1902 Encyclopedia > Lubeck


LUBECK, a free city of Germany, situated in 53° 52' N. lat. and 10° 41' E. long., on a gentle ridge between the rivers Trave and Wakenitz, 10 miles S.W. of the mouth of the former, and 40 miles by rail N.E. of Hamburg. Old Liibeck, the chief emporium of the Slav inhabitants of Wagria (East Holstein), stood on the left bank of the Trave, where it is joined by the river Schwartau, and was ultimately destroyed in 1138. Five years later Count Adolphus II. of Holstein founded new Liibeck, a few miles farther up, on the peninsula Buku, where the deep current of the Trave is joined on the right by the Wakenitz, the broad emissary of the Lake of Ratzeburg. A most excellent harbour, well sheltered against pirates, it became almost at once a successful competitor for the commerce of the Baltic. Its foundation coincided with the beginning of the general advance of the Low German tribes of Flanders, Friesland, and VVestplialia along the southern shores of the great inland sea, - the second great emigration of the colonizing Saxon element. In 1140 Wagria, in 1142 the country of the Polabes (Ratzeburg and Lauenburg), had been annexed by the Holtszetas (the Transalbingian Saxons). From 1166 onwards there was a Saxon count at Schwerin. Frisian and Saxon merchants from Soest, Bardewieck, and other localities in Lower Germany, who already navigated the Baltic and had their factory in the distant isle of Goth-land, settled in the new town, where Wendish speech and customs never entered. About 1157 Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony, forced his vassal, the count of Holstein, to give up Lubeck ; and in 1163 he removed thither the tottering episcopal see of Oldenburg (Stargard), founding at the same time the dioceses of Ratzeburg and Schwerin. He issued the first charter to the citizens, and deliberately constituted them a free Saxon community having its own magistrate, an inestimable advantage over all other towns of his dominions. He invited the traders of the towns and realms of the north to visit his new market free of toll and custom, provided his subjects were promised similar privileges in return. From the very beginning the king of Denmark granted them a settlement for their herring fishery on the coast of Schoonen. Adopting the statutes of Soest in Westphalia as their code, Saxon merchants exclusively ruled the city. In concurrence with the duke's reeve they recognized only one right of judicature within the town, to which nobles as well as artisans had to submit. Under these circumstances the population grew rapidly in wealth and influence by land and sea, so that, when Henry was attainted by the emperor, who had come in person to besiege Liibeck, Barbaross•, win consideration of its revenues and its situation on the frontier of the empire," fixed by charter, dated September 19,1188, the limits, and enlarged the liberties, of the free town. Evil times, however, were in store when the Hohenstaufen dynasty became more and more involved in its Italian projects. In the year 1201 Liibeck was conquered by Waldemar II. of Denmark, who prided himself on the possession of such a city. But in 1223 it regained its liberty, after the king had been taken captive by the count of Schwerin. In 1226 it was incorporated as an independent city of the empire by Frederick II., and took an active part with the enemies of the Danish king in the victory of Yornh6vd, 1227. The citizens, distinguished by the firmness and wisdom with which they pursued their objects, and fully conscious that they were the pioneers of civilization in the barbarian regions of the north-east, repelled the persistent encroachments of their dynastic neighbours alike in Holstein and in Mecklenburg. On the other hand their town, being the principal emporium of the Baltic by the middle of the 13th century, acted as the firm ally of the Teutonic knights in Livonia. Generation after generation of crusaders embarked to found new cities and new sees of Low German speech among alien and pagan races; and thus in the course of a century the commerce of Lubeck had fully supplanted that of Westphalia. In close connexion with the Germans at Wisby, the capital of Gothland, and at Riga, where they had a house from 1231, the people of Liibeck with their armed vessels scoured the sea between the Trave and the Neva. They were encouraged by papal bulls in their brave contest for the rights of property in wrecks, and for the protection of shipping against pirates and slave-hunters. Before the close of the century the statutes of Lubeck were adopted by most Baltic towns having a German population, and Wisby raised her protest in vain that the city on the Trave had become the acknowledged court of appeal for nearly all these cities, and even for the German settlement in Russian Novgorod. In course of time more than a hundred places were embraced in this relation, the last vestiges of which did not disappear until the beginning of the 18th century. Hitherto only independent merchants, individual Westphalian and Saxon citizens, had flocked together at so many out-lying posts. From about 1299 Liibeck presided over a league of cities, Wismar, Rostock, Stralsund, Greifswald, and some smaller ones, commonly called the Wendish towns. A Hansa of towns became heir to a Hansa of traders simultaneously on the eastern and the western sea, after Lubeck and her confederates had bean admitted to the same privileges whh Cologne, Dortmund, and Soest at Bruges and in the Steelyards of London, Lynn, and Boston. Such progress of civic liberty and federal union held its own, chiefly along the maritime outskirts of the empire, rather against the will of king and emperor. Nevertheless Rudolf of Hapsburg and several of his successors issued new charters to Liibeck. Charles IV., who, like his son after him, deliberately opposed all confederacies of the Franconian and Swabian towns in Upper Germany, surrendered to the municipal government of Liibeck the little that remained of imperial jurisdiction by transferring to them the chief responsibility for preserving the public peace within the surroundina. territories. Under these circumstances the citizens, like independent members of the empire, stood valiantly together with their sister towns against encroaching princes, or joined the princes against the lawless freebooters of the nobility. As early as 1241 Liibeck, Hamburg, and Soest had combined to secure their common highways against robber knights. Solemn treaties to enforce the public peace were concluded in 1291 and 1338 with the dukes of Brunswick, Mecklenburg, and Pomerania, and the counts of Holstein. From 'Abe( k families, the descendants of Low German immigrants with a certain admixture of patrician and even junket- blood, arose a number of wise councillors, keen diplomatists, and brave warriors to attend almost incessantly the many diets of the league, to decide squabbles, petty or grave, of its members, to interfere with shrewd consistency when the authorities in Flanders, or king and parliament in England, touched their ancient commercial privileges, to take the command of a fleet against the kings of Norway or Denmark. Though the great federal armament against Waldemar IV., the destroyer of Wisby, was decreed by the city representatives assembled at Cologne in 1367, Liibeck was the leading spirit in the war which ended with the surrender of Copenhagen and the glorious peace concluded at Stralsund on 24th May 1370. Her burgomaster, Brun Warendorp, who commanded in person the combined naval and land forces, died bravely in harness. In 1368 the seal of the city, a double-headed imperial eagle (which in the 14th century took the place of the more ancient ship), was expressly adopted as the common seal of the confederated towns (civitates ma•itimw), some seventy of which had united to bear the brunt of the strife. By and by, however, towards the end of the 15th century, the power of the Hanseatic League began slowly to decline, owing to the rise of Burgundy in the west, of Poland and Russia in the east, and the emancipation of the Scandinavian kingdom from the fetters of the union of Calmar. Still Liibeck, even when nearly isolated, strove manfully to preserve its predominance in a war with Denmark (1501-12), supporting Gustavus Vasa in Sweden, lording it over the north of Europe during the years 1534 and 1535 in the person of Jfirgen Wullenwever, the democratic burgomaster, who professed the most advanced principles of the Reformation, and engaging with Sweden in a severe naval war (1563-70). Before the end of the century the old privileges of the London Steelyard were definitely suppressed by Elizabeth. As early as 1425 the regular shoals of herring, a constant source of early wealth, began to forsake the Baltic waters. Later on, by the discovery of a new continent, general commerce was diverted into new directions. Finally, with the Thirty Years' War, misfortunes and ruin came thick. The last Hanseatic diet met at Lfibeck in 1630, shortly after Wallenstein's unsuccessful attack on Stralsund; and from that time merciless sovereign powers stopped free intercourse on all sides. Danes and Swedes battled for the possession of the Sound and its heavy dues. The often changing masters of Holstein and Lauenburg abstracted much of the valuable landed property of the city and of the chapter of Liibeck. Still, towards the end of the 18th century, there were signs of improvement.. Though the Danes temporarily occupied the town in 1801, it preserved its freedom and gained some of the chapter lands when the imperial constitution of Germany was broken up by the Act of February 25, 1803. Trade and commerce prospered marvellously for a few years. But in November 1806, when General Blucher, retiring from the catastrophe of Jena, had to capitulate in the vicinity of Liibeck, the town was taken and sacked by the enemy. Napoleon annexed it to the empire in December 1610. But it rose against the French, March 19, 1813, was reoccupied by them till the 5th December, and was ultimately declared a free and Hanse town of the German Confederation by the Act of Vienna, June 9, 1815. The Hanseatic League, however, having never been officially dissolved, Liibeck still enjoyed its traditional connexion with Bremen and Hamburg. In 1853 they sold their common property, the London Steelyard. Till 1866 they enlisted by special contract their military contingents for the German Confederation. Down to the year 1879 they had their own court of appeal at Lubeck. The town, however, joined the Prussian Customs Union as well as the North German Union in 1866, profiting by the final retirement from Holstein and Lauenburg of the Danes, whose interference had prevented as long as possible a direct railroad between Lubeck and Hamburg.

