East side of Bebenhausen Monastery with church

The wealthiest monastery in WürttembergMilestones

For more than three hundred years, Cistercians determined the course of life in Bebenhausen. The monastery school was established in 1556; here, Protestant monastery students prepared for their theological studies in Tübingen. In the 19th century, the kings of Württemberg used the former monastery as a hunting lodge.

Bebenhausen Monastery with cloister, from the tower of the monastery church

Bebenhausen as an economically successful Cistercian monastery.

Successful foundation

Bebenhausen Monastery proved to be an economic success soon after it was founded by Count Palatine Rudolf I von Tübingen at the end of the 12th century. The surrounding noblemen gave lands to the monastery. Very quickly, Bebenhausen Monastery was also able to buy land using its own assets—so much that it ultimately became the wealthiest monastery in Württemberg. In 1498, the abbots of Bebenhausen became part of the Diet of Württemberg and therefore participated in the government of the duchy.

Visitors at the pulpit in Bebenhausen Monastery church, late 16th century, by Konrad Wagner, original version with scenes from the Old Testament

Monks only lived here until the 16th century.

Reformation and dissolution

The last Catholic abbot of Bebenhausen, Johann von Fridingen, died in 1534. At the same time, half of the monks converted to Protestantism. It was therefore easy for Duke Ulrich von Württemberg to introduce the Reformation and dissolve the monastery in 1535. The former monks received an annual pension of 40 guilders and left the monastery. Those who remained true to the old faith were driven away without a pension. Between 1549 and 1560, some of them returned to Bebenhausen.

Sleeping cell in the dormitory of Bebenhausen Monastery

Youths were taught in the former monastery until 1806.

From monastery to monastery school

In 1556, Duke Christoph von Württemberg issued his Monastery Order, thereby turning the former monastery into a Protestant monastery school. Youths between the ages of 12 and 14 were educated in Bebenhausen to prepare them for theological studies in Tübingen. This school existed until 1806 and enjoyed an outstanding reputation. The impressive tombs of the headmasters have been preserved in the monastery church, as have the sleeping cells of the monastery students in the former conclave.

Royal refuge and state parliament

The forests of Schönbuch have been a beloved hunting grounds for the dukes and kings of Württemberg since time immemorial. They therefore had part of the monastery complex converted into a hunting lodge in the 19th and early 20th century. Wilhelm II, the last King of Württemberg, and his wife Charlotte even made the hunting lodge their residence after the end of the monarchy in 1918. From 1946 to 1952, the state parliament of Württemberg-Hohenzollern met in Bebenhausen.

King Wilhelm II von Württemberg during a hunt, photograph circa 1910
Swearing in of the government of Württemberg-Hohenzollern in Bebenhausen Monastery in 1947. Scan: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

Bebenhausen was converted to a royal hunting lodge and was later used as a state parliament building.

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