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The City Municipality of Bremen ( , ) is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germanymarker. A port city along the river Weser, about south from its mouth on the North Seamarker, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburgmarker metropolitan area (2.37 million people). Bremen and Bremerhavenmarker are the two cities in the state of Bremenmarker (official name: Freie Hansestadt Bremen - Free Hanseatic City of Bremen). Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.


In 150 AD the geographer Claudius Ptolemaeus (known in English as Ptolemy) described Fabiranum or Phabiranum, known today as Bremen. At that time the Chauci lived in the area now called northwestern Germanymarker or Lower Saxonymarker. By the end of the 3rd century, they had merged with the Saxons. During the Saxon Wars (772-804) the Saxons, led by Widukind, fought against the West Germanic Franks, the founders of the Carolingian Empire and lost the war.

Charlemagne, the King of the Franks, made a new law, the Lex Saxonum. This law stated that Saxons were not allowed to worship Odin (the god of the Saxons), but rather that they had to convert to Christianity on pain of death. This period was called the Christianisation. In 787 Willehad of Bremen was the first Bishop of Bremen. In 848 the diocese of Hamburgmarker merged with the diocese of Bremen, and in the following centuries the bishops of Bremen were the driving force behind the Christianisation of north Germany. In 888 gained Archbishop Rimbert, Kaiser Arnulf of Carinthia, the Carolingian King of East Francia, and the market, coin and customs law.

The first stone city walls were built in 1032. Around this time trade with Norway, England and the northern Netherlands began to grow, increasing the importance of the city.

: "…Rome equal to a well-known and rallying the peoples of the North…"

Germania, in the early 2nd century (Harper and Brothers, 1849)

In 1186 the Bremian Prince-Archbishop Hartwig of Uthlede and his bailiff in Bremen confirmed - without generally waiving the prince-archiepiscopal overlordship over the city - the Gelnhausen Privilege, by which Frederick I Barbarossa granted the city considerable privileges. The city was recognised as a political entity of its own law. Property within the municipal boundaries could not be subjected to feudal overlordship, this was true also for serfs acquiring property, if they managed to live in the city for a year and a day, after which they were to be regarded as free persons. Property was to be freely inherited without feudal claims to reversion. This privilege laid the foundation for Bremen's later status of imperial immediacy (Free Imperial City).

In fact, however, Bremen did not have complete independence from the Prince-Archbishops, in that there was no freedom of religion, and burghers were still forced to pay taxes to the Prince-Archbishops. Bremen played a double role, it participated in the Diets of the neighboured Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen as part of the Bremian Estates and paid its share in the taxes, at least when it had consented to the levying before. Since the city was the major taxpayer, its consent was mostly searched for. Like this the city wielded fiscal and political power within the Prince-Archbishopric, while the city would rather not allow the Prince-Archbishopric to rule in the city against its consent. In 1260 Bremen joined the Hanseatic League.

View from the Bremen Cathedral in the direction of the Stephani-Bridge

De facto independence and becoming a territorial power

In 1350 the number of citizens reached 20,000. Around then the Hansekogge (cog ship) became a speciality of Bremen.

In 1362 representatives of Bremen rendered homage to Albert II, Prince-Archbishop of Bremen in Langwedelmarker. In return Albert confirmed the city's privileges and brokered a peace between the city and Count Gerard III of Hoya, who since 1358 held burghers of Bremen in captivity. The city had to bail them out. In 1365 an extra tax, levied to finance the ransom, incited uproar of burghers and handcrafters, bloodily suppressed by the city council.

In 1366 Albert II tried to take advantage from the dispute between Bremen's council and the gild, whose members expelled some city councillors from the city. When these councillors appealed to Albert II for help, many handcrafters and burghers regarded this treason against the city. Appealing at princes would only provoke them to abolish city autonomy. In the night of May 29, 1366 Albert's troops invaded the city. After this the city had to render him homage again, the Bremen Rolandmarker, symbol of the city's autonomy, was demolished and a new city council was appointed. In return the new council granted Albert a credit amounting to the enormous sum of 20,000 Bremian Marks. But city councillors of the prior council, who had fled to the County of Oldenburg gained support of the Counts and recaptured the city on June 27, 1366. The members of the intermittent council were regarded traitors and beheaded and the city de facto regained its autonomy. Thereupon, the city of Bremen, since long rather holding an autonomous status, acted almost in complete independence from the Prince-Archbishop. Albert failed to subject the city of Bremen a second time, since he was always short in money and without support by his family, the Welfs, who fought the War on Luneburgian Succession (1370-1388).

