Flood in Central Europe 1501

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Ascension pour (in the Danube region)
storm several heavy rain with subsequent floods
Beginning July 1501
The End August 1501
Amount of rain to 400 mm / 4 d (estimate, Augsburg , August 10 to 14 )
Annual flood (peak) > 500 ( Passau , Aug. 15 )
affected areas present-day Germany (Alpine / Pre-Alpine region, Central Germany), Austria (Danube region), Bohemia

In the summer of 1501, during the reign of King Maximilian , a historical flood was caused by long rains, first on north German rivers and then repeatedly in the Alpine region . Severe flooding occurred in several Central European countries . On the upper Danube, where it is known as the Ascension pour because it took place around the Assumption of Mary (August 15), it was one of the heaviest flooding events of the 2nd millennium, but also an exceptional flood on the Elbe and Oder.


July 1501 must have been very rainy as early as July. Contemporary chronicles record multiple expansions of the Isar , Inn , Salzach , Elbe and Oder rivers . This distribution speaks for several Vb layers , i.e. Mediterranean lows moving northeast across Eastern Europe, which lead humid air masses from south, east to north to the north and east of the Alps as well as the Ore Mountains - Sudeten - Carpathian bend, which regularly causes severe flooding in Central Europe and then on the Central European rivers and streams.

In total, it should have rained continuously for 10 days from the evening before the Assumption Day. The amount of precipitation - comparable to the events in July 1954 , August 2002 and May / June 2013 - could have been 400 mm in about 4–5 days on the northern edge of the Alps.

Since the water levels of the Magdalenen flood in summer 1342, often referred to in the literature as HQ 10000 , have not been recorded (high water markings in the Danube region only appeared after the 1501 flood), it is difficult to say how the two events relate to one another - 1342 should be because of the larger size alone the more devastating. 6,000 people are said to have died on the Danube. The two Danube floods in June and August 1210 also claimed numerous victims .

On the Danube, the event is expressly referred to as “since time immemorial / centenary”, but all in all it falls into a phase in which numerous floods occurred. A series of severe floods in November 1489, May 1492, May and June 1497, even more severe June 1499, 1501, September 1503, August 1508 and then again in August 1520 are known from Wels an der Traun . Another such event cluster is found around 1570–1600. These unstable climatic conditions are probably related to the cooling of the climate at the end of the medieval optimum and the beginning of the Little Ice Age , the cold phase, which lasted until the middle of the 19th century.


The northern Alps and the catchment area of ​​the upper Danube in Bavaria and Austria, Bohemia and central Germany were severely affected.

Elbe floods July / August 1501

In the area of ​​the Elbe , the flooding was probably one of the worst summer events in history. From 25 to 29 July 1501 experienced hall , a hall -Überschwemmung. At the Dresden Elbe bridge , the water level reached on August 16 with a reconstructed discharge of 5000 m³ / s at 857 cm, the fifth highest ever measured level (2002: 940 cm, 1845: 877 cm, 2013: 876 cm, 1784 also 857 cm). Here was "to wash from the bridge hands." High-water marks of the Elbe, above the water level in March 1784 , but on March 1845 are, there is the City and County Museum in Meissen and on the high water column in Dresden's Kaditz that the peak for August 18, 1501. In Pirna the water rose to the height of the pulpit of the monastery church .

Danube flood August 1501

Heavy and extensive rainfall in the second week of August 1501 in the northern eastern Alps and the foothills of the Alps in the catchment area of ​​the Danube , especially on the Inn , Salzach , Traun and Enns , led to one of the largest river floods in the recorded history of Central Europe.

Pastor Lorenz Mittenauer from Wels reports:

“In 1501 from the virgin birth, there was such a great flood around the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin as it had never occurred in people's memory. She carried away the houses that were on the plain [Note: at river level], tore away entire villages, destroyed the bridges over the great rivers, drowned people and cattle, drowned the walls of the cities and small hills in the country covered them by their size. It affected not just a small region but, according to people's reports, numerous countries. As a plague of God, it made vineyards and orchards as well as practically all the fruits on the trees and fields that it seized worthless and destroyed them. "

And the Melker Annalen have something to report:

"Here and in parts of Bohemia, a large part of the people perished at night in the morasses created [by the flood], and according to Habakuk's prophecy, the people became sea fish."

It remains unclear to what extent this relates to the victims of the “terrible water pour”. On the one hand, there are hardly any explicit accidents in chronicles, on the other hand, there are increasing mentions of properties that were “that of…” in other sources - whether this refers to emigration or explicit flood victims remains to be seen. Lost and new properties due to changes in the course of the river are also mentioned in many ways.

