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(lü`bĕk), city (1994 pop. 217,270), Schleswig-Holstein, central Germany, on the Trave River near its mouth on the Baltic Sea. It is a major port and a commercial and industrial center; the port is the city's primary employer. Among its industries are shipbuilding, metalworking, food processing, and manufacturing of ceramics, wood products, and medical instruments. Known in the 11th cent., Lübeck was destroyed by fire in 1138 but was refounded in 1143. It was acquired and chartered by Henry the Lion c.1158; the charter, which granted far-reaching communal rights, was copied by more than 100 other cities in the Baltic area. In 1226, Frederick II made Lübeck a free imperial city. Ruled by a merchant aristocracy, it soon rose to great commercial prosperity, acquired hegemony over the Baltic trade, and headed the Hanseatic LeagueHanseatic League
, mercantile league of medieval German towns. It was amorphous in character; its origin cannot be dated exactly. Originally a Hansa was a company of merchants trading with foreign lands.
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. However, the rise of the maritime powers of Denmark and Sweden and the revolution in commerce caused by the discovery and development of the Americas resulted in the decline of the League and, with it, of Lübeck. In 1630 the last of the Hanseatic diets was held there. The city escaped the ravages of the Thirty Years War (1618–48), and, in spite of a decline in Lübeck's power, its patrician merchant families continued to prosper. In the French Revolutionary Wars, Lübeck was sacked by French troops in 1803, and, after the Prussian army under Blücher capitulated (1806) to the French at nearby Ratekau, the city was occupied by the French. Lübeck, governed by a senate, joined the North German Confederation and later the German Empire as a free Hanseatic city; it retained that status until 1937, when it was incorporated into Schleswig-Holstein. The opening (1900) of the Elbe-Lübeck Canal (formerly called the Elbe-Trave Canal) helped increase Lübeck's trade. Despite heavy damage by bombing in World War II, the inner city of Lübeck remains one of the finest examples of medieval Gothic architecture in N Europe. Among the buildings that have been restored are the magnificent city hall (13th–15th cent.); the churches of St. Catherine and St. Jacob (both: 14th cent.); the Hospital and Church of the Holy Ghost (13th cent.); the Holstentor (completed 1477), an imposing city gate flanked by two round towers; the cathedral (founded in 1173); the large brick Church of St. Mary (13th–14th cent.); and many of the old patrician residences. There are also several museums in the city. Dietrich Buxtehude, the composer and organist, was active in Lübeck from 1668 to 1707. The life and decline of a Lübeck patrician family is the subject of the novel Buddenbrooks, by Thomas Mann, who, with his brother Heinrich Mann, was born in the city. The city of Lübeck should not be confused with the former bishopric of Lübeck, whose rulers resided from c.1300 at nearby Eutin.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in the Federal Republic of Germany, situated at the mouth of the Trave River, where it empties into Liibeck Bay of the Baltic Sea, in the Land of Schleswig-Holstein. Population, 236,000 (1974).

Lübeck is an important transportation junction; a railroad ferry connects it with the Swedish city of Trelleborg and the Elbe-Trave Canal starts southwest of the city. It is also a large port, which plays an important role in trade with the Scandinavian countries. The freight turnover, including 12 basins, was about 5 million tons in 1968. Industry is represented by ferrous metallurgy, machine building (including ship, tractor, and aircraft building), woodworking, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, and the food-and-condiment industry (flour milling, fish canning). Liibeck has a conservatory and the Museum for Art and Cultural History; it is the birthplace of H. Mann and T. Mann.

Founded in 1143 near the Slavic settlement of Liubice, which was destroyed in 1138, Liibeck became a city in 1163 and was made a free imperial city in 1226. In the 13th century Lübeck was the starting point of German colonization of the Baltic coast. The “Laws of Lübeck,” which were introduced in the cities of the Baltic coast, created a privileged position for German merchants and artisans and were marked by some original features with respect to family and property law. Lübeck’s location on important land and sea trade routes and the privileges it obtained from north German princes who were interested in the development of trade promoted the city’s rapid growth. It assumed a leading position in north German and later in north European trade and became the leader of the Hanseatic League. The administration of the city was concentrated in the hands of the patriciate, whose arbitrary rule led to repeated but unsuccessful uprisings. The Reformation took place in Lübeck in 1530-31; in 1531 an antipatriciate burgher group led by J. Wullenwever assumed power and retained it until 1535. Lübeck played an important role in international relations from the 14th through the 16th centuries; but with the decline of the Hanseatic League Lübeck’s political importance also began to decline, and the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) dealt it the final blow. Lübeck was occupied by French troops in 1806. The Congress of Vienna (1814-15) gave Lübeck the status of a free city, which it retained until 1937. After World War II (1939-45) Lübeck was included in the British occupation zone of Germany (until 1949).

Among the city’s famous architectural monuments are a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral, which was started in 1173, completed in the 13th century, and rebuilt between 1266 and 1341; its rich inner furnishings include B. Notke’s triumphal cross from the late 15th century. Gothic architecture (13th through 16th centuries) is represented by such churches as the Marienkirche and the Katharinenkirche, the Rathaus (city hall), the city gates of Burgtor and Holstentor, and the late Gothic Convent of St. Anne, which is now a museum containing the H. Memling altar among its collection. The center of the city, which was destroyed in 1942, has been rebuilt. Present-day construction includes the court building (1957-62).


Enns, A. B. Lübeck …. Lüeck, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.