Community ID
Alternate Names
S. Irminen
Medieval Location
The convent was located on the site of Roman ruins on the west-side of the Mosel River near Pfalzel.
Date Founded
700 (circa)
Date Terminated
1016; refounded as male house
Religious Order
Foundation Information

The convent was founded circa 700 by Adela, a daughter of Irmina, the co-founder of Echternach and abbess of the convent Oeren in Trier, and of the frankish senchal Hugobert. Adela was a sister of the wife of Pippin, Plectrude (Plektrud), and perhaps also a sister of the bishop of Maastricht-Luettich, Hugobert. A surviving testament, dated to April 1, 732/733, records Adela's confirmation of goods in and around Pfalzel, on the Maas River, and in Gillgau, on the Mosel river, as well as in Bitgau (see assets/property field). The covent itself was established in a late-Roman fortress, which Adela recieved in an exchange with Pippin for unknown property which she held. Before the foundation of the convent, Adela was married, perhaps to Childerich II. It is unclear whether Adela founded the community in conjunction with her husband or on her own initiative. Heyen proposes that she founded the community after the death of her husband and was one of the first to enter the community. Her descendents remained active in the vicinity of Trier and within the church.

First Members

Adela became the first abbess. Heyen believes that the first nuns may have come from the communities of Oeren in Trier (Ören), Nivelles and Andenne, because of Pfalzel's close links to these communities.

Notable Heads

Following Adela, the abbesses of the community were: Bobila, who lived in the convent for 13 years and 6 months; and Warentrud, who governed the convent for 42 years and 3 months (d. circa 850) (her sister Hulindis lived with her as a nun in Pfalzel); later, Ratsindis (circa 910), whose grandfather donated property to the convent, and Abbess Ruothild (circa 988; died circa 1000).

Dependency Of

Heyen believes that during the dispute between the Provost Adalbero of S. Paulin and the Archbishop Poppo, the convent of Pfalzel was reduced (more or less) to a dependency of S. Paulin.

Other Ecclesiastical Relations

There are references to relationships between the communities of Nivelles, Andenne, and Oeren (Ören) with Pfalzel. In her testament, Adela placed Pfalzel under the rule of the bishops of Trier and under the protection (defensio et mundiburgio) of the cathedral church and the bishop. The most that can be definitely determined, however, is that the community had close ties to the bishop himself or to the chapter at S. Paulin. The proximity of possessions owned by the convent of Pfalzel and the chapter of St. Paulin, leads Heyen to assert that already in the ninth century, the two communities had a close relationship. After their expulsion, some of the nuns from Pfalzel went to the neighboring convent of Oeren (Heyen, 69).


Circa 885, Gottfried, the grandfather of Abbess Ratsindis, gave the convent 12 manses in Drugundorf. Circa 988/89 Archbishop Egbert bestowed on the convent the villa Elesa and vinyards in Enkirch. The Abbess Ruothild gave the convent the villa Emendadesdorf in 998/89.

Secular Political Affiliations

At the time of its foundation and continuing into the ninth century, the convent had ties to the leaders of the Empire. The convent also had close ties to the ministerial families in the surrounding area (Heyen, 44).

Relative Wealth

According to Heyen, the material provisions made for the convent were not overwhelmingly large, but were quite sufficient for a small female cloister.