By the end of the 1360s Bremen granted credits to Albert II, to finance his spendthrift lifestyle, and gained in return the fortress in Vördemarker and the dues levied in the pertaining bailiwick as a pawn for the credits. In 1369 Bremen again lent to Albert II against the collateral of his mint and his privilege of coinage, from then on run by the city council. In 1377 Bremen bought - from Frederick, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg - many of the prince-archiepiscopal castles, which Albert had pledged as security for a credit to Frederick's predecessor, thus Bremen gained a powerful position in the Prince-Archbishopric, pushing its actual ruler aside.

In 1380 knights of the family von Mandelsloh and other Verdianmarker and Bremian robber barons ravaged burghers of Bremen and people in the entire Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen. In 1381 the city's troops successfully ended the brigandage and captured the castle of Bederkesamarker and the pertaining bailiwick, which it could hold until November 1654, when after the Second Bremian War Bremen had to cede Bederkesa and Lehe (a part of today's Bremerhavenmarker) to Bremen-Verden. In 1386 the city of Bremen made the noble families, holding the estates of Altluneburg (a part of today's Schiffdorfmarker) and Elmlohemarker, its vassals.

At the beginning of the 17th c. Bremen continued to play its double role, wielding fiscal and political power within the Prince-Archbishopric, but not allowing Prince-Archbishopric to rule in the city against its consent.

The fortified city held its own guards, not allowing prince-archiepiscopal soldiers to enter it. The city reserved an extra very narrow gate, the so-called Bishop's Needle (Latin: Acus episcopi, first mentioned in 1274), for all clergy including the Prince-Archbishop. The narrowness of the gate made it technically impossible to come accompanied by knights.

Thirty Years War

Flag of Bremen

Soon after the beginning of the Thirty Years' War Bremen declared its neutrality, as did most of the territories in the Lower Saxon Circle. John Frederick, Lutheran Administrator of the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen, tried desperately to keep his Prince-Archbishopric out of the war, being in complete agreement with the Estates and the city of Bremen. When in 1623 the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, fighting in the Eighty Years' War for its independence against Habsburg's Spanish and imperial forces, requested its Calvinist co-religionist Bremen to join, the city refused, but started to reinforce its fortifications.

In 1623 the territories comprising the Lower Saxon Circle decided to recruit an army in order to maintain an armed neutrality, with troops of the Catholic League already operating in the neighbouring Lower Rhenish-Westphalian Circle and dangerously approaching their region. The concomitant effects of the war, debasements and dearness, had already caused an inflation also felt in Bremen.

In 1623 the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, diplomatically supported by King James I of England, the brother-in-law of Christian IV of Denmark, started a new anti-Habsburg campaign. Thus the troops of the Catholic League were bound and Bremen seemed relieved. But soon after the imperial troops under Albrecht von Wallenstein headed for the North in an attempt to destroy the fading Hanseatic League, in order to subject the Hanseatic cities of Bremen, Hamburgmarker and Lübeckmarker and to establish a Baltic trade monopoly, to be run by some imperial favourites including Spaniards and Poles. The idea was to win Swedenmarker's and Denmarkmarker's support, both of which since long were after the destruction of the Hanseatic League.

In May 1625 Christian IV of Denmark, Duke of Holstein was elected – in the latter of his functions – by the Lower Saxon Circle's member territories commander-in-chief of the Lower Saxon troops. In the same year Christian IV joined the Anglo-Dutch war coalition. Christian IV ordered his troops to capture all the important traffic hubs in the Prince-Archbishopric and entered into the Battle of Lutter am Barenbergemarker, on 27 August 1626, where he was defeated by the Leaguist troops under Johan 't Serclaes, Count of Tilly. Christian IV and his surviving troops fled to the Prince-Archbishopric and took their headquarters in Stademarker.

