Lorsch Monastery

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Abbey and Altenmünster of the Lorsch Monastery
UNESCO world heritage UNESCO World Heritage Emblem

Kloster-lorsch-um-1615-matthaeus-merian 1-648x313.jpg
Lorsch Abbey on a colored copper engraving by Matthäus Merian , around 1615
National territory: GermanyGermany Germany
Type: Culture
Criteria : (iii) (iv)
Reference No .: 515
UNESCO region : Europe and North America
History of enrollment
Enrollment: 1991  (session 15)

The Lorsch Abbey ( St. Nazarius ) was a Benedictine abbey in Lorsch in the Bergstrasse district ( Hesse ) in Germany . It was founded in 764 and was a power, intellectual and cultural center as an imperial monastery until the high Middle Ages . 1232 came the abbey Kurmainz and was starting from 1248 a Premonstratensian - provost . In 1461 this was pledged to the Electoral Palatinate , which the monastery abolished in 1564.

Important surviving evidence is the Lorsch Codex (Codex Laureshamensis) , a comprehensive list of goods, the Lorsch Gospels (Codex Aureus Laureshamensis) , but also the Lorsch bee blessing , the former library and the gate hall of the monastery , also known as the King's Hall , one of the few completely preserved architectural monuments from the time of the Carolingians .

The Lorsch Abbey (Abbey and Altenmünster ) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991 , and it is also a protected cultural asset under the Hague Convention . The Lorsch pharmacopoeia of the end of the 8th century was in 2013 for UNESCO - World Documentary Heritage in Germany explained. From the Altenmünster , the traditional predecessor monastery of Lorsch, there is no more left over the surface.

Historical forms of names

The following names are documented: in the 9th century Lorishaim, in the 9th and 11th centuries Loresham, in the 9th and 10th centuries Laurishaim, in the 10th century Laresham, in the 10th to 12th centuries Lareshaeim and Lauresheim, in the 11th century and 12th century Lauresham, in the 11th century Larsem and Loraszam and Lorozam and Lorisham, in the 12th century Laurisca and Laurisham and Laureshan and Loressam and Lorisheym and Lorscheim and Lors.


Bricked up foundations, the location and size of the monastery church Altenmünster on the Weschnitz should clarify; the visible landfill represents the course of the enclosure buildings according to
Carolingian gate hall (east side)
Carolingian gate hall (west side)

According to the legend of the Nibelungenlied , Ute founded the monastery in Lorsch ( Altenmünster an der Weschnitz monastery ) after the death of her husband, the Burgundian King Dankrat .

Founding 764

According to the Lorsch Codex , the monastery was founded as an aristocratic own monastery by the Robertiner Cancor (Count in Alemannia until 758 and count in Upper Rhinegau until his death in 771 ) and his mother Williswinth an der Weschnitz . The church and the first wooden monastery buildings were on the site of today's Kreuzwiese, where the remains of the Altenmünster have been located. Existing documents suggest that there was a church here before 764, which was built by the above-mentioned family of counts and which was consecrated to St. Peter . This church was expanded into a monastery, presumably for the purpose of the family burial, and on July 12th 764 it was given to Bishop Chrodegang of Metz (a relative of Williswinth and Cancor) for personal property. The bishop had close ties to Hausmeier Pippin , was papal legate and head of the Franconian church reorganization.

From 764 onwards, monks from Gorze Abbey who were sent by Chrodegang were already staying here. Chrodegang introduced the Benedictine rules , just like when he founded Gorze Monastery . At Chrodegang's request for relics for the monastery, Pope Paul I handed over the remains of St. Nazarius , which arrived on July 11, 765. The monastery was one of the first in the Franconian Empire to receive a Roman saint from the Pope as a gift. In the Lorsch Codex , the reliquary translation of the martyr Nazarius (from Rome via Gorze Abbey) to the Lorsch Monastery on the 1st anniversary of the foundation is reported as follows:

For the solemn pilgrimage of the transmission, the population of the entire country area up to the Wasgenwald (ie the Palatinate Forest ) flocked in heaps, a lot of people of both sexes, 'young men and virgins, the old with the young' ( Psalm 148, 12). The well-known Counts Cancor (from Oberrheingau ) and Warin (from Ladengau) and other distinguished and respectable men of the area lifted the treasure of the sacred body, which was determined by God's providence for their homeland, on their shoulders and spent it, accompanied by the hymns and spiritual chants of a immense crowd (on July 11th, 765), to the place provided by heaven. "

The founding of the monastery lasted and was denied access to the neighboring bishops of Worms and Mainz . The abbey received more donations and the number of pilgrims rose by leaps and bounds. This may have been a reason to start a new church in 765. That year Gundeland became Abbot of Lorsch, a brother of Chrodegang. The new church was built on a hill not far from the old Altenmünster site on the monastery grounds that are still recognizable today. The land was given to the Abbey by Thurinkbert, a brother of Count Cancor. When Chrodegang died in March 766, 16 monks were living in the monastery.

