After the creation of the Bishopric of Bamberg by Emperor Henry II, the first Bishop of Bamberg, Eberhard I, founded the Michaelsberg abbey in 1015 as the bishop's private monastery. Accordingly the abbot answered directly to the bishop of Bamberg, and to no-one else. The monks for the new establishment were drawn from Amorbach Abbey and Fulda Abbey.
The chronicler and author Frutolf of Michelsberg was prior here until his death in 1103. The abbey flourished under Bishop Otto (d. 1139), whose burial in the abbey church and subsequent canonisation in 1189, together with the papal protection granted to the abbey in 1251, was of enormous advantage in increasing the independence of the abbey from the bishops. The award to the abbots of the pontificalia had taken place some time before 1185. The abbey's financial status rested securely upon its great ownership of lands in 441 places in the bishopric.
In 1435 the abbey came into conflict with the townspeople of Bamberg and was plundered. It also suffered during the German Peasants' War of 1525, the Franconian Margrave War (Markgräflerkrieg) in the 1550s and from an occupation of several years' duration by the Swedish army during the Thirty Years' War. In the 17th and 18th centuries the abbey recovered, and enjoyed a new period of prosperity.
By the time of the secularisation of Bavaria of 1802 the abbey still owned substantial property in Bamberg itself as well as estates in no fewer than 141 places in the surrounding area. On 30 November 1802 Bavarian troops confiscated the abbey's assets. Valuable books were removed to the library of the Bavarian court, the predecessor of the present Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. The 24 monks then resident were obliged to leave the monastery. The abbey buildings passed into the possession of the city of Bamberg, who by popular request transferred into them the old almshouses from the city centre; these are still located there.
The first church on the site, dedicated to Saint Michael, was built in about 1015 and was destroyed by an earthquake, probably in 1117. The present building is basically a Romanesque church, consecrated in 1121. In 1610 it was badly damaged by a fire, as a result of which the nave (with its ceiling paintings of the Garden of Heaven, completed in 1617) and the westwork, with the two west towers, had to be more or less rebuilt from scratch. The still-extant organ-loft was also constructed very soon after the fire, in 1610, and is a significant work of the German Late Renaissance. From 1696 Leonhard Dientzenhofer, under the instructions of abbot Christoph Ernst, created a two-storey Baroque exterior façade. Johann Dientzenhofer built the terrace in 1723.
In 1833, on the orders of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, the gravestones and memorials of the bishops of Bamberg from the 16th to the 18th century were removed from Bamberg Cathedral and set up in the Michaelskirche.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick.