1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Würzburg

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WÜRZBURG, a university town and episcopal see of Bavaria, Germany, capital of the province of Lower Franconia, situated on the Main, 60 m. by rail S.E. from Frankfort and at the junction of main lines to Bamberg and Nuremberg. Pop. (1905) 80,220. An ancient stone bridge (1474-1607), 650 ft. long and adorned with statues of saints, and two modern bridges, the Luitpold (1887) and the Ludwig (1894), connect the two parts of the town on each side of the river. On the lofty Leistenberg stands the fortress of Marienberg, which from 1261 to 1720 was the residence of the bishops. The main part of the town, on the right bank, is surrounded by shady promenades, the Ringstrasse and the quay.

Würzburg is quaintly and irregularly built; many of the houses are interesting specimens of medieval architecture; and the numerous old churches recall the fact that it was long the capital of an ecclesiastical principality. The principal church is the imposing Romanesque cathedral, a basilica with transepts, begun in 1042 and consecrated in 1189. The four towers, however, date from 1240, the (rococo) façade from 1711-1719, and the dome from 1731. The spacious transepts terminate in apses. The exterior was restored in 1882-1883. The beautiful Marienkapelle, a Gothic edifice of 1377-1441, was restored in 1856; it is embellished with twenty statues by Tilman Riemenschneider(d. 1531). The Haugerstifts church, with two towers and a lofty dome, was built in the Italian Renaissance style in 1670-1691. The bones of St Kilian, the patron saint of Würzburg, are preserved in the Neumünster church, which dates from the 11th century; Walther von der Vogelweide is buried in the adjoining cloisters. The church of St Burkhard is externally one of the best-preserved architectural monuments in the city. It was built in 1033-1042, in the Romanesque style, and was restored in 1168. The Late Gothic choir dates from 1494-1497. The Neubaukirche, or university church, curiously unites a Gothic exterior with a Classical interior. The Protestant church of St Stephen (1782-1789) originally belonged to a Benedictine abbey. Of the secular buildings in Würzburg the most conspicuous is the palace, a huge and magnificent edifice built in 1720-1744 in imitation of Versailles, and formerly the residence of the bishops and grand-dukes of Würzburg. The Julius hospital, a large and richly endowed institution affording food and lodging to 600 persons daily, was founded in 1576 by Bishop Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn (1545-1619). In 1906 it was arranged to convert this into a residential college for students, the hospital being removed to a site outside the town. The quaint town hall dates in part from 1456. Among the other chief buildings are the government offices, the law courts, the theatre, the Maxschule, the observatory and the various university buildings.

A university was founded at Würzburg in 1403, but it only existed for a few years. The present university was founded by Bishop Julius in 1582. The medical faculty speedily became famous, and has remained the most important faculty in Würzburg ever since. Here W. K. Röntgen discovered the “Röntgen rays” in 1896. Würzburg was long the stronghold of Jesuitism in Germany, and the Roman Catholic theological faculty still attracts a large number of students. The university has a library containing 300,000 volumes, and is attended by about 1400 students. In no other university city of Germany has so much of the medieval academic life been preserved.

Würzburg is surrounded by vineyards, which yield some of the best wine in Germany. Its principal industries are the manufacture of tobacco, furniture, machinery, scientific instruments and railway carriages. It has also breweries, and produces bricks, vinegar, malt and chocolate.

The site of the Leistenberg was occupied by a Roman fort, and was probably fortified early in the 13th century. Wircebirgum is the old Latin form of the name of the town; Herbipolis (herb town) first appears in the 12th century. The bishopric was probably founded in 741, but the town appears to have existed in the previous century. The first bishop was St Burkhard, and his successors soon acquired much temporal power; about the 12th century they had ducal authority in Eastern Franconia. It is not surprising that quarrels broke out between the bishops and the citizens, and the latter espoused the cause of the emperor Henry IV., while the former joined the emperor's foes. The struggle continued intermittently until 1400, when the citizens were decisively defeated and submitted. Several imperial diets were held in Würzburg, chief among these being the one of 1180 when Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony, was placed under the ban.

By the peace of Lunéville the bishopric was secularized, and in 1803 Würzburg passed to Bavaria. The peace of Pressburg in 1805 transferred it, under the name of an electorate, to Ferdinand, formerly grand-duke of Tuscany, who joined the confederation of the Rhine and took the title of grand-duke of Würzburg. In 1815 the congress of Vienna restored Würzburg to Bavaria. The Würzburg Conference is the name given to the meeting of representatives of the smaller German states in 1859 to devise some means of mutual support. The conference, however, had no result. Würzburg was bombarded and taken by the Prussians in 1866, in which year it ceased to be a fortress. The bishopric of Würzburg at one time embraced an area of about 1900 sq. m. and had about 250,000 inhabitants. A new bishopric of Würzburg was created in 1817.

For the town see S. Göbl, Würzburg, Ein kulturhistorisches Städtebild (Würzburg, 1896); J. Gramich, Verfassung und Verwaltung der Stadt Würzburg (Würzburg, 1882); M. Cronthal, Die Stadt Würzburg im Bauernkriege (Würzburg, 1887); Heffner, Würzburg und seine Umgebungen (Würzburg, 1871); Beckmann, Führer durch Würzburg (1906); and Holländer and Hessler, Malerisches aus Alt-Würzburg (Würzburg, 1898). For the university see F. X. von Wegele, Geschichte der Universität Würzburg (Würzburg, 1882). For the bishopric see J. Hofmann, Die Heiligen und Seligen des Bistums Würzburg (Würzburg, 1889); F. J. B. Stamminger and A. Amrhein, Franconia sacra. Geschichte des Bistums Würzburg (Würzburg, 1889-1901); and T. Henner, Die herzogliche Gewalt der Bischöfe von Würzburg (Würzburg, 1874).