1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Leipzig
LEIPZIG, a city of Germany, the second town of the kingdom of Saxony in size and the first in commercial importance, 70 m. N.W. of Dresden and 111 m. S.W. of Berlin by rail, and 6 m. from the Prussian frontier. It lies 350 ft. above the sea-level, In a broad and fertile plain, just above the junction of three small rivers, the Pleisse, the Parthe and the Elster, which flow in various branches through or round the town and afterwards under the name of the Elster, discharge themselves into the Saale. The climate, though not generally unhealthy, may be inclement in winter and hot in summer.
Leipzig is one of the most enterprising and prosperous of German towns, and in point of trade and industries ranks among German cities immediately after Berlin and Hamburg. It possesses the third largest German university, is the seat of the supreme tribunal of the German empire and the headquarters of the XIX. (Saxon) army corps, and forms one of the most prominent literary and musical centres in Europe. Its general aspect is imposing, owing to the number of new public buildings erected during the last 20 years of the 19th century. It consists of the old, or inner city, surrounded by a wide and pleasant promenade laid out on the site of the old fortifications, and of the very much more extensive inner and outer suburbs. Many thriving suburban villages, such as Reudnitz, Volkmarsdorf, Gohlis, Eutritzsch, Plagwitz and Lindenau, have been incorporated with the city, and with these accretions the population in 1905 amounted to 502,570. On the north-west the town is bordered by the fine public park and woods of the Rosenthal, and on the west by the Johanna Park and by pleasant groves leading along the banks of the Pleisse.
The old town, with its narrow streets and numerous houses of the 16th and 17th centuries, with their high-pitched roofs, preserves much of its quaint medieval aspect. The market square, lying almost in its centre, is of great interest. Upon it the four main business streets, the Grimmaische-, the Peters-, the Hain- and the Katharinen-strassen, converge, and its north side is occupied by the beautiful old Rathaus, a Gothic edifice built by the burgomaster Hieronymus Lotter in 1556, and containing life-size portraits of the Saxon rulers. Superseded by the new Rathaus, it has been restored and accommodates a municipal museum. Behind the market square and the main street lie a labyrinth of narrow streets interconnected by covered courtyards and alleys, with extensive warehouses and cellars. The whole, in the time of the great fairs, when every available place is packed with merchandise and thronged with a motley crowd, presents the semblance of an oriental bazaar. Close to the old Rathaus is Auerbach’s Hof, built about 1530 and interesting as being immortalized in Goethe’s Faust. It has a curious old wine vault (Keller) which contains a series of mural paintings of the 16th century, representing the legend on which the play is based. Near by is the picturesque Königshaus, for several centuries the palace of the Saxon monarchs in Leipzig and in which King Frederick Augustus I. was made prisoner by the Allies after the battle of Leipzig in October 1813. At the end of the Petersstrasse, in the south-west corner of the inner town and on the promenade, lay the Pleissenburg, or citadel, modelled, according to tradition, on that of Milan, and built early in the 13th century. Here Luther in 1519 held his momentous disputation. The round tower was long used as an observatory and the building as a barrack. With the exception of the tower, which has been encased and raised to double its former height—to 300 ft.—the citadel has been removed and its site is occupied by the majestic pile of the new Rathaus in Renaissance style, with the tower as its central feature. The business of Leipzig is chiefly concentrated in the inner city, but the headquarters of the book trade lie in the eastern suburb. Between the inner town and the latter lies the magnificent Augustusplatz, one of the most spacious squares in Europe. Upon it, on the side of the inner town and included within it, is the Augusteum, or main building of the university, a handsome edifice containing a splendid hall (1900), lecture rooms and archaeological collections; adjoining it is the Paulinerkirche, the university church. The other sides of the square are occupied by the new theatre, an imposing Renaissance structure, designed by C. F. Langhans, the post office and the museum of sculpture and painting, the latter faced by the Mende fountain. The churches of Leipzig are