The Dominican Priory (Sortebrødrekloster) was an important Dominican monastery in Viborg during the Middle Ages. Viborg Priory was established around 1227 by Bishop Gunnar of Viborg. It is first mentioned in the church annals in 1246 when donations to the priory are listed. The priory church was completed towards the end of the 13th century in red brick in the Gothic style and consisted of a choir, sacristy, and central nave. It was located on the north of the priory so as to be near the town. Women were excluded from the church except during church holidays. It was unusual in that preaching was in the Danish language from 1254.
The priory complex consisted of four ranges built in a rectangle around a central courtyard. One of the wings was a dormitory which had individual cells for the friars and places for novices and lay brothers. The Dominican custom was to sleep fully clothed, including footgear, so that they would be ready to travel at a moment's notice. The chapter room was used for meetings and for receiving important guests. The refectory was used as a communal dining hall connected to the bakery, brewery, and storage areas. The friars had a modest library and study hall. Another wing was for guests and a hospital. Over time, through the gifts of local residents, the priory acquired land, farms and a brickworks, worked by servants, lay brothers or compulsory work owed by local farms. A wall encircled the entire priory, and the entrances were so narrow that they prevented anyone from riding or driving into the open courtyard.
The Reformation brought an end to the priory in Viborg and to the Dominicans in Denmark. Both Franciscans and Dominicans felt the effects of the religious reforms which swept through Denmark in the early 16th century. Many Danes felt that the tithes, fees, and work due to religious houses were a burden on a generally poor country. Dominicans and Franciscans, as mendicant orders, added to that burden by requiring constant donations of food, fuel, drink, and services from the local population. Frederick I and Christian III, both of whom were reform-minded kings, received letters of complaint about the mendicant orders and in 1527 began granting local requests to close monasteries. Force was used to shut down religious houses in 27 town in Denmark, including Viborg. In a letter dated 23 February 1529 the king ordered that the priory should be dissolved, that the church was to become a parish church, and that citizen Jens Hvas was to take possession of the priory buildings as personal property.
A fire damaged the priory buildings in 1552 and it appears they were pulled down and the materials used in other houses and businesses in Viborg. The church continued to serve as the parish church for the southern part of Viborg (whence it was known as the Søndre Sognkirke, or 'southern parish church'). A narrow tower was added to the front of the priory church in 1696-1701 with funds raised by Christen Erichsøn, the local parish priest.
The town fire of 1726 weakened the remaining structure so badly that church officials decided to demolish the church and to combine the 'priory parish' with the 'cathedral parish' until it could be rebuilt. Construction began immediately using the groundplan of the original medieval church in the same style of red brick. Work was substantially completed in 1728. The tower had a high narrow spire on top.
King Frederick IV donated an altarpiece, constructed in Antwerp in 1520 by Mogens Christian Thrane, with dozens of pictures depicting scenes from the New Testament, fromChristianborg Palace chapel in Copenhagen. It is the pride of the modern church. The church was restored in 1876, and the tower spire replaced with a stepped brick top which reflects the usual Danish parish tower architecture. In 1912-1917 the church underwent an even more extensive restoration which is the church that may be still seen today. In the tower hang three bells: the two oldest from 1729 cast by Caspar Kønig, and the most recent cast by De Smithske and added to the tower in 1929.References:
The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.
In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.
The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.
In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.
Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.
In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.