Liibeck through many changes in the course of eight centuries has preserved its republican government. At the first rise of the town, justice was administered to the inhabitants by the vogt (reeve) of the count. Simultaneously with the incorporation by Henry the Lion, who presented the citizens with the privileges of mint, toll, and market of their own, there appears a magistracy of six persons, elected probably by the reeve from the schoffcn (seabini, probi Amines). The members of the town council had to be freemen, born in lawful wedlock, in the enjoyment of free property, and of unstained repute. Vassals or servants of any lord and tradespeople were excluded. A third of the number had annually to retire for a year, so that two-thirds formed the sitting, the other third the reposing council. By the middle of the 13th century there were two burgomasters (magistri burgensium, Magistri civiom, procomsules). Meanwhile the number of magistrates (eon-sidles) had largely increased, but was indefinite, ranging from twenty to forty and upwards. The council appointed its own officers in the various branches of the administration, - chancellor, chaplain, surgeon, stadesserivere (recorders), notaries, secretaries, marshal, constable, keeper of the ordnance, messengers, watchmen. In the face of so much self-government the vogt by and by vanished completely. He is by no means to lie confounded with the rector, a neighbouring prince, whom the Liibeekers occasionally adopted as their honorary guardian. There were three classes of inhabitants - full freemen, half freemen, guests or foreigners. People of Slav origin being considered unfree, all intermarriage with them tainted the blood. Hence nearly all surnames point to Saxon, especially Westphalian, and even Flemish descent.

Since the end of the 13th century the city has been entered by the same gates and traversed by the same streets as at the present day. Stately churches of the Gothic order in glazed brick rose slowly, - last not least St Mary's or Die Rathskirehe close to the Rath/taus (town-hall) and the spacious market-place with its long rows of booths and the pillory. Within its precincts is the Dom (cathedral) dedicated to St Nicholas, the patron saint of navigators ; in Protestant times down to 1803 the secularized chapter was generally presided over by a prince of the ducal house of Gottorp. There were magnificent convents of the Dominicans, the Franciscans, and the nuns of St Clara. The population, when the city and the Hansa were in full power about 1400, can scarcely have been under 80,000. But such prosperity was not obtained by foreign commerce alone, though this was the principal occupation of the upper classes : - the Junker or Zirkel company, a sort of patriciate (since 1379) ; the merchant company, also patricians, but mostly " rentiers "; the " nations " of the Beegenfahrer, Seitonenfahrer, Novgorodjahrer, IligaAaktcr, Stockholmplo•. From the very beginning various tradespeople and handicraftsmen had settled in the town, all of them freemen, of German parentage, and with property and houses of their own. Though not eligible for time council, they shared to a certain extent in the self-government through the aldermen of each corporation (amt, officium, guild), of Nrhich some appear as early as time statutes of 1240, and many more arise and disappear in course of time under authority of the council and the guidance of certain police magistrates (toetteherren). A number still exist, and own their old picturesque gable houses. The rolls of nearly all have been kept most carefully. Naturally there arose much jealousy bets een time guilds and the aristocratic companies, which exclusively ruled the republic. After an attempt to upset the merchants had been suppressed in 1384, the guilds succeeded under more favourable circumstances in 1408. The old patrician council left the city to appeal to the Hansa and to the imperial authorities, while a new council, elected chiefly from the guilds, with democratic tendencies, took their place. In 1416, however, there was a complete restoration, owing to the interference of the confederated cities and of two kings of the Romans, Rupert and Sigismund. The aristocratic government was expelled a second time when democracy and religious sectarianism got the upper hand under the dictatorship of Wullenwerer, till the old order of things was once more re-established in 1535. Nevertheless the media al church had been finally supplanted by the Lutheran Reformation, and the tendency to increase the political privileges of time commonalty appeared again and again. In tire constitution of 1669, under the pressure of a great public debt, the seven upper companies yielded to (8) the Gcwandsehneider (merchant tailors), (9) the grocers, (10) the brewers, (11) the mariners, and (12) time combined four great guilds, viz., the smiths, bakers, tailors, and shoemakers, a specified share in the financial administration. Nevertheless they continued to choose the magistrates by co-optation among themselves. Three of the four burgomasters and two of the senators, however, henceforth had to be