1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Frankfort-on-Oder

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FRANKFORT-ON-ODER, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Brandenburg, 50 m. S.E. from Berlin on the main line of railway to Breslau and at the junction of lines to Cüstrin, Posen and Grossenhain. Pop. (1905) 64,943. The town proper lies on the left bank of the river Oder and is connected by a stone bridge (replacing the old historical wooden structure) 900 ft. long, with the suburb of Damm. The town is agreeably situated and has broad and handsome streets, among them the “Linden,” a spacious avenue. Above, on the western side, and partly lying on the site of the old ramparts, is the residential quarter, consisting mainly of villas and commanding a fine prospect of the Oder valley. Between this suburb and the town lies the park, in which is a monument to the poet Ewald Christian von Kleist, who died here of wounds received in the battle of Kunersdorf. Among the more important public buildings must be noticed the Evangelical Marienkirche (Oberkirche), a handsome brick edifice of the 13th century with five aisles, the Roman Catholic church, the Rathhaus dating from 1607, and bearing on its southern gable the device of a member of the Hanseatic League, the government offices and the theatre. The university of Frankfort, founded in 1506 by Joachim I., elector of Brandenburg, was removed to Breslau in 1811, and the academical buildings are now occupied by a school. To compensate it for the loss of its university, Frankfort-on-Oder was long the seat of the court of appeal for the province, but of this it was deprived in 1879. There are several handsome public monuments, notably that to Duke Leopold of Brunswick, who was drowned in the Oder while attempting to save life, on the 27th of April 1785. The town has a large garrison, consisting of nearly all arms. Its industries are considerable, including the manufacture of machinery, metal ware, chemicals, paper, leather and sugar. Situated on the high road from Berlin to Silesia, and having an extensive system of water communication by means of the Oder and its canals to the Vistula and the Elbe, and being an important railway centre, it has a lively export trade, which is further fostered by its three annual fairs, held respectively at Reminiscere (the second Sunday in Lent), St Margaret’s day and at Martinmas. In the neighbourhood are extensive coal fields.

Frankfort-on-the-Oder owes its origin and name to a settlement of Franconian merchants here, in the 13th century, on land conquered by the margrave of Brandenburg from the Wends. In 1253 it was raised to the rank of a town by the margrave John I. and borrowed from Berlin the Magdeburg civic constitution. In 1379 it received from King Sigismund, then margrave of Brandenburg, the right to free navigation of the Oder; and from 1368 to about 1450 it belonged to the Hanseatic League. The university, which is referred to above, was opened by the elector Joachim I. in 1506, was removed in 1516 to Kottbus and restored again to Frankfort in 1539, at which date the Reformation was introduced. It was dispersed during the Thirty Years’ War and again restored by the Great Elector, but finally transferred to Breslau in 1811.

Frankfort has suffered much from the vicissitudes of war. In the 15th century it successfully withstood sieges by the Hussites (1429 and 1432), by the Poles (1450) and by the duke of Sagan (1477). In the Thirty Years’ War it was successively taken by Gustavus Adolphus (1631), by Wallenstein (1633), by the elector of Brandenburg (1634), and again by the Swedes, who held it from 1640 to 1644. During the Seven Years’ War it was taken by the Russians (1759). In 1812 it was occupied by the French, who remained till March 1813, when the Russians marched in.

See K. R. Hausen, Geschichte der Universität und Stadt Frankfurt (1806), and Bieder und Gurnik, Bilder aus der Geschichte der Stadt Frankfurt-an-der-Oder (1898).