1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Trier

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TRIER (French Trèves), an ancient city of Germany, formerly the capital of an archbishopric and electorate of the empire, and now the seat of a Roman Catholic bishop and the chief town of a governmental department in the Prussian province of the Rhine. Pop. (1885) 33,019, (1905) 46,709 (86% Roman Catholics). It is situated on the right bank of the Moselle, about 6 m. from the frontier of Luxemburg and 69 m. S.W. of Coblenz, on the main lines of railway from Coblenz to Metz and from Cologne to Saarbrücken. The city lies in a fertile valley shut in by vine-clad hills, and the picturesque red sandstone buildings of the old town are interspersed with orchards and gardens. On the north, east and south boulevards with gardens follow the line of the medieval walls, which have mostly disappeared. The Roman city extended much farther south and east.

Trier contains more important Roman remains than any other place in northern Europe. Perhaps the oldest remains are some of the piers and buttresses of the bridge over the Moselle, which may date from about 28 B.C. The well-preserved amphitheatre just outside the modern town to the south-east was probably built in the reign of Trajan or Hadrian. Its eastern side is built into the hill, its longer diameter is 76 yds., and it accommodated seven or eight thousand spectators. In 306 the emperor Constantine the Great caused multitudes of Frankish prisoners to be thrown to the beasts here, and in 313 made a similar spectacle of the captive Bructeri. The most remarkable Roman building in Trier is the Porta Nigra, the north gate of the city, a huge fortified gateway, 115 ft. long, 75 to 93 ft. high and 29 ft. deep, built of sandstone blocks blackened with age (whence the name), and held together with iron clamps. The age of this building is very uncertain; it has been assigned to dates ranging from the 1st to the 4th century A.D. It is also called the Simeonstor, after a Greek hermit who inhabited it. On his death in 1035 Archbishop Poppo converted the gate into two churches, one above the other, but all the additions except the apse have now been removed. In the south-east corner of the city are the picturesque ruins of the Roman imperial palace, and near the bridge are the extensive substructures of the 4thcentury Roman baths, 660 ft. in length. On the Constantinsplatz stands the magnificent brick basilica, probably of the age of Constantine, though the south and east walls are modern. Having been converted into a palace for the Frankish kings and their deputies, it passed in 1197 to the archbishops, and was restored (1846–1856) and turned into a Protestant church. The adjoining barracks were formerly the elector's palace. Another Roman basilica forms the nucleus of the cathedral. Built under the emperors Valentinian I. and Gratian as a quadrilateral hall with four huge granite columns (now removed) in the centre, it was converted into a church about the close of the 4th century, and restored by Bishop Nicetius about 550. It is the most important pre-Carolingian church in Germany. Archbishop Poppo and his successors in the 11th and 12th centuries extended the cathedral westwards and added an apse at each end. The vaulting of the nave and aisles and the beautiful cloisters were added in the 13th century. In the vaults are buried twenty-six archbishops and electors. Among the monuments are those of the electors Richard von Greiffenklau (d. 1531) and Johann von Metzenhausen (d. 1540), fine examples of German Renaissance work. The most famous of the relics preserved in the cathedral is the “Holy Coat of Trier,” believed by the devout to be the seamless robe of the Saviour, and said to have been discovered and presented to the city by the empress Helena. Since 1512 it has been periodically exhibited. The exhibition of 1844, which was attended by more than a million pilgrims, aroused protests, resulting in the formation of the sect of German Catholics (q.v.). In 1891 nearly two million pilgrims viewed the coat, and eleven miraculous cures were claimed.

The cloisters connect the cathedral with the church of Our Lady (Liebfrauenkirche), a beautiful building in the form of a circle intersected by a cross, with a lofty vault, built 1127–1143, and said to be the oldest Gothic church in Germany.

The earliest churches were without the walls. Of these St Matthias in the south, now represented by a 12th-century building, has a Christian cemetery of the Roman age.

In the market-place is the market cross, said to date from 958, and a beautiful Renaissance fountain, the Petersbrunnen, erected in 1595. Close by are the Steipe or Rotes Haus, formerly the town hall, of the 15th century, and the Frankenturm or propugnaculum, of the 10th century, said to be the oldest stone domestic building in Germany.

