1902 Encyclopedia > Nuremberg, Bavaria


NUREMBERG (in German, Nürnberg), the second town of Bavaria in size and the first in commercial importance, is situated in the district of Middle Franconia, in a sandy but well-cultivated plain, 95 miles to the north-west of Munich. It is divided by the small river Pegnitz into two parts, called respectively the Lorenzerseite and the Sebalderseite, after the two principal churches.

Formerly among the richest and most influential of the free imperial towns, Nuremberg is one of the few cities of Europe that have retained their medimval aspect substantially unimpaired. It is still surrounded with its ancient feudal walls and moat, though of late several breaches have had to be made to meet the exigencies of modern traffic. Of the 365 towers which formerly strengthened the walls, nearly 100 are still in situ, and a few of the interesting old gateways have also been preserved. Most of the streets are narrow and crooked, and the majority of the houses have their gables turned towards the street. The general type of architecture is Gothic, but the rich details, which are lavished with especial freedom ii•the interior courts, are usually borrowed from the Renaissance. Most of the private dwellings date from the 16th century, and there are almost none of earlier date than the 15th century. A praiseworthy desire to maintain the quaint picturesqueness of the town has induced most of the builders of new houses to imitate the lofty peaked gables, oriel windows, and red-tiled roofs of the older dwellings ; and it is easy for the visitor to Nuremberg to NUREMBERG Church of St Sebald. 3. Town House. 5. Museum.

Library. 4. Church of Our Lady. 6. Church of St Lawrence.

fancy himself carried back to the Middle Ages. Altogether it is difficult to conceive of a more piquant contrast than that afforded by the two chief towns of Bavaria - Munich, stamped with the brand-new impress of the 19th century, and Nuremberg, presenting a faithful picture of a well-to-do town of 300 years ago.

A good survey of this interesting town may be obtained from the old burg or castle, picturesquely perched on the top of a rock on the north side-of the town. It is supposed to have been founded by the emperor Conrad II. about the year 1024, and dates in its present form mainly from the reign of Frederick Barbarossa (c. 1158). It was restored in careful harmony with its original appearance in 1854-56, and part of the interior is fitted up as a residence for the royal family. The two Late Romanesque chapels, one above the other, are interesting ; the lower was the burial-place of the burggraves. Among the instruments of torture preserved in the castle is the famous " Iron Virgin " of Nuremberg. In the court is a linden tree said to be over 700 years old. The castle of Nuremberg was a favourite residence of the emperors of Germany, and the imperial regalia were kept here from 1424 to 1806.

Nuremberg contains numerous interesting churches, the finest of which are those of St Lawrence, St Sebald, and Our Lady, three Gothic edifices of the 13-15th centuries. All three are notable for their elaborately-carved doorways, in which free play has been given to the exuberant fancy of the Gothic style, and all three enshrine valuable treasures of art. In the church of St Lawrence, the largest of the three, is the masterpiece of the sculptor Adam Krafft, consisting of a ciborium or receptacle for the host, in the form of a florid Gothic spire 65 feet high ; the carving of this work is exquisitely minute and delicate. In front of the altar hangs a curious piece of wood-carving by Veit Stoss, representing the Salutation. The shrine of St Sebald, in the church of St Sebald, consisting of a bronze sarcophagus and canopy, in the richest Gothic style, adorned with numerous statues and reliefs, is looked upon as one of the greatest achievements of German art. It was executed by Peter Vischer, the celebrated artist in bronze, who was occupied on the work for thirteen years (1506-19) and has here shown himself no unworthy rival of Lorenzo Ghiberti. The church of Our Lady possesses some fine old stained glass windows and some paintings by Wohlgemuth. The Aegidienkirche, a building of last century, contains a good altarpiece by Van Dyck.

