Secular canons

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As Säkularkanoniker , including world sacred canons , secular canons , unregulated canons ( canon synonymous's canons ) called, referred to members of ecclesial communities ( collegiate ) that no vows have passed. In contrast to religious clergy, they keep their private assets and can leave the pen at any time.


The rule of canons (regula canonicorum) , which was developed based on the model of Augustine of Hippo to distinguish it from ( Benedictine ) monasticism , was enacted in 755 by Bishop Chrodegang of Metz for his diocese. Further developed at the Imperial Synod of Aachen in 816, it was made binding by Emperor Ludwig the Pious (Ludwig I) for the entire Carolingian Empire.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, noble families in particular used secular canon positions in a cathedral chapter or collegiate chapter to care for later sons or to prepare for later careers in the clergy or at court . Since they did not have to take any vows - not even a vow of poverty - the clergy could live well from the benefices of the monasteries ; the pastoral tasks of the community originally intended by the founder often faded into the background.

The importance of secular canonism in the founding of universities in the late Middle Ages should be emphasized : the first professors of these newly founded (state) universities were predominantly secular canons.

Difference from regular canons

In contrast to secular canons, regular canons live according to an order rule (mostly according to one of two rules of Augustine of Hippo, the ordo antiquus or the ordo novus ), have been ordained a priest and have taken religious vows, but are not monks in the Benedictine sense.


  • Guy P. Marchal (Red.): The secular collegiate colleges of German- and French-speaking Switzerland (= Helvetia Sacra . Department 2, Part 2). Francke, Bern 1977.
  • Peter Moraw : About typology, chronology and geography of the collegiate church in the German Middle Ages. In: Studies on monastery and monastery (= publications of the Max Planck Institute for History. Vol. 68 = Studies on Germania Sacra. Vol. 14). Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1980, ISBN 3-525-35381-2 , pp. 9-37.
  • Alfred Wendehorst , Stefan Benz: Directory of the secular canon pens of the Reichskirche (= publications of the Central Institute for Franconian Regional Studies and General Regional Research at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. Vol. 35). Degener, Neustadt an der Aisch 1997, ISBN 3-7686-9146-2 .
  • Guy P. Marchal: What was the Canon Institute in the Middle Ages? Cathedral and Collegiate Pencils: An Introduction and a New Perspective. In: Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique . Vol. 94, 1999, pp. 761-807, 95, 2000, pp. 7-53.