Severe mudslides were likely to have occurred on the upper reaches of the Alpine rivers, so it is known that the Salzburg Oberpinzgau was "covered with large amounts of water and mud". The Salzburg basin on the lower Salzach is also likely to have been badly affected, as a result of which Archbishop Leonhard built a first dam from Hallein to Tittmoning .

The city chronicle of Augsburg reports heavy continuous rain and flooding of the Lech and Wertach from August 10th to 14th, 1501 . The Danube was already "extraordinarily high" in Regensburg .

Markings of the historical peak levels including the incorrect marking for 1501 and still without marking for 2013 on the town hall tower in Passau; 1501 has now been corrected and added in 2013

The event brought Passau , at the confluence of the Inn and Danube rivers, one of the largest floods in its history. On August 15, 1501, the Assumption of Mary , the top of the flood reached the city, the old town was completely under water except for St. Stephen's Cathedral . Boats had to be taken to the Neumarkt and Heilig-Geist-Spital area. The city was an island for ten days. A later chronicler described the consequences:

“Of all the floods at Passau, however, that of 1501 under Bishop Wiligens Fröschl von Marzoll was by far the most terrible. Several still in different parts of the city, e.g. B. at the general hospital, at the Koller's brewery, at the orphanage garden, at the Ortthore, at house no. On the latter house there is a marble plaque with the following inscription: 'anno 1501 assumptionis marie is the water casting went to means of chraitz.' The Danube and the Inn swelled at the same time to such an extraordinary height that they were at the Heil. Spiritual hospitals flowed together, and on the whole new market communication could only be maintained by boats. The whole city formed an island and was completely cut off from the land. […] The flooding lasted 10 days and, according to the calculations at the time, rose to 14 cubits and 1 foot above the normal water level. According to the old chroniclers, the mischief that was caused was terrible, houses were undermined and collapsed, trees and tools floated on the unleashed waters. "

According to more recent findings, a reconstructed water level of 13.2 meters is given for the flood. This may have been exceeded in the not handed down level of the even higher Magdalen flood of July 22, 1342. On June 2, 2013 (12.88 m gauge Passau / Danube , the Ilzstadt gauge had failed), this value of 12.98 m was barely reached. The marking on the town hall tower for 1501 (which corresponded to about 12.00 m of the Maxbrücke level, which was released in 1972 ) is a few centimeters above March 1595 and 20 cm above July 1954 (about 12.2 m to the other gauges). However, this marking was only added after the construction of the town hall tower at the end of the 19th century and, according to recent findings, is incorrect. With the addition of the high water mark for June 3, 2013, this error was corrected; the stamp for August 15, 1501 has been moved upwards accordingly. In 1954 the Danube reached 11.70 m, the Inn 10.10 m. During the greatest flood of the Inn in Passau ( August 1598 ), 12.25 m were measured there. The discharge 1501 for Passau is estimated at around 7500 m³ per second.

There is also a flood inscription in Mittich at the confluence of the Rott in the Inn (“what the nit on gross / sag on vnser women’s day / as in himel baid enpfanen / is the guss therefore gone / when one zalt 1501 jar / you may believe for bar ").

In Engelhartszell , a few kilometers downstream in the Upper Austrian Danube Valley , the level was 2 meters higher than in 1954 and 2002, in Linz by 1 meter. In Engelhartszell, for example, in the new toll house built at the beginning of the 16th century, the lower edges of the windows were kept above the water level of 1501 as far as possible. In Linz a marble plaque on the Heinrich-Gleißner-Haus on the upper Donaulände (today no longer in the original height, “Hereby disen stain beczaichene stat / how high the Dunaw has raised / This is done in the Monet Augusti / by the Römischen Künig Maximiliani / Da from Cristi gepurde was / Tawsennt Five hundred and ain Jar ”) and one at the parish church of the catastrophe, another, from the water gate , can be found in the state museum. The Mauthausen Danube Bridge , which is currently under construction, has been cleared near Enns . It could not be completed until 1505 - after the further floods in particular in 1503 and because of the subsequent lack of hydraulic construction timber.

From Melk it is reported that “the flood of water in the market church of the Holy Virgin […] stood a cubit high above the altar and knocked over the benches and burial mounds” and “overturned houses from the ground up, it carried two […] with the residents East of it ”(Melker Annalen; at that time probably still wooden houses). In Vienna (near Nussdorf ) the Danube flooded two meters higher than in 1954 and 2002. Comparable heights at the Reichsbrücke gauge would be around 10-10.3 m (1899, 1954 and 2002 each just over 8.6 m, in 2013 approx. 8 m).

