Founded around the beginning of the eighth century in the Sabine hills north of Rome, the abbey of Farfa was for centuries a barometer of social and political change in central Italy. Conventionally, the region's history in the early middle ages revolves around the rise of the papacy as a secular political power. But Farfa's avoidance of domination by the pope throughout its early medieval history, despite one pope's involvement in its early establishment, reveals that papal aggrandizement had strict limits. Other parties - local elites, as well as Lombard and then Carolingian rulers - were often more important in structuring power in the region. Many were also patrons of Farfa, and this book, the first detailed study of the abbey in the early middle ages, reveals how a major ecclesiastical institution operated in early medieval politics, as a conduit for others' interests, and a player in its own right.