TILSIT, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of East Prussia, situated on the left bank of the Memel or Niemen, here crossed by an iron railway bridge, 57 m. S.E. of Memel and 72 N.E. of Konigsberg by rail. Pop. (1905), 37,148. The town has a number of handsome modern buildings, including a town hall, a post office, law courts, and a large hospital. It contains four Protestant churches, among them the German church, with a handsome steeple, and the curious circular Lithuanian church, a Roman Catholic church, a Jewish synagogue and a classical school (Gymnasium). The manufactures include machinery, chemicals, soap, leather, shoes, glass and other articles, and there are iron-foundries, breweries, and steam flour and saw-mills. Tilsit carries on trade in timber, grain, hemp, flax, herrings and coal; but its trade with Russia, at one time considerable, has fallen off since the construction of the railway from Konigsberg to Kovno. The river is navigable above the town, and there is a steamboat communication with Konigsberg, Memel and Kovno.
Tilsit, which received civic rights in 1552, grew up around a castle of the Teutonic order, known as the "Schalauner Haus," founded in 1288. It owes most of its interest to the peace signed here in July 1807, the preliminaries of which were settled by the emperors Alexander and Napoleon on a raft moored in the Memel. This treaty, which constituted the kingdom of Westphalia and the duchy of Warsaw, registers the nadir of Prussia's humiliation under Napoleon. The poet Max von Schenkendorf (1784-1817) was born at Tilsit.
See Aus Tilsits Vergangenheit (5 vols., Tilsit, 1888-1892); and R. Thimm, Beitrage zur Geschichte von Tilsit (Tilsit, 1893).
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