graduates in law. Their constitution, set aside only during the French ascendency-, has subsequently been slowly reformed. From 1813 senatorial and civic deputies joined in the administration of an annual budget of income, expenditure, and public debt. But the reform committee of 1814, of which the object was to substitute for the rule of the old companies a wider participation of the citizens in their common affairs (most of the learned professions, many proprietors, and the suburban population being without any representation), had made very little progress, when under the pressure of the events of the year 1848 a representative assembly of one hundred and twenty members, elected by universal suffrage, obtained a place beside the senatorial government. By the constitution of the 29th December 1851 the senate, for which all citizens above thirty years of age are eligible, has at present fourteen members. Eight must be taken from the learned professions, of whom six have to be lawyers, while of the rest five ought to be merchants. Every second year the offices and departments are redistributed, to be in most cases administered conjointly with deputies of the assembly. The president of the senate, chosen for two years, retains the old title of burgomaster. The members of the assembly, which participates in all public affairs, are elected for six years, and must be summoned at least six times a year, while a committee of thirty members meets every fortnight simultaneously with the periodical sessions of the senate. These truly democratic institutions have been scarcely at all modified by the resuscitation of the German empire minder the king of Prussia. But evidently the ancient republic has lost some important attributes of a sovereign state by giving up its own military contingent, its right of levying customs, its coinage, its postal dues, its judicature, to the new national empire. On the other hand, it has preserved its municipal self-government and its own territory, the inhabitants of which now enjoy equal political privileges with the citizens. The territory, of about 51 German square miles (116 Eng. sq. m.), partly extends towards the mouth of the river Trave, where the borough of Travemiinde has been the property of Liibeck since 1329, and partly consists of numerous villages, manors, farms, and corn, pasture, and forest lands scattered over time adjoining portions of the duchies of holstein and Lanenburg. The manor and borough of Bergedorf on the Elbe, 11 German square miles, long held by Liibeck in common with Hamburg, was ceded to the latter by treaty of 1st July 1867. Time lands which remain to Liibecic are thinly peopled, for, according to the census of 1875, of the total of 56,912 inhabitants 44,799 lived in Lubeck itself. The vast majority, 55,693, are Lutheran Protestants, whose service con- tinues in the magnificent city churches, the cathedral, two parishes at Travemiinde, and the four country parishes. A celebrated high school (gymnasium) is situated in the spacious buildings of St Catharine, formerly the house of the Franciscans. The charitable institutions enjoy a large, well-administered property, chiefly the lands of the monastery of St John and the hospital of the Holy Ghost. Since 1789 there has existed a " Gesellschaft zur Befdrderung Gemeinniitziger Thatigkeit," with a branch union for the history and the antiquities of Lfibeek, which has collected a valuable museum and promotes important historical publications, the materials of which are kept in the most unique municipal archives in existence. The income and expenditure of the Liibeck budget of 1881 balance with 2,739,382 marks ; the public debt amounts to 23,804,913 marks.

The manufactures of the town are numerous, but not large or important (woollen, linen, cotton, and silk goods, leather wares, hardware, tobacco. and preserves). The commerce, on the other hand, is considerable, the chief exports being corn, cattle, wool, timber, and iron ; while wines, silks, cottons, hardware, colonial products, and dye-stuffs are imported. There is regular steamship communication with Copenhagen and the Baltic ports, and four lines of railway converge in Liibeek. Since the deepening of the Trave (1850-54) seagoing ships can come up to Liibeck itself ; formerly they required to unload. at Travemiinde. In 1878 the local shipping of Lubeck amounted to 46 vessels of .10,223 aggre,'ate tonnage (27 steamers, 1504 horse-power, 6463 tons). In 1877 2302 vessels (9S1 steamers) with a tonnage of 301,910 entered, and 2332 vessels (979 steamers) with a tonnage of 307,567 cleared the port.

See Codex Diplomaticus Lubecensis, 6 vols., 194341 ; • C. W. Pauli, LiTheckische Zustande cunt Anfang des vierzehnten Jahrhunderls, 1847; Waltz, Lubeck. enter Jurgen Jrullenesever, 3 vols., 1955, 1S56; W. Mansers "Lubeck," In B]un1seLli and Prater, Deutsche, Staalsworterbuch, iv. p. 731; Wehrmann, Die filteren Lubeck schen Zunftrollen, 1S72 ; D. Schafer, Die Hansestddle end Fonig mar von Diinemark, 1879. (R. P.)

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-19 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries