Princely abbeys and imperial abbeys of the Holy Roman Empire

  (Redirected from Imperial abbey)

Princely abbeys (German: Fürstabtei, Fürststift) and Imperial abbeys (German: Reichsabtei, Reichskloster, Reichsstift, Reichsgotthaus) were religious establishments within the Holy Roman Empire which enjoyed 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]

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

Princely abbeys and imperial abbeysEdit

The distinction between a princely abbey and an imperial abbey was related to the status of the abbot: while both prince-abbots and the more numerous imperial abbots sat on the ecclesiastical bench of the College of ruling princes of the Imperial Diet, prince-abbots cast an individual vote while imperial abbots cast only a curial (collective) vote alongside his or her fellow imperial abbots and abbesses. Eight princely abbeys (including similar status priories) and roughly 40 imperial abbeys survived up to the mass secularisation of 1802–03 when they were all secularized.

An 18th-century prince-abbot: Anselm Reichlin von Meldegg of Kempten

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.

Some abbeys, particularly in Switzerland, gained the status of princely abbeys (Fürstsabtei) during the Middle Ages or later but they either didn't have a territory over which they ruled or they lost that territory after a short while. This was the case with Kreuzlingen, Allerheiligen, Einsiedeln, Muri and Saint-Maurice abbeys.[3] One major exception was the large and powerful Abbey of St. Gall which remained independent up to its dissolution during the Napoleonic period, despite the fact that, as a Swiss abbey, it had stopped taking part in the Imperial Diet and other institutions of the Holy Roman Empire once the independence of the Swiss Confederacy was recognized in 1648.[4] Elsewhere, the Prince-Abbot of St. Blaise's Abbey in the Black Forest 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 immediate County of Bonndorf (later annexed to the Principality of Heitersheim of the Knights of Malta).

Lists of Imperial abbeysEdit

List of Imperial abbeys with seat and voice at the Imperial Diet of 1792Edit

The following list includes the Imperial abbeys which had seat and voice at the Imperial Diet of 1792. They, along with the two Teutonic Order commanderies whose commanders ranked as prelates, are listed according to their voting order on the two Benches of Prelates of the Diet.[5] Not shown are the abbeys of Stablo, Kempten and Corvey, whose abbots had princely status and sat on the Ecclesiastical Bench of the College of Ruling Princes. For additional information on individual abbeys, see: List A: Imperial abbeys named in the Matrikel below this list.

Bench of Swabian PrelatesEdit

  1. Salem
  2. Weingarten
  3. Ochsenhausen
  4. Elchingen
  5. Irsee
  6. Urspring
  7. Kaisheim
  8. Roggenburg
  9. Roth
  10. Weissenau
  11. Schussenried
  12. Marchthal
  13. Petershausen
  14. Wettenhausen
  15. Zwiefalten
  16. Gengenbach
  17. Neresheim
  18. Hegbach
  19. Gutenzell
  20. Rottenmünster
  21. Baindt
  22. Söflingen
  23. St. George's at Isny

Bench of Rhineland PrelatesEdit

  1. Kaisheim (Swabian Bench after 1756)
  2. Commandery Koblenz (Teutonic Order)
  3. Commanderies Alsace and Burgundy (Teutonic Order)
  4. Odenheim and Bruchsal
  5. Werden
  6. St. Ulrich's and St Afra's
  7. St. George's at Isny (Swabian Bench after 1782)
  8. St. Kornelimünster
  9. St. Emmeram's
  10. Essen
  11. Buchau
  12. Quedlinburg
  13. Herford
  14. Gernrode
  15. Niedermünster
  16. Obermünster
  17. Burscheid
  18. Gandersheim
  19. Thorn

List A: Imperial abbeys named in the MatrikelEdit

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.