Imperial monastery after 771

Cancor's son Heimerich set up the conversion from an own monastery to an imperial and royal monastery. When Cancor died in 771, Heimerich claimed ownership of the monastery. The abbot Gundeland then moved to the court of Charlemagne . There the abbot was awarded the abbey as his own property. In order to prevent further encroachments on the abbey by the nobility and neighboring bishops, Gundeland transferred the abbey to Charlemagne. This took the abbey under his protection. The abbey thus obtained the right to freely choose its abbots and received immunity.

In the imperial organization, the abbey had to perform the royal service ( servitium regis ) and took care of the internal colonization . The donation from Charlemagne, who in 773 and 774 transferred the Mark Heppenheim and the Villa Oppenheim , must be seen in this context . In the tradition of perpetual prayer (in the early days of the monastery for the families of the owners and the wealthy nobility), Charlemagne also asked the monks to pray for the royal family and the empire.

In 774 the new monastery church was completed. The abbot Gundeland invited Charlemagne, who was staying in Speyer , to be ordained. He had just returned from Italy, where he had defeated the Lombards . He traveled to Lorsch with the bishop (later archbishop) of Mainz Lullus and other bishops. Lullus consecrated the church and transferred the relics of St. Nazarius to the new church. By 774 at the latest, there will have been the first buildings in the royal palace , which was particularly frequented by Charlemagne and later Ludwig the German .

Another important task came to the abbey from the fourth abbot Richbod , who built up an important scriptorium . In the same century a school was attached to the scriptorium, thus developing the well-known monastery library of the High Middle Ages . Richbod is believed to have been a document writer in the monastery since 775. He received his training at the court of Charlemagne at Alcuin . It can be assumed that he was elected abbot in 784 due to his proximity to the royal court and was also Archbishop of Trier between 791 and 793 . As such, he belonged to the narrow circle of scholars (pseudonym: Macharius) at the royal court around Karl and Alcuin. The monastery thus played an important role in book production and thus also in the educational reform in the Franconian Empire (see also: Lorsch Annals ). Richbod also had the ecclesia triplex built. This was another small church to be seen in connection with the construction of the first stone convent building. Richbod also fortified the monastery with a stone wall.

Lorsch appeared as early as 817 among the monasteries in the empire that had to bear the main burden of royal service (e.g. duties to the empire or the provision of soldiers for the imperial army). This also illustrates the economic importance of the monastery for the Franconian Empire .

Tassilo III . (* around 741; † around 796), the last Baier duke of the Agilolfinger family and cousin of Charlemagne, possibly spent the last years of his life in the Lorsch Monastery as a simple monk. “First ruler, then king, last monk” was the name of the epitaph for Tassilo III. in the now destroyed basilica of the Lorsch monastery. This inscription is handed down in the medieval annals of the Kremsmünster monastery. The historian Georg Helwich († 1632) also records them in the "Antiquitates Laurishaimenses" and claims to have seen and copied them himself on September 10, 1615 in Lorsch. According to him, the inscription still had the addition: “I died on the third day before the Ides of December (December 11th) and was buried in this tomb. Grant bliss to this gracious Christ. "

Time of the division of the empire around 840

The Lorsch Gospels , which are now dismantled in Rome , London and Alba Iulia , came to Lorsch under Abbot Adalung. The illustration shows the evangelist Luke.

Abbot Adalung maintained close relations with Charlemagne, who also appointed him abbot of Saint-Vaast in Arras in 808 , and he succeeded in increasing the abbey property. Adalung signed, among others, the will of Charlemagne. Adalung was also a close advisor to his successor, Emperor Ludwig the Pious . So Adalung traveled to Rome in 823 to conduct investigations against Pope Paschal I on behalf of the emperor .