In 1627 Christian IV withdrew from the Prince-Archbishopric, in order to fight Wallenstein's invasion of his Duchy of Holstein. Tilly then invaded the Prince-Archbishopric and captured its southern parts. Bremen shut its city gates and entrenched behind its improved fortifications. In 1628 Tilly turned to the city, and Bremen paid him a ransom of 10,000 rixdollars in order to spare its siege. The city remained unoccupied.

The Leaguist takeover enabled Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor, to implement the Edict of Restitution, decreed March 6, 1629, within the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen including the city of Bremen. In September 1629 Francis William, Count of Wartenberg, appointed by Ferdinand II as chairman of the imperial restitution commission for the Lower Saxon Circle, carrying out the provisions of the Edict of Restitution, ordered the Bremian Chapter, seated in Bremen, to render an account of all the capitular and prince-archiepiscopal estates (not to be confused with the Estates). The Chapter refused, arguing first that the order was not authenticised and later that due to disputes with Bremen's city council, they couldn't freely travel to render an account, let alone do the necessary research on the estates. The anti-Catholic attitudes of Bremen's burghers and council would make it completely impossible to prepare the restitution of estates from the Lutheran Chapter to the Roman Catholic Church. Even Lutheran capitulars were uneasy in Calvinistic Bremen.

Bremen's city council ordered that the capitular and prince-archiepiscopal estates within the boundaries of the unoccupied city weren't to be restituted to the Roman Catholic Church. The council argued, that the city had long been Protestant, but the restitution commission replied that the city was de jure a part of the Prince-Archbishopric, so Protestantism had illegitimately alienated Catholic-owned estates. The city council answered under these circumstances it would rather separate from the Holy Roman Empire and join the quasi-independent Republic of the Seven Netherlands. The city was neither to be conquered nor to be successfully beleaguered due to its new fortifications and its access to the North Seamarker.

In October 1631 an army, newly recruited by John Frederick, started to reconquer the Prince-Archbishopric - helped by forces from Sweden and the city of Bremen. John Frederick was back in his office, only to realise the supremacy of Sweden, insisting on its supreme command until the end of the war. With the impending enfeoffment of the military Great Power of Swedenmarker with the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen, as under negotiation for the Treaty of Westphalia, the city of Bremen feared to fall as well under Swedish rule. Therefore the city beseeched an imperial confirmation of its status of imperial immediacy from 1186 (Gelnhausen Privilege). In 1646 Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, granted the requested confirmation (Diploma of Linz) to the Free Imperial City.

Defence against Swedish mediatisation attempts

Nevertheless, Sweden, represented by its imperial fief Bremen-Verden, which comprised the secularised prince-bishoprics of Bremen and Verden, did not accept the imperial immediacy of the city of Bremen. Swedish Bremen-Verden tried to remediatise the Free Imperial City of Bremen. To this aim Swedish Bremen-Verden waged war on Bremen twice. In 1381 the city of Bremen had captured de facto rule in an area around Bederkesamarker and westwards thereof up to the lower Weser stream near Bremerlehe (a part of today's Bremerhaven). Early in 1653 Bremen-Verden's Swedish troops captured Bremerlehe by violence. In February 1654 the city of Bremen achieved, that Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, granted it a seat and the vote in the Holy Roman Empire's Diet, thus accepting the city's status as Free Imperial City of Bremen.

Ferdinand III ordered his vassal Christina of Sweden, Duchess regnant of Bremen-Verden to compensate the city of Bremen for the damages caused and to restitute Bremerlehe. When in March 1654 the city of Bremen started to recruit soldiers in the area of Bederkesa, in order to prepare for further arbitrary acts, Swedish Bremen-Verden enacted the First Bremian War (March to July 1654), arguing to act in self-defence. The Free Imperial City of Bremen had meanwhile urged Ferdinand III for support, who in July 1654 ordered his vassal Charles X Gustav of Sweden, Christina's successor as Duke of Bremen-Verden, to cease the conflict, which resulted in the Recess of Stade (November 1654). This treaty left the main issue, accepting the city of Bremen's imperial immediacy, unresolved. But the city agreed to pay tribute and levy taxes in favour of Swedish Bremen-Verden and to cede its possessions around Bederkesa and Bremerlehe, therefore later called Lehe.

