Imperial Abbey of Stablo-Malmedy

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Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor with haloes (1400-1806) .svg
Territory in the Holy Roman Empire
Imperial Abbey of Stablo-Malmedy
coat of arms
Coat of arms is missing
Stablo-Malmedy Abbey in the 16th century
Alternative names Stavelot-Malmedy
Form of rule Electoral Principality
Ruler / government Prince abbot
Today's region / s BE-WLG
Parliament Reichsfürstenrat : 1 virile vote on the spiritual bench
Reich register 2 horsemen
22 foot soldiers
120 guilders (1522)
Reichskreis Lower Rhine-Westphalian
Capitals / residences Stavelot Abby , Monastery Malmedy
Denomination / Religions Roman Catholic , Jewish minority
surface 520 km² or 727 km²
Residents 23,000 (end of 18th century)
Incorporated into 1794: France : Département Ourthe
1815: western part of the United Netherlands , eastern part of Prussia

The Imperial Abbey of Stablo-Malmedy , also known as the Prince Abbey of Stablo-Malmedy , was a spiritual territory in the Holy Roman Empire in what is now Belgium . It all began in 648 . The Benedictine monastery was after a period of decline in the sense of Gorze and Cluny an important reform abbey of the High Middle Ages , lost in the late Middle Ages in importance and experienced in the early modern period with the orientation on the Bursfelde Congregation a new upswing. In the 17th and 18th centuries in particular, the double abbey was run by lay abbots . The history of the imperial abbey ended in 1792–1796 . The imperial abbey essentially consisted of the monasteries Stablo and Malmedy, which were connected in personal union .

Location and possessions

The territory of the double monastery lay on the right bank of the Meuse in the Ardennes . In the end, it consisted of the two monasteries and their respective surrounding areas as the Principality of Stablo and the County of Logne and the areas of Xhignesse and Hamoir . Important places besides the monastery sites and cities of Stablo and Malmedy were Wellin and Leignon. Other possessions of the abbey were in Haspengau , on the Maas, the Rhine and the Moselle.

In the north and west, the actual territory bordered the Hochstift / Principality of Liège and the Duchy of Limburg . The Duchy of Luxembourg lay in the south and east .

The area was crossed by the rivers Ourthe , Amel and Lesse . An old Roman road from Lorraine to Cologne and another from Arlon to Namur crossed the area.

The population spoke partly French and partly the Walloon language , the regional dialect.


Early and High Middle Ages

Medallion depicting the OPERATIO from the former reredos of St. Remaklus in the Stablo monastery; Maasland, around 1150, pit enamel on copper, gilded
Page from the Stablo Bible around 1093/97

The caretaker Grimoald founded the Benedictine monasteries of Stablo and Malmedy around 648. They were equipped with real estate by King Sigibert III. Stablo was under the diocese of Liège . Malmedy belonged to the diocese of Cologne . The initial property was quite extensive, 12 miles in diameter, but was reduced to about half in size some time later.

The first abbot and actual founder was Remaclus . The first monks probably lived according to the rule of Saint Columban . Only later did they switch to the Benedictine rule. One of the important successors was Bishop Agilolf of Cologne . In later times the abbot's chair was often occupied by secular laypeople, in particular the dukes of Lorraine. Around 870 the theologian Christian von Stablo worked in Stablo . The Normans looted the abbey and temporarily expelled the convent in 881. Odilo , he ruled between 937 and 954, began with the structural and spiritual renovation. It began with the introduction of the principles of the Gorzer Reform . Under Abbot Poppo (1020-1048) the Cluniac reform found its way into the prince abbey . From Stablo-Malmedy, he spread the reform to other monasteries in Lorraine. He served as a close advisor and diplomat to Heinrich II , Konrad II and Heinrich III. and was supported by the emperors in his reform efforts. During his time the final reconstruction of the monastery and the construction of the monastery church of Stablo fell.

