Bebenhausen Abbey, also known as Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace, was a Cistercian monastery located in the village of Bebenhausen (now a district of Tübingen), in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It was built by Rudolph I, Count Palatine of Tübingen, probably in 1183.
After the Reformation the abbey buildings were used at various times as a school, a 19th-century hunting palace for the kings of Württemberg, and the legislative assembly of the State of Württemberg-Hohenzollern.
Today the buildings are owned by the State Heritage Agency of Baden-Württemberg (Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten) and are open for tour as a museum. The site includes the church, main monastery building, abbot’s residence, guesthouse, infirmary, summer refectory, and the 19th-century Bebenhausen Palace.
History of Bebenhausen AbbeyEdit
Establishment of the monasteryEdit
Historically it’s not sure when the monastery was founded. But it was most likely between 1181 and 1184. On the first of June in 1187 it was first mentioned by Herzog Friedrich V von Schwaben. The founder of the monastery was Rudolph I, Count Palatine of Tübingen, who died in 1219, and his wife Mechthild. It was probably established as a family burial place and was built by monks of the Premonstratensian order. Soon after the establishment, the monks left Bebenhausen. Around 1189/90 Cistercian monks from Schönau helped by continuing the establishment of the monastery.
The monastery as landlordEdit
The lordship of the monastery secured the income and thus the existence of the monks. Therefore, the monastic community in Bebenhausen owned extensive goods and rights. The lands were cultivated self-sufficiently - at least until the 14th century, - which meant that the lordship was under the management of the monks with the assistance of lay brothers. There were granges for plant cultivation as well as some specialized in livestock farming.
As many other monasteries, Bebenhausen suffered under the Reformation in 1534. Since the ruler of the region converted to the Protestant faith, he closed some Catholic monasteries, as well as Bebenhausen. Accordingly, the Cistercian monastery as such could no longer exist. After its closure, the monastery was not longer used as such. However, the premises of the monastery quickly found a new use. A Protestant boarding school moved into the monastery. As a result, it was no longer used primarily as a place of prayer but as a place of learning and recruitment of future Protestants.
A monastery as hunting lodgeEdit
The Bebenhausen monastery is located in a large forest and hunting ground called Schönbuch. After the secularization in 1806 it was therefore used as a hunting lodge by the rulers of Württemberg. King Frederick I of Württemberg transformed part of the monastery into a castle and celebrated several hunting events in Bebenhausen.
Exile of King William IIEdit
At the end of World War I, revolution broke out in Germany and the citizens wanted a democracy. So the King of Württemberg William II could not be king anymore. After his last speech on November 30, 1918, he abdicated and went into exile in Bebenhausen. He was allowed to live there until his and his wife’s death.
A monastery as home of the state parliamentEdit
After World War II, the parliament of Württemberg-Hohenzollern met in Bebenhausen abbey from 1946-1952. The first state assembly was on 17 November 1946 to create a constitution for the new state. The first election of parliament followed on 18 May 1947 during which the party CDU won most of the votes. The elected members first met on 3 June 1947 in Bebenhausen abbey in the winter refectory. The abbey also served as a temporary home for the politicians during their meetings. All together there were 118 meetings. The parliament was supposed to be elected every 4 years but in 1951 Württemberg-Hohenzollern and other parts of Southern Germany were planning to merge, so the current parliament governed the state for one more year.