  • 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 seat and voice in the Imperial Diet; there were ten of these (Fulda, Kempten, Ellwangen, Murbach-Lüders, Berchtesgaden, Weissenburg, Prüm, Stablo-Malmedy, Corvey and St. Gall).
CoA Religious house Location Founded Imm. Lost imm. To... Description and status College
  Baindt Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1240 1376 1802 Sec.   Count of Aspremont-Lynden Cistercian nunnery; reichsunmittelbar but remained subordinate to Salem Abbey. RA SC
  Berchtesgaden Provostry Bavaria 1102 1194 1803 Sec.   Electorate of Salzburg Augustinian Canons. Fürstpropstei ("Prince-Provostry"). RF from 1380 or 1559 RF
  Buchau Abbey Baden-Württemberg c. 700 1347 1803 Sec.   County of Thurn und Taxis Frauenstift. RA. RF[6] RC
  Burtscheid Abbey North Rhine-Westphalia (Aachen) 997 1220 1802 Sec.   Roer Benedictine monastery; from 1220/21 Cistercian nunnery. RF RC
  Buxheim Charterhouse Bavaria c. 1100 1548 1802/03 Sec.   County of Ostein Canons; Carthusians from 1402 (the only Reichskartause). RP SC and RC
  Comburg Baden-Württemberg (Schwäbisch Hall) 1070s before 15th century 1587 Med.   Duchy of Württemberg Benedictine monastery, later Herrenstift. Mediatised by Württemberg 1587; secularised 1803. RA SC
  Corvey Abbey North Rhine-Westphalia (Höxter) c. 820 c. 1150 1803 Sec.   Principality of Nassau-Orange-Fulda Benedictine monastery. RA; RF no later than 1582[7] RF
  Disentis Abbey Switzerland c. 720[8] early 8th century 1798 Hel.   Three Leagues Benedictine monastery; secularised 1798; re-established 1803. RA SC
  Echternach Abbey Luxembourg 700 751 1794 Sec.   Forêts Benedictine monastery. Mediatised by Austria sometime after 1521[9] RA
  Einsiedeln Abbey Switzerland 934 965 1648 Switz.   Canton of Schwyz Benedictine monastery. Ceased to be part of the HRE in 1648; secularised 1798; re-established 1803. RA
  Elchingen Abbey Bavaria 1128 1485 1802 Sec.   Electorate of Bavaria Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  Ellwangen Abbey Baden-Württemberg c. 764 1011 1802 Sec.   Duchy of Württemberg Benedictine monastery; Fürstpropstei ("Prince-Provostry"). Possibly founded as early as 732. RF RF
  Essen Abbey North Rhine-Westphalia c. 845 betw. 874 and 947 1803 Sec.   Kingdom of Prussia Frauenstift. RA RC
  Frauenchiemsee Abbey (aka Frauenwörth) Bavaria 782 782 1803 Sec.   Electorate of Bavaria Benedictine nunnery. RA SC
  Fraumünster Abbey Switzerland (Zürich) 853 1218 1524 Sec.   Canton of Zurich Benedictine nunnery. RA SC
  Fürstenfeld Abbey Bavaria (Fürstenfeldbruck) 1258 Uncertain 1803 Sec.   Electorate of Bavaria Cistercian monastery. RA SC
  Fulda Abbey Hesse 744 765 1802 Sec.   Principality of Nassau-Orange-Fulda Benedictine monastery. RF[10] RF
  Gandersheim Abbey Lower Saxony 852 919 (de facto 877) 1810 Sec.   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
  Gengenbach Abbey[11] Baden-Württemberg 727–35 9th century 1803 Sec.   Margraviate of Baden Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  Gernrode Abbey Saxony-Anhalt 959 961 1728 Med.   Principality of Anhalt-Dessau Frauenstift. De facto sovereignty lost to Anhalt in 1570. RA RC
  Göss Abbey Austria (Leoben) 1004 1020 1782 Sec.   Habsburg monarchy Benedictine nunnery. RA SC
  Gutenzell Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1237 1417 1803 Sec.   County of Toerring Cistercian nunnery. RA SC
  Heggbach Abbey Baden-Württemberg (Maselheim) 1231 1429 1803 Sec.   County of Bassenheim Beguines; Cistercian nunnery from 1248.[12] RA SC
