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Mainz

Mainz (mĪnts) [key], city (1994 pop. 185,487), capital of Rhineland-Palatinate, W Germany, a port on the E bank of the Rhine River opposite the mouth of the Main River. Its French name, also sometimes used in English, is Mayence. The city is an industrial, commercial, and transportation center. Chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, glassware, and musical instruments are produced; the city is also a trade center for Rhine wines. Mainz is one of the great historical cities of Germany. It grew on the site of the Roman camp of Maguntiacum, or Mogontiacum (founded 1st cent. B.C.). The city was made (746–47) the seat of the first German archbishop, who was St. Boniface (c.675–754). The later archbishops acquired considerable territory around Mainz and in Franconia, on both sides of the Main, which they ruled as princes of the Holy Roman Empire. Very early they received a vote in the imperial elections and had precedence over the other electors; they crowned the German kings. From the 16th cent., with the emperors-elect, the archbishops-electors were, ex officio, archchancellors of the Holy Roman Empire. Under the rule of the archbishops-electors Mainz flourished as a commercial and cultural center. Johann Gutenberg (c.1397–1468) lived in Mainz, which he made the first printing center of Europe. Occupied in 1792 by the French, the city was ceded to France by the treaties of Campo Formio (1797) and Lunéville (1801), and the archbishopric was secularized and reduced to a diocese in 1803. The last archbishop, K. T. von Dalberg, became (1806) prince-primate of the Confederation of the Rhine. The Congress of Vienna made (1815) Mainz a federal fortress of the German Confederation and awarded it, with Rhenish Hesse, to the grand duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt. The city was made (1816) the provincial capital of Rhenish Hesse. It was (1873–1918) a fortress of the German Empire. Mainz was severely damaged during World War II, but was largely restored and rebuilt after 1945. Noteworthy structures in the old inner city include the six-towered Romanesque cathedral (consecrated 1009; restored 19th cent.); the Renaissance-style electoral (archiepiscopal) palace (17th–18th cent.), which houses an art gallery and a museum of Roman and Germanic antiquities; and the Church of St. Peter (18th cent.). The Univ. of Mainz was founded in 1477, was discontinued in 1816, and was reestablished in 1946 as the Johannes Gutenberg Univ. In 1945 the city's suburbs on the right bank of the Rhine were transferred to the state of Hesse.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: German Political Geography


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