Michaelsberg Abbey is situated on the Michaelsberg ('St. Michael's Mount'), about 40 metres above the town of Siegburg. The hill was first inhabited about 800 by the Counts of Auelgau, who built a castle there. In 1064 the Archbishop of Cologne, Anno II of Cologne, founded a monastery there, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, from whom both the mountain and the abbey henceforward took their names. He appointed the monk Erpho (died 1076) as the first abbot. Anno himself died at the abbey in 1075 and was buried there.
Archbishop Anno was canonized in the abbey church in 1183. At this time his remains were translated to the Chapel of St. Anno, which can still be seen in the abbey church. By this time, however, the early spirit of these founders was beginning to dim among the monks. The community had developed a luxurious lifestyle, one which was so open that they were publicly criticized by a nearby Cistercian abbey.
During the 14th century, after a long legal battle, the abbey was recognized as an Imperial abbey (that is, directly subject to the Holy Roman Emperor alone). This led to bitter rivalry, and on occasion even war, with the town of Siegburg. In 1676 the abbey again became subject to the local territorial power. During the period of the Thirty Years' War, the abbey became a center of literary and musical studies.
The abbey was suppressed during the German Mediatisation of 1802–03. Until their resettlement by Cistercian monks on 2 July 1914, the buildings were used for varied purposes, for some time as a barracks, but also at other times as a lunatic asylum and a slaughterhouse. The new monks came from the Abbey of Merkelbeeck in the Netherlands to establish a monastery there again. This was not an easy endeavor, as part of the abbey was soon taken over for use as a military hospital during World War I.
In 1941 the abbey was again dissolved, this time by the Schutzstaffel (SS); the monks were expelled and the buildings commandeered. The buildings were almost completely destroyed by a bombing raid in 1944, although they were in use as a military hospital and flying the flag of the Red Cross. In 1945 the monks who had been expelled four years previously were finally able to return, some from captivity as prisoners of war, others from exile. They had to rebuild the monastery virtually from scratch.
Benedictine life on the Michaelsberg the monastery was dissolved in 2011.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.