1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ulm
ULM, a fortress-city of Germany, in the kingdom of Württemberg, situated on the left bank of the Danube, in a fertile plain at the foot of the Swabian Alps, 58 m. by rail S.E. of Stuttgart and 63 m. N.W. of Munich. Pop. (1905), 51,680. Ulm still preserves the dignified and old-fashioned appearance of a free imperial town, and contains many medieval buildings of historic and of artistic interest. Among these are the town hall, of the 16th century, in the Transition style from late Gothic to Renaissance, restored in recent years; the Kornhaus; the Ehingerhaus or Neubronnerhaus, now containing the industrial museum; and the commandery of the Teutonic order, built in 1712–1718 on the site of a habitation of the order dating from the 13th century, and now used as barracks. The magnificent early Gothic cathedral is capable of containing 30,000 people. Begun in 1377, and carried on at intervals till the 16th century, the building was long left unfinished; but in 1844 the work of restoration and completion was begun, being completed in 1890. Ulm cathedral has double aisles and a pentagonal apsidal choir, but no transepts. Its length (outside measurement) is 464 ft., its breadth 159 ft.; the nave is 136 ft. high and 471 wide; the aisles, which are covered with rich net-vaulting, are 68 ft. in height. The massive and richly decorated square tower in the centre of the west façade, which for centuries terminated in a temporary spire, was completed in 1890, according to the original plans, by the addition of an octagonal storey and a tall open spire (528 ft.), the loftiest ecclesiastical erection in the world, outstripping the twin spires of Cologne cathedral by 21 ft. The towers of the choir, rebuilt in the course of the restoration, are 282 ft. high. The cathedral contains some fine stained glass, the largest organ in Germany (1856), and a number of interesting old paintings and carvings by Jörg Syrlin the elder, Jörg Syrlin the younger, Burkhard Engelberger, and other masters of the Swabian school. It belongs to the Protestant Church. Trinity church dates from 1617–1621, and there are also four Roman Catholic churches and a synagogue.
The Danube, joined by the Iller just above the town and by the Blau just below, here becomes navigable, so that Ulm occupies the important commercial position of a terminal river-port. Hence there is water communication with the Neckar, and so to the Rhine and into the interior of France. The market for leather and cloth is important, and Ulm is famous for its vegetables (especially asparagus), barley, beer, pipe-bowls and sweet cakes (Ulmer Zuckerbrot). Bleaching, brewing and brass-founding are carried on, as well as a large miscellany of manufactures.
Ulm has long been a fortress of the first rank. In 1844–1859 the German Confederation carefully fortified it, and in 1876 the new German Empire added a comprehensive outer girdle of detached forts, culminating in the powerful citadel of Wilhelmsburg. The long straight lines of works which stretched to the plateau of the Michelsberg and formed the outworks of the main fortress on the left bank of the Danube were purchased in 1900 by the municipal authorities, in order to be levelled and laid out in streets for the extension of the town in this direction. The fortifications also of Neu-Ulm, on the Bavarian side of the Danube, were ordered to be razed and devoted to municipal purposes. The citadel of Wilhelmsburg remains, and also the defences on the left bank of the Danube, further extended and strengthened. Ulm is the basis of operations for the German army behind the Black Forest, and can easily shelter a force of 100,000 men; its peace garrison is 5600.
Ulm is mentioned as early as 854, and under the Carolingian sovereigns it was the scene of several assemblies. It became a town in 1027, and was soon the principal place in the duchy of Swabia. Although burned down by Henry the Lion, it soon recovered from this disaster and became a free imperial town in 1155. Towards the close of the middle ages it appears several times at the head of leagues of the Swabian towns. Its trade and commerce prospered and in the 15th century it attained the summit of its prosperity, ruling over a district about 300 sq. m. in extent, and having a population of about 60,000. In 1803 it lost its freedom and passed to Bavaria, being ceded to Württemberg in 1809. In October 1805 General Mack with 23,000 Austrians capitulated here to Napoleon. Ulm is remarkable in the history of German literature as the spot where the Meistersinger lingered longest, preserving without text and without notes the traditional lore of their craft. In 1830 there were twelve Meistersinger alive in Ulm, but in 1839 the four survivors formally made over their insignia and gild property to a modern singing society and closed the record of the Meistergesang in Germany.
See E. Nübling, Ulms Handel und Gewerle im Mittelalter (Ulm, 1892–1900); G. Fischer, Geschichte der Stadt Ulm (Stuttgart, 1863); Pressel, Ulmisches Urkundenbuch (Stuttgart, 1873); and Ulm und sein Münster (Ulm, 1877); Schultes, Chronik von Ulm (Stuttgart, 1881 and 1886); Hassler, Ulms Kunstgeschichte im Mittelalter (Stuttgart, 1872); and Das rote Buch der Stadt Ulm, edited by C. Mollvo (1904).