The abbey also emerged stronger from the disputes between the emperor and his sons. The abbey was occupied by Ludwig the German in 832 , presumably to prevent the abbey from taking sides with the emperor.

Adalung was 833 on the lie field present at Colmar and delivered on behalf of Louis the Pious gifts to the Pope Gregory IV. , Who at the instigation of Lothar I had traveled. In 834, Ludwig the German needed the abbey to back up his brother Lothar I and made a donation for the abbey. During this time the monastery had 60 monks, and Einhard donated the cella Michelstadt to the abbey .

Samuel becomes Abbot of Lorsch in 834 after the death of Adalung. He led the abbey successfully through the time of disputes between the sons of Louis the Pious. Through his intercession, Samuel became Bishop of Worms in 841 , he also remained abbot in Lorsch. After the death of Ludwig the Pious, he supported Lothar I, as did the Fulda abbot Rabanus Maurus , the Mainz archbishop Otgar and the Paderborn bishop Badurat. Only after the conclusion of the Treaty of Verdun (843) was there another understanding between the princes of the church and Ludwig the German. This is expressed in a document from Ludwig from the year 847. In it the king allows the abbey's property, which had been torn up by the division of the empire, to be bundled again through exchange. Furthermore, in 852, the status as an imperial abbey is confirmed.

From 876 the Ecclesia varia was built east of the monastery church as a burial place of the Carolingians, in which u. a. Ludwig the German was buried.

Around 870 Abbot Dietrich von Lorsch founded the Michaelskloster on the Heiligenberg near Heidelberg as a branch monastery, in the 11th century another branch followed with the nearby St. Stephen's Monastery and in the 12th century the foundation of the Neuburg monastery started from Lorsch. Most likely in the year 895, probably in May at the Synod of Trebur , the then East Franconian King and later Roman Emperor Arnolf of Carinthia was forced, as a result of complaints about grievances in the monastery, to abolish the free election of Bishop Adalbero in addition to his To appoint bishopric as abbot. In 887 Adalbero had followed the long-time Chancellor Witgar to the Augsburg bishop's seat and had become Arnulf's most influential advisor. After only a few years he had reestablished the monastic discipline, made large contributions to the monastery through his influence on the king and therefore probably gave up this task again in the year 900 (the year it was last mentioned in Lorsch documents), giving up the renewed free election of abbot could get his advice from the king.

Lorsch was a supporter of the Gorze monastery reform .

The height of secular power in the High Middle Ages

Church fragment, building finds dating to the early 11th century

The property belonging to the Lorsch Monastery expanded significantly until the end of the 11th century through donations, which mainly came from the local nobility. The donations came mainly from Wormsgau , Lobdengau and Oberrheingau . Further donations came from the Kraichgau , the Speyergau and to a lesser extent from the Lahngau , the Wetterau ( Wettereiba ), the Niddagau , the Maingau , the Anglachgau (southeast of Speyer), the Ufgau (southeast of Speyer), the Wingarteiba im eastern Odenwald , Elsenzgau and Breisgau . The property of the monastery thus included large parts of the Rhine plain between Hattem (the northernmost property) and Chur . In October 1052, at the invitation of Abbot Arnold, Pope Leo IX visited. the monastery and consecrated the so-called "colorful church". Abbot Udalrich (in office from 1056 to 1075) probably united the greatest secular power of the Lorsch abbots and appeared at the Diet of Trebur in 1066 with 1200 followers enfeoffed by him.

The Lorsch Codex was created in the late 12th century as a directory of the possessions acquired since the monastery was founded. Among the acquisitions and donations dating back to the 8th century are often the first documentary mentions of numerous places.

Transfer to the Archdiocese of Mainz in 1232

In 1232 Lorsch was given to the Archdiocese of Mainz and its bishop Siegfried III. subordinated to Eppstein for reform; the Benedictines , who opposed the ordered reform, had to leave the abbey and were replaced by Cistercians from the Eberbach monastery . These could not hold up in Lorsch and were replaced in 1248 by Premonstratensians from All Saints' Day ; since then the monastery had the status of a provost's office .

The monastery had one of the largest libraries of the Middle Ages , which was later incorporated into the Bibliotheca Palatina .

The early Mainz diocesan historian, Cathedral Vicar Georg Helwich (1588–1632), published a Lorsch monastery chronicle in 1631 under the title “Antiquitates Laurishaimenses” .

