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Imperial Ducal Abbey of Kempten

Imperial Ducal Abbey of Kempten in the Allgäu
Free City of Kempten in the Allgäu
Reichsfürststift Kempten im Allgäu
Freie Stadt Kempten im Allgäu
Imperial Abbey of the Holy Roman Empire


Coat of arms

Capital Kempten Abbey
Government Theocracy
Historical era Middle Ages
 -  Abbey founded 747
 -  Abbey rebuilt 941 1213
 -  Reichsfreiheit
    as a Duke-Abbey
 -  Abbey property sold,
    became Free City
 -  Mediatised to Bavaria 1802/3 1802
 -  Cities united 1819
Coordinates: 47°43′40″N 10°18′48″E / 47.7277°N 10.3132°E / 47.7277; 10.3132

The Imperial Ducal Abbey of Kempten in the Allgäu, was a city state in the Holy Roman Empire.

Early years

Kempten Abbey was built around 748. It had financial and political support from Hildegard, wife of Charlemagne and become one of the more prominent monasteries in the Frankish Empire. It was rebuilt in 941 by the abbot Ulrich of Augsburg after Magyar raids.

Imperial Status

In 1213, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II declared the abbot of Kempten a member of the Reichstag and granted the abbot the right to bear the title of Duke.

In 1289 the neighbouring settlement became a Free Imperial City, starting a rivalry. In 1525 the last property rights of the abbots in the Imperial City were sold in the so-called “Great Purchase”, marking the start of the co-existence of two independent cities bearing the same name next to each other.

Kempten had a territory of around 40,000 people and was one of the larger monastery states.[1]

Thirty Years' War

More conflict arose after the Imperial City converted to Protestantism in direct opposition to the Catholic monastery (and Free City) in 1527. During the Thirty Years' War (1632–33), the abbey was destroyed by Swedish troops.

Roman Giel of Gielsberg, the abbot commissioned a new monastery church including a residence for the Duke-Abbots, one of the first major churches to be built in Germany after the Thirty Years' War.

Kempten was the center of a religious controversy in 1706 when the abbot confiscated a Reformed church, which provoked Frederick I of Prussia to confiscate all Benedictine monasteries and churches until the church was returned.[2]


The abbey ordered the last execution of a witch in the Holy Roman Empire in 1775.[1]

During the Napoleonic Wars the Abbey came under Bavarian rule (1802–03) and was formerly dissolved in the German Mediatisation with its territory being annexed by Bavaria. In 1819, the abbey's territory was united with the territory of the Imperial City into a single communal entity.


  • - Total pages: 395
  • - Total pages: 752

de:Fürststift Kempten

it:Abbazia di Kempten nl:Abdij Kempten no:Kempten fyrsteabbedi

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