Corvey pen

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Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor with haloes (1400-1806) .svg
Territory in the Holy Roman Empire
Corvey pen
coat of arms
coat of arms
The Imperial Abbey in the Holy Roman Empire, 1560
Alternative names Pen, prince abbey, imperial abbey, abbey
Arose from Developed from the Duchy of Saxony in the 14th century
Form of rule Corporate state
Ruler / government Prince , Administrator or vacant : xx
Today's region / s DE-NW
Parliament 1 virile vote on the ecclesiastical bench in the Reichsfürstenrat
Reich register 1521 = 7 horsemen, 9 foot soldiers, 120 guilders - 1663 = 3 horsemen, 9 foot soldiers, 60 guilders
Reichskreis Lower Rhine-Westphalian
Capitals / residences Corvey
Denomination / Religions Roman Catholic , also Lutheran at the beginning of the 16th century , large Jewish minority
Language / n German , Low German , Latin
surface 275 km² (1802)
Residents 10,000 (1802)
Incorporated into Corvey Monastery

The “ imperial and high princely monastery Corvey ”, here synonymous with prince abbey , was a corporate state and spiritual imperial territory of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in eastern Westphalia , which developed in the High Middle Ages . The Benedictine Abbey Corvey in today's urban area of Höxter in North Rhine-Westphalia was founded in 1792 by Pope Pius VI. canceled to go into the bishopric Corvey . The imperial abbey had been part of the Lower Rhine-Westphalian Imperial Circle since the 16th century . Due to its small size without any military significance, the imperial abbey became the "plaything of neighboring dynasties".


The princes of the imperial abbey stretched on the west bank of the Weser in the northeast of today's Westphalian district of Höxter . In addition to Corvey and the town of Höxter , the 16 villages Albaxen , Amelunxen , Blankenau , Bödexen , Bosseborn , Brenkhausen , Bruchhausen , Drenke , Fürstenau , Godelheim , Lüchtringen , Lütmarsen , Ottbergen , Ovenhausen , Stahle and Wehrden belonged to the Reichsabbey. It was part of the Lower Rhine-Westphalian Empire and bordered the Lower Saxony Empire to the east .

The most important neighboring country was the Paderborn Monastery in the west and south. Paderborn and Corvey connected the common diocese of the Bishop of Paderborn. The diocese always included more areas than that of a bishopric. Corvey's other neighbors were the Grafschaft Lippe (later Principality ) in the far northwest ( Samtämter with Paderborn) and the territories of the Duchy of Braunschweig and Lüneburg : the Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel in the east and the Principality of Calenberg-Göttingen / Electorate of Braunschweig-Lüneburg in the north and Southeast.



Corvey was one of the most important Carolingian monasteries in the early Middle Ages and had one of the most valuable libraries in the country. Numerous bishops emerged from the abbey. The abbey developed in the 9th and 10th centuries into a cultural, intellectual and economic center in the Saxon region .

Already after the conquest of Saxony , Charlemagne wanted to consolidate and promote Christianization in the newly won area by founding an imperial monastery. But only the half-brothers Adalhard , abbot of Corbie (Corbeia Aurea) on the Somme , and Wala , a cousin of Charlemagne, founded with the consent of Louis the Pious in 815 or 816 as Nova Corbeia (new Corbie) the first monastery in the land of Saxony in Hethis , initially as the provost of Corbie. That is where the first monks came. The convent moved its seat in 822 to the place of today's Corvey Castle. Thus the monastery was a little east of the Huxori royal court (later Höxter). This was located at the transition of the Hellweg over the Weser. With Imperial support, it gradually became independent from Corbie. Corvey, dedicated to the great Saints Stephen and Vitus , was the destination of many pilgrims.

Under Abbot Wibald (1146–1158) the monastery flourished through reorganization and expansion, but after his death it quickly lost its importance and its previous role in the empire and the Roman curia. The monastery had a certain political importance at the time of Abbot Widukind (1189–1203). But the abbots that followed and a convent fire in 1242 contributed to the debt and economic decline. Relations with Rome were permanently disrupted by the anti-Roman policies of Abbots Dietmar II von Stockhausen (1206-1216) and Hermann I von Holte (1223-1254). Since the middle of the 13th century with the end of the Staufer period, Corvey could hardly play an independent role towards the archbishops of Cologne , who as dukes of Westphalia also had material interests in the area, as well as the bishops of Paderborn and Munster .

