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Knights of Saint George
Aribo II
Millstatt Abbey
Stift Millstatt
Millstatt am See
Turkish incursions
Ottoman Wars
Society of Jesus

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Millstatt am See - Stift Millstatt

Millstatt am See - Stift Millstatt
Stift Millstatt ("Millstatt Abbey") was founded by the Aribo II and Boto, members of Aribonids, a noble, Bavarian family, around 1070.

Run by Benedictine monks and protected by Papal deeds Stift Millstatt prospered in the early years and a nunnery was added.

Within the 13th century, the decay began. As the abbey had secular Church Vogts, it suffered strongly under the political powergames of that timne and finaly ended 1456 under the House of Habsburg. At that time only 10 monks still lived here.

Emperor Frederick III reached a papal bull in 1469, so that the military order of the Knights of Saint George took over Stift Millstatt in order to fight the invading troops of the Ottoman Empire.

The order now had to cope with the debts left by the Benedictines and the redevelopment of the neglected premises. While the knights were engaged with the fortification of the monastery, they failed to protect the region. Millstatt was heavily devastated by the Turks in 1478, followed by Hungarian troops in 1487. As the power of the knightly order declined, unrests and revolts arose among the surrounding peasants.

As the new Protestant belief spread in the area the monastery vested the Society of Jesus ("Jesuits") in 1598 to support the Counter-Reformation.

The monks were disliked by the population for their stern measures. In 1737 the displeasure culminated in open revolt, when peasants ganged up and stormed the monastery. The rule of the Jesuits ended, when the order was suppressed by Pope Clement XIV in 1773. The monks had to leave Millstatt.

Today the former abbey-church serves the parish, while the other buildings belong to the Austrian state and host the "Österreichische Bundesforste" (Austrian State Forestry Commission).

The western side, the towers and the magnificent Romanesque funnel portal were created under abbot Heinrich I (1166 - 1177). The church underwent numerous alterations over the centuries. It did not only suffer from fires, but as well from earthquakes. A strong quake in 1690 heavily damaged the western facade. The repair took more than four years. The lintel under the tympanum at that time broke in four pieces (note the iron clamps). The Jesuits then covered the tympanum with plaster - and it stayed hidden until 1878.

The right side of the funnel portal reminds me on carvings I have seen on wooden posts of "marae", Maori-houses in New Zealand. The face in the center - could be a Maori with a face-tatoo (moko). But, when this face was carved (~ 1170) the Maori had probably not reached "Aotearoa".


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