Town, Hesse-Nassau, Prussia, and former principality of the Holy Roman Empire. It grew up around a Benedictine Abbey founded by Saint Boniface (744). In 968 the Abbot of Fulda was made primate of all the Benedictine abbeys in Germany and Gaul, and from the 12th century ranked as a prince of the empire, enjoying the rights and privileges of princes in the deliberation of Diets and also the distinction of sitting at the left of the emperor. He exercised sovereign power over a considerable territory around the abbey, which was a famous seat of learning including among its teachers Alcuin, Rabanus Maurus, and Strabo. Its importance as a school declined in the 12th century on account of the relaxation of monastic discipline. The state became a bishopric, 1752, and its ruler a prince-bishop. It was secularized, 1803, and divided between Bavaria and Hesse-Kassel (1815), the latter passing to Prussia, 1866. The cathedral, six times destroyed by fire and rebuilt by Prince-Abbot Adalbert (1704-1712) in Renaissance style, contains the tomb of Saint Boniface.

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