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LEITMERITZ (Czech, Litomefice), a town and episcopal see of Bohemia, 45 m. N. of Prague by rail. Pop. (1900) 13,075, mostly German. It lies on the right bank of the Elbe, which becomes here navigable for steamers and is spanned by an iron bridge 1700 ft. in length. The fine cathedral, founded in 1057, was built in 1671 and contains some valuable paintings. The library of the episcopal palace, built between 1694 and 1 701 , possesses the oldest maps of Bohemia made in 1518 by Nicolaus Claudianus of Jung-Bunzlau. Of the other churches that of All Saints dates from the 13th century. The town-hall, with its remarkable bell tower, dates from the 15th century. Leitmeritz is situated in the midst of a very fertile country, called the " Bohemian Paradise," which produces great quantities of corn, fruit, hops and wines. The beer brewed here enjoys a high reputation. On the opposite bank of the river, where the Eger discharges itself into the Elbe, lies Theresienstadt (pop. 7046), an important garrison town. It was formerly an important fortress, erected in 1780 by the emperor Joseph II. and named after his mother Maria Theresa, but the fortress was dismantled in 1882.

Leitmeritz was originally the castle of a royal count and is first mentioned, in 993, in the foundation charter of the convent of St Margaret near Prague. In 1248 it received a town charter, and was governed by the laws of Magdeburg until the time of Ferdinand I., having a special court of jurisdiction over all the royal towns where this law obtained. The town reached its highest degree of prosperity under Charles IV., who bestowed upon it large tracts of forest, agricultural land and vineyards. In the Hussite wars, after its capture by the utraquist, Leitmeritz remained true to " the Chalice," shared also in the revolt against Ferdinand I., and suffered in consequence. It was still more unfortunate during the Thirty Years' War, in the course of which most of the Protestant inhabitants left it; the property of the Bohemian refugees being given to German immigrants. The present bishopric was established in 1655.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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