Skip to main content
Select Source:

Augsburg

AUGSBURG

AUGSBURG. During the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the free and imperial city of Augsburg entered its golden age as a financial and cultural center. One of the largest of the early modern German cities, Augsburg's population approached thirty thousand in 1500, growing to its highest level of forty thousand around 1618. Augsburg's geographic position between the Lech and Wertach rivers contributed to the development of a strong textile industry after the Lech was diverted into a series of canals running through the city.

Domestic developments and international trade connections enabled Augsburg's guilds (Zünfte), most significantly the merchants (Kaufleute), weavers (Weber), and goldsmiths (Goldschmiede), to grow strong politically and economically. From its establishment following a guild rebellion in 1368 until 1548 (when Emperor Charles V laid siege to the city), Augsburg's "guild constitution" (Zunftverfassung) provided that the seventeen craft guilds were to send twelve representatives each to the Great Council and thirty-four guild masters (after 1478) to the Small Council. The guilds thus shared power with the patricians, who retained one of the two positions of mayor and fifteen representatives in the Small Council.

In the late fifteenth century, merchant families, most importantly the Baumgartners, Herwarts, Höchstetters, Fuggers, and Welsers, diversified their regional manufacturing interests into banking and credit. Close associations with trading and banking houses in Venice and Antwerp launched Augsburg merchants into Europe-wide recognition and international trade. The Fugger and the Welser trade routes and business connections extended throughout the Holy Roman Empire, Central Europe, and Italy and through the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal into Africa, India, the West Indies, and Venezuela. Close financial relationship between the Fuggers and the Habsburg emperors, particularly Maximilian I (ruled 14931519), contributed to Augsburg's growing importance in imperial politics, as is evident in the fact that Augsburg hosted twelve of thirty-five imperial diets held between 1500 and 1600. Among the most important of these diets were Martin Luther's meeting with the papal legate Cajetan (1518), the Augsburg Confession (1530), the Augsburg Interim (15471548), and the Religious Peace of Augsburg (1555). Jacob Fugger "the Rich" (14591525) amassed a fortune, which he used to finance the imperial election of Charles V in 1519 and to found the Fuggerei for poor Catholics, the first welfare housing project in the world, in 1516.

In the early sixteenth century, book production and book collection formed the backbone of intellectual development in Augsburg; individuals such as the humanist Conrad Peutinger (14651547), who served on the imperial council and as city council secretary, amassed large personal libraries. Between 1468 and 1555, the Augsburg publishing houses produced around 5,900 works, making Augsburg one of the most significant German printing centers during the Reformation era, second only to Wittenberg in printing Luther's works. Augsburg painters and woodcut engraversHans Holbein the Elder (1465?1524), Jörg Breu (c. 14751537), Hans Burgkmair (1473c. 1531), and Leonhard Beck (c. 14801542)produced numerous early Renaissance paintings and woodcuts that graced books as well as local churches. The foundation of the Latin school at St. Anna in 1531 ensured a continued tradition of humanist education within Augsburg, especially visible in its establishment of the city library in 1537.

A strong ecclesiastical and episcopal presenceincluding the bishop, cathedral chapter, and seventeen monasteries and conventsdominated late medieval religious life in Augsburg. Christoph von Stadion, the humanist-minded bishop of Augsburg (14781543), made an early attempt at ecclesiastical reform with his accession in 1517, but Martin Luther's hearing before the papal legate Cajetan (14691534) in 1518 brought the Reformation directly to Augsburg. Between 1521 and 1534, the Augsburg city council, unwilling to accept the Reformation for economic and political reasons, maintained a policy, designed by Conrad Peutinger, of outward compliance to episcopal and imperial mandates while avoiding direct interference in the growing evangelical movement among the populace and clergy. Ample evidence of the need for this policy can be seen in the July 1524 Schilling Uprising resulting from a city council attempt to banish the evangelical preacher Johannes Schilling. Anabaptist and Zwinglian influences grew in the late 1520s and early 1530s under the leadership of Michael Keller (c. 15001548), Hans Denck (c. 14951527), and Balthasar Hubmaier (14851528), culminating in the "Martyr's Synod," an important gathering of southern German Anabaptist leaders on 24 August 1527. Beginning in 1534, Augsburg's city council introduced a Zwinglian-styled reformation that was favored by the guilds; it was completed in 1537 with the publication of a reformed church order.

During the Augsburg Interim (15471548), Emperor Charles V reestablished the rights of Catholics in Augsburg by dissolving the guilds and altering the city constitution to promote a leadership shared between the Catholic and Protestant patricians. After a brief period of shifting power, the Religious Peace of Augsburg (1555) established Augsburg as one of a few fully biconfessional cities. Guild unrest in Augsburg in 1584 known as the Kalenderstreit, 'calendar struggle', ostensibly over the imperial acceptance of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, provides evidence that the Catholic and Protestant communities did not always enjoy a harmonious coexistence, either socially or politically. In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the Augsburg city council maintained a confessionally neutral policy and sought to diminish social tensions that could lead to guild unrest. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) established Parität, 'parity', in Augsburg, splitting political power proportionally between Catholics and Lutherans. The confessional population distribution shifted from 70 percent Protestant in 1648 to approximately 60 percent Catholic by the mid-eighteenth century.

