1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Minden

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

MINDEN, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Westphalia, 44 m. by rail to the W.S.W. of Hanover, on the left bank of the Weser, which is spanned by two bridges. Pop. (1905), 25,428. The older parts of the town retain their narrow and crooked streets. The cathedral tower dating from the 11th century, illustrates the first step in the growth of the Gothic spire in Germany. The nave was erected at the end of the 13th century, and the choir in 1377–1379. Among the chief edifices are the old church of St Martin; the town hall, with a Gothic façade; the law courts and the government offices, constructed, like many of the other buildings, of a peculiar veined brown sandstone found in the district. The town has a statue of Frederick William I. the great elector of Brandenburg. Minden contains a gymnasium and several hospitals, besides other charitable institutions. Its industries include linen and cotton weaving, dyeing, calico printing, brewing, ship-building and the manufacture of tobacco, glass, soap, chocolate, leather, lamps, chicory and chemicals. There is also some activity in the building of small craft.

Minden (Mindun, Mindo), apparently a trading place of some importance in the time of Charlemagne, was made the seat of a bishop by that monarch, and subsequently became a flourishing member of the Hanseatic League. In the 13th century it was surrounded with walls. Punished by military occupation and a fine for its reception of the Reformation, Minden underwent similar trials in the Thirty Years' War. In 1548 the bishopric was converted into a secular principality under the elector of Brandenburg. From 1807 to 1814 Minden was included in the kingdom of Westphalia, and in the latter year it passed to Prussia. In 1816 the fortifications, which had been razed by Frederick the Great after the Seven Years' War, were restored and strengthened, and as a fortress of the second rank it remained the chief military place of Westphalia down to 1873, when the works were finally demolished. About 3 m. to the south of Minden is the so-called “ Porta Westfalica," a narrow defile by which the Weser quits the mountains. The bishopric of Minden embraced an area of about 400 sq. m. and had about 70,000 inhabitants.

The battle of Minden was fought on the first of August 1759 between the Anglo-Allied army commanded by duke Ferdinand of Brunswick and the French under Marshal Coutades, the latter being defeated. The most brilliant episode of the battle was the entire defeat of the French cavalry by the British infantry (with whom there were some Hanoverian troops), but Minden, though it is one of the brightest days in the history of the British army, has its dark side also, for the British cavalry commander Lord George Sackville (see Sackville, Viscount) refused to obey the order to advance, several times sent by Duke Ferdinand, and thereby robbed the victory of the decisive results which were to be expected from the success of the infantry. For an account of the battle and of the campaign of which it is the centre, see Seven Years' War.

See Stoy, Kurzer Abriss der Geschichte Mindens (Minden, 1879); Bölische, Skizzen aus Mindens Vergangenheit (Minden, 1897); Holscher, Beschreibung des vormaligen Bistumes Minden (Münster, 1877).