ELBING, a seaport town of Germany, in the kingdom of Prussia, 49 m. by rail E.S.E. of Danzig, on the Elbing, a small river which flows into the Frische Haff about 5 m. from the town, and is united with the Nogat or eastern arm of the Vistula by means of the Kraffohl canal. Pop. (1905) 55,627. By the Elbing-Oberländischer canal, 110 m. long, constructed in 1845-1860, Lakes Geserich and Drewenz are connected with Lake Drausen, and consequently with the port of Elbing. The old town was formerly surrounded by fortifications, but of these only a few fragments remain. There are several churches, among them the Marienkirche (dating from the 15th century and restored in 1887), a classical school (Gymnasium) founded in 1536, a modern school (Realschule), a public library of over 28,000 volumes, and several charitable institutions. The town-hall (1894) contains a historical museum.
Elbing is a place of rapidly growing industries. At the great Schichau iron-works, which employ thousands of workmen, are built most of the torpedo-boats and destroyers for the German navy, as well as larger craft, locomotives and machinery. In addition to this there are at Elbing important iron foundries, and manufactories of machinery, cigars, lacquer and metal ware, flax and hemp yarn, cotton, linen, organs, etc. There is a considerable trade also in agricultural produce.
The origin of Elbing was a colony of traders from Lübeck and Bremen, which established itself under the protection of a castle of the Teutonic Knights, built in 1237. In 1246 the town acquired "Lübeck rights," i.e. the full autonomy conceded by the charter of the emperor Frederick II. in 1226 (see Lübeck), and it was early admitted to the Hanseatic League. In 1454 the town repudiated the overlordship of the Teutonic Order, and placed itself under the protection of the king of Poland, becoming the seat of a Polish voivode. From this event dates a decline in its prosperity, a decline hastened by the wars of the early 18th century. In 1698, and again in 1703, it was seized by the elector of Brandenburg as security for a debt due to him by the Polish king. It was taken and held to ransom by Charles XII. of Sweden, and in 1710 was captured by the Russians. In 1772, when it fell to Prussia through the first partition of Poland, it was utterly decayed.
See Fuchs, Gesch. der Stadt Elbing (Elbing, 1818-1852); Rhode, Der Elbinger Kreis in topographischer, historischer, und statistischer Hinsicht (Danzig, 1871); Wernick, Elbing (Elbing, 1888).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)