In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Augsburg embarked on an ambitious civic building program, which included the creation of a series of public fountains, such as the Mercury and the Hercules bronzes (15961602) designed by Adriaan de Vries (c. 15601626), and the redesign of the Rathaus (City Hall) with its famous Goldener Saal (Golden Hall) as well as numerous public buildings by Elias Holl (15731646) during his tenure as the municipal builder between 1601 and 1635. Augsburg's early organization of civic medical and charitable institutions, such as the college of medicine (Collegium Medicum Augustanum, 1582) and city orphanage (1572) served as a model for other German cities.

Augsburg suffered a political and economic downturn in the mid-seventeenth century. The population decreased to a low of 16,422 in 1635 as a result of the effects of plague epidemics (9,000 died in the 16271628 outbreak alone) and the Thirty Years' War (5,000 died in the 16341635 siege) and recovered to about 20,000 in 1645 and 30,000 around 1770. In the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Augsburg economy recovered because of its export of decorative silver, the establishment of textile manufacturing, and the city's continuing role in banking and finance. The restoration of modest wealth allowed the continuation of a strong cultural development as seen in such baroque and rococo patrician palaces as the Schaezler Palace (17651770) and in the work of Augsburg artists Johann Heinrich Schönfeld (16091684) and Johann Ulrich Mayr (16301704) in the St. Ulrich, St. Anna, and Holy Cross churches. The Collegium Musicum, which was established in 1713, sponsored works of composers such as the Augsburg native Leopold Mozart (17191787). Augsburg attempted to maintain neutrality in the growing military conflicts in Europe, but this did not prevent the siege and occupation of the city in 17031704 by French and Bavarian troops in the War of the Spanish Succession nor its loss of independence when Augsburg was integrated into the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1806.

See also Anabaptism ; Augsburg, Religious Peace of (1555) ; Charles V (Holy Roman Empire) ; Free and Imperial Cities ; Fugger Family ; Guilds ; Holy Roman Empire ; Lutheranism ; Reformation, Protestant .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Clasen, Claus Peter. Anabaptism: A Social History, 1525 1618: Switzerland, Austria, Moravia, South and Central Germany. Ithaca, N.Y., 1972.

Gottlieb, Gunther, et al. Geschichte der Stadt Augsburg von der Römerzeit bis zur Gegenwart. Stuttgart, 1984.

Kiessling, Rolf. Bürgerliche Gesellschaft und Kirche in Augsburg im Spätmittelalter. Ein Beitrag zur Strukturanalyse der oberdeutschen Reichsstadt. Augsburg, 1971.

Künast, Hans-Jörg. "Getruckt zu Augspurg": Buchdruck und Buchhandel in Augsburg zwischen 1468 und 1555. Tübingen, 1997.

Roeck, Bernd. Eine Stadt in Krieg und Frieden. Studien zur Geschichte der Reichsstadt Augsburg zwischen Kalenderstreit und Parität. 2 vols. Göttingen, 1989.

Roper, Lyndal. The Holy Household: Women and Morals in Reformation Augsburg. Oxford, 1984.

Roth, Friedrich. Augsburgs Reformationsgeschichte. 4 vols. Munich, 19011911. Reprint, Munich 1974.

Safley, Thomas Max. Charity and Economy in the Orphanages of Early Modern Augsburg. Boston, 1997.

Stuart, Kathy. Defiled Trades and Social Outcasts: Honor and Ritual Pollution in Early Modern Germany. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1999.

Tlusty, B. Ann. Bacchus and Civic Order: The Culture of Drink in Early Modern Germany. Charlottesville, Va., 2001.

Zoepfl, Friedrich. Das Bistum Augsburg und seine Bischöfe im Reformationsjahrhundert. Munich, 1969.

Marjorie E. Plummer

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Augsburg." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Augsburg." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/augsburg

"Augsburg." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/augsburg

Augsburg

Augsburg (ouks´bŏŏrk), city (1994 pop. 264,764), capital of Swabia, Bavaria, S central Germany, a major industrial center on the Lech River. The major industries include the manufacture of textiles, clothing, machinery, computers, electronic equipment, motor vehicles, and airplanes. The city is an important rail junction.

Augsburg was founded (c.14 BC) by Augustus as a Roman garrison called Augusta Vindelicorum. In early medieval times it was controlled by the Frankish kings. It was made a free imperial city in 1276 and was later a powerful member of various Swabian leagues, including the Swabian League of 1488–1534.

Augsburg was one of Europe's most important commercial and banking centers in the 15th and 16th cent. and was a rallying point of German science and art. The city was the home of the Fugger and Welser families and was the birthplace of Hans Holbein the Elder, Hans Holbein the Younger, and Hans Burgkmair. Several important agreements, including the Augsburg Confession (1530), were concluded there during the Reformation. Augsburg suffered greatly in the Thirty Years War (1618–48). In 1806 it became part of Bavaria.

Augsburg's many noteworthy structures include the cathedral (begun in the 9th cent.); the 16th-century Fuggerei, an enclosed settlement for poor persons founded by the Fugger family; and the 17th-century town hall. Bertolt Brecht was born in Augsburg.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Augsburg." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Augsburg." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/augsburg

"Augsburg." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/augsburg

Augsburg

Augsburg Historic city on the River Lech, Bavaria, Germany. Founded by the Romans (c.15 bc) and named after the Emperor Augustus, it became a free imperial city in 1276 and was a prosperous banking and commercial centre in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Augsburg Confession was presented and the Peace of Augsburg (1555) was signed here. The cathedral (started 994) claims the oldest stained-glass windows in Europe (11th century). Industries: textiles, engineering, motor vehicles. Pop. (1997) 262,110.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Augsburg." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Augsburg." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/augsburg

"Augsburg." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/augsburg