comparatively uninteresting. The oldest, in its present form, is the Paulinerkirche, built in 1229-1240, and restored in 1900, with a curiously grooved cloister; the largest in the inner town is the Thomaskirche, with a high-pitched roof dating from 1496, and memorable for its association with J. Sebastian Bach, who was organist here. Among others may be mentioned the new Gothic Petrikirche, with a lofty spire, in the south suburb. On the east is the Johanniskirche, round which raged the last conflict in the battle of 1813, when it suffered severely from cannon shot. In it is the tomb of Bach, and outside that of the poet Gellert. Opposite its main entrance is the Reformation monument, with bronze statues of Luther and Melanchthon, by Johann Schilling, unveiled in 1883. In the Johanna Park is the Lutherkirche (1886), and close at hand the Roman Catholic and English churches. To the south-west of the new Rathaus, lying beyond the Pleisse and between it and the Johanna Park, is the new academic quarter. Along the fine thoroughfares, noticeable among which is the Karl Tauchnitz Strasse, are closely grouped many striking buildings. Here is the new Gewandhaus, or Konzerthaus, built in 1880-1884, in which the famous concerts called after its name are given, the old Gewandhaus, or Drapers’ Hall, in the inner town having again been devoted to commercial use as a market hall during the fairs. Immediately opposite to it is the new university library, built in 1891, removed hither from the old monasterial buildings behind the Augusteum, and containing some 500,000 volumes and 5000 MSS. Behind that again is the academy of art, one wing of which accommodates the industrial art school; and close beside it are the school of technical arts and the conservatoire of music. Between the university library and the new Gewandhaus stands a monument of Mendelssohn (1892). Immediately to the east of the school of arts rises the grand pile of the supreme tribunal of the German empire, the Reichsgericht, which compares with the Reichstag building in Berlin. It was built in 1888-1895 from plans by Ludwig Hoffmann, and is distinguished for the symmetry and harmony of its proportions. It bears an imposing dome, 225 ft. high, crowned by a bronze figure of Truth by O. Lessing, 18 ft. high. Opposite, on the outer side of the Pleisse, are the district law-courts, large and substantial, though not specially imposing edifices. In the same quarter stands the Grassi Museum (1893-1896) for industrial art and ethnology, and a short distance away are the palatial buildings of the Reichs and Deutsche Banks. Farther east and lying in the centre of the book-trade quarter stand close together the Buchhändlerhaus (booksellers’ exchange), the great hall decorated with allegorical pictures by Sascha Schneider, and the Buchgewerbehaus, a museum of the book trade, both handsome red brick edifices in the German Renaissance style, erected in 1886-1890. South-west of these buildings, on the other side of the Johannisthal Park, are clustered the medical institutes and hospitals of the university—the infirmary, clinical and other hospitals, the physico-chemical institute, pathological institute, physiological institute, ophthalmic hospital, pharmacological institute, the schools of anatomy, the chemical laboratory, the zoological institute, the physico-mineralogical institute, the botanical garden and also the veterinary schools, deaf and dumb asylum, agricultural college and astronomical observatory. Among other noteworthy buildings in this quarter must be noted the Johannisstift, an asylum for the relief of the aged poor, with a handsome front and slender spire. On the north side of the inner town and on the promenade are the handsome exchange with library, and the reformed church, a pleasing edifice in late Gothic.
Leipzig has some interesting monuments; the Siegesdenkmal, commemorative of the wars of 1866 and 1870, on the market square, statues of Goethe, Leibnitz, Gellert, J. Sebastian Bach, Robert Schumann, Hahnemann, the homeopathist, and Bismarck. There are also many memorials of the battle of Leipzig, including an obelisk on the Randstädter-Steinweg, on the site of the bridge which was prematurely blown up, when Prince Poniatowski was drowned; a monument of cannon balls collected after the battle; a “relief” to Major Friccius, who stormed the outer Grimma gate; while on the battle plain itself and close to “Napoleonstein,” which commemorates Napoleon’s position on the last day of the battle, a gigantic obelisk surrounded by a garden has been planned for dedication on the hundredth anniversary of the battle (October 19, 1913).
