1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Nuremberg

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

NUREMBERG (Ger. Nürnberg), a city of Germany, the second town in Bavaria in size, and the first in commercial importance. It lies in the district of Middle Franconia in a sandy but well-cultivated plain, 124 m. by rail N.W. from Munich. The city is divided by the small river Pegnitz, a tributary of the Main, into two parts, called respectively the Lorenzer Seite and the Sebalder Seite, after the two principal churches. There are four islands in the Pegnitz, which is crossed here by fourteen bridges. Formerly among the richest and most influential of the free imperial towns, Nuremberg is one of the few cities of Europe that have retained their medieval aspect largely unimpaired. Considerable sections of the ancient walls and moat still remain, though the demolition of portions to meet the exigencies of modern traffic and expansion has somewhat destroyed its quaint medieval character. Of the 365 bastions which formerly strengthened the walls, however, nearly 100 are still in situ, and a few of the interesting old gateways have also been preserved. Most of the streets are narrow and crooked, and the majority of the houses have their gables turned towards the street. The general type of architecture is Gothic, but the rich details, which are lavished with especial freedom in the interior courts, are usually borrowed from the Renaissance. Most of the private dwellings date from the 16th century, and there are practically none of earlier date than the 15th century. A praiseworthy desire to maintain the picturesqueness of the town has led most of the builders of new houses to imitate the lofty peaked gables, oriel windows and red-tiled roofs of the older dwellings. Altogether Nuremberg presents a faithful picture of a prosperous town of three hundred years ago.

The old burg, or castle (Kaiserschloss), is picturesquely placed on a rock on the north side of the town. This dates most probably from the early part of the 11th century, but it received its present form mainly during the reign of the emperor Frederick I. about 150 years later. It was restored in careful harmony with its original appearance in 1854–1856, and part of the interior is fitted up as a royal residence, the families of the German emperor and of the king of Bavaria having apartments therein. In the Heidenturm are two late Romanesque chapels, one above the other. Other parts of the castle are the pentagonal tower, the oldest building in the town, wherein are preserved the famous “iron virgin of Nuremberg,” and other instruments of torture; the granary (Kornhaus), also called the Kaiserstallung; and the Vestnertor or Vestnerturm. The castle of Nuremberg was a favourite residence of the German sovereigns in the later middle ages, and the imperial regalia were kept here from 1424 to 1796. Near it are the remains of the burg of the Hohenzollerns, the principal existing part of which is the chapel of St Walpurgis, which was destroyed with the rest of the building in 1420, but was restored in 1892. Not far from these ruins stands the Luginsland, a stronghold with four corner turrets, said to have been built by the burghers in 1367 as a watch-tower against the burg of the Hohenzollerns.

Nuremberg contains several interesting churches, the finest of which are those of St Lorenz, of St Sebald and of Our Lady; All three are Gothic edifices and are notable for their elaborately carved doorways, in which free play has been given to the exuberant fancy of the Gothic style, and all three enshrine valuable treasures of art. The Church of St Lawrence, the largest of the three, was built in the 13th and 14th centuries and has recently been restored. In it is the masterpiece of the sculptor, Adam Krafft, consisting of a ciborium, or receptacle for the host, in the form of a florid Gothic spire 65 ft. high; the carving of this work is exquisitely minute and delicate. The west front contains a magnificent rose-window, and some of the stained glass dates from the 15th and 16th centuries. In front of the altar hangs a curious piece of wood-carving by Veit Stoss, representing the Salutation. The shrine of St Sebald, in the church of St Sebald, consisting of a bronze sarcophagus and canopy, in the richest Gothic style, adorned with numerous statues and reliefs, is looked upon as one of the greatest achievements of German art. It was executed by Peter Vischer, the celebrated artist in bronze, who was occupied on the work for thirteen years (1506–1519), and has here shown himself no unworthy rival of Lorenzo Ghiberti. The church of Our Lady possesses some fine old stained-glass windows and some paintings by Michael Wohlgemuth. The Tuchersche altar, with its winged picture, is one of the finest works of the Nuremberg school about the middle of the 15th century. This church was restored in 1878–1881. Other noteworthy churches are those of St Jacob, founded about 1200 and restored in 1824; and of St Aegidius.