  Helmarshausen Abbey Hesse (Bad Karlshafen) 997 997 1538 Sec.   Landgraviate of Hesse Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  Herford Abbey North Rhine-Westphalia 832 1147 1802 Sec.   County of Ravensberg Frauenstift. Lutheran from 1533. RA RC
  Herrenalb Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1147/48 1275 1497 Med.   Margraviate of Baden
  Duchy of Württemberg
Cistercian monastery. RA SC
  Hersfeld Abbey Hesse 736–42 775 1648 Sec.   Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel Benedictine monastery. De facto mediatised to Hesse-Kassel from 1606. RA RC
  Irsee Abbey Bavaria 1186 1695 1802 Sec.   Electorate of Bavaria Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  Kaisheim Abbey (sometimes Kaisersheim Abbey) Bavaria 1135 1346 1802 Sec.   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
  Kaufungen Abbey Hesse (Kassel) 1017 1089 1527 Med.   Hessian Knighthood Benedictine nunnery. Given to the Hessische Ritterschaft 1532; still extant as a private foundation. RA
  Kempten Abbey Bavaria 752 1062 1803 Sec.   Electorate of Bavaria Benedictine monastery; Fürststift from 1524. RA / RF RF
  Klingenmünster Abbey Rhineland-Palatinate 636? 1115 1567 Sec.   Electorate of the Palatinate Possibly founded in 636, definitely before 780. Benedictine abbey until 1490; then Herrenstift. RA / RP RC
  Königsbronn Abbey Baden-Württemberg (Heidenheim) 1303 probably 15th century 1553 Med.   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
  Kornelimünster Abbey North Rhine-Westphalia (Aachen) 614 by mid-9th century 1802   Roer Benedictine monastery. RA[13] RC
  Kreuzlingen Abbey Switzerland c. 1125  1145 1648 Switz.   Canton of Thurgau Augustinian Canons. Dissolved by the cantonal government in 1848. RA
  Lindau Abbey Bavaria c. 822 1466 1802   Principality of Bretzenstein Frauenstift, possibly later a Reichsfürstabtei; RA. SC
  Lorsch Abbey Hesse (Darmstadt) 764 852 (confirmed) 1232 Med.   Archbishopric of Mainz Benedictine monastery until 1248; thereafter Premonstratensian until dissolution in 1556. RA SC
  Malmedy Abbey Belgium 645 651? 1794 Sec.   Ourthe Benedictine monastery, forming a single principality with Stavelot. RA RF
  Marchtal Abbey (also Marchthal) Baden-Württemberg before 776 1500 1803 Sec.   County of Thurn und Taxis Premonstratensian monastery. Refounded 1171. RA SC
  Marmoutier Abbey; also Maursmünster[14] Alsace by 659 659 1789   Bas-Rhin Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  Maulbronn Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1147 1147 1806 Sec.   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
  Memleben Abbey Saxony-Anhalt 975 uncertain, poss. late 10th century 1548 Med.   Hersfeld Abbey Benedictine monastery. RA RC
  Michaelsberg Abbey (also known as Siegburg Abbey) North Rhine-Westphalia (Siegburg) 1064 1512 1676 Med.   Duchy of Berg Benedictine monastery. Secularised in 1803. RA RC
  Mönchrot Abbey, also Mönchroth, Münchenroth, Rot or Rot an der Rot Abbey Baden-Württemberg (Rot an der Rot) 1126 1497 1803 Med.   County of Wartenberg Premonstratensian monastery. RA SC
  Mondsee Abbey Austria 748 788 1791   Habsburg monarchy Benedictine monastery. Imperial immediacy lost to the Bishopric of Regensburg 831–1142. RA SC
  Abbey of Münster im Gregoriental[15] Alsace 660 1235 1789 Sec.   Haut-Rhin Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  Murbach Abbey (incl Lüders) Alsace 727 792 1789 Sec.   Haut-Rhin Benedictine monastery. Effectively French since 1648, but anomalously remained legally part of the Empire; dissolved during the Revolution. RF RF
  Muri Abbey Switzerland 1027 1701 1648 Switz.   Helvetic Canton of Baden Benedictine monastery. The abbey was never immediate, but the abbot was created Reichsfürst in 1701. RA
