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Wittenberg

Wittenberg (vĬt´ənbĕrkh´), city (1994 pop. 53,374), Saxony-Anhalt, E Germany, on the Elbe River. A city with a noted history, it is today an industrial and mining center and a rail junction. Manufactures include chemicals and fertilizer. First mentioned in the late 12th cent., Wittenberg was (1273–1422) the seat of the Ascanian dukes of Saxe-Wittenberg (see Saxony), who in 1356 became electors of Saxony. In 1423, Saxe-Wittenberg passed to the margraves of Meissen (members of the house of Wettin), who in 1425 were given electoral rank. Elector Frederick III founded (1502) the Univ. of Wittenberg, which became the center of the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon taught there. In 1517, Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the Schlosskirche [castle church], and in 1520 he burned the papal bull against him outside the Elster gate. The first complete Lutheran Bible was printed (1534) at Wittenberg. Primarily the focus of the Lutheran Reformation, 16th-century Wittenberg was also a center of German art. Lucas Cranach, the elder, founded a school of painting there. In 1547 Emperor Charles V captured Wittenberg after the battle of Mühlberg, where Elector John Frederick I of Saxony was captured. By the Capitulation of Wittenberg, in the same year, John Frederick, representing the Ernestine line of the house of Wettin, ceded the electoral dignity and the duchy of Saxony to Maurice, of the collateral Albertine line. The city declined after 1547, when Dresden, residence of the Albertine dukes, replaced it as Saxon capital. In 1815 Wittenberg passed to Prussia, and in 1817 the Univ. of Wittenberg was absorbed by the Univ. of Halle. Among Wittenberg's most notable structures are the Schlosskirche (15th cent.), where Luther and Melanchthon are buried; the town church (14th–15th cent.), where Luther preached; the houses where Luther, Melanchthon, and Lucas Cranach, the elder, lived; and the city hall (16th cent.).

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Wittenberg

Wittenberg Town on the River Elbe, Sachsen-Anhalt, e central Germany. Founded by Frederick III, Wittenberg's university became the cradle of the Protestant Reformation during the time Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon were teaching there. Today, Wittenberg is primarily a mining and industrial centre, producing chemicals, rubber goods, machinery, and foodstuffs. Pop. (1998) 50,950.

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Wittenberg

Wittenberg a town in eastern Germany, on the River Elbe north-east of Leipzig, which was the scene in 1517 of Martin Luther's campaign against the Roman Catholic Church, a major factor in the rise of the Reformation.

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Wittenberg

WittenbergBerg, burg, erg, exergue •Hamburg • Battenberg • Strasberg •Habsburg • Salzburg • Strasbourg •Pressburg • Spielberg • Tilburg •Lindbergh, Strindberg •Wittenberg • Vicksburg • Pittsburgh •Ginsberg • Johannesburg •Königsberg • Gettysburg • Freiburg •Heidelberg • Heisenberg • iceberg •Bromberg, homburg, Romberg •Gothenburg • Warburg • Jo'burg •Gutenberg • Duisburg • Magdeburg •Brandenburg • Hindenburg •Mecklenburg • Wallenberg •Orenburg • Nuremberg •Luxembourg • St Petersburg •Williamsburg • Schoenberg •Würzburg • Esbjerg

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Wittenberg

WITTENBERG

Important university town in Electoral Saxony, home of the Ascanier line until 1422, and a trading post settled by Wendish and Flemish peoples as early as a.d. 1174. Albert the Bear gave the Wittenberg region to his son Bernhard, who attached to it his title of Duke of Saxony bestowed at Gelnhausen in 1180 by Emperor frederick i barbarossa. By 1266 his descendant, Albert II, had moved the royal house to Wittenberg, where it resided until a tragic collapse of the castle at Schweinitz wiped out the male line and the House of Wettin succeeded. By the time of the Reformation Wittenberg had a new castle and castle church (14901509), a beautiful Gothic structure, prized by Frederick the Wise, the reigning Prince. This richly endowed Stiftskirche at one time supported 81 clergymen. It was also one of the great relic centers of the North, attracting pilgrims from far and near, especially for the festival of All Saints Day on November 1. It was later to fall prey to artillery fire in the Seven Years' War. Near the castle was the residence and art school of Lucas Cranach, and in the town square stood the Rathaus and town church. Parts of the latter structure date to 1180.

In 1502 Frederick the Wise, although residing in Torgau, founded Wittenberg University, and the town became famous as an educational center. This institution became the key to the German Reformation; for during the tenure of Martin luther and Philipp melanchthon, more than 20,000 students matriculated there from all over Europe. Whereas the early university had been typically Catholic, between 1512 and 1533 it became a Lutheran institution with a Protestant system of education; it later merged with the university of Halle (1817). Wittenberg in the 16th century was a walled city, completely surrounded by a deep moat and well guarded day and night. Entry to the town was by three gates from west, south, and east. Although not large by today's standards, its permanent population of between 2,100 and 2,400 was about average for that day, and that number was doubled by the student population that lived in the town and its suburbs. In the eastern end of town the principal university buildings were the Black Cloister (Luther's home after 1524), the Melanchthon House (1541), the Old and New Friderici Colleges, and several small dormitories. Law College classes were in the castle at the western edge of town in rooms beautifully frescoed with Greek and Roman court scenes. The castle housed also the university library, and the castle church was the scene of university convocations and academic promotions. This entire complex was entered by way of a large door in the north side of the castle church. This door was also the university bulletin board for posting announcements, and it was here that the young professor, Martin Luther, might have nailed his 95 theses on October 31, 1517 to notify the crowds who would have visited the church on All Saints' Day. Whether Luther posted the theses there has more recently been called into doubt (Iserloh) and it remains an open question as to whether Luther's intentions were to present his attack upon indulgences to such a broad audience as early as October 1517. Luther and Melanchthon are buried in the restored castle church.

Bibliography: e. g. schwiebert, Luther and His Times (St. Louis 1950). o. thulin, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3d ed. Tübingen 195765) 6:178284. w. friedensburg, Geschichte der Universität Wittenberg (Halle 1917). m. brecht, Martin Luther. His Road to Reformation 14831521, j. l. schaaf, trans. (Philadelphia 1985). e. iserloh, The Theses Were Not Posted, j. wicks, trans. (London 1968). h. oberman, Masters of the Reformation, d. martin, trans. (Cambridge 1981). e. g. rupp and b. drewery, eds. Martin Luther (New York 1971).

[e. g. schwiebert]

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