Bremen’s origins go back to a string of settlements that developed near today’s centre from about AD 100, and one settlement in particular that in 787 was given its own bishop’s seat by Charlemagne. In its earliest days, it was known as the ‘Rome of the North’ and developed as a base for Christianising Scandinavia. Despite this, it gradually shed its religious character, enjoying the greater freedom of being an imperial city from 1186, joining the Hanseatic League in 1260, and in 1646 coming directly under the wing of the Kaiser as a free imperial city; today it is a ‘Free Hanseatic City’, which includes Bremerhaven ('Bremen's Harbour'), and is the smallest of Germany's 16 states. In 1979 Bremen was the first to elect Green Party candidates to its state parliament, unwittingly becoming the cradle of a Green movement worldwide.