  Neresheim Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1095 1764 1802 Sec.   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
  Niedermünster Bavaria (Regensburg) before 700 1002 1803 Sec.   Electorate of Bavaria Frauenstift. Refounded 788, 948–55. RA RC
  Nordhausen chapter Thuringia poss. mid-10th century by 1220 1802 Sec.   Kingdom of Prussia Chapter of Nordhausen Cathedral. RA
  Obermünster Bavaria (Regensburg) early 9th century before 1024 1810   Kingdom of Bavaria Benedictine nunnery, later Frauenstift. RA. RF from 1315 RC
  Oberschönenfeld Abbey Bavaria c. 1211 1248? 1803 Sec.   Electorate of Bavaria Beguines until c 1211, then Cistercian nunnery, formalised from 1248. RA
  Ochsenhausen Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1093 1495 1803 Sec   County of Metternich-Winnenburg Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  Odenheim Abbey (originally Wigoldsberg; later also Odenheim and Bruchsal) Baden-Württemberg c. 1108 by 1161 1802–03 Sec   Margraviate of Baden Benedictine monastery; Herrenstift from 1496. RA RC
  Ottobeuren Abbey Bavaria 764 1299, regranted 1710[16] 1802 Sec   Electorate of Bavaria
(  Bishopric of Augsburg 1624–1710)
Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  Petershausen Abbey Baden-Württemberg (Konstanz) 983 early 13th century 1802 Sec   Margraviate of Baden Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  Pfäfers Abbey Switzerland 731 1408 1648 Switz.   Swiss condominium Benedictine monastery. Ceased to be part of HRE in 1648 (secularised 1798; re-established 1803). RA
  Prüfening Abbey Bavaria (Regensburg) 1119 Unknown 1803 Sec.   Electorate of Bavaria Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  Prüm Abbey Rhineland-Palatinate 720 1222 1576 Sec.   Archbishopric of Trier Benedictine monastery. Annexed by France 1794. RF RF
  Quedlinburg Abbey Saxony-Anhalt 936 936 1803   Kingdom of Prussia Frauenstift; Lutheran from 1540. RA RC
  Recklinghausen Abbey (also Rechenhausen) North Rhine-Westphalia Unknown Unknown Unknown   Essen Abbey RA
  Reichenau Abbey Baden-Württemberg 724 Unknown 1540 or 1548   Bishopric of Constance Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  Riddagshausen Abbey Brunswick 1145/46 Uncertain, early 1569 Med.   Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel Cistercian monastery. Mediatised on Reformation to Lutheran seminary; secularised 1809. RA
  Roggenburg Abbey Bavaria 1126 1482–1485 1803 Sec.   Electorate of Bavaria Premonstratensian monastery. RA SC
  Rottenmünster Abbey Baden-Württemberg (Rottweil) 1224 1237 1803 Sec.   Duchy of Württemberg Cistercian nunnery. Reopened 1898. RA SC
  Saalfeld Abbey Thuringia (Saalfeld) 1071 Unknown 1526 Sec.   Electorate of Saxony Benedictine monastery. RA
  St Bartholomäus cathedral chapter Hesse (Frankfurt am Main) 852 Unknown 1803 Sec.   Imperial City of Frankfurt Chapter of the Kaiserdom in Frankfurt. RP RC
  St. Blaise's in the Black Forest Baden-Württemberg Uncertain 1609 1806 Sec.   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[17]
  St. Emmeram's Abbey Bavaria (Regensburg) c. 739 1295 1803 Sec.   Principality of Regensburg Benedictine monastery. RA RC
  St. Gall Switzerland 613 1207 1798 Sec. (1648 Switz.)   Helvetic Canton of Säntis Benedictine monastery; later Fürstabtei. Swiss associate from 1451; secularised temporarily 1527–32. RA / RF SC
  St George's at Isny in the Allgäu Baden-Württemberg (Isny im Allgäu) 1096 1781 1803 Sec.   Princely County of Quadt-Wykradt Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  St. George's Abbey, Stein am Rhein Switzerland (Stein am Rhein) 9th century 15th century 1521–26 Sec.   Canton of Zurich Founded 9th century on the Hohentwiel; moved to Stein am Rhein c. 1007. RA
