MAGDEBURG, a city of Germany, capital of the Prussian province of Saxony, a fortress of the first rank and one of the principal commercial towns of the German Empire. It lies in a broad and fertile plain, mainly on the left bank of the Elbe, 88 m. S.W. from Berlin and at the junction of main lines to Leipzig, Brunswick, Cassel and Hamburg. Pop. (1885), 159,520; (1890), 202,234; (1905), 240,661. It consists of the town proper, and of the five suburbs of Friedrichstadt, Wilhelmstadt, Neustadt, Sudenburg and Buckau; the last four are separated from the town by the ramparts and glacis, but are all included within the new line of advanced bastions, while Friedrichstadt lies on the right bank of the river. In the Elbe, between the old town and the Friedrichstadt, lies an island whereon stands the citadel; this is united with both banks by bridges. With the exception of the Breite Weg, a handsome thoroughfare running from north to south, the streets of the town proper are narrow and crooked. Along the Elbe, however, extend fine promenades, the Fiirstenwall and the Fursten t)fer. To the south of the inner town is the Friedrich Wilhelms Garten, a beautiful park laid out on the site of the celebrated convent of Berge, which was founded in 968 and suppressed in 1809. By far the most important building in Magdeburg is the cathedral, dedicated to SS Maurice and Catherine, a handsome and massive structure of the 14th century, exhibiting an interesting blending of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The two fine western towers were completed about 1520. The interior contains the tombs of the emperor Otto the Great and his wife Edith, an English princess, and the fine monument of Archbishop Ernest (d. 1513), executed -in 1495 by Peter Vischer of Nuremberg. The Liebfrauenkirche, the oldest church in Magdeburg, is an interesting Romanesque edifice of the 12th and 13th centuries, which was restored in 1890-1891. The chief secular buildings are the town-hall (Rathaus), built in 1691 and enlarged in 1866, the government offices, the palace of justice, the central railway station and the exchange. The Breite Weg and the old market contain numerous fine gable-ended private houses in the style of the Renaissance. In front of the town-hall stands an equestrian statue of Otto the Great, erected about 1290. The modern streets are spacious, and the houses well-built though monotonous. There are two theatres, an agricultural college, an art school, several gymnasia, a commercial and other schools, an observatory, and two fine hospitals. The first place amongst the industries is taken by the ironworks (one being a branch of the Krupp firm, the Grusonwerke, employing about 4000 hands), which produce naval armour and munitions of war. Of almost equal importance are the sugar refineries and chicory factories. Then come establishments for making tobacco, gloves, chocolate, artificial manure, cement, varnish, chemicals and pottery. There are also distilleries and breweries, and factories for the manufacture of cotton and silk goods. Magdeburg is the central market in Germany for sugar and chicory, but trades extensively also in cereals, fruit, vegetables, groceries, cattle, horses, wool, cloth, yarn, leather, coal and books. A new winter harbour, made at a cost of 400,000, facilitates the river traffic along the Elbe. Three million tons of merchandise pass Magdeburg, going upstream, and nearly i million tons, going downstream, annually. Magdeburg is the headquarters of the IV. corps of the German army and the seat of the provincial court of appeal and administrative offices, and of a Lutheran consistory.
History. Magdeburg, which was in existence as a small trading settlement at the beginning of the 9th century, owes its early prosperity chiefly to the emperor Otto the Great, who established a convent here about 937. In 968 it became the seat of an archbishop, who exercised sway over an extensive territory. Although it was burnt down in 1188, Magdeburg became a flourishing commercial town during the 13th century, and was soon an important member of the Hanseatic League. Its bench of jurats (Schoppenstuhl) became celebrated, and " Magdeburg law " (Magdeburger Recht), securing the administrative independence of municipalities, was adopted in many parts of Germany, Poland and Bohemia. During the middle ages the citizens were almost constantly at variance with the archbishops, and by the end of the 15th century had become nearly independent of them. It should, however, be noted that Magdeburg never became a free city of the Empire. The town embraced the Reformation in 15 24, and was thenceforth governed by Protestant titular archbishops (see BISHOP). On the refusal of the citizens to accept the " Interim," issued by the emperor Charles V., Magdeburg was besieged by Maurice of Saxony in 1550, and capitulated on favourable terms in November 1551. During the Thirty Years' War it was twice besieged, and suffered terribly. It successfully resisted Wallenstein for seven months in 1629, but was stormed and sacked by Tilly in May 1631. The whole town, with the exception of the cathedral, and about 140 houses, was burned to the ground, and the greater part of its 36,000 inhabitants were butchered without regard to age or sex, but it recovered from this deadly blow with wonderful rapidity. By the peace of Westphalia (1648) the archbishopric was converted into a secular duchy, to fall to Brandenburg on the death of the last administrator, which happened in 1680. In 1806 Magdeburg was taken by the French and annexed to the kingdom of Westphalia, but it was restored to Prussia in 1814, on the downfall of Napoleon. Otto von Guericke (1602-1686), the inventor of the air-pump, was burgomaster of Magdeburg. Count Lazare Carnot died here in exile, and was buried in the cemetery, but his remains were exhumed in 1889 and conveyed to Paris. Luther was at school here, and sang in the streets for bread with other poor choristers.
See W. Kawerau, Aus Magdeburgs Vergangenheit (Halle, 1886) O. von Guericke, Geschichte der Belagerung, Eroberung und Zersto'rungvon Magdeburg (Magdeburg, 1887) ; M. Dittmar, Beitrdgezur Geschichte der Stadt Magdeburg (Halle, 1885); F. W. Hoffmann, Geschichte der Stadt Magdeburg (Magdeburg, 1885-1886) ; F. Htilsse, Die Einfuhrung der Reformation in der Stadt Magdeburg (Magdeburg, 1883); R. Volkholz, Die Zerstorung Magdeburgs 1631 (Magdeburg, 1892); W. Leinung and R. Stumvoll, Aus Magdeburgs Sage und Geschichte (Magdeburg, 1894); and the Urkundenbuch der Stadt Magdeburg (1892).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)