The Provincial Museum (1885–1889) contains many Roman and medieval antiquities. The town library contains about 100,000 volumes, including some valuable examples of early printing. Among its most treasured MSS. are the codex aureus, a copy of the gospels presented to the abbey of St Maximin by Ada, a reputed sister of Charlemagne, and the codex Egberti of the 10th century.

At Igel near Trier is a very remarkable Roman column, 83 ft. high, adorned with sculptures. It dates from the 2nd century, and was the family monument of the Secundini. At Nennig is a fine Roman mosaic pavement.

The industries of Trier include iron-founding, dyeing and the manufacture of machinery. There is a school of viticulture and a very considerable trade in Moselle wines, especially during the annual auctions.

History.—Trier had had two periods of greatness, firstly as the favourite residence of Constantine the Great and his successors in the west, and secondly as the capital of a powerful spiritual electorate.

The Treveri or Treviri, from whom the city derived its name, were one of the most powerful tribes among the Belgae, and according to Julius Caesar, who conquered them in 56 B.C., possessed the best cavalry in Gaul. Attempts have been made to show that they were of German origin (see Belgae), but although they were doubtless subject to Germanic influences, they spoke a Celtic language. Their chiefs, Indutiomarus, who raised a rebellion against the Romans in 54 B.C., and his successor Cingetorix have Celtic names, and St Jerome, who had lived in Trier, declares that their language in his day (c. 370) resembled that of the Galatians. An insurrection under Julius Florus in A.D. 21 was soon quelled. The Roman city, Augusta Treverorum, was probably fortified by Augustus about 14 B.C., and organized as a colony about A.D. 50 in the reign of Claudius, but is not mentioned before the war of Civilis in 69 (Tacitus, Hist. iv.). At first the Treveri resisted the appeal of Civilis and his Batavi to join the revolt, and built a defensive wall from Trier to Andernach, but soon after the two Treverans, Tutor and Classicus, led their fellow tribesmen, aided by the Lingones (Langres), in the attempt to set up a “Gallic empire.” After a brief struggle the rebels were overthrown at Trier by Cerealis, and 113 senators emigrated to Germany (70). Towards the end of the 3rd century, the inroads of the Franks having been repelled by the emperor Probus, the city rapidly acquired wealth and importance. Mainly on account of its strategic position, Diocletian on his reorganization of the empire made Trier the capital not only of Belgica Prima, but of the whole “diocese” of Gaul. For a century, from Maximian to Maximus (286–388), it was (except under Julian, who preferred to reside in Paris) the administrative centre from which Gaul, Britain and Spain were ruled, so that the poet Ausonius could describe it as the second metropolis of the empire, or “Rome beyond the Alps.” Constantine the Great, who generally resided here from 306 to 331, and his successors also, beautified the city with public works, and villas arose upon the hill-sides.

The Church added a lustre of a different kind. Legend associated Trier with the martyrdom of part of the Theban legion (c. 286) and with the relics found by St Helena in the Holy Land. St Agritius (d. 332) is the first historical bishop. Four great saints of the 4th century are connected with the city. It was the scene of the first banishment of St Athanasius in 336. A baseless legend relates that he composed the Quicunque Vult while hiding here in a cistern. St Ambrose, one of the greatest sons of Trier, was born here about 340. St Jerome’s mind was first seriously directed to religion while studying at Trier about 370, and St Martin of Tours came in 385 to plead with the tryant Maximus for the lives of the heretic Priscillian and his followers.

The Franks, who had thrice previously sacked the city, gained permanent possession of it about 455. Although some Frankish kings resided here, it gradually yielded place to Metz as a Frankish capital. The great bishop St Nicetius (528–566), who was banished for rebuking the vices of king Clotaire I. and eulogized by the poet Venantius Fortunatus, repaired the cathedral, and built a splendid castle for himself. The city passed to Lorraine in 843, and to the East Frankish kingdom in 870. It was sacked by the Northmen in 881. Hetti, who occupied the see from 814 to 847, is said to have been the first archbishop of Trier, and Radbod acquired the rights of the counts of Trier in 898, thus founding the temporal power of the see. Robert claimed in vain the right to crown the German king Otto I. in 936, on the ground of the priority of his see, and in the 10th century Archbishop Dietrich I. obtained the primacy over Gaul and Germany.

