A place of commemoration for the Habsburg family was created at the scene of King Albrecht I's murder. The stained glass windows of the church of Königsfelden Abbey reflect the very highest level of craftsmanship at the time and contributed to the renown of the monastery as a whole.
Created between 1320 and 1360, the windows are among the most outstanding specimens of European stained glass in the Late Middle Ages.
The window cycle
The chancel windows were donated by family members of the murdered King Albrecht I such as his wife Elisabeth, his daughter Agnes and his sons. Their images are to be found on certain windows.
In spite of some damage on the south side of the chancel, none of the windows has been entirely lost. Königsfelden Abbey thus possesses a virtually complete series of images.
The chancel windows
The image series in the chancel is structured in pairs on opposite sides. On the northern side (left) the windows show scenes from the lives of St. Anna and St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan order. These correspond to the figures on the southern side (right): St. Clare, founder of the Clarists, and next to her St. Nicholas.
These are followed by images of the apostles on opposite sides. The Franciscans were very much oriented towards the apostles as direct witnesses of the life of Jesus. There then follows the pair of windows showing St. Paul and Mary as well as John the Baptist and St. Catherine.
Since it reflects diverse and in some cases shared connections between the founder family and the order, the programme was probably compiled by order theologians and Habsburg scholars.
The central point and culmination of the chancel is the Passion of Christ – the crucifixion. To the left of this we see Jesus' childhood up to his baptism by John the Baptist. The resurrection and the miracle of Pentecost are shown on the right.
Preservation and restoration
The stained glass windows did not survive such an eventful history unscathed. Various conversions and installations in the nave led to the destruction of the windows there: these showed selected representatives of the House of Habsburg.
The chancel windows were also affected by this. However, they were either renewed according to contemporary practice or replaced with different panes.
Glass painter Richard Nüscheler undertook a thorough renewal of the windows between 1896 and 1900. He reconstructed the windows as best he could based on the original conception.
The extensive restoration and conservation of the chancel windows carried out from 1988 to 2002 followed this reconstruction with a few exceptions.