey (incl Lüders) Alsace 727 792 1789 Sec. Blason département fr Haut-Rhin.svg Haut-Rhin Benedictine monastery. Effectively French since 1648, but anomalously remained legally part of the Empire; dissolved during the Revolution. RF RF
Coats of arms of None.svg Muri Abbey Switzerland 1027 1701 1648 Switz. Coat of arms of Baden AG.svg Helvetic Canton of Baden Benedictine monastery. The abbey was never immediate, but the abbot was created Reichsfürst in 1701. RA
Coats of arms of None.svg Neresheim Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1095 1764 1802 Sec. Wappen Thurn und Taxis.svg County of Thurn und Taxis Benedictine monastery. The abbey's status was the subject of litigation with the County of Oettingen until after 1760. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Niedermünster Bavaria (Regensburg) before 700 1002 1803 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Frauenstift. Refounded 788, 948–55. RA RC
Coats of arms of None.svg Nordhausen chapter Thuringia poss. mid-10th century by 1220 1802 Sec. Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1750-1801).svg Kingdom of Prussia Chapter of Nordhausen Cathedral. RA
Reichsstift Obermuenster coat of arms.svg Obermünster Bavaria (Regensburg) early 9th century before 1024 1810 Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Kingdom of Bavaria Benedictine nunnery, later Frauenstift. RA. RF from 1315 RC
Wappen Gessertshausen.png Oberschönenfeld Abbey Bavaria c. 1211 1248? 1803 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Beguines until c 1211, then Cistercian nunnery, formalised from 1248. RA
Wappen Ochsenhausen.svg Ochsenhausen Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1093 1495 1803 Sec Armoiries de Steinbach 2.svg County of Metternich-Winnenburg Benedictine monastery. RA SC
Wappen Odenheim.png Odenheim Abbey (originally Wigoldsberg; later also Odenheim and Bruchsal) Baden-Württemberg c. 1108 by 1161 1802–03 Sec Coat of arms of Baden.svg Margraviate of Baden Benedictine monastery; Herrenstift from 1496. RA RC
Wappen Kloster Ottobeuren.svg Ottobeuren Abbey Bavaria 764 1299, regranted 1710[13] 1802 Sec Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria
(Coat of Arms of the Bishopric of Augsburg.svg Bishopric of Augsburg 1624–1710)
Benedictine monastery. RA SC
Wappen Kloster Petershausen.svg Petershausen Abbey Baden-Württemberg (Konstanz) 983 early 13th century 1802 Sec Coat of arms of Baden.svg Margraviate of Baden Benedictine monastery. RA SC
Wappen Pfaefers.png Pfäfers Abbey Switzerland 731 1408 1648 Switz. Flag of Switzerland.svg Swiss condominium Benedictine monastery. Ceased to be part of HRE in 1648 (secularised 1798; re-established 1803). RA
Coats of arms of None.svg Prüfening Abbey Bavaria (Regensburg) 1119 Unknown 1803 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Benedictine monastery. RA SC
Wappen Prüm.svg Prüm Abbey Rhineland-Palatinate 720 1222 1576 Sec. Trier Arms.svg Archbishopric of Trier Benedictine monastery. Annexed by France 1794. RF RF
Wappen Landkreis Quedlinburg 1939.svg Quedlinburg Abbey Saxony-Anhalt 936 936 1803 Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Kingdom of Prussia Frauenstift; Lutheran from 1540. RA RC
Recklinghausen Wappen.jpg Recklinghausen Abbey (also Rechenhausen) North Rhine-Westphalia Unknown Unknown Unknown Wappen Stift Essen.svg Essen Abbey RA
Reichenau (Baden-Württemberg) Wappen.png Reichenau Abbey Baden-Württemberg 724 Unknown 1540 or 1548 Wappen Bistum Konstanz.svg Bishopric of Constance Benedictine monastery. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Riddagshausen Abbey Brunswick 1145/46 Uncertain, early 1569 Med. Armoiries de La Falloise.svg Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel Cistercian monastery. Mediatised on Reformation to Lutheran seminary; secularised 1809. RA
Reichsabtei Roggenburg coat of arms.png Roggenburg Abbey Bavaria 1126 1482–1485 1803 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Premonstratensian monastery. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Rottenmünster Abbey Baden-Württemberg (Rottweil) 1224 1237 1803 Sec. Wappen Herzogtum Württemberg.svg Duchy of Württemberg Cistercian nunnery. Reopened 1898. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Saalfeld Abbey Thuringia (Saalfeld) 1071 Unknown 1526 Sec. Blason Jean-Georges IV de Saxe.svg Electorate of Saxony Benedictine monastery. RA
Coats of arms of None.svg St Bartholomäus cathedral chapter Hesse (Frankfurt am Main) 852 Unknown 1803 Sec. Wappen Frankfurt am Main.svg Imperial City of Frankfurt Chapter of the Kaiserdom in Frankfurt. RP RC
Wappen St Blasien.svg St. Blaise's in the Black Forest Baden-Württemberg Uncertain 1609 1806 Sec. Coat of arms of Baden.svg Grand Duchy of Baden Benedictine monastery. The Prince-Abbot of St. Blaise's had princely status (RF) not because of the abbey itself but because the abbey had acquired the County of Bonndorf, which carried princely status with it from 1609[14]
Coats of arms of None.svg St. Emmeram's Abbey Bavaria (Regensburg) c. 739 1295 1803 Sec. Wappen Regensburg.svg Principality of Regensburg Benedictine monastery. RA RC
Coa Abbey Saint Gall.svg St. Gall Switzerland 613 1207 1798 Sec. (1648 Switz.) Flag of the Helvetic Republic (French).svg Helvetic Canton of Säntis Benedictine monastery; later Fürstabtei. Swiss associate from 1451; secularised temporarily 1527–32. RA / RF SC
Coats of arms of None.svg St George's at Isny in the Allgäu Baden-Württemberg (Isny im Allgäu) 1096 1781 1803 Sec. Wappen Quadt.svg Princely County of Quadt-Wykradt Benedictine monastery. RA SC
Offizielles Wappen von Stein am Rhein.png St. George's Abbey, Stein am Rhein Switzerland (Stein am Rhein) 9th century 15th century 1521–26 Sec. Wappen Zürich matt.svg Canton of Zurich Founded 9th century on the Hohentwiel; moved to Stein am Rhein c. 1007. RA