The temporal power of the archbishops was not gained without opposition. The German kings Otto IV. and Conrad IV. granted charters to the city, which however admitted the jurisdiction of its archbishop, Baldwin of Luxemburg, in 1308. This prince, a brother of the emperor Henry VII., ruled from 1307 to 1354, and was the real founder of the power of Trier. His predecessor Diether III. of Nassau had left his lands heavily encumbered with debt. Baldwin raised them to great prosperity by his energy and foresight, and chiefly as a result of the active political and military support he rendered to the emperors Henry VII., Louis the Bavarian and Charles IV. enlarged his dominions almost to their ultimate extent. He assumed the title of archchancellor of Gaul and Arles (or Burgundy), and in 1315 admitted the claim of the archbishop of Cologne to the highest place after the archbishop of Mainz among the spiritual princes of the empire. Thenceforward the elector of Trier held the third place in the electoral college. After Baldwin’s death the prosperity of Trier was checked by wars and disputes between rival claimants to the see, and in 1456 the estates united for the purpose of restoring order, and secured the right of electing their archbishops.

Throughout the middle ages the sancta civitas Trevirorum abounded in religious foundations and was a great seat of monastic learning. The university, founded in 1473, existed until 1797. The elector Richard von Greiffenklau (1467–1531) successfully opposed the Reformation, and inaugurated the exhibitions of the holy coat, which called forth the denunciations of Luther, but have continued since his day to bring wealth and celebrity to the city. In the latter half of the 16th century the direction of education fell into the hands of the Jesuits. During the Thirty Years' War the elector Philip Christopher von Sotern favoured France, and accepted French protection in 1631. The French in the following year expelled both Spaniards and Swedes from his territories, but in March 1635 the Spaniards recaptured Trier and took the elector prisoner. He remained in captivity for ten years, but was reinstated by the French in 1645 and confirmed in his possessions by the peace of Westphalia. The French again temporarily took Trier in 1674 and 1688.

The last elector and archbishop, Clement Wenceslaus (1768–1802), granted toleration to the Protestants in 1782, established his residence at Coblenz in 1786, and fled from the French in 1794. By the peace of Lunéville in 1801 France annexed all the territories of Trier on the left bank of the Rhine, and in 1802 the elector abdicated. A new bishopric was created for the French department of the Sarre, of which Trier was the capital. The Treveran territories on the right bank of the Rhine were secularized and given to Nassau-Weilburg in 1803, and in 1814 nearly the whole of the former electoral dominions were given to Prussia. A bishopric was again founded in 1821, with nearly the same boundaries as the old archbishopric, but it was placed under Cologne. The area of the former electoral principality was 3210 sq. m., and its population in the 18th century was from 250,000 to 300,000. Roughly speaking, it was a broad strip of territory along the lower Saar and the Moselle from its confluence with that river to the Rhine, with a district on the right bank of the Rhine behind Ehrenbreitstein. The chief towns in addition to Trier were Coblenz, Cochem, Beilstein, Oberwesel, Lahnstein and Sayn. Far more extensive was the territory under the spiritual authority of the archbishop which included the bishoprics of Metz, Toul and Verdun, and after 1777 also those of Nancy and St Dié.

See E. A. Freeman’s article “Augusta Treverorum” in the British Quarterly Review for July 1875; Hettner, Das römische Trier (Trier, 1880); J. N. von Wilmowsky, Der Dom zu Trier in seinen drei Hauptperioden (Trier, 1874); S. Beissel, Geschichte der trierer Kirchen (Trier, 1888); “Gesta Treverorum” (ed. G. Waitz), in Mon. Germ. hist. viii., xxiv.; J. N. von Hontheim, Historia trevirensis diplomatica et pragmatica (3 vols., Augsburg, 1750); Marx, Geschichte des Erzstifts Trier (5 vols., Trier, 1858–1864); Leonardy, Geschichte des trierischen Landes und Volkes (Saarlouis, 1871); Woerl, Führer durch die Stadt Trier (8th ed., Leipzig, 1898).  (A. B. Go.)