1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber

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ROTHENBURG-OB-DER-TAUBER, a town of Germany, in the kingdom of Bavaria, 49 m. by rail S.W. of Nuremberg. Pop. (1905) 8436. It is beautifully situated on an eminence 200 ft. above the Tauber. It is flanked by medieval walls, towers and gates, and its antique appearance has been carefully preserved. Perhaps the most interesting building is the town hall, one part of which dates from 1240 and the other from 1572. The latter is a beautiful Renaissance structure, with a magnificent façade and a delicate spire, and contains a grand hall, the Kaisersaal, in which every Whit Monday a play, Der Meistertrunk, which commemorates the capture of the town by Tilly in 1631, is performed. Other buildings are the Gothic church of St James, with curiously carved altars and beautiful stained-glass windows, and containing in the Toppler chapel the tomb of the burgomaster, Heinrich Toppler; the 15th-century church of St Wolfgang; the Franciscan church; and five other churches. The town has many picturesque houses, and possesses a library with some interesting archives. It has manufactures of toys and agricultural machinery, electrical works and breweries.

Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, mentioned in the chronicles in 304 as Rotinbure, was probably a residence of the dukes of Franconia. It first appears as a town in 942 and until 1108 was the seat of the counts of Rothenburg-Komburg; when this line became extinct it passed to the family of Hohenstaufen, one member of which took the title of duke of Rothenburg. In 1172 it became a free imperial city and it attained the zenith of its prosperity under the famous burgomaster Heinrich Toppler (1350–1408). It took part in the movements in South Germany during the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1631 Rothenburg was stormed by Tilly, and the cup of wine presented by the burgomaster, which, according to tradition, saved the town from destruction, is annually commemorated in the play mentioned above.

See Bensen, Beschreibung und Geschichte der Stadt Rothenburg (Erlangen, 1856); Merz, Rothenburg in alter und neuer Zeit (2nd ed., Ansbach, 1881); Schultheiss, Rothenburg, ein Städtebild (Zurich, 1892); and Das Festspiel zu Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber (Munich, 1892); and W. Klein, Führer durch die Stadt Rothenburg (Rothenburg, 1888).