1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Coburg

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COBURG, a town of Germany, the twin capital with Gotha of the duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, on the left bank of the Itz, an affluent of the Regen, on the southern slope of the Frankenwald, the railway from Eisenach to Lichtenfels, and 40 m. S.S.E. of Gotha. Pop. (1905) 22,489. The town is for the most part old, and contains a number of interesting buildings. The ducal palace, known as the Ehrenburg, is a magnificent building, originally erected on the site of a convent of bare-footed friars by Duke John Ernest in 1549, renovated in 1698, and restored in 1816 by Duke Ernest I. It contains a vast and richly decorated hall, the court church and a fine picture gallery. In the gardens are the mausoleum of Duke Francis (d. 1806) and his wife, a bronze equestrian statue of Duke Ernest II. and a fountain in commemoration of Duke Alfred (duke of Edinburgh). In the market square are the medieval Rathaus, the government buildings, and a statue of Prince Albert (consort of Queen Victoria), by William Theed the younger (1804–1891). In the Schloss-platz are the Edinburgh Palace (Palais Edinburg), built in 1881, the theatre and an equestrian statue of Duke Ernest I. Among the churches the most remarkable is the Moritzkirche, with a lofty tower. The educational establishments include a gymnasium, founded in 1604 by Duke John Casimir (d. 1633) and thus known as the Casimirianum, a commercial, an agricultural and other schools. The Zeughaus (armoury) contains the ducal library of 100,000 volumes, and among other public buildings may be mentioned the Augustenstift, formerly the seat of the ministerial offices, and the Marstall (royal mews). On a commanding eminence above the town is the ancient castle of Coburg, dating from the 11th century (see below). In 1781 it was turned into a penitentiary and lunatic asylum, but in 1835–1838 was completely restored, and now contains a natural history museum. The most interesting room in this building is that which was occupied by Luther in 1530, where the surroundings may have inspired, though (as is now proved) he did not compose, the famous hymn, Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott; the bed on which he slept, and the pulpit from which he preached in the old chapel are shown. Coburg is a place of considerable industry, the chief branches of the latter being brewing, manufactures of machinery, colours and porcelain, iron-founding and saw-milling; and there is an important trade in the cattle reared in the neighbourhood. Among various places of interest in the vicinity are the ducal residences of Callenberg and Rosenau, in the latter of which Albert, Prince Consort, was born in 1819; the castle of Lauterburg; and the village of Neuses, with the house of the poet J. M. F. Rückert, who died here in 1866, and on the other side of the river the tomb of the poet Moritz August von Thümmel (1738–1817).

The town of Coburg, first mentioned in a record of 1207, owed its existence and its name to the castle, and in the 15th and 16th centuries was of considerable importance as a halting-place on the great trade route from Nuremberg via Bamberg to the North. In 1245 the castle became the seat of the elder branch of the counts of Henneberg (Coburg-Schmalkalden). The countships of Coburg and Schmalkalden passed by the marriage of Jutta, daughter of Hermann I. (d. 1290), to Otto V. of Brandenburg, whose grandson John, however, sold them to Henry VIII. of Henneberg, his brother-in-law. Henry’s daughter Catherine (d. 1397) married Frederick III. of Meissen, and so brought the castle, town and countship into the possession of the Saxon house of Wettin. In 1549 Duke John Ernest of Saxony made Coburg his residence and turned the old castle into a fortress strong enough to stand a three years’ siege (1632–1635) during the Thirty Years’ War. In 1641 Coburg fell to the dukes of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1835 it became the residence of the dukes of Saxe-Coburg. For the princes of the house of Coburg see Wettin and Saxe-Coburg.