STRASSBURG, or STRASBURG (French Strasbourg), a town of Germany, the capital of the imperial province of Alsace-Lorraine and a fortress of the first rank, is situated in a fertile plain at the junction of the 111 and the Breusch, 2 m. W. of the Rhine, 88 m. by rail N. from Basel, 370 m. S.W. from Berlin, 30 m. E. of the French frontier. Pop. (1890), 123,500; (1900), 150,268; (1905), 167,342. Since 1871 it has been the seat of government for the German territory of Alsace-Lorraine, and it is also the see of a Roman Catholic bishop and the headquarters of the XV. Corps of the German army. It is surrounded by outlying fortifications and strategic works and contains a garrison of 16,000 men of all arms.
The town proper is divided by the arms of the 111 into three parts, of which the central is the largest and most important. Most of the streets in the heart of the city are narrow and irregular, and the quaint aspect of a free medieval town has to a considerable extent been maintained. The quarters which suffered most in the bombardment of 1870 have, however, been rebuilt in more modern fashion, and the recent widening of the circle of fortifications, with the destruction of the old walls, has given the city opportunity of expansion in all directions; thus, with the exception of Berlin and Leipzig, there is perhaps no town in Germany which can show so many handsome new public buildings as Strassburg. Of its older edifices by far the most interesting and prominent is the cathedral, or Munster, which in its present form represents the activity of four centuries. Part of the crypt dates from 1015; the apse shows the transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic style; and the nave, finished in 1275, is a fine specimen of pure Gothic. Of the elaborate west fagade, with its screen of double tracery and its numerous sculptures, the original design was finished by Erwin von Steinbach (d. 1318). The upper part of the fafade and the towers were afterwards completed in accordance with a different plan, and the spire on the north tower was added in 1435. This tower is 465 ft. high, being thus one of the highest buildings in Europe, and it commands a fine view. The cathedral has some fine stained glass, a sculptured pulpit and the famous astronomical clock in the south transept; this contains some fragments of the clock built by the mathematician, Conrad Dasypodius, in 1574. The Protestant church of St Thomas, a Gothic building of the 13th and 14th centuries, contains a fine monument of Marshal Saxe, considered the chef d'ceuvre of the sculptor, Jean Baptiste Pigalle. Other notable churches are the Protestant Temple Neuf, or Neue Kirche, rebuilt since 1870, and the Roman Catholic chur<*h of the Sacred Heart, erected in 1889-1893.
The old episcopal palace, built in 1731-1741, was used for university purposes from 1872 to 1895; it is now the municipal museum of art. Other notable buildings are the Frauenhaus, with some interesting sculptures, and the H6tel du Commerce, the finest Renaissance building in the town. The imperial palace, designed by H. Eggert in the Florentine Renaissance style, was built in 1880-1893; it is crowned by a cupola 115 ft. high and is richly ornamented. The provincial and university library, with over 800,000 volumes, and the hall of the provincial Diet (Landesausschuss) , built in 1888-1892, both in the Italian Renaissance style, occupy the opposite side of the Kaiserplatz, and behind the latter is the large new post office. Between the university and the library is the Evangelical garrison church (1892-1897), built of reddish sandstone in the early Gothic style. The principal squares of the town are the Kaiserplatz, the Broglieplatz, the Schlossplatz and the Kleberplatz. Still to be mentioned are the Grosse Metzig, containing the Hohenlohe museum, the theatre, the town hall, and the so-called Aubette, with the conservatorium of music. A new synagogue was completed in 1898, and the viceregal palace was entirely rebuilt in 1872-1874. The town has new law courts, a Roman Catholic garrison church, an iron bridge across the Rhine to Kehl and statues of General Kleber and of the printer Gutenberg.
The university of Strassburg, founded in 1567 and suppressed during the French Revolution as a stronghold of German sentiment, was reopened in 1872; it now occupies a site in the new town and is housed in a handsome building erected for it in 1877-1894. This is adorned with statues and frescoes by modern German artists, and has near it the chemical, physical, botanical, geological, seismological and zoological institutes, also the observatory, all designed by Eggert and built between 1877 and 1888. On the south of the old town are the various schools, laboratories and hospitals of the medical faculty, all built since 1877. The university, which has six faculties, is attended by about 1400 students and has 130 professors. Other educational establishments are the Protestant gymnasium, founded in 1538, various seminaries for teachers and theological students and numerous schools.
The chief industries of Strassburg are tanning, brewing, printing and the manufacture of steel goods, musical instruments, paper, soap, furniture, gloves and tobacco. To these must be added the fattening of geese for Strassburg's celebrated pdles de foie gras, which forms a useful source of income to the poorer classes. There is also a brisk trade in agricultural produce, hams, sausages, coal, wine, leather goods and hops. The development of this trade is favoured by the canals which connect the Rhine with the Rhone and the Marne, and by a new port of 250 acres in extent with quays and wharves on the Rhine, which has been constructed since 1891.
