Münster und Osnabrück  

Münster is situated at the river Aa, approximately 15 km south of its flowing into the river Ems, in the Westphalian Bight, a landscape covered with dispersed settlements and farms, the so called Münsterland. The highest elevation is the "Mühlenberg" at 300 feet (97 m) above sea level in the northwest part of Münster. The lowest elevation is at the Ems with 44 m above sea level. Münster is 60km north of Dortmund. A german-language timeline can be found beginning HERE.

In 793, Charlemagne sent out as missionary the Frisian monk Liudger (later canonized) to convert the Saxons with whom he had been battling, offering as headquarters his recently demolished Frankish stronghold of Mimigernaford ("the ford over the Aa river"), at the crossroads of the road from Cologne and the road to Frisia. Liudger was a product of Utrecht and the York school of Ethelbert, which produced many of the clerics who served in Charlemagne's chancelry. He built his church and cloister on the right bank of the Aa, on the height called the Horsteberg: it was the monastery (monasterium) from which Münster derives its name. In 805 Liudger travelled to Rome to be ordained the first bishop of Münster, and soon founded a school The Gymnasium Paulinum is believed to have been founded as the monastery school in 797. The combination of ford and crossroad, marketplace, episcopal administration center, library and school, established Münster as an important center of learning and trade. By the Middle Ages, Münster was a leading member of the Hanseatic League (a monopolistic alliance of seafaring trading merchants and city guilds).

In 1534, the Anabaptists (specifically the Melchiorites), led by John of Leiden, took power in the Münster Rebellion and founded a democratic proto-socialistic state. They claimed all property, burned all books except the Bible, and called the place a "New Jerusalem." John (in a nutshell) believed that he would lead the elect from Münster to capture the entire world in order to purify it of evil with the sword. This was in preparation of Jesus's Second Coming and the beginnings of a New Age (although he ignored the fact that in John's Revelation the Second Coming was the last stage of purification not its result). Münster, however, was recaptured in 1535; these Anabaptists were tortured, and their corpses were exhibited in cages, which can still be seen. The wars of Reformation would rage over 100 years more, bringing great misery to the populace and destruction to Germany's heritage.

The signing of the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 at Münster (and nearby Osnabrück) ended the Thirty Years' War and Eighty Years' War. It became one of the foundation stones upon which a modern Europe could be built. It also guaranteed the future of the prince-bishop and the diocese of Münster. The area was to become exclusively a Roman Catholic territory. Entweder es regnet oder es läuten die Glocken. Und wenn beides zusammen fällt, dann ist Sonntag. In 1802 Münster was taken by Prussia during the early period of Napoleonic Wars, the capital of the Prussian province of Westphalia. Less than a century later in 1899 the city was linked to the Dortmund-Ems Canal. With the spread of radio technology, in 1924 the radio and television organisation Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) was set up in Münster's harbor area. In 1780, the University of Münster (today called "Westphalian Wilhelms-University") was established. It is today a major European center for research with and for studies in the arts, humanities, theology, sciences, business and law. Currently, it educates about 40,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The Bishop of Münster in the 1940s was Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen, one of the most prominent critics of the Nazi government. In retaliation for his success, Münster was heavily garrisoned during WWII and five large complexes of barracks are a still resented feature of the city. Thanks to its military presence, Münster was a guaranteed Allied target. About 91% of the Old City and 63% of the entire city was destroyed by Allied air raids. In the 1950s the Old City was rebuilt to match its pre-war state, though many of the surrounding buildings were replaced with cheaper modern structures. A more detailed history is found in French with links to the German-language one HERE. Especially good is the description of the destruction at the end of World War II and the discussion about main tourist sites with historic background.

Some of the main sites today include the Prinzipalmarkt (city-centre) in front of the historic gothic-style Rathaus (city hall-l'hôtel de ville) dating from the 14th Century. The town hall was where the Peace Treaty of Westphalia ending the Thirty Years' War was signed in 1648. The Krameramtshaus (1589) is an old guild house (a Kramer is a merchant) that housed the delegation from the Netherlands during the signing of the Peace of Westphalia.