In December 1660 the city council of Bremen rendered homage as Free Imperial City of Bremen to Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. In 1663 the city gained seat and vote in the Imperial Diet, sharply protested by Swedish Bremen-Verden. In March 1664 the Swedish Dietmarker came out in favour of waging war on the Free Imperial City of Bremen. Right after Leopold I, busy with wars against the Ottoman Empire, had enfeoffed the minor King Charles XI of Sweden with Bremen-Verden, and with the neighboured Brunswick and Lunenburg-Celle being paralysed by succession quarrels and France being not opposed, Sweden started from its Bremen-Verden the Second Bremian War (1665-1666).

Swedes under Carl Gustaf Wrangel beleaguered the city of Bremen. The siege brought Brandenburg-Prussia, Brunswick and Lunenburg-Celle, Denmark, Leopold I and the Netherlands to the scene, all in favour of the city, with Brandenburgian, Cellean, Danish and Dutch troops at Bremen-Verden's borders ready to invade. So on 15 November 1666 Sweden had to sign the Treaty of Habenhausen, obliging it to destroy the fortresses built close to Bremen and banning Bremen from sending its representative to the Diet of the Lower Saxon Circle. From then on no further Swedish attempts to capture the city sprang out.

File:Central Europe, 919-1125.jpg|Map of Central Europe from 919-1125, by William R. ShepherdFile:Bremen Braun-Hogenberg.jpg|1600 BremenFile:Bremen coin, 1748 retouched.jpg|1748 coin of BremenFile:MarktBremen1859.jpg|1859 Marketplace of BremenFile:Bremen um 1900.jpg|1900 BremenFile:Bremen Freihafen Segelschiff 1911.jpg|1911 Ports of Bremen

19th century

In 1811 Napoleon invaded Bremen and integrated it as the capital of the de Bouches-du-Weser (Department of the Mouths of the Weser) in the French State. In 1813 the French - on their retreat - withdrew from Bremen. Johann Smidt, Bremen's representative at the Congress of Vienna, successfully achieved that Bremen, Hamburgmarker and Lübeckmarker were not mediatised and incorporated into neighbouring monarchies, but became sovereign republics.

The first German steamship was manufactured in 1817 at the yard of Johann Lange.

In 1827 Bremen, under Johann Smidt, its Burgomaster at that time, purchased land from the Kingdom of Hanover, to establish the city of Bremerhaven (Port of Bremen) as an outpost of Bremen because of the increased silt buildup in the Weser river.

Brauerei Beck & Co KG, a brewery, was founded in 1837 and remains in operation today. The shipping company The North German Lloyd was founded in 1857. The Lloyd was a byword for commercial shipping and is now a part of Hapag-Lloyd. In 1872 the Bremer Cotton Exchange was created. Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau AG was founded in 1923, and is today part of Airbus, a manufacturer of civil and military aircraft. Borgward, an automobile manufacturer, was founded in 1929, and is today part of Daimler AG. The town of Vegesack became part of the city of Bremen in 1939, and the Bremen-Vegesackmarker concentration camp was used during World War II.

Following the Bombing of Bremen in World War II, Bremen was captured by the British 3rd Infantry Division under General Whistler in late April 1945. After World War II, the city became a part of the American occupation zone. Bremen's burgomaster traveled to the US to seek Bremen's independence from Lower Saxonymarker, as Bremen had traditionally been a city-state.

In 1947 Nordmende was founded, a manufacturer of entertainment electronics. In 1958 OHB-Systemmarker was founded, a manufacturer of medium-sized spaceflight satellites.


The Stadtbürgerschaft (municipal assembly) is made up of 68 of the 83 legislators of the state legislature, the Bremische Bürgerschaft, who reside in the city of Bremen. The legislature is elected by the citizens of Bremen every four years.

One of the two mayors (Bürgermeister) is elected President of the Senate (Präsident des Senats) and serves as head of the city and the state. The current President is Jens Böhrnsen.