Prince to imperial abbey

With the shift of royal power to southern Germany under the Hohenstaufen dynasty and the subsequent weakening of the kingship as a whole, Corvey largely lost the protection of the respective king. The abbots reacted by creating as closed a territory as possible. In doing so, they inevitably came into conflict with surrounding competitors. In addition to the bishops of Paderborn and various counts, these included the dukes of Braunschweig and Lüneburg , the landgraves of Hesse and the archbishops of Cologne . This led to the abbots neglecting their spiritual duties and preferring to build castles, as a chronicle of the abbots lamented as early as 1189. Since 1220 Corvey was a "princes" imperial abbey .

In contrast, however, there were considerable losses. In the course of the so-called Osnabrück tithe dispute and due to alienation, the abbey lost the tithe and most of the property income in the Diocese of Osnabrück. In the area of ​​the County of Waldeck , Corvey lost possessions in the 13th century in favor of the Counts and the Archbishopric of Cologne. The Solling acquired in 1198 was also lost.

Ultimately, only the area around Corvey remained of the formerly widely scattered property. The monastery territory was about 275 km² and consisted of the area of ​​today's town of Höxter with its twelve localities and four localities of today's city of Beverungen . About 10,000 people lived there at the end of the Old Kingdom .

The economic, political and intellectual-cultural phase of weakness lasted throughout the late Middle Ages . The abbots of the 14th and 15th centuries were mostly insignificant and sometimes unworthy. In contrast, the Convention gained influence. In the 15th century, the monastery had reached the lowest point of its previous development.

Initially, Kurköln was Corvey's protective power, but over time the Paderborn bishopric took over the function. The neighboring monastery controlled the jurisdiction of the prince abbey. At the same time, the abbots signed contracts with their large neighbors, the Landgraviate of Hesse and the Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg .

Early modern age

Prince Abbot Maximilian von Horrich
Map of the abbey by Johannes Gigas (1620)

In the course of the imperial reform , Corvey became part of the Lower Rhine-Westphalian Empire in the Holy Roman Empire in 1500 . The Abbot of Corvey had a personal seat and vote ( viril vote ) in the Reichsfürstenrat of the Reichstag and was not only represented there on a corporate level ( curate vote ) like most of the other abbots directly under the Empire . The realm register stipulated that Corvey had to provide two horsemen, nine foot soldiers and 120 guilders for the Imperial Army around 1522 . German, Low German and Latin were the languages ​​spoken in the Corvey Territory. Its area was 275 square kilometers around 1800 with around 10,000 inhabitants.

Also around 1500 began under Abbot Franz von Ketteler with the connection to the Bursfeld Congregation also an inner renewal. This has also started to secure the material basis. However, these efforts overlapped with the Reformation that penetrated the Corveyer territory from 1533 onwards , which, like in other spiritual territories, was supported by the rural nobility and townspeople. Contrary to the Jus reformandi , the abbots did not succeed in preventing the permanent establishment of the Reformation in Höxter, Amelunxen and Bruchhausen . This has greatly weakened the abbot's position. At the time of Abbot Dietrich von Beringhausen, the first attempts at Catholic renewal began around 1590, but this approach of denominationalization initially had little success. On the contrary, the monastery itself threatened to turn to the Reformation at times. The intervention of the Bursfeld Congregation put an end to this. The confessionalization in the monastery was largely completed by 1624. Unlike in neighboring Paderborn, however, the Corveyian capital Höxter remained true to Luther's teachings . They even managed to take possession of the spiritual courts, which in turn weakened the abbey. Despite admonitions from Prince-Bishop Dietrich IV of Paderborn , at least 12 of 37 pastors in 14 parishes of the Achidiaconate Höxter-Corvey remained Protestant in the 16th century . The prince abbot was severely reprimanded by his chapter for his inadequate Counter-Reformation.

At the same time, the Corveyische, which is very agrarian and fragmented, increased its economic importance directly on the navigable Weser. Iron mining , timber and grain industry from the Weser area became more and more important for Northern Germany but also for the United Netherlands .

The monastery was badly damaged in the Thirty Years' War . The “great monastery fire” (“Hoexter's Bloodbath” in 1635) destroyed large parts of the monastery library. At times the monks had to flee to Höxter during the war. There were also military occupations and high contributions.