Archbishop Anno of Cologne temporarily claimed the possessions of the Malmedy monastery without being able to assert himself. Abbot Wibald (1130–1138) was not only an important scholar and benefactor, but under Lothar III. , Conrad III. and Frederick I played an important role in imperial politics. He obtained from Lothar III. a certificate with a golden bull, which inscribed the membership of the empire forever.

Late Middle Ages

The abbots of the late Middle Ages were of little spiritual or political importance. Heinrich von Geldern , who was also Bishop of Liège, was deposed by Pope Gregory X because of his unworthy lifestyle . In addition to monks, members of powerful families or secular clergy became abbots. Many of them were militarily active in feuds and were immoral. The abbots began to call themselves princes by 1376 at the latest. However, they no longer played a significant role in the empire. The bailiffs also had a great influence at this time. Important possessions such as Logne Castle were pledged to the Lords of Arenberg , who exerted great influence over the country. After a phase of decline, renewed reform efforts began in 1438, but these were unsustainable.

Early modern age

Convent building in Malmedy
Convent building in Stablo

After the death of the weak abbot Caspar Poncin (1460–1499), the convent elected Wilhelm von Manderscheid as abbot (1499–1546) because the monks hoped, with the help of his influential family, to strengthen the position of Stablo and Malmedy vis-à-vis the Arenbergers . A new upswing began under Wilhelm, who was also abbot of Prüm Abbey . Under his abbatiate, internal monastic life was regulated according to the principles of the Bursfeld congregation . The official accession to the congregation did not take place until 1654. However, with Wilhelm, the era of lay abbots ( commendatabtes ) began, which lasted until the 18th century. With the support of Charles V , he managed to regain control of Logne. Because the castle was only in ruins, he had a new one built. This also served as the residence of the prince abbot. The archive and the cash register were also housed there. The west tower was built on the Abbey Church of Stablo. In Malmedy he had the abbey quarter destroyed in 1482 and the monastery church, which was damaged by fire in 1521, rebuilt. Wilhelm's nephew, Christoph von Manderscheid-Kail (1547–1576), as coadjutor and successor, continued the construction and resisted the penetration of Protestantism.

The imperial abbey was endangered in its existence by the independence efforts in the Netherlands . There was looting by foreign troops. As a result, the abbots came from the Wittelsbach family . These included around 1580 Ernst of Bavaria (1581–1612), Ferdinand of Bavaria (1612–1650), Wilhelm II of Bavaria (1650–1658) and Maximilian Heinrich of Bavaria (1657 and 1658–1660). Except for Wilhelm, they were also Electors of Cologne. Even under her rule there were repeated attacks by foreign soldiers on the territory of the abbey.

In the 18th century a new monastery church was built in Malmedy, which served in the 1920s as the cathedral of the short-lived diocese of Eupen-Malmedy . The last abbot, Célestin Thys , fled from the French revolutionary troops in 1792. The territory of the entire abbey was occupied in 1795 and annexed to France. A year later, both monasteries were closed. At the Congress of Vienna , the areas belonging to the diocese of Cologne with Malmedy fell to Prussia . Stablo came to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and fell to Belgium in 1830. After the First World War, Malmedy also belonged to Belgium.


The former monastery church and cathedral of Saints-Pierre, Paul et Quirin of Malmedy

Stablo and Malmedy were a double abbey consisting of two Benedictine monasteries . While Stablo was ecclesiastically under the diocese of Liège , Malmedy belonged to the archdiocese of Cologne . But nevertheless both formed a single territory under imperial law.

In the early modern period, the imperial abbey had a seat and vote in the imperial council . Later the territory belonged to the Lower Rhine-Westphalian Empire .

At the head was the abbot or prince abbot . This was elected by the monks in a general assembly of both monasteries. Each monastery was headed by a prior . If vacant , the two chapters formed the highest power. At the time of the commendate abbots they had the princely income, while the spiritual power lay with the priors.

Between the two monasteries there was always a dispute about the supremacy. A first conflict was settled around 980 by the Council of Ingelheim. This obliged the monks to submit to a head. In 1095 Malmedy split off for a time. Through the alleged intervention of St. Remaclus (Triumphus Sancti Remacli) , Henry IV established the supremacy of Stablo. But still there were further conflicts between the two conventions. Wilhelm Egon von Fürstenberg (1692–1694) tried in vain as administrator to establish a closer union between the two houses.

