The first mention in the sources of the ‘Herborn mark’ is in 1048. In the 12th century Herborn passed from being a lein of the Landgravate of Thuringia and into the hands of the Counts of Nassau, who awarded it its charter as a town (1251). Trade flourished in the town from the end of the 13th century and crafts expanded. An important watershed in the history of the town came in 1584, when John of Nassau (brother of the leader of the Dutch revolution, William I of Orange) founded an academy here. Thanks to its free thinking, it was referred to as a piece of the Netherlands on German soil.
Comenius was inscribed into the academy on March 30th 1611 as Jan Amos Nivnicensis (Nivnický), and studied there until 1613. Comenius’ spiritual life was influenced there by Johann Heinrich Alsted (1588-1638), requiring the drawing together of knowledge into a single, well-organised system, and by Professor Jan Fischer, known as Piscator (1546-1625), proclaiming faith in the final victory of truth and justice, linked to the Second Coming of Christ and the onset of the thousand year Kingdom of God (chiliasm). Comenius took away stimuli that would last for the rest of his life; it was here, too, that he conceived of drawing up the first Czech encyclopaedia. In order to improve the teaching of languages, he began as early as 1612 to work on his Foundation of the Czech Language (Thesaurus), which sadly was destroyed by fire at Leszno.