1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Augsburg
AUGSBURG, a city and episcopal see of Germany, in the kingdom of Bavaria, chief town of the district of Swabia. Pop. (1885) 65,905; (1900) 89,109; (1905) 93,882. It lies on a high plateau, 1500 ft. above the sea, between the rivers Wertach and Lech, which unite below the city, 39 m. W.N.W. from Munich, with which, as with Regensburg, Ingolstadt and Ulm, it is connected by main lines of railway. It consists of an upper and a lower town, the old Jakob suburb and various modern suburbs. Its fortifications were dismantled in 1703 and have since been converted into public promenades. Maximilian Street is remarkable for its breadth and architectural beauty. One of its most interesting edifices is the Fugger Haus, of which the entire front is painted in fresco. Among the public buildings of Augsburg most worthy of notice is the town-hall in Renaissance style, one of the finest in Germany, built by Elias Holl in 1616-1620. One of its rooms, called the “Golden Hall,” from the profusion of its gilding, is 113 ft. long, 59 broad and 53 high. The palace of the bishops, where the memorable Confession of Faith was presented to Charles V., is now used for government offices. Among the seventeen Reman Catholic churches and chapels, the cathedral, a basilica with two Romanesque towers, dates in its oldest portions from the 10th century. The church of St Ulrich and St Afra, built 1474-1500, is a Late Gothic edifice, with a nave of magnificent proportions and a tower 300 ft. high. The church stands on the spot where the first Christians of the district suffered martyrdom, and where a chapel was erected in the 6th century over the grave of St Afra. There are also a Protestant church, St Anne’s, a school of arts, a polytechnic institution, a picture gallery in the former monastery of St Catherine, a museum, observatory, botanical gardens, an exchange, gymnasium, deaf-mute institution, orphan asylum, several remarkable fountains dating from the 16th century, &c. Augsburg is particularly well provided with special and technical schools. The newer buildings, all in the modern west quarter of the city, include law courts, a theatre, and a municipal library with 200,000 volumes. The “Fuggerei,” built in 1519 by the brothers Fugger, is a miniature town, with six streets or alleys, three gates and a church, and consists of a hundred and six small houses let to indigent Roman Catholic citizens at a nominal rent. The manufactures of Augsburg are of great importance. It is the chief seat of the textile industry in south Germany, and its cloth, cotton goods and linen manufactories employ about 10,000 hands. It is also noted for its bleach and dye works, its engine works, foundries, paper factories, and production of silk goods, watches, jewelry, mathematical instruments, leather, chemicals, &c. Augsburg is also the centre of the acetylene gas industry of Germany. Copper-engraving, for which it was formerly noted, is no longer carried on; but printing, lithography and publishing have acquired a considerable development, one of the best-known Continental newspapers being the Allgemeine Zeitung or Augsburg Gazette. On the opposite side of the river, which is here crossed by a bridge, lies the township of Lechhausen.
Augsburg (the Augusta Vindelicorum of the Romans) derives its name from the Roman emperor Augustus, who, on the conquest of Rhaetia by Drusus, established here a Roman colony about 14 B.C. In the 5th century it was sacked by the Huns, and afterwards came under the power of the Frankish kings. It was almost entirely destroyed in the war of Charlemagne against Tassilo III., duke of Bavaria; and after the dissolution and division of that empire, it fell into the hands of the dukes of Swabia. After this it rose rapidly into importance as a manufacturing and commercial town, becoming, after Nuremberg, the centre of the trade between Italy and the north of Europe; its merchant princes, the Fuggers and Welsers, rivalled the Medici of Florence; but the alterations produced in the currents of trade by the discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries occasioned a great decline. In 1276 it was raised to the rank of a free imperial city, which it retained, with many changes in its internal constitution, till 1806, when it was annexed to the kingdom of Bavaria. Meanwhile, it was the scene of numerous events of historical importance. It was besieged and taken by Gustavus Adolphus in 1632, and in 1635 it surrendered to the imperial forces; in 1703 it was bombarded by the electoral prince of Bavaria, and forced to pay a contribution of 400,000 dollars; and in the war of 1803 it suffered severely. Of its conventions the most memorable are those which gave birth to the Augsburg confession (1530) and to the Augsburg alliance (1686).
See Wagenseil, Geschichte der Stadt Augsburg (Augs., 1820-1822); Werner, Geschichte der Stadt Augsburg (1899); Roth, Augsburg’s Reformationsgeschichte (1902).