The testament of Adela lists the following possessions as gifts to the convent: the villa Palatiolum with its inhabitants, the villa Scriptinas in the region of the Maas, the villas Botbergis and Beslanc in the Gillgau, (both of which were located at a distance from the convent) and miscellaneous possessions in the villas Anchiriacum (Enkirch), Ursiacum (Uerzig) and Caimitas (Kaimt/Spei) on the Mosel River, in the villa Regnemosehi in Bitgau, in the villa Bedelingis in Bitgau and in the villa Machariaco in Bitgau (Heyen, 29). The villas Botbergis and Beslanc in the Gillgau, were presumably part of an inheritance which Adela recieved from her father (Heyen, 40). Apart from the goods in Scriptinas, Anchiriaco, Ursiaco and Caimitas, all the possession had been acquired by the convent previously. Circa 988/993 Bishop Egbert added three vinyards and 19 manses to the possessions at Anchiriaco (Enkirch). After the dissolution of the convent, this property was at least partially loaned out until 1071, when Archbishop Udo restored it to the community (Heyen, 41). At Uerzig the community held a farm and vinyards, as well as tithes from the vinyards. The villa called "Palatiolum" is assumed to refer to possessions in the area of Pfalzel. According to Heyen, the term villa could have referred to a village or to a settlement or an economic area which encompassed possessions in several settlements. Heyen believes that the convent did not hold many rights within the area of Pfalzel itself (37). The nuns held vinyards in the areas of Uerzig, Enkirch, and Kaimt-Spei, possibly also in Machern-Wehlen. From the villa Elesa at Enkirch the convent owned a farm, which it rented out in 1291 in return for 10 portions of corn, 5 pounds, 10 chickens, and 1 portion of oatmeal (at this time it was a male community) (Heyen, 48). They also had possessions in Badelingen on the Sauer River and in an area known as Regnemoseht, which has not yet been clearly identified. They held more distant possessions on the Maas and in Gillgau. They also recieved possessions in the region of Walsdorf-Rockeskyll-Stadtfeld, perhaps from a gift given by Irmina, the mother of Adela, at the foundation of the convent sometime towards the end of the seventh century (Heyen, 55). The convent acquired possessions in Nonnweiler, Hinzert, Kesten-Minheim on the Mosel, Ittel, and Britten, perhaps in the mid-ninth century. Land-holdings in Britten, Nonnweiler, and Hinzert can, according to Heyen, did belong to the female community. He believes that the property in these areas was donated to the community by Bishop Hetti (814-847) when two sisters of his, namby the Abess Warentrud and Hulindis, lived at Pfalzel (Heyen, 51). Circa 910 the noble Gottfried gave the convent twelve manses in Dockendorf. At this time, his grandaughter Ratsindis was abbess at the convent. Perhaps in the tenth century, the convent acquired its possessions in Alf and S. Aldegund and a farm in Cond by Cochem. The convent also acquired rights in Ittel. In 988 Abbess Ruothild bestowed on the convent possessions in Ingendorf by Bitburg, which included overlordship over nine families, a total of 35 people (Heyen, 47). During her abbecy, the Archbishop Egbert gave Pfalzel the villa Ehlenz, possessions in Seffern and vinyards in Enkirch. The convent's rights to raw materials and goods in the area of Pfalzel are only known from documents in the fifteenth and sixteenth century (Heyen, 30). Heyen believes the convent held few rights in Pfalzel itself.


Income for the community presumably came from its land holdings, vinyards, and tithes.


Heyen believes that the nuns of Pfalzel erected a parish church in Nonnweiler, because of the unusual dedication of the church to S. Hubertus (Heyen, 52).

Early Documents

The testament of Adela (732/733) is not the original foundation charter, but a expanded renewal of her earlier bequests to the convent. (see assets/property field) Much of the information about the female convent of Pfalzel comes from a document known as the "Libellus de rebus Trevirensibus," which exists not in the original but in a transcript from the twelfth or thirteenth century. It is from this document that researchers have surmised that Dagobert had three daughters, Regentrud, Irmina and Adela (the connection to Dagobert is a misreading dating to this twelfth-century copy). Irmina founded the convent of Oeren; Adela founded Pfalzel (Heyen, 62). This twelfth century copy refers to three nuns, Ida, Aleith, and Claricia as having written the document. Although scholars have assumed these three nuns came from the convent of Oeren, Heyen believes the manuscript was produced late in the eleventh century by the canons at S. Paulin (Heyen, 72). The document records the testament of Adela. The document also lists the names of four abbesses and a nun. This twelfth-century copy clearly relied on earlier documents (now lost).

Architecture & Archaeology

The covent itself was established in a late-Roman fortress. In the south-east corner of the rectangular building-complex, a large room was converted into a church.

State Of Medieval Structure

The core of the convent's church remains and has been restored in recent years.

Manuscript Sources

The record of Abbess Ruothild's gifts to the convent in 988 is the only document still existing from the convent's archives. Although the grave-marker of Ruothild is also extant.

Published Primary Sources
Secondary Sources

[1] Heyen, Franz-Josef. Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Benediktinerinnenklosters Pfalzel bei Trier (ca. 700-1016). Goettingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1966.

[2]Zu den Anfängen des Klosters Saint Irminen Oeren in Trier

Miscellaneous Information

The convent may have served as a stopping place for Anglo-Saxon pilgrims and missionaries, according to Heyen. S. Bonifatius visited Pfalzel in 721. Adela was buried in Pfalzel. From 1207 to 1802 her grave lay in the choir of the Pfalzel convent church. When the chapter was dissolved on September 18, 1802 her grave was moved to the St. Martin-parish church in Pfalzel.

June Mecham
Contributors Notes

In 1016 the convent was dissolved by the archbishop Poppo, who established another male chapter at Pfalzel. An overwhelming portion of the possessions of the convent were given to the newly-established chapter. According to the Archbishop Poppo, the nuns had been driven to wickedness, on account of which he had to restore the community himself. Heyen believes that the possessions of the convent of Pfalzel were loaned to the ministerial families and that this dissipation of Pfalzel's goods occurred within the context of the dispute between the archbishop and Provost Adalbero of S. Paulin (Heyen, 22-24). Heyen believes the dissolution of the convent resulted from political motives, but was probably also influenced by the ecclesiastical reform movement (Heyen, 24-25). The nuns resisted efforts to change their habits (clothing) and lifestyle.

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