Strassburg has always been a place of great strategical importance, and as such has been strongly fortified. The pentagonal citadel constructed by Vauban in 1682-1684 was destroyed during the siege of 1870. The modern German system of fortification consists of a girdle of fourteen detached forts, at a distance of from three to five miles from the centre of the town. Kehl, the t&te-de-pont of Strassburg, and several villages are included within this enceinte, and three of the outworks lie on the jight bank of the Rhine, in the territory of Baden. In case of need the garrison can lay a great part of the environs under water.
The site of Strassburg was originally occupied as a Celtic settlement, which was captured by the Romans, who replaced it by the fortified station of Argentoratum, afterwards the headquarters of the eighth legion. In the year 357 the emperor Julian saved the frontier of the Rhine by a decisive victory gained here over the Alamanni, but about fifty years later the whole of the district now called Alsace fell into the hands of that people. Towards the end of the sth century the town passed to the Franks, who gave it its present name. The famous " Strassburg oaths " between Charles the Bold and Louis the German were taken here in 842, and in 923, through the homage paid by the duke of Lorraine to the German king Henry I., began the connexion of the town with the German kingdom which was to last for over seven centuries. The early history of Strassburg consists mainly of struggles between the bishop and the citizens, the latter as they grew in wealth and power feeling that the fetters of ecclesiastical rule were inconsistent with their full development. This conflict was finally decided in favour of the citizens by the battle of Oberhausbergen in 1262, and the position of a free imperial city which had been conferred upon Strassburg by the German king, Philip of Swabia, was not again disputed. This casting off of the episcopal yoke was followed in 1332 by an internal revolution, which admitted the gilds to a share in the government of the city and impressed upon it the democratic character which it bore down to theFrench Revolution. Strassburg soon became one of the most flourishing of the imperial towns, and the names of natives or residents like Sebastian Brant, Johann Tauler and Geiler von Kaisersberg show that its eminence was intellectual as well as material.
In 1349 two thousand Jews were burned at Strassburg on a charge of causing a pestilence by poisoning the wells. In 1381 the city joined the Stadtebund, or league of Swabian towns, and about a century later it rendered efficient aid to the Swiss confederates at Granson and Nancy. The reformed doctrines were readily accepted in Strassburg about 1523, its foremost champion here being Martin Bucer, and the city was skilfully piloted through the ensuing period of religious dissensions by Jacob Sturm von Sturmeck, who secured for it very favourable terms at the end of the war of the league of Schmalkalden. In the Thirty Years' War Strassburg escaped without molestation by observing a prudent neutrality. In 1681, during a time of peace, it was suddenly seized by Louis XIV., and this unjustifiable action received formal recognition at the peace of Ryswick in 1697. The immediate effect of this change was a partial reaction in favour of Roman Catholicism, but the city remained essentially German until the French Revolution, when it was deprived of its privileges as a free town and sank to the level of a French provincial capital. In the war of 1870-71 Strassburg, with its garrison of 17,000 men, surrendered to the Germans on the 28th of September 1871 after a siege of seven weeks. The city and the cathedral suffered considerably from the bombardment, but all traces of the havoc have now disappeared. Before the war more than half of the inhabitants spoke German, and this proportion has increased greatly of recent years, owing to the large influx of pure German elements into the city and the almost complete reconciliation of the older inhabitants to the rule of Germany.
The bishopric of Strassburg existed in the days of the Merovingian kings, being probably founded in the 4th century, and embraced a large territory on both banks of the Rhine, which was afterwards diminished by the creation of the bishoprics of Spires and Basel. The bishopric was in the archdiocese of Mainz and the bishop was a prince of the empire. The episcopal lands were annexed by France in 1789 and the subsequent Roman Catholic bishops of Strassburg discharged spiritual duties only.
For the history of the bishopric see Grandidier, Histoire de I'eglise et des deques-princes de Strasbourg (Strassburg, 1775-1778) ; Glockler, Geschichte des Bistums Strasburg (Strassburg, 1879-1880); and J. Fritz, Das Territorium des Bistums Strasburg (Strassburg, 1885).
For the city see the Strassburger Chroniken, edited by Hegel (Leipzig, 1870-1871); the Urkunden und Akten der Stadt Strassburg (Strassburg, 1879 seq.); G. Schmoller, Strassburgs Blute im 13. Jahrhundert (Strassburg, 1875); Schricker, Zur Geschichte der Universildt Strassburg (Strassburg, 1872); J. Kindler, Das goldene Buck von Strassburg (Vienna, 1885-1886); H. Ludwig, Deutsche Kaiser und Konige in Strassburg (Strassburg, 1889); A. Seyboth, Strasbourg historique (Strassburg, 1894); and C. Stahling, Histoire contemporaine de Strasbourg (Nice, 1884 seq.).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)