Transfer to the Electoral Palatinate in 1461 and abolition of the monastery

The east side of the gatehouse in 1900 before restoration

In 1461 Kurmainz pledged his possessions on Bergstrasse , and Lorsch went to the Electoral Palatinate , which introduced the Reformation in 1556 and abolished the monastery in 1564. The existing rights such as tithe , basic interest, validity and gradient of the Lorsch monastery were from then on perceived and administered by the "Oberschaffnerei Lorsch". When the Spaniards withdrew from Bergstrasse in 1621, Lorsch was burned down. In the further course of the Thirty Years' War , the abbey returned to the Catholic Kurmainz in 1623 and then served as a quarry for decades. Only the gate hall (also known as the “King's Hall ”) of the monastery remained intact. It is one of the oldest completely preserved stone buildings in Germany from the post-Roman period and today gives an impression of Carolingian architecture.

21st century: World Heritage Site Lorsch Abbey

The Lorsch Monastery (Abbey and Altenmünster) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. Of the complex itself, only the king's hall, the basilica fragment and parts of the monastery wall remain today. Landscape-architectural additions indicate the original layout. The area also houses the Lorsch Museum Center , the Zehntscheune display depot , the experimental archaeological open-air laboratory Carolingian manor Lauresham and the herb garden for the Lorsch Pharmacopoeia .



Refuge for the monastery and his family was the Starkenburg on the edge of the Rhine valley on the mountain road in about 7 km away.

Philatelic appreciation

Deutsche Bundespost - German buildings - 20 Pfennig.jpg

In the two definitive series “ German Buildings from Twelve Centuries ”, from 1965 and 1967, a representation of the gate hall of the Lorsch Monastery was represented on the 20-Pfennig value. This value corresponded to the franking for a standard letter at that time . At the time, it was the most famous stamp with the highest circulation.

On the occasion of the 1250th anniversary of the monastery and in recognition of its entry in the UNESCO World Heritage List, Deutsche Post AG issued a postage stamp with the first issue date January 2, 2014 to the value of 60 euro cents. The design comes from Harry Scheuner from Chemnitz.


In the 468 years of its existence, the monastery had 47 abbots. (Source: Germania Benedictina )

Surname from to
Bishop Chrodegang of Metz 764 765
Abbot Gundeland 765 778
Abbot Helmerich 778 784
Abbot Richbod 784 804
Abbot Adalung 804 837
Abbot Samuel 837 857
Abbot Eigilbert 857 864/865
Abbot Thiothroch 864/865 876
Abbot Babo 876 881
Abbot Walther 881 882
Abbot Gerhard 883 893
Abbot Adalbero 895 897
Abbot Liuther 897 900
Abbot Adalbero 900 901
Abbot Hatto I. 901 913
Abbot Liuther 914 931
Abbot Evergis 931 948?
Abbot Brun (brother of Otto I. ) 948? 951
Abbot Gerbod 951 972
Abbot Salmann 972 999
Abbot Werner I. 999 1001
Abbot Werner II. 1001 1002
Abbot Gerold I. 1002 1005
Abbot Poppo , also Abbot of Fulda ( Franconian Babenberger ) 1006 1018
Abbot Reginbald 1018 1032
Abbot Humbert 1032 1037
Abbot Bruning 1037 1043
Abbot Hugo I. 1043 1052
Abbot Arnold 1052 1055
Abbot Udalrich 1056 1075
Abbot Adalbert 1075 1077
Abbot Winther ( Saargaugrafen ) 1077 1088
Abbot Anselm 1088 1101
Abbot Gerold II. 1101 1105
Abbot Hugo II. 1105 -
Abbot Gebhard 1105 1107
Abbot Erminold 1107 1111?
Abbot Benno 1111? 1119
Abbot Heidolf 1119 -
Abbot Hermann 1124 1125
Abbot Diemo 1125 1139
Abbot Baldemar 1140 1141
Abbot Folknand 1141 1148
Abbot Hildebert 1148 -
Abbot Marquard 1148 1149
Abbot Heinrich 1151 1167
Abbot Sigehard 1167 1199/1200
Abbot Leopold von Schönfeld 1199/1200 1214
Abbot Conrad 1214 1229


