Mainz - Encyclopedia

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MAINZ (Fr. Mayence) a city, episcopal see and fortress of Germany, situated on the left bank of the Rhine, almost opposite the influx of the Main, at the junction of the important main lines of railway from Cologne to Mannheim and Frankfort-onMain, 25 m. W. of the latter. Pop. (1905), 91,124 (including a garrison of 7 500 men), of whom two-thirds are Roman Catholic. The Rhine, which here attains the greatest breadth of its upper course, is crossed by a magnificent bridge of five arches, leading to the opposite town of Castel and by two railway bridges. The old fortifications have recently been pushed farther back, and their place occupied by pleasant boulevards. The river front has been converted into a fine promenade, commanding extensive views of the Taunus range of mountains, and the "Rheingau," the most favoured wine district of Germany. Alongside the quay are the landing-places of the steamboats navigating the Rhine. The railway, which formerly incommoded the bank, has been diverted, and now, following the ceinture of the new line of inner fortifications, runs into a central station lying to the south of the city. The interior of the old town consists chiefly of narrow and irregular streets, with many quaint and picturesque houses. The principal street of the new town is the Kaiserstrasse, leading from the railway station to the river.

The first object of historical and architectural interest in Mainz is the grand old cathedral, an imposing Romanesque edifice with numerous Gothic additions and details (for plan, &c. see Architecture: Romanesque and Gothic in Germany). It was originally erected between 975 and 1009, but has since been repeatedly burned down and rebuilt, and in its present form dates chiefly from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. The largest of its six towers is 300 ft. high. The whole building was restored by order of Napoleon in 1814, and another thorough renovation was made more recently. The interior contains the tombs of Bonif ace, the first archbishop of Mainz, of Frauenlob, the Minnesinger, and of many of the electors. Mainz possesses nine other Roman Catholic churches, the most noteworthy of which are those of St Ignatius, with a finely painted ceiling, of St Stephen, built 1257-1328, and restored after an explosion in 1857, and of St Peter. The old electoral palace (1627-1678), a large building of red sandstone, now contains a valuable collection of Roman and Germanic antiquities, a picture gallery, a natural history museum, the Gutenberg Museum, and a library of 220,000 volumes. Among the other principal buildings are the palace of the grand duke of Hesse, built in1731-1739as a lodge of the Teutonic order, the theatre, the arsenal, and the government buildings. A handsome statue of Gutenberg, by Thorwaldsen, was erected at Mainz in 1837. Mainz still retains many relics of the Roman period, the most important of which is the Eigelstein, a monument believed to have been erected by the Roman legions in honour of Drusus. It stands within the citadel, which occupies the site of the Roman castrum. A little to the south-west of the town are the remains of a large Roman aqueduct, of which upwards of sixty pillars are still standing. The educational and scientific institutions of Mainz include an episcopal seminary, two gymnasia and other schools, a society for literature and art, a musical society, and an antiquarian society. The university, founded in 5477, was suppressed by the French in 1798.

The site of Mainz would seem to mark it out naturally as a great centre of trade, but the illiberal rule of the archbishops and its military importance seriously hampered its commercial and industrial development, and prevented it from rivalling its neighbour Frankfort. It is now, however, the chief emporium of the Rhenish wine traffic, and also carries on an extensive transit trade in grain, timber, flour, petroleum, paper and vegetables. The natural facilities for carriage by water are supplemented by the extensive railway system. Large new harbours to the north of the city were opened in 1887. The principal manufactures are leather goods, furniture, carriages, chemicals, musical instruments and carpets, for the first two of which the city has attained a wide reputation. Other industries include brewing and printing. Mainz is the seat of the administrative and judicial authorities of the province of Rhein-Hessen, and also of a Roman Catholic bishop.


