Irsee Abbey

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Imperial Abbey of Irsee
Reichsabtei Irsee
Imperial Abbey of the Holy Roman Empire


Coat of arms

Irsee Abbey church
Capital Irsee Abbey
Government Elective principality
Historical era Middle Ages
 -  Founded by Henry,
    Margrave of Ronsberg

 -  Refounded after

1373 1694
 -  Looted in Peasants' War 1525
 -  Looted in Thirty Years' War mid-17th century
 -  Granted Imperial immediacy 1694
 -  Mediæval buildings

 -  Secularised to Bavaria 1802
Today part of  Germany

Irsee Abbey (German: Reichsabtei Irsee) is a former Benedictine abbey located at Irsee near Kaufbeuren in Bavaria. It is now a conference and training centre for Bavarian Swabia.

From the late 17th century onward, Irsee Abbey was one of the 40-odd self-ruling imperial abbeys of the Holy Roman Empire and, as such, was a virtually independent state. At the time of its dissolution in 1802, the abbey covered some 112 square kilometers and had 3200-4200 subjects.[1]



Baroque church bench at Irsee Abbey

The monastery, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was founded in 1186 by Henry, Margrave of Ronsberg, to house a community that had grown up around a local hermit. It came close to collapse in the 14th century, when the community was reduced to a single monk, and was saved only by the intervention in 1373 of Anna von Ellerbach, the second founder, sister of the Bishop of Augsburg, and her appointee, abbot Conrad III, known for his extreme frugality. After severe losses during both the German Peasants' War in 1525 and the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, including on both occasions the destruction of the library and on the second occasion of the archives, the abbey was finally able to put itself back on a stable footing in the later 17th century, and at length in 1694 was granted Imperial immediacy (German: Reichsunmittelbarkeit), becoming an Imperial abbey (German: Reichsabtei).

Irsee c. 1900

The abbey lost its independence and the monastery itself was dissolved in the secularisation of 1802 when it became a part of Bavaria. The greater part of the library was moved to Metten Abbey.

In 1812 accommodation for the parish priest and local officials was set up in the monastery buildings.


From 1849 the premises were used as an asylum and hospital for the mentally ill. Between 1939 and 1945 more than 2,000 patients, both adults and children, were transported by the then regime from Irsee and Kaufbeuren to death camps.

Conference centre[edit]

In 1972 the hospital was wound up. The local authority of the district of Schwaben began the restoration of the buildings in 1974, which opened as the Schwäbische Tagungs- und Bildungszentrum Kloster Irsee ("Kloster Irsee Swabian Conference and Training Centre") in 1984.


External links[edit]




Coordinates: 47°54′35″N 10°34′30″E / 47.90972°N 10.57500°E / 47.90972; 10.57500