Otherwise the flood hardly appears in contemporary sources in Austria below Melk, perhaps because there were no large settlements on the Danube, even Vienna was a long way from the river at the time. Linz , Krems / Mautern and Vienna were the only bridges over the Danube in the Habsburg duchy . The Kingdom of Hungary was Jagiellonian at the time and was at the front against the Ottomans .

An estimate by the Central Hydrographic Office in Vienna determined maximum flow rates of 15,000 m³ / s in Linz, 14,800 m³ / s in Krems / Stein and 14,000 m³ / s in Vienna (Linz 1899 : 10,500 m³ /; Vienna 1899, 1954 , 1991 , 2002 each by 10,000 m³ / s, 2013 11,000 m³ / s; normal mean water flow Vienna 1,700 m³ / s). The Vienna Danube Regulation ( New Danube / Danube Island ) is based on these calculations , and the value is classified as HQ 3000–5000 .


  • Christian Rohr : Extreme natural events in the Eastern Alps. Experience of nature in the late Middle Ages and at the beginning of the modern era (= environmental historical research. Vol. 4). Böhlau, Cologne a. a. 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-20042-8 (numerous mentions, limited preview in Google book search).
  • Herbert Trautsamwieser: The great flood. Malek, Krems 2002, ISBN 3-901207-33-3 , chapter Ascension pouring . P. 41 ff. (Documentation on the Danube flood in 2002 , a large part of the book deals with earlier events)
  • Curt Weikinn : Source texts on the history of weather in Europe from the turn of the times to 1850. Hydrography. Part 2: (1501–1600) (= collection of sources on hydrography and meteorology. 1, 2, ZDB -ID 591084-5 ). Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1960.