Abbot Heinrich von Merode (1439–1460) strengthened the central status of abbots and monasteries when he renewed the privileges and rights that had been inherited. The entire secular power rested with the abbot. However, he had to observe the electoral capitulations that were written by the two chapters before the respective government took over. There were also estates . In these the two priors, the heads of the feudal lords, the lay judges of the feudal courts of Stablo and Malmedy, the mayors of the cities and the representatives of the communities were together. They had the right to decide on taxes and duties.

The most important secular official was the so-called Podestat as the commander of the military contingent . In the county of Logne he was the burgrave.

Ernst von Bayern created the Conseil provincial in 1559 as a princely advisory body and supreme court. The president was always the prior of Stablo and his deputy was that of Malmedy. Below that, the two feudal courts, as appeal bodies for the local courts, formed the next level of the judiciary. Provincial against the decisions of the Conseil was initially the court in Aachen and by 1645 the Great Council of Mechelen and Luxembourg respectively, and the Imperial Court in Wetzlar and the Reichshofrat in Vienna be appealed.

Since the beginning of the 16th century, the prince received a share of around 20% of the abbey's total income. In addition, there were further shares in the income of the abbey. These were separated from the income of the convents as early as the 9th century.

If the prince resided in the country, he initially lived mostly in the monastery of Stablo, he also had rooms in Malmedy. In the early modern period, the prince abbots temporarily resided at Fort de Logne Castle in the west of their sphere of influence; Wilhelm von Manderscheid had a new, relatively luxurious residence built on a hill in the middle between the two monasteries from 1525 to 1535.

Most of the inhabitants lived from agriculture. Economically, however, this was not very productive. Therefore different branches of industry developed. At times, the powder mills and numerous tanneries played an important role. The manufacture of fabrics and lace also played a role. The abbey had the right to mint coins since the Middle Ages.

See also


  • Heribert Surges: History of the Malmedy-Stavelot Abbey. A. Schneider, Malmedy 1912.
  • Alfred Bruns: Imperial Abbey of Stablo-Malmedy . In: Gerhard Taddey (Hrsg.): Lexicon of German history . People, events, institutions. From the turn of the times to the end of the 2nd World War. 2nd, revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-520-80002-0 , p. 1185.
  • Eberhard Linck: Social change in monastic manors of the 11th to 13th centuries. Studies on the familiae of Gembloux, Stablo-Malmedy and St. Trond (= publications of the Max Planck Institute for History. Vol. 57). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1979, ISBN 3-525-35368-5 (also Diss. Freiburg i. Br. 1976).
  • Phillippe George: Les reliques de Stavelot-Malmedy. Nouveaux documents. Art & Histoire, Malmedy 1989.
  • Thomas Vogtherr : The King and the Saint. Heinrich IV., Saint Remaklus and the monks of the double monastery Stablo-Malmedy (= writings of the historical college - lectures. 25). Oldenbourg, Munich 1990 ( digitized version ).
  • Gerhard Köbler : Prince Abbey of Stablo-Malmedy. In: Gerhard Köbler: Historical Lexicon of the German Lands. The German territories from the Middle Ages to the present. 4th completely revised edition. Beck, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-406-35865-9 , p. 597.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gerhard Köbler: Historical Lexicon of the German Lands. The German territories from the Middle Ages to the present. 7th completely revised edition. Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-54986-1 , p. 678.
  2. Reichsabtei Stablo-Malmedy on ( Memento of the original from October 15, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Reichsabtei Stablo-Malmedy on ( Memento of the original from October 15, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Eupen and Malmedy after 1918  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  5. "Fortress of Logne", today Domaine de Palogne, approx. 40 km west of Stavelot, in the Ourthe valley; There are no structural remains of this castle. It was pledged as early as 1427 for lack of money
  6. Nothing of the building remains has been preserved