Coats of arms of None.svg St. Giles' Abbey, Nuremberg (Schottenkloster Sankt Ägidien) Bavaria c. 1140 Unknown 1525 Med. Wappen von Nürnberg.svg Imperial City of Nuremberg "Schottenkloster"; Benedictine monastery from 1418. Absorbed by Nuremberg in 1525 (possibly 1567) as unable to document immediacy. RA
Stadtwappen Helmstedt.png St. Ludger's Abbey Lower Saxony (Helmstedt) c. 800 Unknown 1802 Sec. Armoiries de La Falloise.svg Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel Benedictine monastery. RA RC
Wappen Reichsabtei Sankt Maximin.svg St. Maximin's Abbey, Trier Rhineland-Palatinate 4th century before early 12th century 1669 Med. Trier Arms.svg Archbishopric of Trier Benedictine monastery. Mediatised to the Electorate of the Palatinate in the 16th century, but status not finalised until immediacy definitively surrendered to Trier in 1669. RA RC
Wappen St Peter Hochschwarzwald.png St. Peter's Abbey in the Black Forest Baden-Württemberg before 1073 1093 1806 Sec. Coat of arms of Baden.svg Grand Duchy of Baden Benedictine monastery. RA
Boudevilliers-coat of arms.svg St. Ulrich's and St. Afra's Abbey Bavaria c. 10th century 1577 de jure
1643 de facto
1802 Sec. Wappen Augsburg 1811.svg Imperial City of Augsburg
Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria
Benedictine monastery from 1006–12; probably refounded from a 5th- or 6th-century predecessor. The abbey was made immediate in 1577, but its status was challenged by the Bishop of Augsburg in litigation until 1643/44. RA RC
Wappen Reichsabtei Salem.svg Salem Abbey aka Salmansweiler Baden-Württemberg 1136 1138–52 1803 Sec. Coat of arms of Baden.svg Margraviate of Baden Cistercian monastery. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Schaffhausen Abbey Switzerland 1049 1190 1529 Med. Schaffhouse-coat of arms.svg Canton of Schaffhausen Benedictine monastery. RA
Schaenis-blazono.png Schänis Abbey Switzerland 9th century 1045 1438 Med. Flag of Switzerland.svg Swiss condominium Frauenstift. Frederick IV, King of Germany confirmed the abbatial rights in 1442, but the link with the Empire was broken; the abbess continued to bear the title of Princess of the Holy Roman Empire until secularisation to the canton of St. Gallen under the Act of Mediation in 1803. Suspended during the Protestant Reformation 1529–31. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Schussenried Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1183 1440 1803 Sec. Armoiries d'Erpeldange.svg County of Sternberg-Manderscheid Premonstratensian monastery. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Schuttern Abbey Baden-Württemberg 603 975 1801 Sec. Coat of arms of the House of Este (1239).svg Duchy of Modena Benedictine monastery. Not to be confused with Schottern Abbey in Austria, secularised in the 15th century. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Selz Abbey Baden, later Alsace 991 992 1481 Med. Arms of the Palatinate (Bavaria-Palatinate).svg Electorate of the Palatinate Benedictine monastery / nunnery. Secularised in 1803. RA
Coats of arms of None.svg Söflingen Abbey (sometimes Söfflingen) Baden-Württemberg (Ulm) 1258 1773 1797 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Poor Clares. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Stablo or Stavelot Abbey (also Stablingen) Belgium 651 651? 1794 Sec. Flag of France.svg Ourthe Benedictine monastery. Formed a single principality with Malmedy. RF. RF
Thorn wapen.png Thorn Abbey The Netherlands (Limburg) c. 975 1292 1795 Sec. Flag of France.svg Meuse-Inférieure Frauenstift. RA. RF from 1793. RC
Wappen von Ursberg.png Ursberg Abbey Bavaria 1126–28 1143 1803 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Premonstratensian monastery. Not to be confused with Urspring Abbey. RA SC
Wappen Waldsassen.png Waldsassen Abbey Bavaria 1128–32 1147 1543 Med. Arms of the Palatinate (Bavaria-Palatinate).svg Electorate of the Palatinate Cistercian monastery. Secularised to the Electorate of Bavaria in 1803; reopened as Cistercian nunnery 1863. RA SC
Wappen Walkenried.svg Walkenried Abbey Lower Saxony 1127 1542 1648 Med. Armoiries de La Falloise.svg Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel Cistercian monastery. RA RC
Wappen Weingarten.svg Weingarten Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1056 1274 1803 Sec. Wappen Nassau-Fulda.svg Principality of Nassau-Orange-Fulda Benedictine monastery. RA SC
Weißenau Requisitenhalle Heimatfest Wappen Kloster.jpg Weissenau Abbey Baden-Württemberg (Ravensburg) 1145 c. 1257 1802 Armoiries d'Erpeldange.svg County of Sternberg-Manderscheid Premonstratensian monastery. RA SC
Blason Wissembourg 67.svg Weissenburg Abbey Alsace 7th century Unknown 1306 Med. Blason Wissembourg 67.svg Imperial City of Weissenburg Reichspropstei. Raised to Imperial city 1306, joined Décapole 1354, annexed by France 1697. RP / RF (status later assumed by Bishop of Speyer). RF
Reichsabtei Werden-Helmstedt.svg Werden Abbey North Rhine-Westphalia (Essen) 799 877 1803 Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Kingdom of Prussia Benedictine monastery. RA RC
Reichsstift Wettenhausen coat of arms.png Wettenhausen Abbey Bavaria 1130 Unknown 1803 Sec. Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria Augustinian Canons. Founded on the site of an earlier foundation, dated 982. RA SC
Coats of arms of None.svg Zwiefalten Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1089 1750 1802 Sec. Wappen Herzogtum Württemberg.svg Duchy of Württemberg Benedictine monastery. RA SC
CoA Religious house Location Founded Imm. Lost imm. To... Description and status College

