1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Olmütz

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OLMÜTZ (Czech, Olomouc or Holomauc), a town of Austria, in Moravia, 67 m. N.E. of Brünn by rail. Pop. (1900) 21,933, of which two-thirds are Germans. It is situated on the March, and is the ecclesiastical metropolis of Moravia. Until 1886 Olmütz was one of the strongest fortresses of Austria, but the fortifications have been removed, and their place is occupied by a town park, gardens and promenades. Like most Slavonic towns, it contains several large squares, the chief of which is adorned with a trinity column, 115 ft. high, erected in 1740. The most prominent church is the cathedral, a Gothic building of the 14th century, restored in 1883–1886, with a tower 328 ft. high and the biggest church-bell in Moravia. It contains the tomb of King Wenceslaus III., who was murdered here in 1306. The Mauritius church, a fine Gothic building of the 15th century, and the St Michael church are also worth mentioning. The principal secular building is the town-hall, completed in the 15th century, flanked on one side by a Gothic chapel, transformed now into a museum. It possesses a tower 250 ft. high, adorned with an astronomical clock, an artistic and famous work, executed by Anton Pohl in 1422. The old university, founded in 1570 and suppressed in 1858, is now represented by a theological seminary, which contains a very valuable library and an important collection of manuscripts and early prints. Olmütz is an important railway junction, and is the emporium of a busy mining and industrial district. Its industries include brewing and distilling and the manufacture of malt, sugar and starch.

Olmütz is said to occupy the site of a Roman fort founded in the imperial period, the original name of which, Mons Julii, has been gradually corrupted to the present form. At a later period Olmütz was long the capital of the Slavonic kingdom of Moravia, but it ceded that position to Brünn in 1640. The Mongols were defeated here in 1241 by Yaroslav von Sternberg. During the Thirty Years’ War it was occupied by the Swedes for eight years. The town was originally fortified by Maria Theresa during the wars with Frederick the Great, who besieged the town unsuccessfully for seven weeks in 1758. In 1848 Olmütz was the scene of the emperor Ferdinand’s abdication, and in 1850 an important conference took place here between Austrian and German statesmen. The bishopric of Olmütz was founded in 1073, and raised to the rank of an archbishopric in 1777. The bishops were created princes of the empire in 1588. The archbishop is the only one in the Austrian empire who is elected by the cathedral chapter.

See W. Müller, Geschichte der königlichen Hauptstadt Olmütz (2nd ed., Olmütz, 1895).