Lorsch, Convent of
Lorsch, Convent Of (otherwise Lauresham, Lauresheim, monasterium Laureacense, Laurissense, Laurissa), situated four miles from Heidelberg, was established about A.D. 764 by countess Williswinda (widow of count Rupert, who, by order of Pepin, conducted pope Stephen back to Rome) and her son Cancor. Its first abbot is said to have been a near relative of the founders, Chrodegang of Metz. The first establishment was on an island of the Weschnitz, dedicated to St. Peter; a second was soon erected on a hill in the neighborhood. Charlemagne greatly interested himself in this monastery, and added to it as endowment Heppenheim (in January 773) and Oppenheim (in September 774), and personally attended the consecration. Louis the Pious, Lothaire, Louis the German, and Louis III all confirmed successively the donations of Charlemagne. But one of the greatest sources of prosperity for the convent was its having received from Rome the relics of St. Nazarius, which brought it numberless presents and donations, and soon made it one of the most prosperous convents at the time. Lorsch also enjoys great literary fame. Its monks especially distinguished themselves by their literary pursuits, to which the Annales Laureshmenses bear witness. The early part of these annals (703-768) is evidently derived from those of the convent of Murbach, which were very popular; but after that time they are clearly original, and continue down to 803. Aside from the less important Annales Laurissenses minores, we must mention the Annales Laurissenses, formerly called plebeji or Loiseliani, which are the most important annals of the time. Ranke has lately discovered in them the official work of a Carlovingian court historian, which was afterwards used by Einhard as the basis of the annals bearing his name. Until the 11th century the convent enjoyed great prosperity. Then its reverses commenced, and, after various struggles, it fell in the 12th century, till "a planta pedis usque ad verticem non fuit in eo sanitas." The moral condition of the Lorsch monastery had greatly deteriorated ever since the 11th century, and it became necessary to inaugurate a reform. This task was entrusted to archbishop Sifried II of Mentz, A.D. 1229. His successor, Sifried III, however, was really the man who completed this task by subjecting the monks to the Cistercian rule, "ut ordo," says Gregory IX in his brief, "de nigro conversus in album purgetur vitiis et virtutibus augeatur." By him also were subsequently installed into Lorsch some Praemonstrant canons of the convent of All Saints (diocese of Strasburg), and the pope approved it as a new organization January 8, 1248. In the second half of the 16th century Lorsch was subjected to the rule of the electoral administration. Vainly did the Praemonstrants appeal to pope Alexander VII: the convent retained only the original foundation at Mentz and its dependencies. Not until after the completion of the treaty of Westphalia (1650) was a part of its other possessions restored to it. In 1651 the Palatinate renewed its claims to the lands of the convent, and questioned the propriety of the independence of Lorsch as a separate duchy, with representation in the Diet. The quarrel lasted nearly through the whole of the 18th century, but was finally settled in 1803, when the convent became the possession of the house of Hesse-Darmstadt. See Rettberg, K. Geschichte Deutschlands, 1:584 sq.; K. Dahl, Beschreib. d. Furstenthums Lorsch (Darmstadt, 1812, 4to); Codex principis olim Laureshamensis, etc., edit. Academ. elector. scient. Theodoro-Palatina, volume 3 (Mannh. 1768, 4to); Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 8:490.