Corvey was on the verge of collapse when Prince-Bishop Christoph Bernhard von Galen became administrator in 1665 after the monks had decided not to elect an abbot from their own ranks. He donated the baroque abbey church and revitalized the monastery by reinstating a noble convent. The sovereign authority over Höxter was also renewed. After monastic life had somewhat consolidated, the abbot was again elected from among the ranks of the convent. Wilhelm Raabe dedicated the story Höxter and Corvey to the time of Galens . The dilapidated monastery church, with the exception of its westwork, was replaced from 1667 by a new Gothic church with baroque furnishings. Between 1699 and 1756, especially under Abbot Florence von dem Felde, the monastery complex was generously rebuilt in baroque style. Corvey Castle still shows this condition almost unchanged today. Inscriptions, including on monuments in honor of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious, directly at the main entrance to the monastery, made it clear that Corvey now saw itself as the center of Catholic denomination . The abbot expressed his princely aspirations in the magnificent imperial hall . Abbot Maximilian von Horrich (1714–1721) made a contribution to rebuilding the library.

The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) affected the Corveyic disproportionately. The country was hit hard by troops marching through and encamping from the western theater of war.

In the 17th and 18th centuries there was an intense focus on the history of the abbey. However, the historians of the time, later also called Corveyer lie historians , sometimes invented or falsified sources. Even in the 19th century, this led Paul Wigand , archivist and historian, to various wrong conclusions.

Secularization of the abbey and foundation of the Corvey bishopric

The imperial abbey , with around 12,000 inhabitants and an annual income of around 100,000 thalers, always tried to break away from its dependence on the bishops of Paderborn . The impending extinction of the convent towards the end of the 18th century gave a strong motivational boost, as in 1786 the convent only had 13 members. Since Corvey only accepted noble candidates and there were hardly any applicants left, an attempt was made to avoid the downfall by elevation to the diocese.

In 1779, as a first step towards this, the elevation to the rank of a territorial abbey could be achieved, i.e. the inhabitants of the Corveyer territory, whose sovereign the abbot was already in secular matters, were now relieved of the jurisdiction of the Paderborn bishop in matters of canon law and the subordinate to the abbot. The episcopal ordination of violence , however, still remained the Bishop of Paderborn. In the presence of the abbot, the convention decided that the divine service, which had always retained its Benedictine character , should not be reduced even after a possible secularization of the abbey, which spoke in favor of a still strict monastic daily routine. The alumni of the seminary opened in 1786 were called in to hold the prayer times , as most of the monks were too old. At the same time, the number of future canons was set at twelve and their salary at 500 thalers. The Vita communis was also largely reformed and the retreat lifted.

In 1788 the abbey finally submitted its application for secularization to the Pope . This abolished the monastery in 1792, raised the prince-abbot Theodor von Brabeck to prince-bishop and the abbey area to the diocese (= bishopric ), although it only comprised ten parishes. The prior of the abbey was dean of the cathedral , the monks became canons (capitulars), including Ferdinand von Lüninck , who was heavily involved in the conversion procedure. In addition, other domicellaries were added, and the abbey church , which has now become a cathedral , received six cathedral vicars . The clothes and the rights were adapted to the other German cathedral chapters. In 1794 the certificate was issued by the emperor and the new diocese, which only included the area of ​​the old imperial abbey, was placed under the ecclesiastical province of Mainz . Theodor von Brabeck was succeeded by Ferdinand von Lüninck in 1794 as prince-bishop and last regional bishop of the diocese in Prussia († 1825).

End of sovereignty

A little later, namely in 1803, the Principality of Corvey was abolished by the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss . The territory, now called the Principality of Corvey , fell to the Counts of Nassau-Dillenburg , who also carried the title of Prince of Orange . Wilhelm V of Orange became sovereign , from 1806 Wilhelm Friedrich Prince of Orange-Nassau . In 1807 the Principality of Corvey became part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia , then in 1815 it became a royal Prussian domain. The clerical diocese of Corvey remained in existence until Ferdinand von Lüninck's death in 1825, when it was incorporated into the diocese of Paderborn .

Landgrave Viktor Amadeus von Hessen-Rotenburg , who was entitled to compensation in the late aftermath of the Congress of Vienna , received the media principality of Corvey from the King of Prussia in 1820 , together with the media principality of Ratibor . In his will from 1825, the Landgrave bequeathed these areas outside of Hesse to his nephew, the Hereditary Prince Viktor zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst. The Landgrave died in 1834 and Hereditary Prince Viktor accepted the title Duke of Ratibor and Prince of Corvey when he was of legal age in 1840, renouncing his Schillingsfürst inheritance claims .