The town hall (Rathaus), an edifice in the Italian style, erected in 1616–1619, contains frescoes by Dürer, and a curious stucco relief of a tournament held at Nuremberg in 1446. The building incorporated an older one of the 14th century, of which the great hall, with its timber roof, is part. The most interesting secular buildings are the houses of the old patrician families. Among the most characteristic of these are the old residence of the counts of Nassau, and the houses of the Tucher, Funk and Peller families. A special interest attaches to the dwellings of Albert Dürer, Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, and Johann Palm, the patriotic bookseller who was shot by order of Napoleon in 1806. There are statues of Dürer, Sachs, Melanchthon, the reputed founder of the grammar-school, the navigator Martin Behaim, and Peter Henlein, the inventor of the watch; and the streets are further embellished with several fountains, the most noteworthy of which are the Schöne Brunnen, 1385–1396, in the form of a large Gothic pyramid, adorned with statues of the seven electors, the “nine worthies,” and Moses and the prophets; and the Gänsemännchen or goose-mannikin, a clever little bronze figure by Pankratz Labenwolf. On the way to the cemetery of St John, which contains the graves of Dürer, Sachs, Behaim and other Nuremberg worthies, are Krafft’s stations, seven pillars bearing stone reliefs of the Passion, and ranked among the finest works of the sculptor.

The Germanic national museum, established in an old Carthusian monastery, has developed into one of the largest and most important institutions of its kind in Germany. It includes a picture-gallery, principally of German works of the 15th and 16th centuries, including masterpieces by Holbein, Dürer, Wohlgemuth and others. The municipal library contains about 2000 manuscripts and 80,000 printed books, some of which are of great rarity.

The population of Nuremberg was, in 1905, including a garrison of about 3000 men, 294,344, of whom 145,354 were males and 148,990 females. Of these again 196,907 were Protestants (Evangelical), 86,939 Roman Catholics and 6819 Jews. At the height of its prosperity in the middle ages the population has been estimated at as high a figure as 150,000, but there seems good reason to believe that it did not exceed 40,000 to 50,000 souls. In 1818 it had sunk to 27,000, but since then has steadily increased. On the 1st of January 1899, thirteen outlying communes were incorporated, extending the area of the town from 2805 to 13,700 acres.

Nuremberg occupies a high place among the industrial and commercial centres of Europe. The principal manufactures are toys and fancy articles in metal, carved wood and ivory, which are collectively known as Nuremberg wares. Nuremberg is the chief market in Europe for hops. It is an important junction for railways to all parts of Germany, and is on the main line from Cologne and Frankfort-on-Main to Munich, Vienna and Eger. In addition to its railways, trade is facilitated by the Ludwig canal, connecting the Danube and the Main.

History.—The first authentic mention of Nuremberg, which seems to have been called into existence by the foundation of the castle, occurs in a document of 1050; and about the same period it received from the emperor Henry III. permission to establish a mint and a market. It is said to have been destroyed by the emperor Henry V. in 1105, but if this was the case the town must have been very speedily rebuilt, as in 1127 we find the emperor Lothair taking it from the duke of Swabia and assigning it to Henry the Proud, duke of Bavaria. An imperial officer, styled the burggrave of Nuremberg, who, however, seems to have been merely the military governor of the castle, and to have exercised no sway over the citizens, became prominent in the 12th century. This office came into the hands of the counts of Hohenzollern at the beginning of the 13th century, and burggrave of Nuremberg is still one of the titles of their descendant, the German emperor. The government of the town was vested in the patrician families, who, contrary to the usual course of events in the free towns, succeeded in permanently excluding the civic gilds from all share of municipal power, although in 1347 there was a sharp rising against this oligarchy. The town was specially favoured by the German monarchs, who frequently resided and held diets here, and in 1219 Frederick II. conferred upon it the rights of a free imperial town. By the terms of this charter the town appears to have been immediately subject to the king, who was represented by his magistrate (or Schultheiss). In a short time, however, the latter appears to have been assisted by a council, consisting of 13 consules (burgomasters) and 13 scabini (assessors), who collectively formed the governing and administrative body under the presidency of the bailiff. The last-named official soon confined himself to the judicial magisterial office, and a further increase in the numbers of the council having taken place by the appointment of 8 nominees of the king, a municipal council of 34, under the direction of the senior consul or burgomaster, dealt with matters exclusively civic. Later this council (the kleine Rat) was increased to 42 members, 8 of whom belonged to the artisan class.

