FULDA, a town and episcopal see of Germany, in the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau, between the Rhön and the Vogel-Gebirge, 69 m. N.E. from Frankfort-on-Main on the railway to Bebra. Although irregularly built the town is pleasantly situated, and contains two fine squares, on one of which stands a fine statue of St Boniface. The present cathedral was built at the beginning of the 18th century on the model of St Peter's at Rome, but it has an ancient crypt, which contains the bones of St Boniface and was restored in 1892. Opposite the cathedral is the former monastery of St Michael, now the episcopal palace. The Michaelskirche, attached to it, is a small round church built, in imitation of the Holy Sepulchre, in 822 and restored in 1853. Of other buildings may be mentioned the Library, with upwards of 80,000 printed books and many valuable MSS., the stately palace with its gardens and orangery, the former Benedictine nunnery (founded 1625, and now used as a seminary), and the Minorite friary (1238) now used as a furniture warehouse. Among the secular buildings are the fine Schloss, the Bibliothek, the town hall and the post office. There are several schools, a hospital founded in the 13th century, and some new artillery barracks. Many industries are carried on in Fulda. These include weaving and dyeing, the manufacture of linen, plush and other textiles and brewing. There are also railway works in the town. A large trade is done in cattle and grain, many markets being held here. Fine views are obtained from several hills in the neighbourhood, among these being the Frauenberg, the Petersberg and the Kalvarienberg.
Fulda owes its existence to its famous abbey. It became a town in 1208, and during the middle ages there were many struggles between the abbots and the townsfolk. During the Peasants' War it was captured by the rebels and during the Seven Years' War by the Hanoverians. It came finally into the possession of Prussia in 1866. From 1734 to 1804 Fulda was the seat of a university, and latterly many assemblies of German bishops have been held in the town.
The great Benedictine abbey of Fulda occupies the place in the ecclesiastical history of Germany which Monte Cassino holds in Italy, St Gall in South Germany, Corvey in Saxony, Tours in France and Iona in Scotland. Founded in 744 at the instigation of St Boniface by his pupil Sturm, who was the first abbot, it became the centre of a great missionary work. It was liberally endowed with land by the princes of the Carolingian house and others, and soon became one of the most famous and wealthy establishments of its kind. About 968 the pope declared that its abbot was primate of all the abbots in Germany and Gaul, and later he became a prince of the Empire. Fulda was specially famous for its school, which was the centre of the theological learning of the early middle ages. Among the teachers here were Alcuin, Hrabanus Maurus, who was abbot from 822 to 842, and Walafrid Strabo. Early in the 10th century the monastery was reformed by introducing monks from Scotland, who were responsible for restoring in its old strictness the Benedictine rule. Later the abbey lost some of its lands and also its high position, and some time before the Reformation the days of its glory were over. Johann von Henneberg, who was abbot from 1529 to 1541, showed some sympathy with the teaching of the reformers, but the Counter-Reformation made great progress here under Abbot Balthasar von Dernbach. Gustavus Adolphus gave the abbey as a principality to William, landgrave of Hesse, but William's rule only lasted for ten years. In 1752 the abbot was raised to the rank of a bishop, and Fulda ranked as a prince-bishopric. This was secularized in 1802, and in quick succession it belonged to the prince of Orange, the king of France and the grand-duchy of Frankfort. In 1816 the greater part of the principality was ceded by Prussia to Hesse-Cassel, a smaller portion being united with Bavaria. Sharing the fate of Hesse-Cassel, this larger portion was annexed by Prussia in 1866. In 1829 a new bishopric was founded at Fulda.
For the town see A. Hartmann, Zeitgeschichte von Fulda (Fulda, 1895); J. Schneider, Führer durch die Stadt Fulda (Fulda, 1899); and Chronik von Fulda und dessen Umgebungen (1839). For the history of the abbey see Gegenbaur, Das Kloster Fulda im Karolinger Zeitalter (Fulda, 1871-1874); Arndt, Geschichte des Hochstifts Fulda (Fulda, 1860); and the Fuldaer Geschichtsblätter (1902 fol.).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)