Bypass Repeated Content

Unique insights into a monastery church and school

Alpirsbach Monastery

View of Alpirsbach Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende
PRAYER AND STUDIES

THE MONASTERY SCHOOL

The change in function that took place with the Reformation in Württemberg and the dissolution of the monasteries also meant the dissolution of the Benedictine order and the monks were forced to leave Alpirsbach. In 1556, Duke Christoph established a school here. Students now resided inside these hallowed walls.

Articles of clothing in the museum at Alpirsbach Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Werner Hiller-König

Monastery student uniform.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY MONASTERY SCHOOLS

The duke established monastery schools for the education of pastors in all 13 monasteries. Primary and secondary monastery schools served as basic education, after which students would transfer to the seminary in Tübingen. However, the number of monastery schools decreased over time. The primary monastery school in Alpirsbach closed its doors in 1595. In its time, it had housed 200 students. Primary monastery schools only remained in Adelberg and Blaubeuren; Bebenhausen and Maulbronn remained as secondary institutions.

Children on the monastery grounds today. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Maulbronn local administration

Students following in the footsteps of monastery students.

MONASTERY SCHOOL OPERATIONS

Protestant theologians took on the duties of the Catholic abbots as school administrators and in maintaining the monastery property. A single school would accept between one and two dozen boys ages 10 to 14. Fees for those students who came from poorer families were covered by the former monastery's estate. Lessons were very precisely monitored. There were detailed rules regarding lesson plans and content as well as regarding questions of discipline, nutrition and clothing.

Part of the Alpirsbach monastery find, now housed in the monastery museum. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Werner Hiller-König

Calendar from the year 1559?

LESSON PLAN FOR FUTURE THEOLOGIANS

The schools were intended to train future evangelical pastors for service in schools or churches. Lessons were conducted in Latin and included the seven liberals arts: grammar, rhetoric, arithmetic, logic, geometry, astronomy and music. Greek and Hebrew were also spoken. All subjects were practically oriented and designed for a later office as pastor. After two or three years, the students would transfer to a secondary monastery school.

Teacher, caricature by a student at Alpirsbach Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Werner Hiller-König

Jokes made the days easier.

THE JOYS AND SORROWS OF MONASTERY STUDENTS

Included in the amazing found items are a number of objects that offer visual documentation of the life and education of students at the Alpirsbach monastery school. The students' joys and sorrows are reflected in homework, letters, sayings and drawings. One such surviving record involves an indignant complaint to the abbot, in which one student "tattles" on another. Humorous drawings, like modern caricatures, bring to life the students' everyday lives.

WHO WERE THE STUDENTS AT ALPIRSBACH?

These "scholars," the monastery's students, lived in the monks' former cells. They decorated their walls with "graffiti": Most initials are difficult to assign, but many student names have been recorded, some with dates and places of origin, like Herrenberg, Nürtingen or Stuttgart. There are also several drawings or Latin sayings, such as: "When a temperamental nature denies me the shape of beauty, I compensate for this lack of beauty with spirit..."

View into the monastery museum. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Dirk Altenkirch
View into the monastery museum. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Dirk Altenkirch
Clothing, a doublet, now in the Alpirsbach monastery museum. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Werner Hiller-König

Images from the Alpirsbach exhibit "Monks and Scholars."