MARBURG, GERMANY, an ancient university town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau, situated on the slope of a hill on the right bank of the Lahn, 60 m. by rail N. of Frankfort- onMain, on the main line to Cassel. Pop. (1905), 20,137. On the opposite bank of the river, here spanned by two bridges, lie the suburb of Weidenhausen and the railway station of the Prussian state railway. The hill on which the town lies is crowned by the extensive old Schloss, a fine Gothic building, the most noteworthy parts of which are the Rittersaal, dating from 1277-1312, and the beautiful little chapel. This Schloss was formerly the residence of the landgraves of Hesse, served afterwards as a prison, and is now the repository of the historically interesting and valuable archives of Hesse. The chief architectural ornament of Marburg is, however, the Elisabethenkirche, a veritable gem of the purest Early Gothic style, erected by the grand master of the Teutonic Order in 1235-1283, to contain the tomb of St Elizabeth of Hungary. The remains of the saint were deposited in a rich silver-gilt sarcophagus, which may still be seen, and were afterwards visited by myriads of pilgrims, until the Protestant zeal of Landgrave Philip the Generous caused him to remove the body to some unknown spot in the church. The church also contains the tombs of numerous Hessian landgraves and knights of the Teutonic Order. The Lutheran church is another good Gothic edifice, dating mainly from the 15th century. The town-hall, built in 1512, and several fine houses in the Renaissance style, also deserve mention. The university of Marburg, founded by Philip the Magnanimous in 1527, was the first university established without papal privileges, and speedily acquired a great reputation throughout Protestant Europe. It has a library of 140,000 volumes, is admirably equipped with medical and other institutes, which form some of the finest modern buildings in the town, and was attended, in 1905, by 1576 students. Marburg also possesses a gymnasium, a " Realschule," an agricultural school, a society of naturalists, a hospital, and an extensive lunatic asylum. It is the seat of a district court, and of superintendents of the Lutheran and Reformed Churches. Marburg pottery is renowned; and leather, iron wares and surgical instruments are also manufactured there. The environs are very picturesque.
Marburg is first historically mentioned in a document of the beginning of the 13th century, and received its municipal charter from the landgrave Louis of Thuringia in 1227. On his death it became the residence of his wife, Elizabeth of Hungary, who built a hospital there, and died in 1231, at the age of twenty-four, worn out with works of religion and charity. She was canonized in 1235 at the instance of the Teutonic Knights, who had settled in Marburg in 1233 and were zealous in promoting her cult. By 1247 Marburg had already become the second town of Hesse, and in the 15th and 16th centuries it alternated with Cassel as the seat of the landgraves. In 1529 the famous conference between Luther and Zwingli on the subject of Transubstantiation took place there in the Rittersaal of the Schloss (see MARBURG, COLLOQUY OF). During the Thirty Years' and Seven Years' Wars Marburg suffered considerably from sieges and famine. In 1806, and again in 1810, it was the centre of an abortive rising against the French, in consequence of which the fortifications of the castle were destroyed.
Sec Kolbe, Marburg im Mittelalter (Marb., 1879) ; Bucking, Mittheilungen aus Marburts Vorzeit (Marb., 1886); Schoof, Marburg die Perle des Hessenlandes (2nd ed., 1903).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)