Stephen of Hungary donated estates and the privileges of the Abbey of Montecassino to the monastery, so it was subject only to the Holy See, and its abbot had spiritual power on the estates of the monastery; it later led to the establishment of the independent Territorial Abbey. Abbot Máté Tolnai (1500–1535) brought the Hungarian Benedictine abbeys into a confederation (confoederatio); Pannonhalma became its Archabbey. From 1586 Pannonhalma became a fortress. The monastic life was restarted in 1639 only. From the 17th century Bakonybél and Dömölk, from 1716 the Abbey of Tihany belonged to Pannonhalma, all the monks were directly subordinate to the archabbot. In 1786 Joseph II suppressed the entire Hungarian Benedictine Congregation. Emperor Francis I restored the congregation on the condition that the monks undertake teaching in grammar schools. The agreement between church and state under the Communist dictatorship allowed the functioning of two schools and colleges from 1950 in Pannonhalma and Győr. The Territorial Archabbey was attached to the Diocese of Győr. Only the 1989/1990 change of regime allowed the Hungarian Benedictines to return to their old scope of activities.
In all probability the Abbey, founded by Grand Prince Géza in 996, had archives from the beginning and its first record was the charter that was granted to the monastery by Saint Stephen in 1001. The archives were intermittently kept in the same place; the records were safeguarded in a more secure place under the Turkish occupation and later, when Joseph II disbanded the order, the archives were moved to Buda and remained there until the early 19th century. Owing to the careful preservation, the majority of the early documentary material survived, so one of the richest, most valuable collection of documents from the first centuries of the Hungarian state can be found in Pannonhalma. In addition to the monastery’s interpolated charter, the archives preserve a certificate from the era of Saint Ladislaus and the first, original papal charter (Pope Pascal II, 1102) that can be found in Hungary. The numerous private charters from the 12th century make the Capsarium valuable. With the records of other medieval abbeys several similarly precious, early charters got to Pannonhalma: the foundation charter of the Tihany Abbey, which is the first known Hungarian language relic; and the deed of gift by Prince David, which preserved the seal of Saint Ladislaus. The register of the possessions of the Abbey of Bakonybél is also from the 11th century.
According to an early 13th century charter the archives were kept in the treasury. The grouping of the charters of the chartularium, the Liber Ruber, which was made before the Mongol invasion, implies that the royal and papal charters were stored separately. It is confirmed to some extent by the catalogue of the archives, which was written on three folios around 1400; the charters have references, for the first time in Hungary. According to the catalogue, the documents were kept in the library but the archives of the order were separated from the documents of the place of authentication (locus credibilis), which functioned from the 13th century. During the Turkish occupation of Hungary the archives turned up in Veszprém, Nyitra, Győr and Vienna as well. The archival holdings were sorted into capsae and fasciculi at the beginning of the 18th century and copying books as well as indexes were prepared. In 1723 the place of authentication activity of the Archabbey revived, for this a new seal was made. In the 19th century Mór Czinár, who worked as archivist for three decades, carried on the classification and preparing of archival aids. In 1866 the series of the archabbot’s records with register book and subject index was developed. From the mid-19th century the documents of the management of the order were collected separately. At the turn of the century Viktor Récsey arranged the records of the Capsarium into chronological series.
In the 17th-18th century the material of the archives was completed by the archival holdings of the reorganized abbeys (Bakonybél, Tihany, Dömölk), with the archival material of a few disappeared abbeys and with the modern archives of the Abbey of Zalavár, which joined the Hungarian Benedictine Congregation at the end of the 19th century. From the late 19th century the institution acquired significant family deposits (Guary, Chernel, Somogyi, Kende and Erdődy families). In 1945 the archives of Stephanie, Belgian Princess and the records of his husband, Prince Elemér Lónyay got to Pannonhalma by bequest.
The archives collect the documents of the Hungarian Benedictine Congregation Archabbey of Pannonhalma as well as the documents of its abbeys, monasteries, the affiliated houses of the Congregation and the records of the Territorial Abbey. The documents of the governance of the order, the archabbot’s office, the prior’s office and the grand chapter are of special importance but the documents of the educational institutions, economic offices and companies, as well as the records of the affiliated houses of the congregation are important, too. The material of the archives amounts to 200 linear meter of documents.