TORGAU, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Saxony, situated on the left bank of the Elbe, 30 m. N.E. of Leipzig and 26 m. S.E. of Wittenberg by rail. Pop. (1905), 12,299. Its most conspicuous building is the Schloss Hartenfels, on an island in the Elbe, which was built, or at least was finished, by the elector of Saxony, John Frederick the Magnanimous. This castle, which is now used as a barracks, is one of the largest Renaissance buildings in Germany. It was for some time the residence of the electors of Saxony and contains a chapel consecrated by Martin Luther. The town hall, a 16th-century building, houses a collection of Saxon antiquities. Torgau has two Evangelical churches and a Roman Catholic church. One of the former, the Stadt Kirche, contains paintings by Lucas Cranach and the tomb of Catherine von Bora, the wife of Luther. The chief industries of the town are the manufacture of gloves, carriages, agricultural machinery, beer and bricks; there is a trade in grain both on the Elbe and by rail. The fortifications, begun in 1807 by order of Napoleon, were dismantled in 1889-1891. In the vicinity is the royal stud farm of Graditz.
Torgau is said to have existed as the capital of a distinct principality in the time of the German king Henry I., but early in the 14th century it was in the possession of the margraves of Meissen and later of the electors of Saxony, who frequently resided here. The town came into prominence at the time of the Reformation. In 1526 John, elector of Saxony, Philip, landgrave of Hesse, and other Protestant princes formed a league against the Roman Catholics, and the Torgau articles, drawn up here by Luther and his friends in 1530, were the basis of the confession of Augsburg. Torgau is particularly celebrated as the scene of a battle fought on the 3rd of November 1760, when Frederick the Great defeated the Austrians (see SEVEN YEARS' WAR). In January 1814 Torgau was taken by the Germans after a siege of three months and it was formally ceded to Prussia in 1815.
See Grulich and Btirger, Denkwurdigkeiten der altsachsischen Resident Torgau aus der Zeit der Reformation (Torgau, 1855) ; Knabe, Geschichte der Stadt Torgau bis zur Reformation (Torgau, 1880); and the publications of the Altertumverein zu Torgau (Torgau 1884 sqq.).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)