Ellwangen Abbey was the earliest Benedictine monastery established in the Duchy of Swabia. According to the monastery chronicles the abbey was established around 764 by Herulph and his brother Ariolf, both documented as Chorbishops of Langres. There is however some evidence that the foundation dates back to 732. The first monks may came from the Abbey of St. Benignus at Dijon.
Ellwangen in its early days was home to Abbots Lindolf and Erfinan, who were respected authors. Abbot Gebhard wrote part of the Life of Saint Ulrich there, but died before completing it. Abbot Ermanrich (c. 845) wrote a biography of Saint Solus. The monk Adalbero was made Bishop of Augsburg in 894. Abbot Liutbert became Archbishop of Mainz, as also did Abbot Hatto (891). Saint Gebhard, Abbot of Ellwangen, became Bishop of Augsburg in 995. Abbot Milo about the middle of the 10th century was one of the visitors appointed for the visitation of the Abbey of St. Gall.
While Emperor Louis the Pious had already placed the monastery under his royal protection in 814, Ellwangen became an Imperial abbey, with the privilege of Imperial immediacy probably granted in 1011 by King Henry II and again confirmed by Emperor Charles IV of Luxembourg in 1347.
At the same time however, the conventual life declined and the Benedictine occupation of Ellwangen came to an end in the first half of the 15th century. On 14 January 1460 with the consent of Pope Pius II it was converted into a college of secular Canons Regular under the rule of a provost.
The provost of Ellwangen achieved the status of a Prince of the Empire, who not only ruled over an immediate territory but also held a direct vote in the Reichstag assembly. As the head of a secular college of Augustinian canons, he was the only provost of princely rank in the whole Empire, beside the Provost of Berchtesgaden.
In the late 16th and early 17th century, the Ellwangen territory became one of the main areas of witch-hunting in Germany. In reaction to the Protestant Reformation, the provostry joined the Catholic League in 1609; it was occupied by Swedish troops during the Thirty Years' War in 1632, but again vacated after the 1634 Battle of Nördlingen.
Most of the ecclesiastical buildings still exist, though they are no longer used for religious purposes. In the secularisation of 1802 the abbey was dissolved and its assets taken over by the Duchy of Württemberg. The present-day Late Romanesque St. Vitus Basilica was consecrated in 1233, after a 12th-century preceding building had been devastated by a blaze. Today it serves as the parish church of Ellwangen. A cloister was added in 1467 and in the 17th century the interior was largely refurbished in a Baroque style. From 1737 onwards it was again decorated with further Rococo supplements, among them works by Carlo Carlone. In 1964 the church was elevated to the status of a Basilica minor by Pope Paul VI.
Ellwangen Castle from 1460 on served as the residence of the Prince-provosts, it was rebuilt in a Baroque style about 1726. From 1802 a property of the House of Württemberg it was for a short time the exile of Princess Catharina and her husband Jérôme Bonaparte in 1815/16. The castle is today administrated by the State of Baden-Württemberg, it hosts a museum and a youth hostel.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.