Web links

Commons : Donauhochwasser 1501  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h Wolfgang Webersinke: The Danube flood of August 15, 1501. In: Wetterstation Zenting-Daxstein, daxstein-wetter.de. August 2001, accessed June 7, 2013 .
  2. a b c d e f g Christian Rohr: Life on and with the water in medieval Upper Austria , detailed information about floods 1501 . Website 1572 in the forum OoeGeschichte.at
  3. z. B. Franz Fliri: Natural history of Tyrol. Innsbruck 1998, p. 9; Information according to Webersinke: The Danube flood , 2001.
  4. M. Mudelsee, M. Börngen, G. Tetzlaff, U. Grünewald: Extreme floods in central Europe over the past 500 years: Role of cyclone pathway "flyway Vb" . In: American Geophysical Union (Ed.): Journal of Geophysical Research . Vol. 109, D23101, 2004, doi : 10.1029 / 2004JD005034 (English, focus on the Elbe area).
  5. ^ A b Judas Thaddäus Zauner , Corbinian Gärtner: Chronik von Salzburg , Volume 4. Verlag Duyle, 1800, p. 248 ( Google eBook, complete view ).
  6. ^ A b Christian Rohr: Extreme natural events. 2007, chapter The source situation for the Eastern Alps in the late Middle Ages and at the beginning of the modern era , p. 91 and high water marks - signs of mental coping , p. 386 ff;
    Franz Rosenauer: About the water in Upper Austria. In: Yearbook of the Upper Austrian Museum Association. Year 84, Linz 1932, p. 390 (full article p. 335–426, PDF on ZOBODAT , reference there p. 56);
    A chronological index of the high water marks in the Danube region from the years 1501 to 1828 can be found in Hydrographisches Zentralbüro: Contributions to the Hydrography of Austria , Issues 8–9, 1904, Table 1, p. 31 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  7. ^ History of the Danube floods , FF Baumgartenberg, Perg district, Upper Austria
  8. Melker Annalen: “Such a high tide was hardly observed in a hundred years in a similar way as a market woman at the age of 107 years testified.” For sources see the section Danube floods .
  9. From the Bruckamt bills, Wels city archive. Detailed Lit. Christian Rohr: Extreme natural events. 2007, chapter The everyday floods - life on the river , p. 289 ff.
  10. ^ Dieter Fügner: Flood disasters in Saxony . Taucha 2003, pp. 10-17.
  11. Josef Nussbaumer: The violence of nature. A chronicle of the natural disasters from 1500 to today. Grünbach 1996, p. 27; Information according to Webersinke: The Danube flood , 2001.
  12. State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology: Floods of the Elbe - origin, course, forecast. (PDF; 2.2 MB) (No longer available online.) State Capital Dresden, p. 5 , archived from the original on September 3, 2013 ; Retrieved July 19, 2013 .
  13. Martin Schmidt: Floods and flood protection in Germany before 1850: An evaluation of old sources and maps . Ed .: Harzwasserwerke GmbH, Hildesheim. Oldenbourd Industrieverlag, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-486-26494-X , p. 247 f .
  14. Rüdiger Glaser , S. Militzer (Ed.): Wetter-Witterung-Umwelt. Würzburg 1993, pp. 2-6; Information according to Webersinke: The Danube flood , 2001.
  15. New Neighborhood Kaditz e. V .: Dresden-Kaditz. History - stories - memories. Saxonia-Verlag, Dresden 2005, p. 409 f.
  16. a b Quoted from Christian Rohr: Extreme natural events. 2007, chapter The great floods in the Eastern Alps , p. 236 f (Latin original text in footnote 102).
  17. from a contemporary source, quoted from Passau becomes Seeplatte → Background. (No longer available online.) In: SAT1 Bayern. June 3, 2013, archived from the original on June 22, 2013 ; Retrieved June 7, 2013 .
  18. ^ Evaluated by Christian Rohr on receipts and expenditure bills, for example from the Wels Bruckamt after 1501. Sources: Wels City Archives. Information according to Lit. Christian Rohr: Extreme natural events. 2007, paragraph A closer look at the upheavals caused by the flood of the century ... , p. 386.
  19. Flood - What events have there been to this day? ( Memento from March 7, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Folder (PDF; 1.3 MB) on the Mittersill flood protection project, Bernhard Lochner, Clemens Geitner, Institute for Geography - University of Innsbruck.
  20. ^ Rüdiger Glaser: Climate History of Central Europe. Darmstadt 2001, p. 96; Information according to Webersinke: The Danube flood , 2001.
  21. ^ Bay. State Office for Water Management; Information according to Webersinke: The Danube flood , 2001.
  22. Flood 1501 (Passau). In: RegioWiki for Niederbayern & Altötting, regiowiki.pnp.de. Retrieved June 7, 2013 .
  23. Quotation from Schiller: Historical floods in Passau up to the 19th century. Oral communications, Munich no year
  24. a b Passau measures 3 gauges: two for the Danube before and after the mouth of the Inn and one for the Inn. The joint runoff of the Danube and Inn is measured by the Austrian gauge Achleiten , which has been in the area of ​​influence of the Jochenstein reservoir since 1955, i.e. it only shows flood waves.
    See Regensburg Waterways and Shipping Office: Level in the Danube area: Passau Ilzstadt / Donau, May 29, 2013-10. June 2013 ( Memento from June 10, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) and Passau Ingling / Inn, May 29, 2013–10. June 2013 ( Memento from June 10, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) , both on Bavarian State Office for the Environment, Ref. 88 Hochwassernachrichtenzentrale, hnd.bayern.de; as well as Achleiten / Donau ( memento from June 9, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), land-oberoesterreich.gv.at> Hydrographie> Description of the gauge points and water level graphic Achleiten / Donau ( memento from June 18, 2013 in the web archive archive.today ) , hnd.bayern.de.
