Münster mün´stər [key], city (1994 pop. 267,367), North Rhine–Westphalia, W Germany, a port and industrial center on the Dortmund-Ems Canal. Its manufactures include heavy machinery and textiles. The city is also a trade center for the Westphalian cattle market. Münster was founded (c.800) as a Carolingian episcopal see. Its bishops ruled a large part of Westphalia as princes of the Holy Roman Empire from the 12th cent. until 1803, when the bishopric was secularized. From the 14th cent. the city was a prominent member of the Hanseatic League, trading especially with England and Russia. In 1534–35 it was the scene of the Anabaptist experimental government under John of Leiden. In 1648 the Treaty of Münster was signed there (see Westphalia, Peace of). Münster passed to Prussia in 1816 and became the capital of the province of Westphalia. It was severely damaged in World War II but was rebuilt after 1945. Münster still retains some of its medieval character. Its historical buildings include the cathedral (13th cent.), the Lambertikirche (14th–15th cent.), the Liebfrauenkirche (14th cent.), and several other churches, in addition to a baroque palace (1767–73), a Gothic city hall (14th cent.), and several gabled houses. The city is the seat of a university and contains the Westphalian state museum.

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