Main sights


  • Many of the sights in Bremen are found in the Altstadt (Old Town), an oval area surrounded by the Weser River, on the southwest, and the Wallgraben, the former moats of the medieval city walls, on the northeast. The oldest part of the Altstadt is the southeast half, starting with the Marktplatz and ending at the Schnoor quarter.
  • The Marktplatz (Market square) is dominated by the opulent façade of the Town Hallmarker. The building was erected between 1405 and 1410 in Gothic style, but the façade was built two centuries later (1609–12) in Renaissance style. Today, it hosts a restaurant in original decor with gigantic wine barrel, the Ratskeller in Bremenmarker, and the wine lists boasts more than 600 — exclusively German — wines. It is also home of the twelve oldest wines in the world, stored in their original barrels in the Apostel chamber.
  • Two statues stand to the west side of the Town Hall: one is the statuemarker (1404) of the city's protector, Roland, with his view against the Cathedral and bearing Durendart, the "sword of justice" and a shield decorated with an imperial eaglemarker. The other near the entrance to the Ratskeller is Gerhard Marcks's bronze sculpture (1953) Die Stadtmusikanten (Town Musicians) which portrays the donkey, dog, cat and rooster of the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale.
  • Other interesting buildings in the vicinity of the Marktplatz are the Schütting, a 16th-century Flemish-inspired guild hall, and the Stadtwaage, the former weigh house (built in 1588), with an ornate Renaissance façade. The façades and houses surrounding the market square were the first buildings in Bremen to be restored after World War II, by the citizens of Bremen themselves.
  • The impressive Cathedral St. Petrimarker (13th century), to the east of the Marktplatz, with sculptures of Moses and David, Peter and Paul, Charlemagne and Christopher Maki.
  • The Liebfrauenkirche (Our Lady's Church) is the oldest church of the town (11th century). Its crypt features several impressive murals from the 14th century.
  • Off the south side of the Markplatz, the 110-metre (120 yards) Böttcherstraßemarker was transformed in 1923–1931 by the coffee magnate Ludwig Roselius, who commissioned local artists to convert the narrow street (in medieval time, the street of the barrel makers) into an inspired mixture of Gothic and Art Nouveau. It was considered "entartete Kunst" (depraved art) by the Nazis. Today, the street is one of Bremen's most popular attractions.
  • At the end of Böttcherstraße, by the Weser bank, stands the Martinikirche (St Martin's Church), a Gothic brick church built in 1229, and rebuilt in 1960 after its destruction in World War II.
  • Tucked away between the Cathedral and the river is the Schnoor, a small, well-preserved area of crooked lanes, fishermen's and shipper's houses from the 17th and 18th centuries, now occupied by cafés, artisan shops and art galleries.
  • Schlachte, the medieval harbour of Bremen (the modern port is some kilometres downstream) and today a riverside boulevard with pubs and bars aligned on one side and the banks of Weser on the other.

More contemporary tourist attractions include:

File:Weserhb2.jpg|View from the Stephani-Bridge in the direction of the CathedralFile:Bremen Schlachte von Teerhofbrücke.jpg|SchlachteFile:BaumwollboerseBremen-1.jpg|Baumwollbörse (Cotton exchange)File:ParkHotelBremen-01.jpg|The Parkhotel in the Bürgerpark (central park)File:Musicaltheater Bremen front left.jpg|Musical-TheaterFile:Windmill rose garden, bremen 05.JPG|Central Park Wallanlagenimage:Bremen-rathaus.jpg|The city hall (Rathaus)image:bremen.pigs.750pix.jpg|Swineherd and pigs sculpture in BremenFile:weserhb.jpg|The Weser River in BremenFile:Bremen-Böttcherstraße-wall.jpg|A building on BöttcherstraßeFile:Bremenbank.jpg|Bremer BankFile:P7032981.JPG|Central Bremen and the Weser from St. Petri DomFile:Flughafen Bremen 1.JPG|Airport BremenFile:BSAG 3102.jpg|TramFile:Boettcherstrasse04.jpg|BöttcherstraßeFile:Schnoor.JPG|SchnoorFile:Bremen-Becks Brewery.jpg|Beck & CoFile:AWD Dome Bremen Handball WM07.JPG|The AWD-Domemarker


The Freie Waldorfschule in Bremen-Sebaldsbrück was Germany's first school built to the Passivhaus low-energy building standard.


