1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Merseburg

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MERSEBURG, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Saxony, on the river Saale, 10 m. by rail S. of Halle and 15 m. W. of Leipzig. Pop. (1905), 20,024. It consists of a quaint and irregularly built old town, a new quarter, and two extensive suburbs, Altenburg and Neumarkt. The cathedral, which was restored in 1884–1886, has a choir, a crypt and two towers of the 11th, a transept of the 13th and a late Gothic nave of the 16th century. Among its numerous monuments is one to Rudolph of Swabia, the rival of the emperor Henry IV. It contains a great organ dating from the 17th century. Near the cathedral is the Gothic palace, formerly the residence of the bishops of Merseburg, and now used as public offices. The town hall and the Ständehaus, where the meetings of the provincial estates were held, are also noteworthy buildings. The industries include the manufacture of machinery, paper and celluloid, and tanning and brewing.

Merseburg is one of the oldest towns in Germany. From 968 until the Reformation, it was the seat of a bishop, and in addition to being for a time the residence of the margraves of Meissen, it was a favourite residence of the German kings during the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. Fifteen diets were held here during the middle ages, when its fairs enjoyed the importance which was afterwards transferred to those of Leipzig. The town suffered severely during the Peasants’ War and also during the Thirty Years’ War. From 1657 to 1738 it was the residence of the dukes of Saxe-Merseburg.

See E. Hoffmann, Historische Nachrichten aus Alt-Merseburg (Merseburg, 1903).