1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Osnabrück

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OSNABRÜCK, a town and episcopal see of Germany, in the Prussian province of Hanover, situated on the Hase, 70 m. W. of the city of Hanover, 31 m. by rail N.E. of Münster, and at the junction of the lines Hamburg-Cologne and Berlin-Amsterdam. Pop. (1905) 59,580. The older streets contain many interesting examples of Gothic and Renaissance domestic architecture, while the substantial houses of the modern quarters testify to the present prosperity of the town. The old fortifications have been converted into promenades. The Roman Catholic cathedral, with its three towers, is a spacious building of the 13th century, partly in the Romanesque and partly in the Transitional style; but it is inferior in architectural interest to the Marienkirche, a fine Gothic structure of the 14th and 15th centuries. The town hall, a 15th-century Gothic building, contains portraits of some of the plenipotentiaries engaged in concluding the peace of Westphalia, the negotiations for which were partly carried on here from 1644 to 1648. Other important buildings are the museum, erected in 1888-1889 and containing scientific and historical collections; the episcopal palace and the law courts. The lunatic asylum on the Gertrudenberg occupies the site of an ancient nunnery. The town has an equestrian statue of the emperor William I., a statue of Justus Möser (1720-1794) and a memorial of the war of 1870-1871. Linen was formerly the staple product, but it no longer retains that position. The manufactures include machinery, paper, chemicals, tobacco and cigars, pianos and beer. Other industries are spinning and weaving. The town has large iron and steel works and there are coal mines in the neighbourhood. A brisk trade is carried on in grain and wood, textiles, iron goods and Westphalian hams, while important cattle and horse fairs are held here.

Osnabrück is an ancient place and in 888 received the right to establish a mint, a market and a toll-house. Surrounded with walls towards the close of the 11th century, it maintained an independent attitude towards its nominal ruler, the bishop, and joined the Hanseatic League, reaching the height of its prosperity in the 15th century. The decay inaugurated by the dissensions of the Reformation was accelerated by the ravages of the Thirty Years' War, but a new period of prosperity began about the middle of the 18th century. The bishopric of Osnabrück was founded by Charlemagne about 800, after he had subdued the Saxons. It embraced the district between the Ems and the Hunte, and was included in the archbishopric of Cologne. By the peace of Westphalia it was decreed that it should be held by a Roman Catholic and a Protestant bishop alternately, and this state of affairs lasted until the secularization of the see in 1803. In 1815 the bishopric was given to Hanover. The last bishop was Frederick, duke of York, a son of the English king George III. Since 1857 Osnabrück has been the seat of a Roman Catholic bishop.

See Friederici and Stieve, Geschichte der Stadt Osnabrück (Osnabrück, 1816-1826); Wurm, Osnabrück, seine Geschichte, seine Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler (Osnabrück, 1906); and Hoffmeyer, Geschichte der Stadt und des Regierungsbezirks Osnabrück (Osnabrück, 1904). See also the Osnabrücker Geschichtsquellen (Osnabrück, 1891 fol.); the Osnabrücker Urkundenbuch, edited by F. Philippi and M. Bär (Osnabrück, 1892-1902); and the publications of the Verein für Geschichte und Landeskunde von Osnabrück (Osnabrück, 1882 fol.). For the history of the bishopric see J. C. Möller, Geschichte der Weihbischofe von Osnabrück (Lingen, 1887); and C. Stüve, Geschichte des Hochstifts Osnabrück (Jena, 1872-1882).