Main train station Bremen

Bremen has an international airportmarker situated in the south of the city.

Bremer Straßenbahn AG (translates from German as Bremen Tramways Corporation), often abbreviated BSAG, is the public transport provider for Bremen, offering tramway and bus services.


Several high-tech industries have settled in the city. Many of Germany's space technology exports are manufactured in EADS Astrium facilities in Bremen, such as the Columbus module of the International Space Station, Europe's Ariane 5 rocket upper stages and the Automated Transfer Vehicle. The telematics, space technology and satellite company OHB-Systemmarker is also based in the city. Furthermore, Bremen is the home of the second biggest Airbus plant of Germany, producing wing equipment for the A300/A310, A330/A340 and A380 families of aircraft.

There is also a Mercedes-Benz factory in Bremen, building the C, CLK, SL, and SLK series of cars. Beginning in 2008, the GLK sport utility vehicle will also be built in Bremen.

Beck & Co's headlining brew Beck's and St Pauli Girl beers are brewed in Bremen. In past centuries when Bremen's port was the "key to Europe", the city also had a large number of wine importers, but the number is down to a precious few. Apart from that there is another link between Bremen and wine: about 800 years ago, quality wines were produced here. The largest wine cellar in the world is located in Bremen (below the city's main square), which was once said to hold over 1 million bottles, but during WWII was raided by occupying forces.

A large number of food producing or trading companies are located in Bremen with their German or European headquarters: Anheuser-Buschmarker InBev (Beck's Brewery), Kellogg's, Kraft Foods (Kraft, Jacobs Coffee, Milka Chocolate, Milram, Miràcoli), Frosta (frosted food), Nordsee (chain of sea fast food), Melitta Kaffee, Eduscho Kaffee, Azul Kaffee, Vitakraft (pet food for birds), Atlanta AG (Chiquita banana), chocolatier Hachez (fine chocolate and confiserie), feodora chocolatier .


  • Every year since 1036, in the last two weeks of October, Bremen has hosted Freimarktmarker ("Free market"), one of the world's oldest and in Germany one of today's biggest continuously celebrated fairground festivals.

  • Bremen is also host for the "Bremer 6 Tage Rennen" a bicycle race at the AWD-Dome.

  • Every year the city plays host to young musicians from across the world, playing in the International Youth Symphony Orchestra of Bremen (IYSOB).

  • Bremen was host to the 2006 RoboCup competition.


It is home of the football team SV Werder Bremen which won the German Football Championship for the fourth time and the German Football Cup for the fifth time in 2004, making SV Werder Bremen just the fourth team in German football history to win the double; the club has most recently won the German Football Cup for the sixth time in 2009. It´s the second best footballteam in Germany. Only Bayern Munich has won more titles.


The University of Bremenmarker is the largest university in Bremen , and is also home to the international Goethe-Institut. Furthermore Bremen has a University of the Artsmarker and the University of Applied Sciences, more recently the Jacobs University Bremenmarker.


  • In December 1949, Bremen hosted the lecture cycle "Einblick in das, was ist" by the philosopher Martin Heidegger, in which Heidegger introduced his concept of a "fourfold" of earth and sky, gods and mortals. This was also Heidegger's first public speaking engagement following his removal from his Freiburgmarker professorship by the Denazification authorities.

Notable people

International relations

Twin towns - sister cities

Bremen is twinned with:

See also


  1. The Dutch independence was finally confirmed by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648).
  2. Sir John Smythe Bolo Whistler: The Life of General Sir Lashmer Whistler Frederick Muller Ltd 1967
  4. Passivhaus schools , Passivhaus Institute. Retrieved 2007-05-30.


  • page 64
  • Claus Christian: A photographic excursion through Bremen, Bremen-North, Bremerhaven, Fischerhude and Worpswede, 2007 ISBN 978-3-00-015451-5

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