Medieval monastery with important functions for the city throughout the centuries: from monastery to the Faculty of Law — Ah, you have found the beautiful entrance to this building! Are students sitting on the steps, are people walking in and out of the door, or is the gate closed? In the corner of the atmospheric Janskerkhof you will find this ancient building that plays an important role in the history of Utrecht.
The Minrebroederklooster (Franciscan Monastery) was founded in the 13th century by Franciscan monks who were also known as the ‘Friars Minor’ or ‘Minrebroeders’ in Dutch, for their sober lifestyle. The monastic order lost much of its popularity during the 16th century Reformation and faced hard times during the iconoclastic fury of 1566. Once the damage had been done and the position of the Church was in doubt, the Catholics were evicted from the Minrebroederklooster.
After the Union of Utrecht in 1579, the Minrebroederklooster was renamed the Statenkamer (States Chamber). The States of Utrecht – bound by a treaty among various cities in the region, a predecessor to the States Provincial – became an important governmental body in the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Its seat was this former monastery.
The States Chamber remained an important governmental body until the French tightened their grip on the Netherlands around 1800. They ‘depoliticised’ the Dutch States system leaving the Minrebroederklooster with a new function. As part of Utrecht University, the building was turned into a museum and research laboratory. In the 19th and 20th century and after many renovations, the former monastery became home to lecture rooms, exhibition halls and laboratories.
Nowadays the Minrebroederklooster still belongs to the University. The Faculty of Law is currently located in the building.