WESEL, a fortress town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Westphalia at the confluence of the Rhine and the Lippe, 46 m. S W. of Miinster and 35 m. N.W. of Duisburg. Pop.(igos) 2 3, 2 37 (43% Protestants), including a considerable garrison. There is a junction of five railway lines, and the Rhine is crossed by a large railway bridge and by a bridge of boats. The inner line of fortifications was razed in 1890, and the defensive works now consist only of the citadel and three detached forts, one of which, Fort Bliicher, serves as a tlte-de-pont on the left bank of the Rhine. Wesel contains some quaint old houses, and a town hall,' dating from 1396, with an elaborate fagade, and containing a valuable collection of old silver plate. The large Protestant church of St Willibrord has a choir, built 1424-1526, which is one of the noblest Gothic structures on the Lower Rhine, and a modern nave (1882-96). The Mathena church dates from 1429-1477. The two Roman Catholic churches, the castle, now the commandant's house (built in 1417), the Berliner Tor Berlin gate (built in 1722 and recently restored), the LowerRhenish museum of antiquities and the modern gymnasium and military hospital, are among the other chief buildings. Wesel carries on a considerable trade in grain, timber, colonial goods, tobacco, etc., facilitated by new harbour accommodation and wharves at the mouth of the Lippe. It has manufactures of wire, leaden pipes and other metal goods, cement, sugar, etc.
Wesel, formerly known as Lippemiinde, was one of the points from which Charlemagne directed his operations against the heathen Saxons. Incorporated in 1241, it became a flourishing commercial town, and though repeatedly subject to the counts of Cleves, was a member of the Hanseatic League, and as late as 1 5 2 1 a free imperial city. It was occupied by the Spaniards in 1614, by the Dutch in 1629, by the French in 1672, also during the Seven Years' War, and in 1805, and was ceded to Prussia in 1814. A monument outside the town commemorates eleven of Ferdinand von Schill's officers who were shot here on the 16th of September 1809 after their unsuccessful attempt at Stralsund. Wesel is occasionally spoken of as Unterwesel, to distinguish it from Oberwesel, a small town on the Rhine, above St Goar.
See Gantesweiler, Chronik der Stadt Wesel (Wesel, 1881), and Reinhold, Verfassungsgeschichle Wesels (Breslau, 1888).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)