1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Göttingen

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GÖTTINGEN, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Hanover, pleasantly situated at the west foot of the Hainberg (1200 ft.), in the broad and fertile valley of the Leine, 67 m. S. from Hanover, on the railway to Cassel. Pop. (1875) 17,057, (1905) 34,030. It is traversed by the Leine canal, which separates the Altstadt from the Neustadt and from Masch, and is surrounded by ramparts, which are planted with lime-trees and form an agreeable promenade. The streets in the older part of the town are for the most part crooked and narrow, but the newer portions are spaciously and regularly built. Apart from the Protestant churches of St John, with twin towers, and of St James, with a high tower (290 ft.), the medieval town hall, built in the 14th century and restored in 1880, and the numerous university buildings, Göttingen possesses few structures of any public importance. There are several thriving industries, including, besides the various branches of the publishing trade, the manufacture of cloth and woollens and of mathematical and other scientific instruments.

The university, the famous Georgia Augusta, founded by George II. in 1734 and opened in 1737, rapidly attained a leading position, and in 1823 its students numbered 1547. Political disturbances, in which both professors and students were implicated, lowered the attendance to 860 in 1834. The expulsion in 1837 of the famous seven professors — Die Göttinger Sieben — viz. the Germanist, Wilhelm Eduard Albrecht (1800-1876); the historian, Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann (1785-1860); the orientalist, Georg Heinrich August Ewald (1803-1875); the historian, Georg Gottfried Gervinus (1805-1875); the physicist, Wilhelm Eduard Weber (1804-1891); and the philologists, the brothers Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm (1785-1863), and Wilhelm Karl Grimm (1786-1859), — for protesting against the revocation by King Ernest Augustus of Hanover of the liberal constitution of 1833, further reduced the prosperity of the university. The events of 1848, on the other hand, told somewhat in its favour; and, since the annexation of Hanover in 1866, it has been carefully fostered by the Prussian government. In 1903 its teaching staff numbered 121 and its students 1529. The main university building lies on the Wilhelmsplatz, and, adjoining, is the famous library of 500,000 vols. and 5300 MSS., the richest collection of modern literature in Germany. There is a good chemical laboratory as well as adequate zoological, ethnographical and mineralogical collections, the most remarkable being Blumenbach's famous collection of skulls in the anatomical institute. There are also a celebrated observatory, long under the direction of Wilhelm Klinkerfues (1827-1884), a botanical garden, an agricultural institute and various hospitals, all connected with the university. Of the scientific societies the most noted is the Royal Society of Sciences (Königliche Sozietät der Wissenschaften) founded by Albrecht von Haller, which is divided into three classes, the physical, the mathematical and the historical-philological. It numbers about 80 members and publishes the well-known Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen. There are monuments in the town to the mathematicians K. F. Gauss and W. E. Weber, and also to the poet G. A. Bürger.

The earliest mention of a village of Goding or Gutingi occurs in documents of about 950 A.D. The place received municipal rights from the German king Otto IV. about 1210, and from 1286 to 1463 it was the seat of the princely house of Brunswick-Göttingen. During the 14th century it held a high place among the towns of the Hanseatic League. In 1531 it joined the Reformation movement, and in the following century it suffered considerably in the Thirty Years' War, being taken by Tilly in 1626, after a siege of 25 days, and recaptured by the Saxons in 1632. After a century of decay, it was anew brought into importance by the establishment of its university; and a marked increase in its industrial and commercial prosperity has again taken place in recent years. Towards the end of the 18th century Göttingen was the centre of a society of young poets of the Sturm und Drang period of German literature, known as the Göttingen Dichterbund or Hainbund (see Germany: Literature).

See Freusdorff, Göttingen in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart (Göttingen, 1887); the Urkundenbuch der Stadt Göttingen, edited by G. Schmidt, A. Hasselblatt and G. Kästner; Unger, Göttingen und die Georgia Augusta (1861); and Göttinger Professoren (Gotha, 1872); and O. Mejer, Kulturgeschichtliche Bilder aus Göttinger (1889).