1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Posen (city)

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POSEN (Polish Poznan), a city, archiepiscopal see and fortress of Germany, capital of the province of Posen, situated in a wide and sandy plain at the confluence of the Cybina and the Warthe, 150 m. E. from Berlin and 103 m. from Breslau. Pop. (1885), 68,315; (1895), 73,239; (1905), 136,808, of whom nearly one-half are Germans and about one-tenth Jews. Posen lies at the centre of a network of railways connecting it with Berlin, Breslau, Thorn, Kreuzburg, and Schneidemühl. The inner line of fortifications was removed in 1902 and the city has been completely modernized. The principal part of Posen, on the left bank of the Warthe, comprises the old town (Alstadt) and the modern quarter created by the Prussians after 1793. On the right bank lie Wallischei (a district inhabited by Poles) and some other suburbs. Posen has fifteen Roman Catholic and three Evangelical churches and several synagogues. The cathedral contains many interesting objects of art, but, with the exception of the Gothic Marienkirche of the 15th century, none of the churches is notable. The old town-hall is a quaint Slavonic adaptation of Romanesque forms. The royal castle, begun in 1905 and completed in 1910 at a cost of £250,000, is a pretentious building in what is officially called Romanesque style. It was intended as an effort to conciliate the Poles, and was opened by the emperor William II., with imposing ceremonies, on the 20th of August 1910. Posen possesses an “Emperor William” library with 200,000 volumes, and the Raczynski library with 50,000. Other principal buildings are the two theatres, the Emperor Frederick museum, founded in 1894, the Polish museum and the various public offices. Industries include the manufacture of agricultural machinery, spirits, furniture and sugar, also milling and brewing. There is an active trade, both by rail and river, in corn, cattle, wood, wool and potatoes. Posen is the headquarters of the V. army corps, and has a garrison of 6000 men.

Posen, one of the oldest towns in Poland and the residence of some of the early Polish princes, including Boleslaus I., became the seat of a Christian bishopric about the middle of the 10th century. The original settlement was on the right bank of the Warthe, but the new town, established on the opposite bank by German settlers about 1250, soon became the more important part of the double city. Posen became a great depot for the trade between Germany and western Europe on the one hand and Poland and Russia on the other. Many foreign merchants made the city their residence, and these included a colony of Scots, who exported produce to Edinburgh. The city attained the climax of its prosperity in the 16th century, when its population, according to one estimate, reached 80,000. The intolerance shown to the Protestants, the troubles of the Thirty Years' War, the plague and other causes, soon conspired to change this state of affairs, and in the 18th century the population sank to 12,000. New life was infused into the city, after its annexation by Prussia at the second partition of Poland in 1793, and since this date its growth has been rapid.

See Lukaszewicz, Historisch-statistisches Bild der Stadt Posen 968-1793 (Ger. trans., Posen, 1881); Ohlenschläger, Kurzgefasste Geschichte und Beschreibung der Stadt Posen (Posen, 1886); Warschauer, Stadtbuch von Posen (Posen, 1892); and Führer durch Posen (Posen, 1895).