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the final resting place

Lorch Monastery

Links das Mühlsteinwappen des Abtes Laurentius Autenrieth und rechts das Lorcher Klosterwappen; Foto: Ulrich Rund
A medieval career

LAURENTIUS AUTENRIETH

Laurentius Autenrieth (1483–1549) participated in the creation of the choir books of Lorch Monastery as a scribe. In the midst of the Peasants' War, he was elected abbot of Lorch Monastery. For 15 years, Autenrieth fought against the Reformation and for the preservation of the monastery.

Exterior of Blaubeuren Monastery. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Sven Grenzemann

He attended the monastery school in Blaubeuren.

Where was Laurentius Autenrieth from?

The millstone in his coat of arms points to his origin: Laurentius Autenrieth was born in Blaubeuren in 1483, the son of a miller. After visiting the monastery school, he entered Bebenhausen Monastery as a novice. It is likely that he received his training as a scribe there.

Laurentius Autenrieth, later the abbot of Lorch's Benedictine monastery, in the Graduale of Lorch, location: WLB Stuttgart Cod. mus. I fol. 65, page 218r. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain

Born the son of a miller, he rose to the position of abbot.

What was his career like?

Around 1505, Autenrieth moved from Blaubeuren to Lorch and became a scribe in the monastery. Around 1508, he took on the office of custodian, and before 1519, he was named prior, deputy to the abbot. At the end of 1525, he succeeded the abbot in the middle of the turmoil of the Peasants' War, during which the monastery was attacked and partially burned down. Under the leadership of Abbot Autenrieth, the monastery church and convent buildings were rebuilt in just a few years.

Page with notes from the choir book of Lorch, early 16th century. Image: Ulrich Rund

One of the choir books of Lorch Monastery.

Why is Autenrieth still famous today?

The Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Württemberg State Library) in Stuttgart houses three large, magnificent liturgical volumes: the Lorch choral books. They were created at the beginning of the 16th century. Laurentius Autenrieth was one of the scribes to write these 1784 pages! In 1520, Autenrieth also drafted a writing manual. This example of lovely ornamental script can also be found in the Württemberg's State Library.

Why were scribes needed?

The printing press had already been invented at the time when Laurentius Autenrieth and others worked on the grand choir books. The handwritten books only served representational purposes. The Lorch choir books were a precious gift to the monastery, of which Duke Ulrich von Württemberg was the primary donor.

Duke Ulrich von Württemberg, woodcut by Brosamer, circa 1530. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner

From founder to opponent.

And in the time of the Reformation?

Laurentius Autenrieth's fate is typical for the Reformation period. As the last Catholic abbot of Lorch, he experienced the dissolution of the monastery by its former benefactor and supporter Duke Ulrich von Württemberg, two decades after the creation of the choir books. The man who had been a benefactor in 1511 became an opponent in 1535. For many years, Autenrieth opposed the Reformation, but he could not prevent the dissolution of the monastery.

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