Imperial Abbey of Walkenried
Reichskloster Walkenried
Imperial Abbey of the Holy Roman Empire
Wappen Landkreis Mansfelder Land
1542–1648 Flagge Herzogtum Braunschweig.svg

Wappen von Walkenried.png
Coat of arms

Kloster Walkenried 1900.jpg
Walkenried Abbey, around 1900
Capital Walkenried
Languages German, Latin
Religion Cistercian (to 1546)
Lutheran (from 1546)
Government Theocracy
 -  1127–28 Henry I (first abbot)
Historical era Middle Ages
 -  Abbey founded 1127 1542
 - Foundation confirmed
    by Pope Innocent II
 - Joined Upper Saxon Circle 1500
 - Became Reichsstift 1542
 -  Secularised to
1648 1648

Walkenried Abbey (German: Kloster or Reichskloster Walkenried) was one of the most celebrated Cistercian abbeys of Germany, located in the village of Walkenried in the district of Osterode in Lower Saxony, Germany.


It was founded in 1127 by Countess Adelheid of Klettenberg as the third Cistercian monastery in German-speaking territory; the foundation was confirmed in 1137 by Pope Innocent II. The first monks came from Altfeld Abbey, also known as Kamp Abbey, in the Archdiocese of Cologne. In the time of the first abbot, Henry I (1127–28), two daughter houses were founded: Pforta (1132) and Sichem or Sittichenbach Abbey (1141) in the County of Mansfeld.

Walkenried grew rich and acquired lands as far away as the Rhine and Pomerania. The monks gave much attention to land clearance and development, especially mining and smelting, and also the construction of fishponds.

In the 15th century, the abbey began to decline, and the Peasants' War brought it to the verge of destruction. Around Easter, 1525, a mob of 800 peasants from the southern Harz region marched against Walkenried. Abbot Paulus (1520–36) and the monks fled, taking the archives with them. The abbey was plundered and the church tower torn down.

In 1542 the abbey was declared a "Reichsstift" (territorially independent). The next abbot, John VIII (1530–59), was very worldly and extravagant; in 1546 he and his monks became Lutherans. Thereupon Count Ernst of Hohnstein, as patron of the abbey, laid a complaint before Charles V. In 1548 the emperor ordered that everything in the abbey should be restored to its former condition, but his command was unheeded. After the count's death the entire County of Honstein became Lutheran, and in 1557, a Protestant school was opened at Walkenried. Four Protestant abbots directed the abbey until 1578, when the Count of Honstein appointed his son as administrator, after whose death Walkenried passed to the Duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.

During the Thirty Years' War the abbey was for a short time (1629–31) restored to the Cistercians. The Peace of Westphalia put an end to the existence of the Protestant monastery and the abbey was secularised. In 1668, the school was closed.

From that time the abbey was systematically quarried as a source of building stone until about 1900. The Gothic church, built during the years 1210–90, was greatly damaged by the destruction of the tower by the peasants in 1525; today only a few picturesque remains are still in existence. The library was also destroyed by the peasants, but the archives are preserved at Wolfenbüttel. Otherwise however the claustral buildings are generally well preserved. The chapter hall has served since 1570 as a Lutheran church.

References and external links

Coordinates: 51°34′59″N 10°37′09″E / 51.58306°N 10.61917°E / 51.58306; 10.61917