  St. Giles' Abbey, Nuremberg (Schottenkloster Sankt Ägidien) Bavaria c. 1140 Unknown 1525 Med.   Imperial City of Nuremberg "Schottenkloster"; Benedictine monastery from 1418. Absorbed by Nuremberg in 1525 (possibly 1567) as unable to document immediacy. RA
  St. Ludger's Abbey Lower Saxony (Helmstedt) c. 800 Unknown 1802 Sec.   Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel Benedictine monastery. RA RC
  St. Maximin's Abbey, Trier Rhineland-Palatinate 4th century before early 12th century 1669 Med.   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
  St. Peter's Abbey in the Black Forest Baden-Württemberg before 1073 1093 1806 Sec.   Grand Duchy of Baden Benedictine monastery. RA
  St. Ulrich's and St. Afra's Abbey Bavaria c. 10th century 1577 de jure
1643 de facto
1802 Sec.   Imperial City of Augsburg
  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
  Salem Abbey aka Salmansweiler Baden-Württemberg 1136 1138–52 1803 Sec.   Margraviate of Baden Cistercian monastery. RA SC
  Schaffhausen Abbey Switzerland 1049 1190 1529 Med.   Canton of Schaffhausen Benedictine monastery. RA
  Schänis Abbey Switzerland 9th century 1045 1438 Med.   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
  Schussenried Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1183 1440 1803 Sec.   County of Sternberg-Manderscheid Premonstratensian monastery. RA SC
  Schuttern Abbey Baden-Württemberg 603 975 1801 Sec.   Duchy of Modena Benedictine monastery. Not to be confused with Schottern Abbey in Austria, secularised in the 15th century. RA SC
  Selz Abbey Baden, later Alsace 991 992 1481 Med.   Electorate of the Palatinate Benedictine monastery / nunnery. Secularised in 1803. RA
  Söflingen Abbey (sometimes Söfflingen) Baden-Württemberg (Ulm) 1258 1773 1797 Sec.   Electorate of Bavaria Poor Clares. RA SC
  Stablo or Stavelot Abbey (also Stablingen) Belgium 651 651? 1794 Sec.   Ourthe Benedictine monastery. Formed a single principality with Malmedy. RF. RF
  Thorn Abbey The Netherlands (Limburg) c. 975 1292 1795 Sec.   Meuse-Inférieure Frauenstift. RA. RF from 1793. RC
  Ursberg Abbey Bavaria 1126–28 1143 1803 Sec.   Electorate of Bavaria Premonstratensian monastery. Not to be confused with Urspring Abbey. RA SC
  Waldsassen Abbey Bavaria 1128–32 1147 1543 Med.   Electorate of the Palatinate Cistercian monastery. Secularised to the Electorate of Bavaria in 1803; reopened as Cistercian nunnery 1863. RA SC
  Walkenried Abbey Lower Saxony 1127 1542 1648 Med.   Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel Cistercian monastery. RA RC
  Weingarten Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1056 1274 1803 Sec.   Principality of Nassau-Orange-Fulda Benedictine monastery. RA SC
  Weissenau Abbey Baden-Württemberg (Ravensburg) 1145 c. 1257 1802   County of Sternberg-Manderscheid Premonstratensian monastery. RA SC
  Weissenburg Abbey Alsace 7th century Unknown 1306 Med.   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
  Werden Abbey North Rhine-Westphalia (Essen) 799 877 1803   Kingdom of Prussia Benedictine monastery. RA RC
  Wettenhausen Abbey Bavaria 1130 Unknown 1803 Sec.   Electorate of Bavaria Augustinian Canons. Founded on the site of an earlier foundation, dated 982. RA SC
  Zwiefalten Abbey Baden-Württemberg 1089 1750 1802 Sec.   Duchy of Württemberg Benedictine monastery. RA SC
CoA Religious house Location Founded Imm. Lost imm. To... Description and status College

