1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Stralsund

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STRALSUND, a seaport of Germany, in the Prussian province of Pomerania, on the west side of the Strelasund, an arm of the Baltic, 1½ m. wide, which separates the island of Rügen from the mainland, 135 m. by rail N. from Berlin and 45 m. N.W. of Rostock. Pop. (1905), 31,813, of whom more than a fourth reside in the Knieper, Tribseeser, Franken and other suburbs on the mainland. A steam railway ferry connects it with the island railway on Rügen, and so with Sassnitz, whence a regular steamboat mail service affords communication with Trelleborg in Sweden. The situation of the town proper, on a small triangular islet only connected with the mainland by three moles and bridges at the angles, has always rendered its fortification comparatively easy, and down to 1873 it was a fortress of the first rank. Since that year the ramparts have been levelled and their site occupied by public promenades and gardens. The defences of the place are now solely confined to the island of Dänholm, known down to the 13th century as Strehla or Strehlo, lying in the Sound. The quaint architecture of the houses, many of which present their curious and handsome gables to the street, gives Stralsund an interesting and old-fashioned appearance. The four Gothic churches of St Nicholas,[1] St Mary, with a lofty steeple, St James and The Holy Ghost, and the fine medieval town hall, dating in its oldest part from 1306 and restored in 1882, are among the more striking buildings. The last houses the provincial antiquarian museum and the municipal library of 70,000 volumes. There is a fine monument commemorating the war of 1870-71, one (1859) to the local patriot Ferdinand von Schill, and another (1900) to the poet and patriot E. M. Arndt. Among the educational establishments of the place must be mentioned the classical school (Gymnasium), founded in 1560, and a school of navigation. The manufactures of Stralsund are more miscellaneous than extensive; they include machinery, playing cards, sugar, soap, cigars, gloves, furniture, paper, oil and beer. The trade is chiefly confined to the shipping of grain, fish, coal, malt and timber, with some cattle and wool, and to the import of coal and tar, but of late years it has declined, despite excellent wharf accommodation and a considerable depth of water (12-15 ft.). Stralsund entertains passenger-boat communications with Barth, Stettin, Rostock and Lübeck as well as with various small ports on the isle of Rügen.

Stralsund was founded in 1234, and, though several times destroyed, steadily prospered. It was one of the five Wendish towns whose alliance extorted from King Eric of Norway a favourable commercial treaty in 1284–1285; and in the 14th century it was second only to Lübeck in the Hanseatic League. Although under the sway of the dukes of Pomerania, the city was able to maintain a marked degree of independence, which is still apparent in its municipal privileges. Its early Protestant sympathies placed it on the side of Sweden during the Thirty Years’ War, and in 1628 it successfully resisted a siege of eleven weeks by Wallenstein, who had sworn to take it “though it were chained to heaven.” He was forced to retire with the loss of 12,000 men, and a yearly festival in the town still celebrates the occasion. After the peace of Westphalia Stralsund was ceded with the rest of Western Pomerania to Sweden; and for more than a century and a half it was exposed to attack and capture as the tête-de-pont of the Swedes in continental Europe. It was taken by France in 1807, and in 1815 it passed to Prussia. In 1809 it was the scene of the death of Ferdinand von Schill, in his gallant though ineffectual attempt to rouse his countrymen against the French invaders.

See Mohnike and Zober, Stralsundische Chroniken (Stralsund, 1833-1834); Israel, Die Stadt Stralsund (Leipzig, 1893); Baier, Stralsundische Geschichten (Stralsund, 1902); and T. Reishaus, Wallenstein und die Belagerung Stralsunds (Stralsund, 1887).

  1. A remarkable series of 14th-century frescoes, in perfect condition, were disclosed in 1909 by the removal of the whitewash which had for centuries covered the interior of this fine church.