Aerial view of Lorch Monastery, church and prelature

Steeped in history and legendMilestones

The House of Staufen founded Lorch Monastery in the Rems valley in the High Middle Ages. The Benedictine monastery of St. Mary was intended to be their burial place. Yet the famous imperial family died out and disappeared. Lorch Monastery's history continued for another nine centuries.

Charter of Lorch Monastery from 1102

The charter established the monastery.

The House of Staufen as clever benefactors

The House of Staufen, an upwardly mobile noble family, founded the monastery in 1102. This was in the midst of the Investiture Controversy, a struggle over whether the Emperor or the Pope held ultimate political authority. In the founding of Lorch Monastery, a delicate compromise was reached: With the right to elect its own abbot, the monastery's independence was assured. At the same time, the bailiwick, the secular authority over the monastery, remained in the hands of the House of Staufen and later those of their heirs and successors, the Württembergs.

Benefactors Duke Friedrich of Swabia and Agnes von Waiblingen, mural in Lorch Monastery church

The monastery's founding was not entirely altruistic.

A pious benefactor with a definite intention

As pious medieval benefactors, Friedrich von Staufen and his wife Agnes von Waiblingen donated land for the construction of a monastery and goods for its maintenance to the church. They chose Mary as the patron saint of the monastery and Saint Peter and Saint Paul as secondary patrons. Like many of their contemporaries, the benefactors acted both strategically and out of deep piety. The monks in "their" monastery prayed for their souls every day. And the holy patron saints became their advocates before God.

Armed peasants, woodcut from an early print from 1525

The monastery's tradition ended with the Peasants' War.

The monastery flourishes and tradition dies

Lorch Monastery demonstrates how a narrow spiritual life could be combined with economic success in a monastery. During a time of decline in the 15th century, Lorch Monastery joined the Melk Reform movement. The return to the strict rules of Saint Benedict allowed the monastery to prosper once more. This was reflected in the lively construction activity of these years. The violent outbreak of the Peasants' War came soon afterward. With the arrival of the Reformation in the Duchy of Württemberg, the monastic tradition ended.

A revered inheritance from the past

The legacy of the House of Staufen was treasured through the centuries. In the 19th century, Lorch Monastery was rediscovered as an important monument. More modern additions were removed from the monastery church and the medieval style was. Lorch Monastery became a tourist destination. The tradition of veneration for the House of Staufen was also used by the Nazis: they held ceremonies in the monastery church. In the 1930s, the monastery was almost converted into a monument to fascism.

Panoramic image of Hohenstaufen and the city
Aerial view of Wäscherschloss Castle

Two other famous House of Staufen sites: Hohenstaufen and Wäscherschloss Castle.

The history of the House of Staufen is all around, reachable by bike or on foot. The House of Staufen's Wäscherschloss Castle is only a few kilometers from Lorch Monastery. Hohenstaufen, the mountain upon which the castle of the House of Staufen once sat is visible from there. The view across the Staufer countryside is worth the climb!

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