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Münster is well worth seeing: Town history

793 to 1800

750 – 400 before Christ
The vestiges of settlements in the Münsterland reach back to this period.

1. – 4. century AD
The existence of a settlement has been verified on the present Cathedral Square.

6./7. century
In the surrounding domain of the present city - no accurate localisation is possible - lay the Saxon settlement Mimigernaford (which roughly translates to "ford of Mimigern's people").

Charlemagne mandates Frisian nobleman and cleric Liudger to evangelise the Münsterland and Friesland; Liudger establishes a monastery nearby Mimigernaford as a starting point for his evangelising.

Liudger founds a school that would become the cathedral school later on; the present grammar school Paulinum traces its origins back to this.

Münster is made bishopric; Liudger becomes Münster's first bishop, but dies as early as in the year 809.

by 850
The first cathedral is completed.

Heinrich III is the first king to tarry in Münster; church and women's monastery Liebfrauen-Überwasser are consecrated in the presence of numerous archbishops and bishops.

by 1050
The new parish church of St. Lamberti is constituted.

The new cathedral is consecrated; the relevant construction activities were carried out under bishop Erpho, therefore the designation "Erpho Cathedral".

A fire disasters takes place in connection with the siege laid to Münster by Duke Lothar of Saxony; many residential houses and the cathedral burn to the ground.

since the 1160s
Elements of the civil constitution (open council, council of jurymen, city council) have taken form.

1169 to about 1187
The parish churches St. Ludgeri, St. Aegidii, and St. Martini emerge as separations from St. Lamberti.

1174 to 1203
Tenure of Hermann II, the first “prince-bishop”, who owes his duke-like position in the prince-bishopric Münster to the overthrow of the Saxon duke Heinrich der Löwe (the Lion) in 1180.

German merchants conclude a contract with the sovereign of Smolensk to safeguard their commercial activities; two merchants from Münster are part of this group (beginnings of the Hanseatic League).

Münster, Dortmund, Soest, and Lippstadt covenant the “Werner Bund”, a league of towns for mutual protection, also against the respective local lords. The league is renewed time and time again in the course of the 13th century.

as of 1300
Münster is an influential Hanseatic town.

by 1350
The town-hall, mentioned as "House of the Citizens" in records as early as in 1250, is essentially given its present shape; the ornate gable was completed soon after.

Münster gets involved in the Soester Fehde ("Feud of Soest").

1450 to 1457
Monastery Feud of Münster; many combatants from Münster are killed in the battle at Varlar (1454); the city is boycotted as a result of the defeat; the guilds, however, secure their right to participate in ruling the town beside the Erbmänner (“hereditary men”) (Guild Constitution).

Bernhard Rothmann preaches in the spirit of Martin Luther; beginning of the reformation in the town.

“Dülmener Vertrag” (Treaty of Dülmen): The town acknowledges the bishop as its secular authority - the bishop recognises the Christian-reformatory dénouements in Münster.

Inception of the mass baptism of adults in early 1534, those unwilling to be baptised are coerced to leave the town. The Baptists under the leadership of Jan Mathys and Jan van Leiden gain the upper hand in the town, installing a reign of terror. On June 24, 1535, the Landsknechte (landsquenets) of the bishop and his allies assault the town, wreaking carnage. About 4000 women and children are forced to leave the city. The ringleaders of the Baptists’ realm, Jan van Leiden, Bernd Knipperdollinck, and Bernd Krechting are executed, their corpses are displayed in wrought-iron baskets on the spire of St. Lamberti's Church. The annual election for the council is abolished, the guilds are prohibited.

The city is returned its municipal liberties and privileges, quickly recovering from the Baptist disaster.

Prince-bishop Ernst von Bayern calls the Jesuits to Münster.

1618 to 1648
The Thirty Years' War; the city of Münster is heavily fortified and is spared the acts of war.

Münster becomes a neutral convention town; representatives of the belligerent powers negotiate within the city as of 1643/44.

The Thirty Years’ War is ended by virtue of the Peace of Westphalia concluded in Münster and Osnabrück. As early as on May 15, 1648, the Spanish-Dutch Peace is solemnly invocated in the Council Chamber of the town-hall, the present Hall of Peace. Concluded as early as on January 30, this was the “hour of birth” of the Netherlands.

Münster resists its episcopal sovereign; Christoph Bernhard von Galen, the “Kanonenbischof” (Bishop of the Cannons), has the town beleaguered and shelled. The city is bereft of traditional liberties; an episcopal town guard is cantoned in the town-hall.

Ground breaking for the Max-Clemens-Canal by Clemens August, prince-elector of Cologne and prince-bishop of Münster. The waterway was supposed to ultimately connect Münster via the Dutch waterway network to the North Sea. There were several problems even if the project was not a complete failure. Already during the first trial trip, the ship ran aground due to insufficient head; funds for continuing the construction works were repeatedly unavailable. Finally, the Canal would terminate in the Maxhafen nearby Wettringen; traffic was officially ceased in 1840.

Johann Conrad Schlaun, the prince-bishop’s master builder and general of ordnance, completes the Erbdrostenhof, one of the most splendid nobility’s palaces of the German late baroque period. In terms of town planning, he devised an ingenious spatial solution in a very confined area. Erbdroste (hereditary seneschal) Freiherr von Droste-Vischering, one of the four highest-ranking dignitaries in the prince-bishopric, is the builder-owner. He intended to offer a worthy accommodation to the prince-elector and sovereign - in case the latter would have come to Münster.

Minister Franz von Fürstenberg orders the city fortifications to be razed. A four-row lime-tree boulevard around the city is created in place of the city walls. The promenade, completed after decades, encompasses the old town as a green belt even today. Several entrenchments can still be experienced in the form of the extended parks, such as the Kanonengraben, the Engelsschanze, and the Kreuzschanze.

as of 1767
The last outstanding palace of the German baroque period is created according to plans by Johann Conrad Schlaun († 1773) in place of the razed citadel. Wilhelm Ferdinand Lipper finishes the interior design in the style of the upcoming classicism. Except for a few remainders of the foundation walls, the palace is destroyed in the bomb war.

Foundation of a state university that commences its teaching activities in four faculties in 1780. In 1818, it is relegated to an academy.

as of 1787
Johann Georg Hamann, the philosopher from Königsberg, resides in Münster following an invitation by princess Amalie von Gallitzin, initiator and central figure of the intellectual circle “familia sacra”. The „Magus of the North“ dies in 1788 and is laid to rest in the princess’ garden in Angelmodde, only to be reburied on the Überwasserfriedhof (cemetery) later on.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visits princess Amalie von Gallitzin.

Birth of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, one of the most prominent German poets, at Hülshoff  castle. She lives at House Rüschhaus, the retirement home built by Johann Conrad Schlaun in Münster-Nienberge, from 1826 to 1846. House Rüschhaus is a Droste memorial today.


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