Hersfeld , a town of Prussia, in the province of Hesse-Nassau, 10 m. N. N. E. of Ful-da, on the left bank of the Fulda; pop. in 1871, 6,434. It owes its origin to a Benedictine abbey which was founded in the 8th century. With its territory it was made an ecclesiastical principality in the 12th century, under the government of the abbots. At the peace of Westphalia (1648) it was secularized, and the town of Hersfeld remained the capital till 1821, when the principality became an administrative circle. The town until lately was walled, and protected with an ancient ditch; gardens are now laid out in place of these. The river is hero crossed by two bridges. Among the noteworthy buildings are the ancient council house, the fine parish church with a lofty tower and a great bell, and the ruins of the convent church which was built in the beginning of the 12th century, in the Byzantine style, on the site of the cathedral which had been burned. The ancient monastery itself, shut oft' from the town, has its own district, containing the ruins of the church and the surrounding gardens and orchards.
The gymnasium was founded in 1570 by Abbot Michael. Hersfeld is the head of the cloth manufactures of the former electorate of Hesse, employing 2,000 hands, and has manufactories of mixed cotton goods, soap, and red and white leather, and numerous dye works and worsted mills.