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:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.