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(sträzbo͞or`), Ger. Strassburg, city (1990 pop. 255,931), capital of Bas-Rhin dept., NE France, on the Ill River near its junction with the Rhine. It is the intellectual and commercial capital of AlsaceAlsace
, Ger. Elsass, former province and former administrative region, E France. It is separated from Germany by a part of the Rhine River. It comprises the departments of Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, and the Territory of Belfort (a department created after the Franco-Prussian
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. The city's chief industries are metal casting, machine and tool construction, oil and gas refining, and boatbuilding. Strasbourg's goose-liver pâté and beer are famous. Iron, potassium, gasoline, and numerous industrial products are shipped through Strasbourg's great port on the Rhine. The city has an important nuclear research center. It hosts a long-running music festival and has an opera company and several museums.

In Roman times Strasbourg was called Argentoratum and was an important city in the province of Upper Germany. It became an episcopal see in the 4th cent. Destroyed by the Huns in the 5th cent., the city was rebuilt and called Strateburgum [city of roadways]. After becoming part of the Holy Roman Empire in 923, Strasbourg, with the surrounding rural area, came under the temporal rule of its bishops. Its location at the crossroads of Flanders, Italy, France, and central Europe made it an important commercial center. In 1262, after some struggles with the bishops, the burghers secured the status of a free imperial city for the city proper. An upheaval in 1332 established a corporate government in which the guilds played a leading role.

Medieval German literature reached its height in Strasbourg with Gottfried von StrassburgGottfried von Strassburg
, fl. 13th cent., German poet, also called Godfrey of Strasbourg. He is thought to have been official scribe of Strasbourg, but little is known of him. As author of the Middle High German Tristan (c.
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. There also Johann GutenbergGutenberg, Johann
, c.1397–1468, German inventor and printer, long credited with the invention of a method of printing from movable type, including the use of metal molds and alloys, a special press, and oil-based inks: a method that, with refinements and increased
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's printing press may have been invented (15th cent.). Strasbourg accepted the Reformation in the 1520s under the leadership of Martin BucerBucer or Butzer, Martin
, 1491–1551, German Protestant reformer born Martin Kuhhorn. At 14 years of age he joined the Dominican order, and he studied at Heidelberg, where he heard (1518) Luther in his public
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 and became an important Protestant center. The Univ. of Strasbourg, founded in the 16th cent. as a Protestant university, numbered GoetheGoethe, Johann Wolfgang von
, 1749–1832, German poet, dramatist, novelist, and scientist, b. Frankfurt. One of the great masters of world literature, his genius embraced most fields of human endeavor; his art and thought are epitomized in his great dramatic poem Faust.
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 and MetternichMetternich, Clemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Fürst von
, 1773–1859, Austrian statesman and arbiter of post-Napoleonic Europe, b. Koblenz, of a noble Rhenish family.
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 among its students. The city's prosperity began to decline in the early 17th cent. and was severely damaged by the Thirty Years War (1618–48). In 1681, Louis XIVLouis XIV,
1638–1715, king of France (1643–1715), son and successor of King Louis XIII. Early Reign

After his father's death his mother, Anne of Austria, was regent for Louis, but the real power was wielded by Anne's adviser, Cardinal Mazarin.
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 seized Strasbourg, which was confirmed in French possession by the Treaty of RyswickRyswick, Treaty of,
1697, the pact that ended the War of the Grand Alliance. Its signers were France on one side and England, Spain, and the Netherlands on the other. It was a setback for Louis XIV, who kept Strasbourg but lost most other conquests made after 1679.
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 (1697). The persecutions of French Protestants after 1685 were not carried into Strasbourg, which raised little objection to the annexation. The city enthusiastically supported the French Revolution and thereafter increasingly adopted French customs and speech.

Bombarded by the Prussians during the Franco-Prussian WarFranco-Prussian War
or Franco-German War,
1870–71, conflict between France and Prussia that signaled the rise of German military power and imperialism. It was provoked by Otto von Bismarck (the Prussian chancellor) as part of his plan to create a unified German
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, Strasbourg was ceded to Germany by the Treaty of Frankfurt (1871). It was recovered by France in 1919, following World War I. The city was occupied by the Germans and severely damaged in World War II. Most historical monuments, however, were saved. Chief among these is the Roman Catholic cathedral, begun in 1015 and completed in 1439. It has a famous astronomic clock installed in 1574.