List B: Reichsmatrikel 1521Edit

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[18] Switzerland ceased to be part of the HRE in 1648 RA
Blankenburg Abbey nk[19] nk nk
Brunnen Abbey Landstrass, Carinthia (Austria) nk nk
Hynoltshusen Abbey nk[20] nk monastery
Kitzingen Abbey nk nk monastery
Rockenhausen nk[21] 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 MatrikelEdit

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.[22] Augustinian monastery. RA
Engelberg Abbey Switzerland Founded in 1120 by Count Blessed Conrad of Seldenburen. Engelberg Abbey (German: Kloster Engelberg) is a Benedictine monastery in Engelberg, Canton of Obwalden, Switzerland. Initially, the abbey was placed under the immediate jurisdiction of the Holy See, which condition continued until the formation of the Swiss Congregation in 1602 when Engelberg united with the other monasteries of Switzerland and became subject to a president and general chapter. In 1873 a colony from Engelberg founded Conception Abbey, at Conception, Missouri in the United States; in 1882, Mount Angel Abbey was founded near what is now Mount Angel, Oregon, also in the United States. William Wordsworth wrote a poem about the abbey entitled "Engelberg, The Hill of Angels" Benedictine monastery. RA
Munsterbilzen Abbey Belgium
Nienburg Abbey Saxony-Anhalt fdd 975; RA 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[23] Baden-Württemberg fdd. 1157; RA from 1418 to 1495; secularised 1803 Cistercian; RA
Tegernsee Abbey Bavaria fdd 760s; granted RA status by Otto II around 978 but unable to exercise effective Imperial immediacy; remained subordinate to Bavaria until secularization in 1803. Benedictine; RA
Wiblingen Abbey Baden-Württemberg, Ulm fdd. 1037; subordinate to Habsburg high jurisdiction (Oberhoheit) from about 1500; gained more autonomy in 1701 but was unable to gain immediacy and remained part of Further Austria until secularization in 1806. Benedictine;

References and notesEdit

  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. ^ French, German and Italian versions:
  4. ^ French, German and Italian versions:
  5. ^ G. Benecke, Society and Politics in Germany, 1500-1750, Routledge & Kegan Paul and University of Toronto Press, London, Toronto and Buffalo, 1974, Appendix III.
  6. ^ In 1792 the "Gefürstete Äbtissin zu Buchau" was listed among the Swabian Counts, not the Prelates
  7. ^ The abbots became the Bishops of Corvey in 1792; the territory was later (1820) part of the Diocese of Paderborn
  8. ^ the traditional date of 614 is not borne out by archaeological investigation
  9. ^ listed in the 1521 Matrikel but not in that of 1755
  10. ^ from 1752 the abbots were also the Prince-Bishops of Fulda
  11. ^ While the abbey was mediatized in 1803, the new owner let it function normally until 1807 when it was dissolved.
  12. ^ 1248 is the year of the charter confirming status, but probably Cistercian in observance from c. 1237–44
  13. ^ possibly later a Reichsfürstabtei
  14. ^ must not be confused with Münster im Gregoriental in Upper Alsace
  15. ^ The imperial abbey of Münster im Gregoriental (Georgental) in Haut-Rhin (near Colmar) must not be confused with Maurmünster in Bas-Rhin (near Saverne)
  16. ^ 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
  17. ^ 1792 Matrikel: Fürst u. Abt zu St. Blasien wegen der gefürsteten Grafschaft Bonndorf
  18. ^ there is no trace of a religious house at any time located in the village of Beckenried
  19. ^ attributed, by sources on the Heraldica website either to Blankenberg in Lorraine or to a place "Blankenburg" near Oldenburg
  20. ^ Honnecourt near Cambrai has been suggested see Heraldica website
  21. ^ a location near Kaiserslautern has been suggested, or possibly Rönkhausen Abbey see Heraldica website
  22. ^ Philip Mansel, Le Prince de Ligne, le charmeur de l'Europe, Perrin, 2002, pp. 211-215
  23. ^ not to be confused with Schönthal Priory in Bavaria, which was not immediate (reichsunmittelbar)


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 linksEdit