See also


Older literature

  • Paul Wigand : History of the royal abbey Corvey and the cities of Corvey and Höxter . Höxter 1819 [several volumes]. ( Online )
  • Paul Wigand (Ed.): The Corveyesche Güterbesitz presented from the sources and as a continuation of the Corveyschen story. Lemgo 1831. ( Online )
  • Paul Wigand (Ed.): Traditiones Corbeinses. Leipzig 1843. ( Online )
  • August Hanemann : Corvey Castle on the Weser , Höxter 1898 ( digitized version ), 4th edition. Holzminden 1909, 10th edition. Höxter 1947
  • Johannes Letzner : Corbeische Chronica , Hamburg 1590 ( online )
  • Johannes Letzner : Chronica and historical description of the life, the Hendel and deeds of the ... German Roman. Keys. Lodowici Pii and the Keyserlichen Free Stifft Corbei , Hildesheim 1604 ( Online )

Newer literature

  • Jörg Deventer: The offside as a safe place? Jewish minority and Christian society in the Old Kingdom using the example of the Corvey Abbey (1550-1807). Schöningh, Paderborn 1996, ISBN 3-506-79593-7 .
  • Marianne Huisking: Contributions to the history of the Corveyer electoral capitulations. In: Westfälische Zeitschrift (WestfZs). Paderborn 98 / 99.1949, p. 9, ISSN  0083-9043 .
  • Handbook of the historical sites of Germany. North Rhine-Westphalia. Stuttgart 1970, pp. 146-149.
  • Klemens Honselmann (ed.): The old monk lists and the traditions of Corvey. Publications of the Historical Commission for Westphalia. Vol. 10. Treatises on Corvey historiography. Vol. 6, T. 1. Paderborn 1982, ISBN 3-87088-326-X .
  • Leopold Schütte (Ed.): The old monk lists and the traditions of Corvey. Indices and other resources. Publications of the Historical Commission for Westphalia. Vol. 10. Treatises on Corvey historiography. Vol. 6, T. 2. Paderborn 1992, ISBN 3-87088-326-X .
  • Beate Johlen: The effects of the Counter Reformation on the sacred building of the 17th century. Reform and tradition using the example of the reconstruction of the former Benedictine abbey church in Corvey / Westphalia in 1667. Bonn 2000.
  • Joachim Poeschke (ed.): Sinopia and stucco in the westwork of the Carolingian monastery church of Corvey. Rhema-Verlag, Münster 2002, ISBN 3-930454-34-3 .
  • Wolfgang Leesch: The Corveyer parish system . In: In: Art and culture in the Weser area 800–1600 Volume 1, Corvey 1966, pp. 43–76
  • Elmar Arnold, Sándor Kotyrba: Corvey. Former imperial abbey and residence. Koch-Druck, Halberstadt 2011.

Web links

Commons : Corvey  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Gerhard Köbler : Historical Lexicon of the German Lands. The German territories from the Middle Ages to the present. 7th, completely revised edition. CH Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-54986-1 , p. 123 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  2. See contemporary designation in the NRW state archive:
  3. Jörg Deventer: The offside as a safe place? Jewish minority and Christian society in the Old Kingdom using the example of the Corvey Abbey (1550-1807). Schöningh, Paderborn 1996, ISBN 3-506-79593-7 . P. 12.
  4. NOVA CORBEIA the virtual library Corvey Elisabeth Sudhoff: history of the monastery and castle Corvey. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  5. Jörg Deventer: The offside as a safe place? Jewish minority and Christian society in the Old Kingdom using the example of the Corvey Abbey (1550-1807). Schöningh, Paderborn 1996, ISBN 3-506-79593-7 . P. 26.
  6. Jörg Deventer: The offside as a safe place? Jewish minority and Christian society in the Old Kingdom using the example of the Corvey Abbey (1550-1807). Schöningh, Paderborn 1996, ISBN 3-506-79593-7 . P. 27.
  7. NOVA CORBEIA the virtual library Corvey Elisabeth Sudhoff: history of the monastery and castle Corvey. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  8. ^ Wilhelm Raabe: Höxter and Corvey. ( Full text on project Gutenberg-DE ).
  9. Archbishop's Academic Library Paderborn ( Memento from January 5, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) Günter Tiggesbäumker: The reconstruction of the Corveyer monastery library after the Thirty Years War under Prince Abbot Maximilian von Horrich.
  10. See

Coordinates: 51 ° 46 ′ 40 "  N , 9 ° 24 ′ 36"  E