After the war, the city expanded toward the east and south; in 1967 some 30 neighboring towns were absorbed into a new Community of Strasbourg. In 1949, Strasbourg became the seat of the Council of EuropeCouncil of Europe,
international organization founded in 1949 to promote greater unity within Europe and to safeguard its political and cultural heritage by promoting human rights and democracy. The council is headquartered in Strasbourg, France.
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. Strasbourg is now also the seat of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Union's European ParliamentEuropean Parliament,
an institution of the governing body of the European Union (EU). It convenes on a monthly basis in Strasbourg, France; most meetings of the separate parliamentary committees are held in Brussels, Belgium, and its Secretariat is located in Luxembourg.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also Strassbourg), a city in eastern France, on the 111 River, at the confluence of the 111 and Rhine rivers, and on the Rhone-Rhine and Marne-Rhine canals. Historical capital of Alsace and administrative center of the department of Bas-Rhin. Population, 254,000 (1968); with suburbs, 395,000 (1972).

Strasbourg is a major transportation junction and industrial, commercial, and cultural center. It is France’s second most important river port, with a freight turnover of 12 million tons in 1972. The city has an airport and is a railroad and highway junction. Manufactures include motor vehicles, machine tools, railroad equipment, riverboats, textiles, apparel, wood products, and leather goods. Other industries include electrical engineering and food processing. Oil refineries are located outside the city, as are enterprises of the petrochemical and rubber industries. Strasbourg has a university and a music conservatory.

Strasbourg arose on the site of a Celtic settlement. It was taken by the Romans in the middle of the first century B.C. The fortified camp of Argentoratum was founded on the site during the reign of the emperor Augustus (27 B.C. to A.D. 14). The name “Strasbourg” (Strateburgum) appeared in the sixth century. In 925, Strasbourg became part of the kingdom of Germany; it was a major economic center during the Middle Ages. In 1262 the city freed itself from the control of the bishop and became a free imperial city.

J. Gutenberg lived in Strasbourg from 1434 to 1444, and as a result book printing developed rapidly in the city in the late 15th century. In the late 15th and the 16th century the city was a center of humanism. In the 16th century, Strasbourg was an important center of the Reformation; M. Bucer lived in the city from 1523 to 1549.

In 1681, Strasbourg became part of France; its status as a French possession was formally recognized by the Treaty of Rijswick of 1697. The citizens of Strasbourg took an active part in the Great French Revolution. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 the city was partially destroyed by Prussian troops. Strasbourg was part of Germany from 1871 to 1918, serving as the center of the imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine. The city was returned to France by the Peace Treaty of Versailles of 1919. In 1940 it was occupied by fascist German troops; it was liberated by the Resistance in November 1944.

The city’s architectural monuments include the Cathedral of Notre Dame (11th to 16th centuries), whose western facade (begun c. 1277), richly decorated with sculpture, is a masterpiece of Late Gothic art. Also noteworthy are the Gothic churches of St. Thomas (13th and 14th centuries) and St. Pierre-le-Vieux (15th century). Baroque structures include the episcopal palace (1722–28, architect A. Lagardelle), the town hall (1730), and the Chateau des Rohan (1732–42, architect J. Massol, based on plans by R. de Cotte; now housing the museums of fine art, archaeology, and decorative art). Several dwellings from the 14th through 16th centuries have been preserved in the city. Notable 20th-century structures include the buildings housing the Council of Europe (1950–55, architect B. Monnet) and the European Commission of Human Rights (1966, architects B. Monnet and J. April). The Museum de l’Oeuvre Notre-Dame, which houses Alsatian sculpture and painting, is located in Strasbourg.


Heitz, R. Strasbourg. Paris, 1961.
Dollinger, P. Strasbourg, du passé au présent. Strasbourg, 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a city in NE France, on the Rhine: the chief French inland port; under German rule (1870--1918); university (1567); seat of the Council of Europe and of the European Parliament. Pop.: 264 115 (1999)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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