In 1356 Nuremberg witnessed the promulgation of the famous Golden Bull of the emperor Charles IV. At the beginning of the 15th century the burggraves of Nuremberg, who had in the meantime raised themselves to the rank of princes of the Empire, were invested with the margraviate of Brandenburg, and sold their castle to the town. They, however, reserved certain rights, and their insistence on these led to fierce and sanguinary feuds between the burghers and the margraves Albert Achilles and Frederick and Albert Alcibiades of Bayreuth.

The quarrel with the margraves, however, did not interfere with the growth of the town’s prosperity, which reached its acme in the 16th century. Like Augsburg, Nuremberg attained great wealth as an intermediary between Italy and the East on the one hand, and northern Europe on the other. Its manufactures were so well known that it passed into a proverb—“Nuremberg’s hand goes through every land.” Its citizens lived in such luxury that Aeneas Sylvius (Pope Pius II.) has left it on record that a simple burgher of Nuremberg was better lodged than the king of Scotland. The town had gradually extended its sway over a territory nearly 500 sq. m. in extent, and was able to furnish the emperor Maximilian with a contingent of 6000 troops. But perhaps the great glory of Nuremberg lies in its claim to be the principal fount of German art. Its important architectural features have already been described. The love of its citizens for sculpture is abundantly manifest in the statues and carvings on their houses. Adam Krafft, Veit Stoss and Peter Vischer form a trinity of sculptors of which any city might be proud. In painting Nuremberg is not less prominent, as the names of Wohlgemuth and Dürer sufficiently indicate. In the decorative arts the Nuremberg handicraftsman attained great perfection in ministering to the luxurious tastes of the burghers, and a large proportion of the old German furniture, silver-plate, stoves and the like, which are now admired in industrial museums, was made in Nuremberg workshops. Wenzel Jamnitzer (1508–1585), the worker in silver, is perhaps eminent enough to be added to the above list of artists. Its place in literary history—by no means an unimportant one—it owes to Hans Sachs and the other meistersänger. A final proof of its vigorous vitality at this period may be found in the numerous inventions of its inhabitants, which include watches, at first called “Nuremberg eggs,” the air-gun, gun-locks, the terrestrial and celestial globes, the composition now called brass, and the art of wire-drawing.

Nuremberg was the first of the imperial towns to throw in its lot with the Reformation, and it embraced Protestantism with its wonted vigour about 1525. Its name is associated with a peace concluded between Charles V. and the Protestants in 1532. The first blow to its prosperity was the discovery of the sea-route to India in 1497; and the second was inflicted by the Thirty Years’ War, during which Gustavus Adolphus was besieged here in an entrenched camp by Wallenstein. During the eight or ten weeks that the blockade lasted no fewer than 10,000 of the inhabitants are said to have died of want or disease. The downfall of the town was accelerated by the illiberal policy of its patrician rulers; and the French Revolution reduced it to such a degree that in 1796 it offered itself and its territories to the king of Prussia on condition that he would pay its debts. Prussia, however, refused the offer. In 1803 Nuremberg was allowed to maintain its nominal position as a free city, but in 1806 it was annexed to Bavaria.

See Lochner, Nürnberger Jahrbücher bis 1313 (Nuremberg, 1832–1835); Nürnbergs Vorzeit und Gegenwart (Nuremberg, 1845) and Geschichte der Reichsstadt Nürnberg zur Zeit Kaiser Karls IV. (Berlin, 1873); Priem, Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg bis auf die neueste Zeit (Nuremberg, 1874); B. Schönlank, Altnürnbergische Studien (Leipzig, 1894); L. Rösel, Alt-Nürnberg (Nuremberg, 1895); E. Mummenhoff, Altnürnberg bis zum Jahre 1350 (1890); R. Hagen, Bilder aus Nürnbergs Geschichte (Nuremberg, 1889); F. Roth, Die Einführung der Reformation in Nürnberg (Würzburg, 1885); J. M. Lotter, Sagen, Legenden and Geschichten der Stadt Nürnberg (Nuremberg, 1898); the Quellenschriften zur Staats- und Kulturgeschichte der Reichsstadt Nürnberg (Nuremberg, 1893, fol.); and the Mitteilungen of the Verein für Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg (Nuremberg, 1879, fol.). See also C. Headlam, The Story of Nuremberg (London, 1899).