  • Bernd Fäthke : The new cultural-historical department in the “Museum Center Lorsch”, a project of the administration of the state palaces and gardens. In: Hessische Heimat , 41st year, 1991, issue 2, pp. 39–46
  • Germania Benedictina. Volume VII: The Benedictine monasteries and nunneries in Hesse. 1st edition. St. Ottilien 2004, ISBN 3-8306-7199-7 .
  • Contributions to the history of the Lorsch monastery. (= History sheets for the Bergstrasse district. Special volume 4). Laurissa, Lorsch 1980, ISBN 3-922781-66-7 .
  • Christoph Bühler: Lorsch Monastery - a sketch about the founding history of the monastery. March 2010. ( online in zum-portal PDF file, 28 Kbytes )
  • Regesten of the city of Heppenheim and Starkenburg Castle until the end of Kurmainzer rule (755 to 1461) . No. 313 ( digital view [PDF; 2.0 MB] - compiled and commented on by Torsten Wondrejz on behalf of the Heppenheim City Archives).
  • Matthias Rogg : "We give the Holy Nazarius ...". The property of the Lorsch monastery in the Ludwigshafen am Rhein area (= publications of the Ludwigshafen am Rhein city archive. Volume 17). City archive, Ludwigshafen am Rhein 1993, ISBN 3-924667-21-7 .
  • Bernd Modrow, Claudia Gröschel: Princely pleasure. 400 years of garden culture in Hessen. Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 2002, ISBN 3-7954-1487-3 .
  • Mathias Wallner, Heike Werner: Architecture and History in Germany. Werner, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-9809471-1-4 , p. 20 f.
  • State Palaces and Gardens of Hesse (Ed.): World Heritage Lorsch Monastery. The Middle Ages awaken. Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 2003, ISBN 3-7954-1524-1 .
  • Thomas Ludwig: The Lorsch Gate or King Hall: a Carolingian building richly decorated outside and inside. (= Small Art Guide. 2575 ). Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 2006, ISBN 3-7954-1753-8 .
  • Wilhelm Weyrauch : On the origins of Lorsch - The first church in Lauresham. In: History sheets district Bergstrasse. 33 (2000), pp. 11-64.
  • Maxi Maria Platz: The Altenmünster and Seehof churches in Lorsch. In: Bulletin of the German Society for Archeology of the Middle Ages and Modern Times. 22 (2010), pp. 93-100 (PDF; 1.3 MB).
  • Lorsch Monastery. From the imperial monastery of Charlemagne to the world cultural heritage of mankind. Exhibition at the Lorsch Museum Center, May 28, 2011– January 29, 2012. Michael Imhof Verlag, Petersberg 2011, ISBN 978-3-86568-643-5 .

Web links

Commons : Lorsch Monastery  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Minst, Karl Josef [transl.], Lorscher Codex: German; Document book of the former prince abbey Lorsch (Volume 1): Chronicon. Documents nos. 1 - 166, with notes that report the history of the monastery from 764 - 1175 and with additions up to 1181 - Lorsch, 1966. https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/minst1966bd1/0059
  2. ^ Website of the epitaph in the Lorsch Abbey. Retrieved March 12, 2017 .
  3. "King Arnolf transfers the management of the Lauresham monastery to Bishop Adalpero von Augsburg, with the abolition of the monks' free election of abbots because of the complaints made by bishops and laypeople about the abuses in the monastery." Regesta Imperii RIplus Regg. B Augsburg 1 n.56 ( online ; accessed on November 3, 2016).
  4. Valentin Alois Franz Falk - "History of the former Lorsch Monastery on Bergstrasse: based on the sources and with special emphasis on the activities of the monastery in the field of art and science - Mainz, 1866"
  5. Bruno Krings: Literature review Nigel F. Palmer: Cistercians and their books . In: Nassau Annals . tape 110 . Verlag des Verein für Nassau antiquity and historical research, 1999, ISSN  0077-2887 , p. 512-513 .
  6. Complete scan of the Lorsch Chronicle "Antiquitates Laurishaimenses" , by Georg Helwich, Frankfurt, 1631
  7. Konrad Dahl: Historical-topographical-statistical description of the principality of Lorsch, or Church history of the Upper Rhinegau, Darmstadt 1812. S. 178ff ( online at Google Books )
  8. Königshalle & monastery area. Subpage of the official website of the Lorsch Monastery.
  9. ^ Germania Benedictina. Volume VII: The Benedictine monasteries and nunneries in Hesse. 1st edition. St. Ottilien 2004, ISBN 3-8306-7199-7 , pp. 768-853.

Coordinates: 49 ° 39 ′ 14 ″  N , 8 ° 34 ′ 8 ″  E