  25. The water level at the town hall tower in 2013 see Passau level town hall 8-6-2013 , picture file in Wikimedia Commons ; also photo of the flooded old town of Passau , June 3, 2013, from the flood situation in the live ticker , focus.de, tid-31599, June 2013 - the tower portal was completely drowned at this point, the upper edge of the town hall portal was just visible. High water in Passau shows an earlier level : Danube reaches water level of over 9 meters! In: Wochenblatt.de , June 2, 2013, 9 a.m.
  26. Maxbrücke demolished, cf. Maxbrücke (Passau) in the Regiowiki Lower Bavaria
  27. ↑ For the water level at the town hall in 1954, see picture of Passau town hall in flood , Federal Institute for Hydraulic Engineering: Historical picture archive of the federal waterways , archive number HB1346; also: flood 1954 (Passau) in Regiowiki Niederbayern.
  28. 2013 flood (Passau): Biggest flood? in the Regiowiki Niederbayern.
  29. “Wasn't that a big blow to Our Women's Day [Our Lady’s Day, Assumption of Mary], when both (?) Received in heaven, the casting is [obd. Downpour] has therefore gone when 1501 years were counted, you may believe, indeed. ”
    Quoted from Christian Rohr: Natural event or catastrophe? For the perception, interpretation and management of natural disasters in the Middle Ages and in the early modern period. Lecture, Seniorenuni Bern, undated, high water mark 1501 (Mittich am Inn) ( presentation slides online as PDF ( Memento from December 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), there p. 14, 2nd slide - there also illustration).
    Translation Wikipedia.
  30. ^ Illustration in Christian Rohr: Natural event or catastrophe? Lecture Bern: The Customs Houses of Engelhartszell (Upper Austria) ( presentation slides online as PDF ( Memento from December 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), p. 15, 2nd slide).
  31. ↑ also added in Latin, perhaps by Conrad Celtis : " SUM NOTA QUANTA FUIT UNDARUM CONSPICE MOLES PALUSTRIS VATES CUIUS AVIS FUERAT QUE TANTO SEDIT MESTISSIMA TEMPORE TECTIS DILVIUM QUANTO TEMPORE TRISTE FUIT " the mass of the waves was witnessed by a bird living in the swamp, which sat very sadly on the roofs at the time when the deplorable high tide occurred. ”) Glosse on a heron whose beak acts as a high water marker.
    In detail, with illustration and quoted from: Roman Sandgruber in Oberösterreichische Nachrichten , August 16, 2008, reproduced as flood in Upper Austria , detailed information The Linz flood mark from 1501 , flood in Upper Austria in the forum OoeGeschichte.at
    Christian Rohr: Extreme natural events. 2007, Chapter Sources in the Alpine Region, IV2.8 Poetry and other literary sources , pp. 88/89, as well as footnote 55, pp. 388 f.
    Images also flood ( memento from June 18, 2013 in the web archive archive.today ), linzansichten.at
  32. Gabriele Hametner: Historical floods in Linz: The "Millennium Flood" 1501 . MeinBezirk.at, June 5, 2013.
  33. a b In April 1501, King Maximilian I commissioned the citizens of Enns to build a Danube bridge near Mauthausen , the fourth in the Austrian duchy after Vienna, Krems / Mautern and Linz. Certificate April 4, 1501 in the Upper Austrian State Archives: Archive of the City of Enns. According to Lit. Christian Rohr: Extreme natural events. 2007, chapter summary , p. 205 f and footnote 11.
  34. ^ Christian Rohr: Natural event or catastrophe? For the perception, interpretation and management of natural disasters in the Middle Ages and in the early modern period. Lecture, Seniorenuni Bern, o. D., Economic History Results and Expenditures for Construction Timber - Wels (1471–1520) ( presentation slides online as PDF ( Memento from December 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), there p. 21, 1st and 2nd Foil).
    Rohr too: Extreme natural events. 2007, chapter The everyday floods - life on the river , p. 289 ff (on the Bruckamtsrechnungs Wels).
  35. At the Danube bridge . This was built in 1437 as the first bridge over the Danube for the Duchy of Austria. According to Lit. Christian Rohr: Extreme natural events. 2007, chapter summary , p. 205 f and footnote 10, ibid.
  36. Estimation: 2002 current reference level Korneuburg 7.89 m, 2013 there 8.09 m
  37. a b c disaster floods . wien.gv.at > Environment & Climate Protection> Waters> Flood Protection ;
    Waters - Statistics , wien.gv.at > Statistics> Habitat> Waters ;
    Floods in Vienna still had leeway , derStandard.at, June 7, 2013.
  38. ^ What was already established in the 1930s by Ministerialrat Grünhut on the occasion of the assessments of Vienna's water protection. Journal of the Austrian Association of Engineers and Architects , volumes 83–84, 1931, p. 42 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  39. The river arm in the area of ​​today's Danube Canal was only a smaller tributary. Even today's main run is the breakthrough of the 19th century. Compare in addition plan of intermediate bridges 1821 , picture on Wikimedia
  40. Battle of Mohács (1526)
  41. various sources, including Frederick Watzik: Hochwasser . In: Office of Upper Austria. State government. Kulturreferat: The Danube: Facets of a European river. Catalog for the Upper Austrian State Exhibition 1994 in Engelhartszell, Landesverlag, Linz, January 1, 1994, pp. 63–68.
    According to Christian Rohr: Extreme natural events in the Eastern Alps. 2007, sources in the Alpine region , footnote 63, p. 90;
    Christian Rohr also criticizes the values: Measuring the frequency and intensity of floods of the Traun River (Upper Austria), 1441–1574 . In: Hydrological Sciences Journal. 51, 5, 2006, p. 835 (full article p. 834-847).