Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/1010

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
984
STRASSBURG

of the mail service between Great Britain and Ireland. In consequence, however, of the frequent violence of the south- westerly gales and other causes, the communication ceased in the middle of the 19th century, and the artificial harbour de- signed by John Rennie has gradually fallen into decay. The town is in repute as a holiday resort for its healthy climate and beautiful situation.


STRASSBURG, or Strasburg (French Strasbourg), a town of Germany, the capital of the imperial province of Alsace-Lorraine and a fortress of the first rank, is situated in a fertile plain at the junction of the Ill and the Breusch, 2 m. W. of the Rhine, 88 m. by rail N. from Basel, 370 m. S.W. from Berlin, 30 m. E. of the French frontier. Pop. (1890), 123,500; (1900), 150,268; (1905), 167,342. Since 1871 it has been the seat of government for the German territory of Alsace-Lorraine, and it is also the see of a Roman Catholic bishop and the headquarters of the XV. Corps of the German army. It is surrounded by outlying fortifications and strategic works and contains a garrison of 16,000 men of all arms.

The town proper is divided by the arms of the 111 into three parts, of which the central is the largest and most important. Most of the streets in the heart of the city are narrow and irregular, and the quaint aspect of a free medieval town has to a considerable extent been maintained. The quarters which suffered most in the bombardment of 1870 have, however, been rebuilt in more modern fashion, and the recent widening of the circle of fortifications, with the destruction of the old walls, has given the city opportunity of expansion in all directions; thus, with the exception of Berlin and Leipzig, there is perhaps no town in Germany which can show so many handsome new public buildings as Strassburg. Of its older edifices by far the most interesting and prominent is the cathedral, or Miinster, which in its present form represents the activity of four centuries. Part of the crypt dates from 1015; the apse shows the transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic style; and the nave, finished in 1275, is a fine specimen of pure Gothic. Of the elaborate west facade, with its screen of double tracery and its numerous sculptures, the original design was finished by Erwin von Steinbach (d. 1318). The upper part of the facade and the towers were afterwards completed in accordance with a different plan, and the spire on the north tower was added in 1435. This tower is 465 ft. high, being thus one of the highest buildings in Europe, and it commands a fine view. The cathedral has some fine stained glass, a sculptured pulpit and the famous astronomical clock in the south transept; this contains some fragments of the clock built by the mathematician, Conrad Dasypodius, in 1574. The Protestant church of St Thomas, a Gothic building of the 13th and 14th centuries, contains a fine monument of Marshal Saxe, considered the chef d'ceuvre of the sculptor, Jean Baptiste Pigalle. Other notable churches are the Protestant Temple Neuf, or Neue Kirche, rebuilt since 1870, and the Roman Catholic church of the Sacred Heart, erected in 1889–1893.

The old episcopal palace, built in 1731–1741, was used for university purposes from 1872 to 1895; it is now the municipal museum of art. Other notable buildings are the Frauenhaus, with some interesting sculptures, and the H6tel du Commerce, the finest Renaissance building in the town. The imperial palace, designed by H. Eggert in the Florentine Renaissance style, was built in 1889–1893; it is crowned by a cupola 115 ft. high and is richly ornamented. The provincial and university library, with over 800,000 volumes, and the hall of the provincial Diet (Landesaussckuss) , built in 1888–1892, both in the Italian Renaissance style, occupy the opposite side of the Kaiserplatz, and behind the latter is the large new post office. Between the university and the library is the Evangelical garrison church (1892–1897), built of reddish sandstone in the early Gothic style. The principal squares of the town are the Kaiserplatz, the Broglieplatz, the Schlossplatz and the Kleberplatz. Still to be mentioned are the Grosse Metzig, containing the Hohenlohe museum, the theatre, the town hall, and the so-called Aubette, with the conservatorium of music. A new synagogue was completed in 1898, and the viceregal palace was entirely rebuilt in 1872–1874. The town has new law courts, a Roman Catholic garrison church, an iron bridge across the Rhine to Kehl and statues of General Kleber and of the printer Gutenberg.

The university of Strassburg, founded in 1567 and suppressed during the French Revolution as a stronghold of German sentiment, was reopened in 1872; it now occupies a site in the new town and is housed in a handsome building erected for it in 1877–1894. This is adorned with statues and frescoes by modern German artists, and has near it the chemical, physical, botanical, geological, seismological and zoological institutes, also the observatory, all designed by Eggert and built between 1877 and 1888. On the south of the old town are the various schools; laboratories and hospitals of the medical faculty, all built since 1877. The university, which has six faculties, is attended by about 1400 students and has 130 professors. Other educational establishments are the Protestant gymnasium, founded in 1538, various seminaries for teachers and theological students and numerous schools.

The chief industries of Strassburg are tanning, brewing, printing and the manufacture of steel goods, musical instruments, paper, soap, furniture, gloves and tobacco. To these must be added the fattening of geese for Strassburg's celebrated pates de foie gras, which forms a useful source of income to the poorer classes. There is also a brisk trade in agricultural produce, hams, sausages, coal, wine, leather goods and hops. The development of this trade is favoured by the canals which connect the Rhine with the Rhone and the Marne, and by a new port of 250 acres in extent with quays and wharves on the Rhine, which has been constructed since 1891.

Strassburg has always been a place of great strategical importance, and as such has been strongly fortified. The pentagonal citadel constructed by Vauban in 1682–1684 was destroyed during the siege of 1870. The modern German system of fortification consists of a girdle of fourteen detached forts, at a distance of from three to five miles from the centre of the town. Kehl, the tete-de-pont of Strassburg, and several villages are included within this enceinte, and three of the outworks lie on the right bank of the Rhine, in the territory of Baden. In case of need the garrison can lay a great part of the environs under water.

The site of Strassburg was originally occupied as a Celtic settlement, which was captured by the Romans, who replaced it by the fortified station of Argenloratum, afterwards the head- quarters of the eighth legion. In the year 357 the emperor Julian saved the frontier of the Rhine by a decisive victory gained here over the Alamanni, but about fifty years later the whole of the district now called Alsace fell into the hands of that people. Towards the end of the 5th century the town passed to the Franks, who gave it its present name. The famous " Strassburg oaths " between Charles the Bold and Louis the German were taken here in 842, and in 923, through the homage paid by the duke of Lorraine to the German king Henry I., began the connexion of the town with the German kingdom which was to last for over seven centuries. The early history of Strassburg consists mainly of struggles between the bishop and the citizens, the latter as they grew in wealth and power feeling that the fetters of ecclesiastical rule were inconsistent with their full development. This conflict was finally decided in favour of the citizens by the battle of Oberhausbergen in 1262, and the position of a free imperial city which had been conferred upon Strassburg by the German king, Philip of Swabia, was not again disputed. This casting off of the episcopal yoke was followed in 1332 by an internal revolution, which admitted the gilds to a share in the government of the city and impressed upon it the democratic character which it bore down to the French Revolution. Strassburg soon became one of the most flourish- ing of the imperial towns, and the names of natives or residents like Sebastian Brant, Johann Tauler and Geiler von Kaisersberg show that its eminence was intellectual as well as material.

In 1340 two thousand Jews were burned at Strassburg on a charge of causing a pestilence by poisoning the wells. In 1381