Reinhardsbrunn in Friedrichroda near Gotha, in the German state of Thuringia, is the site of a formerly prominent Bendictine abbey, the house monastery of the Ludovingian Landgraves of Thuringia abbey extant between 1085 and 1525. Later used as an administrative seat by the Ernestine dukes of Saxony, the premises were turned into a castle and park erected by the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from 1827.
Reinhardsbrunn Abbey (German: Kloster Reinhardsbrunn) was a house of the Benedictine Order founded by the Thuringian landgrave Louis the Springer in 1085, against the background of the fierce Investiture Controversy between Emperor and Pope. It was settled by monks descending from Hirsau Abbey and soon evolved as a centre of the Hirsau Reforms in Thuringia. Like Hirsau, the Reinhardsbrunn monastery was closely related to Cluny Abbey; it stood under Papal protection from 1093. It was also of significance as the proprietary monastery and burial ground of the Ludovingian landgraves like Hermann I who was entombed here in 1217.
The monastery became less important after the extinction of the Ludovingians in 1247. Nevertheless, their Wettin successors still used it as a dynastic burial site and an important chronicle was commissioned around 1340, reflecting the history of Thuringia and Germany back to the 6th century. The monastery was looted and sacked during the German Peasants' War in 1525. The monks took refuge within the walls of Gotha and the site was secularized and sold to the Electors of Saxony. While the surrounding estates were administrated by a Saxon Amtmann officials, the former monastery buildings fell into ruin.
Castle and park
Part of the Ernestine duchy of Saxe-Weimar from 1572, Duke Friedrich Wilhelm I had parts of the monastery rebuilt as a local administrative seat. The main building, restored under Duke Frederick II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg about 1706, was rebuilt as a pleasure palace - Reinhardsbrunn Castle - in 1827. Duke Ernest I of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who had inherited the site the year before, built his summer residence here in an English style, surrounded by a pleasure garden. Ernst I was the father of Prince Albert, and hence the father-in-law to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. It was not, as has been alleged, at Reinhardsbrunn where Victoria met Albert for the first time. They met first in London in May 1836, though after their marriage (1840) and after Albert's death (1861) Queen Victoria did visit Reinhardsbrunn.
The Saxe-Coburg and Gotha family kept possession until the end of World War II, when, after some time in the hands of the state, the house and estate were used for a short time by Soviet Red Army forces as a military hospital and then for various functions by the government of the East Germany, who opened it as a showpiece hotel in 1961. After 1991 the castle with its facilities and park passed from the Treuhandanstalt into private ownership, only to be closed in 2001. Its future seems still to be uncertain.
- (German) Personal Website on Schloss Reinhardsbrunn
- (German) Reinhardsbrunn info
- (German) Park Reinhardsbrunn