Fulda Abbey was a Benedictine abbey as well as an ecclesiastical principality founded in 744 by Saint Sturm, a disciple of Saint Boniface. Through the 8th and 9th centuries, Fulda Abbey became a prominent center of learning and culture in Germany, and a site of religious significance and pilgrimage following the burial of Boniface. The growth in population around Fulda would result in its elevation to a prince-bishopric in the second half of the 18th century.
The monks of Fulda practiced many specialized trades, and much production took place in the monastery. Production of manuscripts increased the size of the library of Fulda, while skilled craftsmen produced many goods that would make monastery a financially wealthy establishment.
In 822, Rabanus Maurus became the fifth abbot of Fulda. He was previously educated at the monastery, and was very academically inclined, becoming both a teacher and head-master at the school before becoming abbot. Understanding the importance of education, the school became the main focus of Fulda under his leadership, and he would lead Fulda to the height of its importance and success. He established separate departments for the school, including those for sciences, theological studies, and the arts. Rabanus made an effort to collect various additional holy relics and manuscripts of historical significance to Fulda and the surrounding the areas to fortify their prominence in the Frankish Empire. With each relic, the significance of Fulda grew, and more gifts and power were bestowed upon the abbey. Power was, however, not Rabanus’s only intent; the increased holiness of the lands would also serve to bring his monks and pilgrims closer to God. The collection accumulated under Rabanus would largely be lost during the looting of Fulda by the Hessians during the Thirty Years' War.
Succeeding abbots would carry the monastery down the same path, with Fulda retaining a place of prominence in the German territories. With the decline of the Carlongian rule, Fulda lost its security and would rely increasingly on patronage from independent sources. The abbot of Fulda would hold the position of primate over all Benedictine monasteries in Germany for several centuries. From 1221 and onwards, the abbots would also serve as Princes of the Holy Roman Empire, given this rank by Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, and resulted in increased secular as well as monastic obligations. The increased importance of Fulda resulted in much patronage and wealth; as a result, the wealthy and noble would eventually make up the majority of the abbey's population. The wealthy monks used their positions for their own means, going as far as to attempt to turn monastic lands into their own private property. This caused great unrest by the 14th century, and Count Johann con Ziegenhain would lead an insurrection, alongside other citizens of Fulda, against Prince-Abbot Heinrich VI, 55th abbot of the monastery. The combination of responsibilities to the empire and corruption of traditional monastic ideals, so highly valued by Boniface and the early abbots, placed great strain on the monastery and its school.
In the later Middle Ages, a dean of the monastic school would functionally replace the abbot concerning scholastic management, once more granting it relative independence concerning ecclesiastical functions of Fulda. However, the monastery and surrounding city would never regain its status as a great cultural center it once held during the early medieval years. The monastery and the spiritual principality were secularized in 1803 after the German mediatisation, but the episcopal see continued.
The library held approximately 2000 manuscripts. It preserved works such as Tacitus' Annales, Ammianus Marcellinus' Res gestae, and the Codex Fuldensis which has the reputation of serving as the cradle of Old High German literature. Its abundant records are conserved in the state archives at Marburg. As of 2013 the Fulda manuscripts have become widely dispersed; some have found their way to the Vatican Library.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.