#35 Sancta Colonia – Cologne at the end of the 9th century

#35 Sancta Colonia – Cologne at the end of the 9th century The History of Cologne

Only recently, the Vikings sacked Cologne in 881. While the people of Cologne are still busy rebuilding, new dangers are already approaching. The Magyars, also known as the Hungarians, are attacking the East Frankish Empire like the Huns in late antiquity. But it is not all bad at this time. Monastic life flourished and even minted coins designating Cologne as holy testify to the city's upswing here at the end of the early Middle Ages.

The Magyars (or Hungarians)

Depiction of Hungarian horsemen pursuing the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon in 895, who takes refuge in a castle.

Hungarian Pictorial Chronicle: depicting how the Hungarians conquered and settled the Carpathian Basin, simply: the present-day country of Hungary.

Contemporary 19th century art what the arrival of the Hungarians may have looked like.

The Monastery of Gerresheim

In 922, the sisters of the Gerresheimer Damenstift flee from the attacks of the Hungarians. They finally found refuge in Cologne, where Archbishop Hermann I gave them the church of St. Ursula and had it converted into a convent. This laid the foundation stone for one of the best-known and richest monasteries of the later Middle Ages.

The Gerresheim monastery church at night.
This house of worship in nowadays Düsseldorf was built long after the Hungarians had destroyed and sacked the monastery.

Built in the 13th century, the basilica in Gerresheim is representative of the Rhenish church building style of the time, which combines elements of the late Romanesque with elements of the Gothic. Today it is a parish church.

St. Peter

St. Peter on the left and St. Cecilia (St- Cäcilien) on the right with adjacent monastery buildings. Drawn in the 17th century.

Both churches still exists. you can also see in the middle, how the wall once secluded the parish church of St. Peter on the left from the monastery church of St. Cecil (St. Cäcilien) on the right.


The first parish church of Deutz stood here. No, not the nice looking church in the background but the lawn in front of it. Under the grass in the ground the foundation walls of the church from the time were found.

Sancta Colonia coins

Print by Hans Burgkmaier der Ältere from the 16th century

What was once only the right of a king is now also given to others. Just like the city of Cologne. Coins that have the insignia of “Sancta Colonia” (Holy Cologne) are printed at the beginning of the 10th century in Cologne. Minters like the man on the right side with hammer and coiner’s die made them one after another by hand.
In the further course of the Middle Ages and beyond, the “Cologne Mark” was to be an important means of payment in Europe.

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