St. Paul's Cathedral, finished in the mid-13th century (1225-1264), is a mixture of late Romanesque and early Gothic styles. It has been completely restored from its war damage and is the only structure of that time still standing. The structure includes an astronomical clock from 1540, adorned with hand-painted symbols that traces the movement of the planets. It plays a Glockenspiel tune every noon. Also to be seen is a much newer Clemenskirche (1745-53), a Baroque-style building. St. Lambert's Church (Die Lambertikirche-1375) has three cages hanging from its tower above the clock face. In 1535, these cages were used to display the corpses of Jan van Leiden and other leaders of the Münster Rebellion, who promoted polygamy and renunciation of all property. The Schloß (a palace) was built 1767-87 as residence for the prince-bishops by the Baroque architect Johann Conrad Schlaun and Wilhelm Ferdinand Lipper. The home is now the administrative center for the city's University. The fortress Zwinger, built 1528, was also used from the 18th to the 20th century as a prison and Nazi execution center. Other places to experience: Cavete, the oldest remaining academic-oriented drinking establishment in Münster; Haus Rüschhaus (1743-49), a country estate situated in Nienberge, built by Johann Conrad Schlaun for himself; The Stadthaus (1773); Erbdrostenhof (1749-53), a Baroque palace, also built by Schlaun. In 1993, Münster celebrated its 1200th anniversary. Münster is the twin city of Orléans and Mühlhausen, among others. http://www.muenster.de/ -- Münster City Map -- pdf file on Münster history {1MB-English}

Osnabrück, a city in Lower Saxony, shares the honor of the Peace treaty site. The origin of the name Osnabrück is disputed. The suffix brück suggests a bridge over or to something (from German Brücke = bridge) but the prefix Osna- is explained in at least two different ways: the traditional explanation is that today's name is a corruption of Ochsenbrücke (meaning "ox' bridge") but others say that it is derived from the name of the Hase River which again is argued to be derived from Asen (Æsir), giving Osnabrück the meaning Bridge to the Gods. Osnabrück developed as a marketplace next to the bishop's see founded by Charlemagne, king of the Franks, 780. Some time before 803, the city became seat of the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück. In 889 it was given merchant, customs, and coinage privileges by King Arnulf of Carinthia. It is first mentioned as a city proper in records in 1147. Shortly afterwards, in 1157, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa granted the city fortification privileges (Befestigungsrecht). Most of the towers that were part of the medieval fortification are still visible in the city. Osnabrück became a member of the Hanseatic League in the 12th century, as well as a member of the Westphalian Federation of Cities. The city passed to the Electorate of Hanover in 1803 during the German Mediatization and then briefly to the Kingdom of Prussia in 1806. It was part of the Kingdom of Westphalia from 1807-10, after which it passed to the First French Empire. After the Napoleonic Wars, it became part of the Kingdom of Hanover in 1815. Osnabrück was then annexed by Prussia in 1866 after the Austro-Prussian War, and administered within the Province of Hanover. The city became part of the new state of Lower Saxony in 1946 after World War II.

The Kalkriese Museum is situated on the battlefield of the Teutoburger Wald (9AD -- Schlacht im Teutoburger Wald, Varusschlacht oder Hermannsschlacht), in which Germanic tribes under Arminius destroyed three Roman legions under Publius Quinctilius Varus and took the Eagles of the legions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Teutoburg_Forest It exhibits artifacts unearthed on the battlefield and tells the story of the battle.  St. Peter's Cathedral, founded in the 11th century, has two front-façade towers, originally of the same size. In 1502-1543 the south western tower was enlarged, supposedly to make space for new cathedral bells, which had been ordered and that turned out to be too large. It too has a lion out front. There are several other older-style church structures -- Picture Link HERE -- an article about German Church architecture is HERE. The Heger Tor ("Heger Gate") is a monument to the soldiers from Osnabrück who died at the battle of Waterloo (1815), and for a while it was called the Waterloo Tor. Today there is a shrine for Sainte Cordula at the Domschatz von Osnabrück (circa 1447).

Modern Map to go Here

A few German Cities: Lörrach {twin city of Sens} -- Mainz -- Trier and Aachen -- Frankfurt -- Köln / Cologne -- Dresden -- Essen -- Duisburg, Düsseldorf und Dortmund -- Düren, Bonn und Koblenz -- Baden-Baden, Karlsruhe, Speyer, Kaiserslautern und Saarbrücken -- Heidelberg, Heilbronn, Stuttgart und Tübingen -- Mannheim, Worms, Darmstadt und Würzburg -- Magdeburg, Halle (Saale), Dessau und Leipzig -- Lübeck, Kiel, Rostock und Schwerin -- Fulda, Kassel und Erfurt -- Regensberg, another olde Roman Town (in southern Germany) -- Switzerland: Geneva -- Bern, Basel and Zürich

Celtic/Frank History -- Germaniæ Historiæ -- Anglo Saxons et.al.

New: March 10, 2009