The University and Education.—The university of Leipzig, founded in 1409 by a secession of four hundred German students from Prague, is one of the most influential universities in the world. It was a few years since the most numerously attended of any university in Germany, but it has since been outstripped by those of Berlin and of Munich. Its large revenues, derived to a great extent from house property in Leipzig and estates in Saxony, enable it, in conjunction with a handsome state subvention, to provide rich endowments for the professorial chairs. To the several faculties also belong various collegiate buildings, notably, to the legal, that of the Collegium beatae Virginis in the Petersstrasse, and to the philosophical the Rothe Haus on the promenade facing the theatre. The other educational institutions of Leipzig include the Nicolai and Thomas gymnasia, several “Realschulen,” a commercial academy (Handelsschule), high schools for girls, and a large number of public and private schools of all grades.
Art and Literature.—The city has a large number of literary, scientific and artistic institutions. One of the most important is the museum, which contains about four hundred modern paintings, a large number of casts, a few pieces of original sculpture and a well-arranged collection of drawings and engravings. The collection of the historical society and the ethnographical and art-industrial collections in the Grassi Museum are also of considerable interest. The museum was erected with part of the munificent bequest made to the city by Dominic Grassi in 1881. As a musical centre Leipzig is known all over the world for its excellent conservatorium, founded in 1843 by Mendelssohn. The series of concerts given annually in the Gewandhaus is also of world-wide reputation, and the operatic stage of Leipzig is deservedly ranked among the finest in Germany. There are numerous vocal and orchestral societies, some of which have brought their art to a very high pitch of perfection. The prominence of the publishing interest has attracted to Leipzig a large number of gifted authors, and made it a literary centre of considerable importance. Over five hundred newspapers and periodicals are published here, including several of the most widely circulated in Germany. Intellectual interests of a high order have always characterized Leipzig, and what Karl von Holtei once said of it is true to-day: “There is only one city in Germany that represents Germany; only a single city where one can forget that he is a Hessian, a Bavarian, a Swabian, a Prussian or a Saxon; only one city where, amid the opulence of the commercial world with which science is so gloriously allied, even the man who possesses nothing but his personality is honoured and esteemed; only one city, in which, despite a few narrownesses, all the advantages of a great, I may say a world-metropolis, are conspicuous! This city is, in my opinion, and in my experience, Leipzig.”
Commerce, Fairs.—The outstanding importance of Leipzig as a commercial town is mainly derived from its three great fairs, which annually attract an enormous concourse of merchants from all parts of Europe, and from Persia, Armenia and other Asiatic countries. The most important fairs are held at Easter and Michaelmas, and are said to have been founded as markets about 1170. The smaller New Year’s fair was established in 1458. Under the fostering care of the margraves of Meissen, and then of the electors of Saxony they attained great popularity. In 1268 the margrave of Meissen granted a safe-conduct to all frequenters of the fairs, and in 1497 and 1507 the emperor Maximilian I. greatly increased their importance by prohibiting the holding of annual markets at any town within a wide radius of Leipzig. During the Thirty Years’ War, the Seven Years’ War and the troubles consequent upon the French Revolution, the trade of the Leipzig fairs considerably decreased, but it recovered after the accession of Saxony to the German Customs Union (Zollverein) in 1834, and for the next twenty years rapidly and steadily increased. Since then, owing to the greater facilities of communication, the transactions at the fairs have diminished in relative, though they have increased in actual, value. Wares that can be safely purchased by sample appear at the fairs in steadily diminishing quantities, while others, such as hides, furs and leather, which require to be actually examined, show as marked an increase. The value of the sales considerably exceeds £10,000,000 sterling per annum. The principal commodity is furs (chiefly American and Russian), of which about one and a quarter million pounds worth are sold annually; other articles disposed of are leather, hides, wool, cloth, linen and glass. The Leipzig wool-market, held for two days in June, is also important.
In the trades of bookselling and publishing Leipzig occupies a unique position, not only taking the first place in Germany, but even surpassing London and Paris in the number and total value of its sales. There are upwards of nine hundred publishers and booksellers in the town, and about eleven thousand firms in other parts of Europe are represented here. Several hundred booksellers assemble in Leipzig every year, and settle their accounts at their own exchange (Buchhändler-Börse). Leipzig also contains about two hundred printing-works, some of great extent, and a corresponding number of type-foundries, binding-shops and other kindred industries.
