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Ellwangen Abbey

Earliest Benedictine monastery established in the Duchy of Wurtemberg

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Ellwangen Abbey, the earliest Benedictine monastery established in the Duchy of Würtemberg, situated in the Diocese of Augsburg about thirty miles northeast of the town of Stuttgart. Hariolfus, Bishop of Langres, was the founder, and the date of foundation was about 764, though there are a few authorities for as early a date as 732. In later times it became a royal abbey, a privilege which seems to have been conferred in 1011 by the Emperor Henry II, and afterwards confirmed by the Emperor Charles IV, in 1347. Some authorities date the granting of this privilege as late as 1555. This cannot be correct, for it is known that the superior of Ellwangen took his seat in the Diet among the princes of the country in 1500. The Benedictine occupation of the abbey came to an end in the first half of the fifteenth century. In 1460 it was changed into a college of secular canons under the rule of a provost. Ellwangen had many men of renown connected with it: the Abbots Lindolf and Erfinan, whom Mabillon speaks of as famous authors; Abbot Gebhard began to write the life of St. Udalricus but died before completing it; Abbot Ermenrich (c. 845), author of the life of St. Solus which may be found in the fourth volume of the “Acta Sanctorum” of Mabillon. Adalbero, a monk of this abbey, was made Bishop of Augsburg in 894. Abbot Lindebert became Archbishop of Mainz, as also did Abbot Hatto (891). St. Gebhard, Abbot of Ellwangen, became Bishop of Augsburg in 995. Abbot Milo about the middle of the tenth century was one of the visitors appointed for the visitation of the famous Abbey of St. Gall. Nothing is known of the property connected with Ellwangen during the period of its Benedictine history, but in the eighteenth century, after it had passed into the hands of the secular canons, its possessions included the court manor of Ellwangen, the manors of Taxstell, Neuler, Rothlein, Tannenburg, Wasseralfingen, Abts-Gmundt, Kockenburg near the town of Aalen, Henchlingen on the River Lein, and Lautern. Most of the ecclesiastical buildings still exist, though they are no longer used for religious purposes. Since the secularization they have been held by the State and used for state purposes.


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