1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bremen (city)

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BREMEN, a city of Germany, capital of the free state of Bremen, and one of the Hanseatic towns. It lies on a sandy plain on both banks of the Weser, 46 m. from the North Sea and 71 m. S.W. from Hamburg by rail, on the mainline to Cologne. Pop. (1905) 214,953. It has also direct railway communication with Berlin via Uelzen, Hanover and Bremerhaven. The city consists of four quarters,—the old town (Altstadt) and its suburban extensions (Vorstadt) being on the right bank of the river, and the new town (Neustadt) with its southern suburb (Südervorstadt) on the left bank. The river is crossed by three bridges, the old, the new (1872–1875) Kaiserbrücke, and the railway bridge, with a gangway for foot passengers. The ramparts of the old town have long been converted into beautiful promenades and gardens, the moats forming a chain of lakes.

The romantic old town, with its winding streets and lanes, flanked by massive gabled houses, dates from the medieval days of Hanseatic prosperity. On the market square stands the fine town hall (Rathaus), dating from the 15th century, with a handsome Renaissance façade of a somewhat later date, and before it a stone statue of Roland, the emblem of civic power. Its celebrated underground wine cellar has been immortalized by Wilhelm Hauff in his Phantasien im Bremer Ratskeller. The town hall is internally richly embellished and has a gallery of interesting paintings. In an upper hall a model of an old Hanseatic frigate, with the device Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse, hangs from the ceiling. Among other ancient buildings, situated chiefly in the old town, are the following:—the cathedral of St Peter (formerly the archiepiscopal and now the Lutheran parish church), erected in the 12th century on the site of Charlemagne’s wooden church, and famous for its Bleikeller, or lead vault, in which bodies can be preserved for a long time without suffering decomposition; the church of St Ansgarius, built about 1243, with a spire 400 ft. high; the church of Our Lady, dating from the 12th and 13th centuries; the 12th century Romanesque church of St Stephen; the Schütting, or merchants’ hall, originally built in 1619 for the cloth-traders’ gild; the Stadthaus (town house), formerly the archiepiscopal palace, and converted to its present uses only in 1819. The most important and imposing among the more modern architectural additions to the city are the handsome Gothic exchange, completed in 1867, the municipal theatre, the municipal library, the post office (1878), the law courts (1891–1895), the wool exchange, the German bank, the municipal museum for natural science, ethnology and commerce, and the fine railway station (1888). The principal memorials embrace, besides the Roland, the Willehad fountain (1883), the monument of the Franco-German War (erected 1875), the centaur fountain (1891), an equestrian statue of the emperor William I. (1893), and a statue of the poet Theodor Körner. A beautiful park, Bürgerpark, has been laid out in the Bürgerweide, or meadows, lying beyond the railway station to the north-east of the city. It is a peculiarity of the domestic accommodation of Bremen that the majority of the houses, unlike the custom in most other German towns, where flats prevail, are occupied by a single family only.

The industries and manufactures of Bremen are of considerable variety and extent, but are more particularly developed in such branches as are closely allied to navigation, such as shipbuilding, founding, engine-building and rope-making. Next in importance come those of tobacco, snuff, cigars, the making of cigar boxes, jute-spinning, distilling, sugar refining and the shelling of rice. Bremen owes its fame almost exclusively to its transmaritime trade, mainly imports. By the completion of the engineering works on the Weser in 1887–1899, whereby, among other improvements, the river was straightened and deepened, to 18 ft., large ocean-going vessels are able to steam right up to the city itself. It has excellent railway connexions with the chief industrial districts of Germany. Like Hamburg, it does predominantly a transit trade; it is especially important as the importer of raw products from America. In two articles, tobacco and rice, Bremen is the greatest market in the world; in cotton and indigo it takes the first place on the continent, and it is a serious rival of Hamburg and Antwerp in the import of wool and petroleum. The value of the total imports (both sea-borne and by river and rail) increased from £22,721,700 in 1883 to about £60,000,000 in 1905; the imports from the United States, from £9,755,000 in 1883 to about £25,000,000 in 1905. The countries from which imports principally come are the United States, England, Germany, Russia, the republics of South America, the Far East and Australia. The exports rose from a total of £26,096,500 in 1883 to £62,000,000 in 1905. The number of vessels which entered the ports of the free state (i.e. Bremen city, Bremerhaven and Vegesack) increased from 2869 of 1,258,529 aggregate tonnage in 1883, to 4024 of 2,716,633 tons in 1900. Bremen is the centre for some of the more important of the German shipping companies, especially of the North German Lloyd (founded in 1856), which, on the 1st of January 1905, possessed a fleet of 382 steamers of 693,892 tons, besides lighters and similar craft. Bremen also shares with Hamburg the position of being one of the two chief emigration ports of Germany. There are three docks, all to the north-west of the city—namely, the free harbour (which was opened in 1888), the winter harbour, and the timber and industrial harbour. Internal communication is served by an excellent system of electric tramways, and there is also a local steamboat service with neighbouring villages on the Weser.

