Zwettl, Abbey of

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Slavic for "clearing," Claravallis, Austrian Cistercian monastery in the Diocese of St. Pölten; founded from heiligenkreuz (1138) by Hadmar I of Kuenring. It flourished until 1348 when decline set in. Hussites wreaked destruction in 1427, and the Reformation interrupted restoration with internal deterioration. Abbot Ulrich Hackl (15771607) revived the abbey, and under Melchior Zaunagg (170647) baroque construction was done on the church, the campanile, and the library. Earlier, the Romanesque church consecrated in 1159 had been redone (134383) in an early Gothic French modification (apse and 13 chapels). The Romanesque dormitory and the oldest Cistercian chapter house in existence were vaulted c. 1190. The cloister and well house (11281230) are late-Romanesque early-gothic transition with Burgundian influence. The late-gothic side altars have paintings by Jörg Breu the Elder (1500). Zwettl's scholarship can be noted in the chronicle originated by Abbot Ebro (d. 1305), in its 420 MSS, and in its library of 45,000 books. Abbot Bernhard Link (d. 1671) compiled the Annales Austro Claravallenses (Vienna 172325) and Leopold Janauschek published Origines Cistercienses (Vienna 1877). At its height in 1330, Zwettl had 110 monks.

Bibliography: j. leutgeb, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. m. buchberger, 10 v. (Freiburg 193038) 10:111213. p. b. uberl, Die Kunstdenkmäler des Zisterzienser Klosters Zwettl (Vienna 1940). h. hahn, Die frühe Kirchenbaukunts der Zisterzienser (Berlin 1957).

[h. Ózelt]