The town-house, an edifice in the Italian style, erected in 1616-19, contains frescos by Diirer and a curious stucco relief of a tournament held at Nuremberg in 1446. The new law courts, the hospitals, and the barracks are also imposing structures, but the most interesting secular buildings in the town are the houses of the old patrician families, already referred to. Among the most characteristic of these are the old residence of the counts of Nassau, and the houses of the Tucher, Funk, and Feller families. A special interest attaches to the dwellings of Albert Diirer, Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, and Johann Palm, the patriotic bookseller who was shot by order of Napoleon in 1806. Statues of Diirer, Sachs, and Melanchthon (the reputed founder of the grammar-school) have been erected ; and the streets are further embellished with several fountains, the most noteworthy of which are the Schone Brunnen, in the form of a large Gothic pyramid, adorned with statues (1385-96) and the Giinsemiinnchen or goose-mannikin, a clever little figure by Labenwolf. On the way to the cemetery of St John, which contains the graves of Dhrer, Sachs, Behaim, and other Nuremberg worthies, are Krafft's Stations, seven pillars bearing stone reliefs of the Passion, and ranked among the finest works of the well-known sculptor.

The charitable, educational, scientific, and artistic institutions of Nuremberg are on a scale worthy of its ancient dignity. The Germanic National Museum, established in an old Carthusian monastery, has one of the most important historical collections in Germany. It includes a picture-gallery with works by Holbein, Diirer, Wohlgemuth, The Bavarian Industrial Museum is also a very creditable institution. The municipal library contains about 800 manuscripts and 50,000 printed books, some of which are of great rarity.

Though not of so great relative importance as of yore, Nuremberg still occupies a high place among the industrial and commercial centres of Europe. The principal manufactures are lead pencils, colours, gold and silver wire, gold and silver foil, railway plant, tobacco, playing-cards, and lastly the "Dutch" toys and fancy articles in metal, carved wood, ivory, &c., which are collectively known as "Nuremberg wares." A great proportion of the toys exported from Nuremberg are really made by the peasants of Thuringia. The pencil manufactory of Faber, the railway works of the Nuremberg Company, and Zeltner's ultramarine factory are among the most important of their class in Europe. Large quantities of Nuremberg manufactures are sent to India and America, the exports to the United States alone being valued at £800, 000 in 1882. Brewing, lithography, and map-publishing are also extensively carried on. Nuremberg is the chief market on the Continent for hops, and in 1882 the "turn over" in the trade in this article was £4,000,000. The bronze foundry established by Professor Burgschmiet, and now carried on by Professor Lenz, produces numerous admirable and important castings ; and in the artistic handicrafts generally Nuremberg artisans are honourably distinguished. In addition to numerous railways, trade is facilitated by the Ludwig canal, connecting the Danube and the Main. The railway from Nuremberg to Fiirth was the first in Germany. Nuremberg's money-market is also of some importance.

The population of Nuremberg at the height of its prosperity has been estimated at as high a figure as 150,000, but there seems good reason to believe that it did not exceed 40,000 to 50,000 souls. In 1818 it had sunk to 27,000, but since then it has steadily increased. At the census of 1880 the town contained 99,519 inhabitants, 76,886 of whom were Protestants, 19,143 Roman Catholics, and 3032 Jews. According to a local estimate the population had risen to 103,255 at the beginning of 1883. Several of the patrician families of Nuremberg can trace their descent in a direct line for four or five centuries, and still occupy the houses built by their forefathers. A few of them are said to possess very complete and interesting domestic archives.

History. - The first authentic mention of Nuremberg, which seems to have been called into existence by the foundation of the castle, occurs in a document of 1050 ; and about the same period it received from Henry III. permission to establish a mint, a market, and a custom-house. It is said to have been destroyed by the emperor Henry V. in 1105, but if this was the case the town must have been very speedily rebuilt, as in 1127 we find the emperor Lothair taking it from the duke of Swabia and assigning it to Henry the Proud, duke of Bavaria. We now first hear of an imperial officer styled the burggrave of Nuremberg, who, however, seems to have been merely the military governor of the castle, and to have exercised no sway over the citizens. This office came into the hands of the counts of Hohenzollern at the beginning of the 13th century, and "burggrave of Nuremberg" is still one of the titles of their descendant, the emperor of Germany. The government of the town was vested in the patrician families, who, contrary to the usual course of events in the free towns, succeeded in permanently excluding the civic guilds from all share of municipal power. Conrad III. (1138-1152) reunited Nuremberg to the empire, and for the next three or four centuries the town was specially favoured by the German monarchs, who frequently resided and held diets here. In 1219 Frederick II. conferred upon it the rights of a free imperial town, and in 1355 it witnessed the promulgation of the famous " Golden Bull " of Charles IV. At the beginning of the 15th century the burggraves of Nuremberg, who had in the meantime raised themselves to the rank of princes of the empire, were invested with the margraviate of Brandenburg, and sold the castle of Nuremberg to the town. They, however, reserved certain rights, which resulted in keenly -contested feuds between the burghers and the margraves Albert Achilles (1449), Frederick (1502), and Albert Alcibiades (1552).

