Quedlinburg Abbey was a house of secular canonesses. It was founded on the castle hill of Quedlinburg in the present Saxony-Anhalt in 936 by Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, at the request of his mother Queen Matilda, later canonised as Saint Matilda, in honour of her late husband, Otto"s father, King Henry the Fowler, and as his memorial. Henry was buried here, as was Matilda herself.
Thanks to its Imperial connections the new foundation attracted rich endowments and was soon a wealthy and thriving community. Ecclesiastically, the abbess was exempt from the jurisdiction of her diocesan, the Bishop of Halberstadt, and subject to no superior except the Pope. The bishops of Halberstadt were constantly engaged in dispute with the abbesses, as they claimed to have spiritual jurisdiction over the abbey in virtue of subjection of women to men.
The abbess, as head of an Imperial Abbey, has seat and voice at the Imperial Diet. She sat on the Bench of the Prelates of the Rhineland of the Ecclesiastical Bench of the College of Ruling Princes.
During the Reformation the abbey became Protestant, under Abbess Anna II (Countess of Stolberg). In the course of the German Mediatisation of 1803 the Imperial Abbey was secularized and its territory, properties and subjects were absorbed by the Kingdom of Prussia as the Principality of Quedlinburg. Between 1807 and 1813 it belonged to the short-lived Kingdom of Westphalia.
The church of St. Servatius is dedicated to Saint Servatius of Tongeren and Saint Denis and is a significant Romanesque building. Construction of the three-naved basilica on the remains of three predecessor buildings began sometime before 997 and finished in 1021. A fire in 1070 caused severe damage. The building was rebuilt in its previous form, and was rededicated in 1129 in the presence of Lothar III.
The abbey also received numerous gifts of precious books, manuscripts and liturgical items, which were stored in the treasury. At the end of World War II a number of the most valuable items were looted by an American soldier, Joe Tom Meador, including the reliquary of Saint Servatius, from the time of Charles the Bald and other treasures. The stolen items reappeared in 1987 and after much litigation were returned to the abbey in 1993.
The abbey is also known as the home of the 'Annals of Quedlinburg', begun in 1008 and finished in 1030 in the abbey, quite possibly by a female writer. Quedlinburg was well suited for gathering information on current political affairs, given its connections to the Imperial family and the proximity of Magdeburg, an Imperial centre. The annals are mostly concerned with the history of the Holy Roman Empire.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.