1803 Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation
 

The Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation from February 1803 marks the end of their previous form of existence for the monasteries and convents. Many monasteries and convents had been founded since the early Middle Ages in Westphalia that remained characteristic until well into modern times, on the one hand due to their architectural appearance and on the other via their religious and intellectual services. The end of the Westphalian monastery landscape is seen as a turning point because a century of surviving tradition and culture is erased. Simultaneously though this transformation signals a new start for Westphalia and a path to modern times. The dissolution by Prussia of the territories governed by princely bishops creates the basis for economic, political and industrial progress. The reutilisation of monastery buildings as domains, psychiatric institutions, poor houses, workhouses and for industrial commerce also bears witness to a new spirit.