The quarrel with the margraves, however, did not interfere with the growth of the town's prosperity, which reached its acme in the 16th century. Like Augsburg, Nuremberg attained great wealth as an intermediary between Italy and the East on the one hand, and northern Europe on the other. Its manufactures were so well known that it passed into a proverb - " Nuremberg's hand goes through every land." Its citizens lived in such luxury that Eneas Sylvius (Pope Pins II., 1405-1464) has left it on record that a simple burgher of Nuremberg was better lodged than the king of Scotland. The town had gradually extended its sway over a tenitory nearly 500 square miles in extent, and was able to furnish the emperor Maximilian with a contingent of 6000 troops. But perhaps the great glory of Nuremberg lies in its claim to be the principal font of German art. Its important architectural features have already been described. The love of its citizens for sculpture is abundantly manifest in the statues and carvings on their houses. Adam Krafft (c. 1455-1507), Veit Stoss (c. 1450-1532), and Peter Vischer (c. 1455-1529) form a trinity of sculptors of which any city might be proud. In painting Nuremberg is not less prominent, as the names of Wohlgemuth (1434-1519) and Albert Wirer (14711528'J sufficiently indicate. In the decorative arts the Nuremberg handicraftsman attained great perfection in ministering to the luxurious tastes of the burghers, and a large proportion of the old German furniture, silver-plate, stoves, and the like, which we now admire in industrial museums, was made in Nuremberg workshops. Wenzel Jamnitzer (1508-1585), the worker in silver, is perhaps eminent enough to be added to the above list of artists. Its place in literary history - by no means an unimportant one - Nuremberg owes to Hans Sachs (1494-1576) and the other meistersanger. A final proof of the vigorous vitality of Nuremberg at this period may be found in the numerous inventions of its inhabitants, which include watches (at first called " Nuremberg eggs "), the air-gun, gun-locks, the terrestrial and celestial globes, the composition now called brass, and the art of wire-drawing.

Nuremberg was the first of the imperial towns to throw in its lot with the Reformation (in 1525), and it embraced Protestantism with its wonted vigour. Its name is associated with a peace concluded between Charles V. and the Protestants in 1532. The first blow to its prosperity was the discovery of the sea-route to India in 1497 ; and the second was inflicted by the Thirty 1 ears, AN ar, during which Gustavus Adolphus was besieged here in an entrenched camp by Wallenstein. During the eight or ten weeks that the blockade lasted no fewer than 10,000 inhabitants of Nuremberg are said to have died of want or disease. The downfall of the town was accelerated by the illiberal and short-sighted policy of 646 its patrician rulers ; and the French Revolution reduced it to such a degree that in 1796 it offered itself and its territories to the king of Prussia on condition that he would pay its debts (9,000,000 guldens). Prussia, however, refused the offer. In 1803 Nuremberg was allowed to maintain its nominal position as a free city, hut in 1806 it was annexed to Bavaria. During this century its progress has been one of uninterrupted prosperity, and it is now the chief commercial town in South Germany.

Authorities. - Priem, Geschichte der Stadt Niirnberg (1874); Daniel, Handbuch der Geographie (new ed., 1881); Jahresbericht der Handels- and Gewerbekanuner fir Mittel ranker, 18S4; Sehrag, Newsier iregweiser diva die Stadt Nurnberg (13th ed., 1883). Various illustrated works on the artists and art-treasures of Nuremberg have been published by Sehrag of Nuremberg. (J. F. M.)

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