The book trades give employment to over 15,000 persons, and since 1878 Leipzig has grown into an industrial town of the first rank. The iron and machinery trades employ 4500 persons; the textile industries, cotton and yarn spinning and hosiery, 6000; and the making of scientific and musical instruments, including pianos, 2650. Other industries include the manufacture of artificial flowers, wax-cloth, chemicals, ethereal oils and essences, beer, mineral waters, tobacco and cigars, lace, india-rubber wares, rush-work and paper, the preparation of furs and numerous other branches. These industries are mostly carried on in the suburbs of Plagwitz, Reudnitz, Lindenau, Gohlis, Eutritzsch, Konnewitz and the neighbouring town of Markranstädt.
Communications.—Leipzig lies at the centre of a network of railways giving it direct communication with all the more important cities of Germany. There are six main line railway stations, of which the Dresden and the Magdeburg lie side by side in the north-east corner of the promenade, the Thuringian and Berlin stations further away in the northern suburb; in the eastern is the Eilenburg station (for Breslau and the east) and in the south the Bavarian station. The whole traffic of these stations is to be directed into a vast central station (the largest in the world), lying on the sites of the Dresden, Magdeburg and Thuringian stations. The estimated cost, borne by Prussia, Saxony and the city of Leipzig, is estimated at 6 million pounds sterling. The city has an extensive electric tramway system, bringing all the outlying suburbs into close connexion with the business quarters of the town.
Population.—The population of Leipzig was quintupled within the 19th century, rising from 31,887 in 1801 to 153,988 in 1881, to 455,089 in 1900 and to 502,570 in 1905.
History.—Leipzig owes its origin to a Slav settlement between the Elster and the Pleisse, which was in existence before the year 1000, and its name to the Slav word lipa, a lime tree. There was also a German settlement near this spot, probably round a castle erected early in the 10th century by the German king, Henry the Fowler. The district was part of the mark of Merseburg, and the bishops of Merseburg were the lords of extensive areas around the settlements. In the 11th century Leipzig is mentioned as a fortified place and in the 12th it came into the possession of the margrave of Meissen, being granted some municipal privileges by the margrave, Otto the Rich, before 1190. Its favourable situation in the midst of a plain intersected by the principal highways of central Europe, together with the fostering care of its rulers, now began the work of raising Leipzig to the position of a very important commercial town. Its earliest trade was in the salt produced at Halle, and its enterprising inhabitants constructed roads and bridges to lighten the journey of the traders and travellers whose way led to the town. Soon Leipzig was largely used as a depot by the merchants of Nuremberg, who carried on a considerable trade with Poland. Powers of self-government were acquired by the council (Rat) of the town, the importance of which was enhanced during the 15th century by several grants of privileges from the emperors. When Saxony was divided in 1485 Leipzig fell to the Albertine, or ducal branch of the family, whose head Duke George gave new rights to the burghers. This duke, however, at whose instigation the famous discussion between Luther and Johann von Eck took place in the Pleissenburg of Leipzig, inflicted some injury upon the
town’s trade and also upon its university by the harsh treatment which he meted out to the adherents of the new doctrines; but under the rule of his successor, Henry, Leipzig accepted the teaching of the reformers. In 1547 during the war of the league of Schmalkalden the town was besieged by the elector of Saxony, John Frederick I. It was not captured, although its suburbs were destroyed. These and the Pleissenburg were rebuilt by the elector Maurice, who also strengthened the fortifications. Under the elector Augustus I. emigrants from the Netherlands were encouraged to settle in Leipzig and its trade with Hamburg and with England was greatly extended.
During the Thirty Years’ War Leipzig suffered six sieges and on four occasions was occupied by hostile troops, being retained by the Swedes as security for the payment of an indemnity from 1648 to 1650. After 1650 its fortifications were strengthened; its finances were put on a better footing; and its trade, especially with England, began again to prosper; important steps being taken with regard to its organization. Towards the end of the 17th century the publishing trade began to increase very rapidly, partly because the severity of the censorship at Frankfort-on-the-Main caused many booksellers to remove to Leipzig. During the Seven Years’ War Frederick the Great exacted a heavy contribution from Leipzig, but this did not seriously interfere with its prosperity. In 1784 the fortifications were pulled down. The wars in the first decade of the 19th century were not on the whole unfavourable to the commerce of Leipzig, but in 1813 and 1814, owing to the presence of enormous armies in the neighbourhood, it suffered greatly. Another revival, however, set in after the peace of 1815, and this was aided by the accession of Saxony to the German Zollverein in 1834, and by the opening of the first railway a little later. In 1831 the town was provided with a new constitution, and in 1837 a scheme for the reform of the university was completed. A riot in 1845, the revolutionary movement of 1848 and the Prussian occupation of 1866 were merely passing shadows. In 1879 Leipzig acquired a new importance by becoming the seat of the supreme court of the German empire.
The immediate neighbourhood of Leipzig has been the scene of several battles, two of which are of more than ordinary importance. These are the battles of Breitenfeld, fought on the 17th of September 1631, between the Swedes under Gustavus Adolphus and the imperialists, and the great battle of Leipzig, known in Germany as the Völkerschlacht, fought in October 1813 between Napoleon and the allied forces of Russia, Prussia and Austria.
Towards the middle of the 18th century Leipzig was the seat of the most influential body of literary men in Germany, over whom Johann Christoph Gottsched, like his contemporary, Samuel Johnson, in England, exercised a kind of literary dictatorship. Then, if ever, Leipzig deserved the epithet of a “Paris in miniature” (Klein Paris) assigned to it by Goethe in his Faust. The young Lessing produced his first play in the Leipzig theatre, and the university counts Goethe, Klopstock, Jean Paul Richter, Fichte and Schelling among its alumni. Schiller and Gellert also resided for a time in Leipzig, and Sebastian Bach and Mendelssohn filled musical posts here. Among the celebrated natives of the town are the philosopher Leibnitz and the composer Wagner.
Authorities.—For the history of Leipzig see E. Hasse, Die Stadt Leipzig und ihre Umgebung, geographisch und statistisch beschrieben (Leipzig, 1878); K. Grosse, Geschichte der Stadt Leipzig (Leipzig, 1897-1898); Rachel, Verwaltungsorganisation und Ämterwesen der Stadt Leipzig bis 1627 (Leipzig, 1902); G. Wustmann, Aus Leipzigs Vergangenheit (Leipzig, 1898); Bilderbuch aus der Geschichte der Stadt Leipzig (Leipzig, 1897); Leipzig durch drei Jahrhunderte, Atlas zur Geschichte des Leipziger Stadtbildes (Leipzig, 1891); Quellen zur Geschichte Leipzigs (Leipzig, 1889-1895); and Geschichte der Stadt Leipzig (Leipzig, 1905); F. Seifert, Die Reformation in Leipzig (Leipzig, 1883); G. Buchwald, Reformationsgeschichte der Stadt Leipzig (Leipzig, 1900); Geffcken and Tykocinski, Stiftungsbuch der Stadt Leipzig (Leipzig, 1905); the Urkundenbuch der Stadt Leipzig, edited by C. F. Posern-Klett and Förstemann (Leipzig, 1870-1895); and the Schriften des Vereins für die Geschichte Leipzigs (Leipzig, 1872-1904). For other aspects of the town’s life see Hirschfeld, Leipzigs Grossindustrie und Grosshandel (Leipzig, 1887); Hassert, Die geographische Lage und Entwickelung Leipzigs (Leipzig, 1899); Helm, Heimatkunde von Leipzig (Leipzig, 1903); E. Friedberg, Die Universität Leipzig in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart (Leipzig, 1897); F. Zarncke, Die Statutenbücher der Universität Leipzig (Leipzig, 1861); E. Hasse, Geschichte der Leipziger Messen (Leipzig, 1885); Tille, Die Anfänge der hohen Landstrasse (Gotha, 1906); Biedermann, Geschichte der Leipziger Kramerinnung (Leipzig, 1881); and Moltke, Die Leipziger Kramerinnung im 15 und 16 Jahrhundert (Leipzig, 1901).