History.—According to Brandes, quoting Martin Luther in the Lexicon Philologicum, the name is derived from Bram, Bräm, i.e. hem = the river-bank, or confine of the land on which it was built. In 787 Bremen was chosen by St Willehad, whom Charlemagne had established as bishop in the pagi of the lower Weser, as his see. In 848 the destruction of Hamburg by the Normans led to the transference of the archiepiscopal see of Hamburg to Bremen, which became the seat of the archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen. In 965 the emperor Otto I. granted to Archbishop Adaldag “in the place called Bremen” (in loco Bremun nuncupato) the right to establish a market, and the full administrative, fiscal and judicial powers of a count, no one but the bishop or his advocatus being allowed to exercise authority in the city. This privilege, by which the archbishop was lord of the city and his Vogt its judge, was frequently confirmed by subsequent emperors, ending under Frederick I. in 1158. Though, however, there is no direct evidence of the existence of any communal organization during this period, it is clear from the vigorous part taken by the burghers in the struggle of the emperor Frederick with Henry the Lion of Saxony that some such organization very early existed. Yet in the privilegium granted to the townspeople by Frederick I. in 1186 the emperor had done no more than guarantee them their personal liberties. The earliest recognition of any civic organization they may have possessed they owed to Archbishop Hartwig II. (1184–1207), who had succeeded in uniting against him his chapter, the nobles and the citizens; and the first mention of the city council occurs in a charter of Archbishop Gerhard II. in 1225, though the consules here named doubtless represented a considerably older institution. In the 13th century, however, whatever the civic organization of the townsfolk may have been, it was still strictly subordinate to the archbishop and his Vogt; the council could issue regulations only with the consent of the former, while in the judicial work of the latter, save in small questions of commercial dishonesty, its sole function was advisory. By the middle of the 14th century this situation was exactly reversed; the elected town council was the supreme legislative power in all criminal and civil causes, and in the court of the advocatus two Ratsmänner sat as assessors. The victory had been won over the archbishop; but a fresh peril had developed in the course of the 13th century in the growth of a patrician class, which, as in so many other cities, threatened to absorb all power into the hands of a close oligarchy. In 1304 the commonalty rose against the patricians and drove them from the city, and in the following year gained a victory over the exiles and their allies, the knights, which was long celebrated by an annual service of thanksgiving. This was the beginning of troubles that lasted intermittently throughout the century. Bremen had been admitted to the Hanseatic league in 1283, but was excluded in 1285, and not readmitted until 1358. Owing to the continued civic unrest it was again excluded in 1427, and only readmitted in 1433 when the old aristocratic constitution was definitively restored. But though in Bremen the efforts of the craftsmen’s “arts” to secure a share of power had been held in check and the gilds never gained any importance, the city government did not, as at Cologne and elsewhere, develop into a close patrician oligarchy. Power was in the hands of the wealthy, but the avenues to power were open to those who knew how to acquire the necessary qualification. There was thus no artificial restraint put upon individual enterprise, and the question of the government having been settled, Bremen rapidly developed in wealth and influence.

The Reformation was introduced into Bremen in 1522 by Heinrich von Zütphen. Archbishop Christopher of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1487–1558), a brutal libertine, hated for his lusts and avarice, looked on the reforming movement as a revolt against himself. He succeeded in getting the reformer burned; but found himself involved in a life and death struggle with the city. In 1532 Bremen joined the league of Schmalkalden, and twice endured a siege by the imperial forces. In 1547 it was only saved by Mansfeld’s victory at Drakenburg. Archbishop Christopher was succeeded in 1558 by his brother Georg, bishop of Minden (d. 1566), who, though he himself was instrumental in introducing the reformed model into his other diocese of Verden, is reckoned as the last Roman Catholic archbishop of Bremen. His successor, Henry III. (1550–1585), a son of Duke Francis I. of Lauenburg, who had been bishop of Osnabrück and Paderborn, was a Lutheran and married. Protestantism was not, however, definitively proclaimed as the state religion in Bremen until 1618. The last archbishop, Frederick II. (of Denmark), was deposed by the Swedes in 1644. In 1646 Bremen received the privileges of a free imperial city from the emperor Ferdinand III.; but Sweden, whose possession of the archbishopric was recognized two years later, refused to consent to this, and in 1666 attempted vainly to assert her claims over the city by arms—in the so-called Bremen War. When, however, in 1720 the elector of Hanover (George I. of Great Britain) acquired the archbishopric, he recognized Bremen as a free city. In 1803 this was again recognized and the territory of the city was even extended. In 1806 it was taken by the French, was subsequently annexed by Napoleon to his empire, and from 1810 to 1813 was the capital of the department of the Mouths of the Weser. Restored to independence by the congress of Vienna in 1815, it subsequently became a member of the German Confederation, and in 1867 joined the new North German Confederation, with which it was merged in the new German empire.

See Buchenau, Die freie Hansestadt Bremen (3rd ed., Bremen, 1900, 5 vols.); Bremisches Urkundenbuch, edited by R. Ehmck and W. von Bippen (1863, fol.); W. von Bippen, Geschichte der Stadt Bremen (Bremen, 1892–1898); F. Donandt, Versuch einer Geschichte des bremischen Stadtrechts (Bremen, 1830, 2 vols.); Bremisches Jahrbuch (historical, 19 vols., 1864–1900); and Karl Hegel, Städte und Gilden, vol. ii. p. 461 (Leipzig, 1891).