Skip to main content



The German city of Nürnberg was one of the largest and most important cities in the Holy Roman Empire*. It was a major economic and political center as well as a focal point for Renaissance art. Throughout the 1400s and early 1500s, Nürnberg grew in wealth and population. New construction and the expansion of older buildings provided work for architects and artists, and the town's churches and monasteries served as important sources of patronage*. Among the important artists to live in Nürnberg was Albrecht DÜrer, a native of the city.

By the 1500s Nürnberg was the second largest German town, after Cologne. More than 40,000 people lived within the city walls, and a similar number dwelled in the surrounding area. Twelve important trade routes came together near Nürnberg, linking the city to the commerce of the Rhine River valley and far beyond.

Nürnberg's leaders made sure that local products were part of the commercial traffic that flowed around the city. Important privileges—such as toll-free trading zones—helped its economy. The city's craft workers earned fame for the quality of their goods, especially metal products such as cannons, clocks, and armor.

The city's political life was closely tied to the Holy Roman Empire. Nürnberg's Great Charter freed it from all authority except that of the Holy Roman Emperor or his agent. In the late 1300s, Emperor Charles IV granted Nürnberg the honor of holding the first diet, or legislative assembly, for each newly elected emperor. In 1424 Emperor Sigismund moved the imperial regalia* from Prague to Nürnberg, where they remained for the next 300 years.

Emperor Charles V made Nürnberg the seat of the Imperial Chamber of Justice, the empire's highest court of law. However, the city's support for the Protestantism of Martin Luther led Charles V, a Catholic, to move the imperial offices to another German city in 1524. Although Nürnberg adopted the Lutheran faith, it remained loyal to the emperor. The city continued to send money and troops to support the wars between the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Turks*.

(See alsoCities and Urban Life; Clocks; Economy and Trade; Nürnberg Chronicle. )

* Holy Roman Empire

political body in central Europe composed of several states; existed until 1806

* patronage

support or financial sponsorship

* regalia

symbols or ornaments of royalty

* Ottoman Turks

Turkish followers of Islam who founded the Ottoman Empire in the 1300s; the empire eventually included large areas of eastern Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa

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

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Nürnberg." Renaissance: An Encyclopedia for Students. . 21 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Nürnberg." Renaissance: An Encyclopedia for Students. . (February 21, 2019).

"Nürnberg." Renaissance: An Encyclopedia for Students. . Retrieved February 21, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.