FREIBERG, or Freyberg, a town of Germany in the kingdom of Saxony, on the Miinzbach, near its confluence with the Mulde, 19 m. S.W. of Dresden on the railway to Chemnitz, with a branch to Nossen. Pop. (1905) 30,896. Its situation, on the rugged northern slope of the Erzgebirge, is somewhat bleak and uninviting, but the town is generally well built and makes a prosperous impression. A part of its ancient walls still remains; the other portions have been converted into public walks and gardens. Freiberg is the seat of the general administration of the mines throughout the kingdom, and its celebrated mining academy (Bergakadeinie), founded in 1765, is frequented by students from all parts of the world. Connected with it are extensive collections of minerals and models, a library of 50,000 volumes, and laboratories for chemistry, metallurgy and assaying. Among its distinguished scholars it reckons Abraham Gottlob Werner (1750-1817), who was also a professor there, and Alexander von Humboldt. Freiberg has extensive manufactures of gold and silver lace, woollen cloths, linen and cotton goods, iron, copper and brass wares, gunpowder and white-lead. It has also several large breweries. In the immediate vicinity are its famous silver and lead mines, thirty in number, and of which the principal ones passed into the property of the state in 1886. The castle of Freudenstein or Freistein, as rebuilt by the elector Augustus in 1572, is situated in one of the suburbs and is now used as a military magazine. In its grounds a monument was erected to Werner in 1851. The cathedral, rebuilt in late Gothic style after its destruction by fire in 1484 and restored in 1893, was founded in the r2th century. Of the original church a magnificent German Romanesque doorway, known as the Golden Gate (Goldene Pforte), survives. The church contains numerous monuments, among others one to Prince Maurice of Saxony. Adjoining the cathedral is the mausoleum (Begreibniskapelle), built in 1594 in the Italian Renaissance style, in which are buried the remains of Henry the Pious and his successors down to John George IV., who died in 1694. Of the other four Protestant churches the most noteworthy is the Peterskirche which, with its three towers, is a conspicuous object on the highest point of the town. Among the other public buildings are the old town-hall, dating from the 15th century the antiquarian museum, and the natural history museum. There are a classical and modern, a commercial and an agricultural school, and numerous charitable institutions.
Freiberg owes its origin to the discovery of its silver mines (c. 1163). The town, with the castle of Freudenstein, was built by Otto the Rich, margrave of Meissen, in 1175, and its name, which first appears in 122r, is derived from the extensive mining franchises granted to it about that time. In all the partitions of the territories of the Saxon house of Wettin, from the latter part of the 13th century onward, Freiberg always remained common property, and it was not till 1485 (the mines not till 1537) that it was definitively assigned to the Albertine line. The Reformation was introduced into Freiberg in 1536 by Henry the Pious, who resided here. The town suffered severely during the Thirty Years' War, and again during the French occupation from 1806 to 1814, during which time it had to support an army of 700,000 men and find forage for 200,000 horses.
See H. Gerlach, Kleine Chronik von Freiberg (2nd ed., Freiberg, 1898); H. Ermisch, Das Freiberger Stadtrecht (Leipzig, 1889); Ermisch and O. Posse, Urkundenbuch der Stadt Freiberg, in Codex diplom. Sax. reg. (3 vols., Leipzig, 1883-1891); Freibergs Bergand Hi ttenwesen, published by the Bergmannischer Verein (Freiberg, 1883); Ledebur, Uber die Bedeutung der Freiberger Bergakademie (ib. 1903); Steche, Bau- and Kunstdenkmciler der Amtshauptmannschaft Freiberg (Dresden, 1884).
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