Mainz, one of the oldest cities in Germany, was originally a Celtic settlement. Its strategic importance was early recognized by the Romans, and about 13 B.C. Drusus, the son-in-law of Augustus, erected a fortified camp here, to which the castellum Mattiacorum (the modern Castel) on the opposite bank was afterwards added, the two being connected with a bridge at the opening of the Christian era. The Celtic name became latinized as Maguntiacum, or Moguntiacum, and a town gradually arose around the camp, which became the capital of Germania Superior. During the Vdlkerwanderung Mainz suffered severely, being destroyed on different occasions by the Alamanni, the Vandals and the Huns. Christianity seems to have been introduced into the town at a very early period, and in the 6th century a new Mainz was founded by Bishop Sidonius. In the middle of the 8th century under Boniface it became an archbishopric, and to this the primacy of Germany was soon annexed. Charlemagne, who had a palace in the neighbourhood, gave privileges to Mainz, which rose rapidly in wealth and importance, becoming a free city in 118. During the later middle ages it was the seat of several diets, that of 1184 being of unusual size and splendour. In ,160 the citizens revolted against Archbishop Arnold, and in 1163 the walls of the city were pulled down by order of the emperor Frederick I. But these events did not retard its progress. In 1244 certain rights of self-government were given to the citizens; and in 1254 Mainz was the centre and mainspring of a powerful league of Rhenish towns. Owing to its commercial prosperity it was known as golden Mainz, and its population is believed to have been as great as it is at the present day. But soon a decline set in. In 1462 there was warfare between two rival archbishops, Diether or Dietrich II. of Isenburg (d. 1463) and Adolph II. of Nassau (d. 1475). The citizens espoused the cause of Diether, but their city was captured by Adolph; it was then deprived of its privileges and was made subject to the archbishop. Many of the inhabitants were driven into exile, and these carried into other lands a knowledge of the art of printing, which had been invented at Mainz by Johann Gutenberg in 1450. During the Thirty Years' War Mainz was occupied by the Swedes in 1631 and by the French in 1644, 'the fortifications being strengthened by the former under Gustavus Adolphus; in 1688 it was captured again by the French, but they were driven out in the following year. In 1792 the citizens welcomed the ideas of the French Revolution; they expelled their archbishop, Friedrich Karl Joseph d'Erthal, and opened their gates to the French troops. Taken and retaken several times during the next few years, Mainz was ceded to France by the treaty of Campo Formio in 1797, and again by the Treaty of Luneville in 1801. In 1814 it was restored to Germany and in 1816 it was handed over to the grand duke of Hesse; it remained, however, a fortress of the German confederation and was garrisoned by Prussian and Austrian troops. Since 1871 it hasJbeen a fortress of the German Empire. There were disturbances in the city in 1848.

See Brahl, Mainz, geschichtlich, topographisch and malerisch (Mainz, 1829); C. A. Schaab, Geschichte der Stadt Mainz (Mainz, 1841-1845); K. Klein, Mainz and seine Umgebungen' (1868); C. G. Bockenheimer, Beitrcige zur Geschichte der Stadt Mainz (1874); Neeb, Fiihrer durch Mainz and Umgebung (Stuttgart, 1903); and O. Beck, Mainz and sein Handel (Mainz, 1881).

The Archbishopric Of Mainz, one of the seven electorates of the Holy Roman Empire, became a powerful state during the middle ages and retained some of its importance until the dissolution of the empire in 1806. Its archbishop was president of the electoral college, arch-chancellor of the empire and primate of Germany. Its origin dates back to 747, when the city of Mainz was made the seat of an archbishop, and a succession of able and ambitious prelates, obtaining lands and privileges from emperors and others, made of the district under their rule a strong and vigorous state. Among these men were Hatto I. (d. 913), Siegfried III. of Eppstein (d. 1249), Gerhard of Eppstein (d. 1305), and Albert of Brandenburg (d. 1545), all of whom played important parts in the history of Germany. There were several violent contests between rivals anxious to secure so splendid a position as the electorate, and the pretensions of the archbishops occasionally moved the citizens of Mainz to revolt. The lands of the electorate lay around Mainz, and were on both banks of the Rhine; their area at the time of the French Revolution was about 3200 sq. m. The last elector was Karl Theodor von Dalberg. The archbishopric was secularized in 1803, two years after the lands on the left bank of the Rhine had been seized by France. Some of those on the right bank of the river were given to Prussia and to Hesse; others were formed into a grand duchy for Dalberg. The archbishopric itself was transferred to Regensburg.

For the history of the electorate see the Scriptores rerum moguntiacarum, edited by G. C. Joannis (Frankfort, 1722-1727); Schunk, Beitrcige zur Mainzer Geschichte (Frankfort, 1788-1791); Hennes, Die Erzbischiife von Mainz (Mainz, 1879); Ph. Jaffe, Monuanenta moguntina (Berlin, 1866), and J. F. Bohmer and C. Will, Regesta archiepiscoporum moguntinensium (Innsbruck, 1877-1886).

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