List B: Reichsmatrikel 1521[edit]

The Matrikel of 1521 included a number of religious houses which have not been identified:

Religious house Location Dates Description and Imperial status
Beckenried Abbey[15] Switzerland ceased to be part of the HRE in 1648 RA
Blankenburg Abbey nk[16] nk nk
Brunnen Abbey Landstrass, Carinthia (Austria) nk nk
Hynoltshusen Abbey nk[17] nk monastery
Kitzingen Abbey nk nk monastery
Rockenhausen nk[18] nk RA
St. Johann (St. John's Abbey) nk nk nk

Inclusion in the 1521 Reichsmatrikel is not by itself conclusive evidence that a particular religious house was in fact an Imperial abbey, and the status of the following abbey listed in the Matrikel is questionable in the absence of further confirmation from other sources:

Religious house Location Dates Description and Imperial status
St. John's Abbey in the Thurtal (Sant Johans im Turital) Switzerland (Alt St. Johann, later Nesslau) fdd. before 1152; RU nk (if at all); subordinated to St. Gall's Abbey 1555; ceased to be part of the HRE 1648 (dissolved 1805) Benedictine monastery. Imperial status unknown

List C: Imperial abbeys not named in the Matrikel[edit]

For a variety of reasons a quantity of religious houses that possessed, or claimed, the status of Imperial immediacy either did not attend the Imperial Diet, or were not listed in the surviving Matrikel. The following list is very far from complete, and possibly some of those listed may not in fact have been immediate (reichsunmittelbar).

