1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lusatia

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LUSATIA (Ger. Lausitz), a name applied to two neighbouring districts in Germany, Upper and Lower Lusatia, belonging now mainly to Prussia, but partly to Saxony. The name is taken from the Lusitzi, a Slav tribe, who inhabited Lower Lusatia in the 9th and 10th centuries.

In the earliest times Lower Lusatia reached from the Black Elster to the Spree; its inhabitants, the Lusitzi, were conquered by the German king, Henry the Fowler, and by the margrave Gero in the 10th century. Their land was formed into a separate march, which for about three centuries was sometimes attached to, and sometimes independent of, the margraviate of Meissen, its rulers being occasionally called margraves of Lusatia. In 1303 it was purchased by the margrave of Brandenburg, and after other changes it fell in 1368 into the hands of the king of Bohemia, the emperor Charles IV., who already possessed Upper Lusatia. During the Hussite wars its people remained loyal to the Roman Catholic Church. In 1469 they recognized Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary, as their sovereign, but in 1490 they came again under the rule of the Bohemian king.

The district now known as Upper Lusatia was occupied by a Slav tribe, the Milzeni, who like the Lusitzi, were subdued by Henry the Fowler early in the 10th century. For about three centuries it was called Baudissin (Bautzen), from the name of its principal fortress. In the 11th and 12th centuries it was connected at different periods with Meissen, Poland and Bohemia. Towards 1160 the emperor Frederick I. granted it to Ladislas, king of Bohemia, and under this ruler and his immediate successors it was largely colonized by German immigrants. In 1253 it passed to the margrave of Brandenburg, and about the same time it was divided into an eastern and a western part, Baudissin proper and Görlitz. In 1319 the former was restored to Bohemia, which also recovered Gorlitz in 1329. During the 14th century the nobles and the townsmen began to take part in the government, and about this time Upper Lusatia was known as the district of the six towns (Sechsstädtelandes), these being Bautzen, Görlitz, Zittau, Löbau, Lauban and Kamenz. From 1377 to 1396 Görlitz was a separate duchy ruled by John, a son of the emperor Charles IV., and, like Lower Lusatia, Upper Lusatia owned the authority of Matthias Corvinus from 1469 to 1490, both districts passing a little later with the kingdoms of Hungary and Bohemia to the German king, Ferdinand I. The “six towns” were severely punished for their share in the war of the league of Schmalkalden, and about this time the reformed teaching made very rapid progress in Lusatia, the majority of the inhabitants becoming Protestants. The name of Lusatia hitherto confined to Lower Lusatia, was soon applied to both districts, the adjectives Upper and Lower being used to distinguish them. In 1620, early in the Thirty Years' War, the two Lusatias were conquered by the elector of Saxony, John George I., who was allowed to keep them as the price of his assistance to the emperor Ferdinand I. In 1635 by the treaty of Prague they were definitely transferred from Bohemia to Saxony, although the emperor as king of Bohemia retained a certain supremacy for the purpose of guarding the rights and privileges of the Roman Catholics. They suffered much during the wars of the 18th century. By the peace of Vienna (1815) the whole of Lower Lusatia and part of Upper Lusatia were transferred from Saxony to Prussia.

The area of the part of Upper Lusatia retained by Saxony was slightly increased in 1845; it is now about 960 sq. m. In 1900 Lower Lusatia contained 461,973 inhabitants, of whom 34,837 were Wends; the portion of Upper Lusatia belonging to Prussia had 305,080 inhabitants, of whom 24,361 were Wends. There were 405,173 inhabitants, including 28,234 Wends, in Saxon Upper Lusatia. Laws relating to this district, after passing through the Saxon parliament must be submitted to the Lusatian diet at Bautzen. The chief towns of Upper Lusatia are Bautzen, Zittau, Löbau, Kamenz, Görlitz, Rothenburg, Hoyerswerda and Lauban; in Lower Lusatia they are Guben, Kottbus, Forst, Lubben and Spremberg. The principal rivers are the Spree with its tributaries, the Black Elster and the Neisse. Upper Lusatia is generally mountainous and picturesque, Lower Lusatia is flat and sandy. The chief industries are linen weaving, cloth making and coal mining.

For the history of Lusatia see the collections, Scriptores rerum Lusaticarum antiqui et recentiores, edited by C. G. Hoffmann (4 vols., Leipzig and Bautzen, 1719); and Scriptores rerum Lusaticarum (4 vols., Görlitz, 1839-1870). See also W. Lippert, Wettiner und Wittelsbacher sowie die Niederlausitz im 14 Jahrhundert (Dresden, 1894); T. Scheltz, Gesamtgeschichte der Ober- und Niederlausitz Band i. (Halle, 1847), Band ii. (Görlitz, 1882); J. G. Worbs, Urkundenbuch zur Geschichte des Markgraftums Niederlausitz (Lübben, 1897); and J. A. E. Kohler, Die Geschichte der Oberlausitz (Görlitz, 1867).