Religious house Location Dates Description and Imperial status
Amorbach Abbey Bavaria
Edelstetten Abbey Bavaria fdd. 1126; more a charitable institution for daughters of the lower Swabian nobility than a monastery. Except for the abbesses, the women were free to leave after some time and get married. Imperial abbey status in 1783 only. Secularized in 1803 and given as a principality to Charles-Joseph, prince de Ligne. One year later, he sold his principality to Nikolaus II, Prince Esterházy.[19] Augustinian monastery. RA
Munsterbilzen Abbey Belgium
Nienburg Abbey Saxony-Anhalt fdd 975; RU temp. Otto II; mediatised 1166 by the Archbishop of Magdeburg; secularised 1563 by the Prince of Anhalt-Dessau Benedictine monastery. RA RC
Nivelles Abbey Belgium
Schöntal Abbey[20] Baden-Württemberg fdd. 1157; RU from 1418 to 1495; secularised 1803 Cistercian; RA
Tegernsee Abbey Bavaria
Wiblingen Abbey Baden-Württemberg, Ulm fdd. 1037; RU from 1701; secularised 1806 Benedictine; RA

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Whaley, J., Germany and the Holy Roman Empire (1493–1806) Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 353.
  2. ^ Gagliardo, J. G., The Holy Roman Empire as Idea and Reality 1763–1806, Indiana University Press, 1980, p. 4.
  3. ^ Gagliardo, p. 5
  4. ^ In 1792 the "Gefürstete Äbtissin zu Buchau" was listed among the Swabian Counts, not the Prelates
  5. ^ The abbots became the Bishops of Corvey; the territory was later part of the Prince-Bishopric of Paderborn
  6. ^ the traditional date of 614 is not borne out by archaeological investigation
  7. ^ listed in the 1521 Matrikel but not in that of 1755
  8. ^ from 1752 the abbots were also the Prince-Bishops of Fulda
  9. ^ 1248 is the year of the charter confirming status, but probably Cistercian in observance from c. 1237–44
  10. ^ possibly later a Reichsfürstabtei
  11. ^ must not be confused with Münster im Gregoriental in Upper Alsace
  12. ^ The imperial abbey of Münster im Gregoriental (Georgental) in Haut-Rhin (near Colmar) must not be confused with Maurmünster in Bas-Rhin (near Saverne)
  13. ^ Immediacy lost when abbey was mediatised by Bishops of Augsburg (c. 1624); immediacy was regranted in 1710, but the Abbot did not regain a seat in the Imperial Diet
  14. ^ 1792 Matrikel: Fürst u. Abt zu St. Blasien wegen der gefürsteten Grafschaft Bonndorf
  15. ^ there is no trace of a religious house at any time located in the village of Beckenried
  16. ^ attributed, by sources on the Heraldica website either to Blankenberg in Lorraine or to a place "Blankenburg" near Oldenburg
  17. ^ Honnecourt near Cambrai has been suggested see Heraldica website
  18. ^ a location near Kaiserslautern has been suggested, or possibly Rönkhausen Abbey see Heraldica website
  19. ^ Philip Mansel, Le Prince de Ligne, le charmeur de l'Europe, Perrin, 2002, pp. 211-215
  20. ^ not to be confused with Schönthal Priory in Bavaria, which was not immediate (reichsunmittelbar)

Bibliography[edit]

In German:

  • Matthäi, George, 1877: Die Klosterpolitik Kaiser Heinrichs II. Ein Beitrag zur *Geschichte der Reichsabteien. Grünberg i.Schl.
  • Brennich, Max, 1908: Die Besetzung der Reichsabteien in den Jahren 1138–1209. Greifswald.
  • Polzin, Johannes: Die Abtswahlen in den Reichsabteien von 1024–1056.
  • Riese, Heinrich, 1911: Die Besetzung der Reichsabteien in den Jahren 1056–1137.
  • Feierabend, Hans, 1913, repr. 1971: Die politische Stellung der deutschen Reichsabteien während des Investiturstreites. Breslau 1913; Aalen 1971
  • Wehlt, Hans-Peter, 1970: Reichsabtei und König
  • Vogtherr, Thomas, 2000: Die Reichsabteien der Benediktiner und das Königtum im hohen Mittelalter (900–1125) (Mittelalter-Forschungen, vol. 5)

External links[edit]