Dominican priory and church
13th century - 1526
A brief description.
Marburg is a city in Hesse, Germany, on the River Lahn.
Like many settlements, old Marburg developed at the crossroads of two important early medieval highways: an east-west one (Cologne to Prague) and a north-south one (from the North Sea to the Alps and on to Italy), the former crossing the river Lahn here. The settlement was protected, and customs raised, by a small castle that was built in the 9th or 10th century by the dynasty of the Giso. Marburg has been a town since 1140, as proved by coins. From the Gisos, it fell around that time to the Landgraves of Thuringia, residing on the Wartburg above Eisenach.
In 1228 the widowed princess-landgravine Thuringia, Elizabeth, chose Marburg as her dowager seat, as she did not get along well with her brother-in-law, the new Landgrave. The countess dedicated her life to the sick and would become after her early death in 1231, aged 24, one of the most eminent female saints, St Elisabeth of Hungary. She was canonized in 1235.
In 1264, St Elizabeth's daughter Sophie of Brabant, succeeded in winning the Landgraviate of Hesse, hitherto connected to Thuringia, for her son Henry. Marburg (alongside Kassel) was one of the capitals of Hesse from that time until about 1540. Following the first division of the landgraviate, it was the capital of Hesse-Marburg from 1485 to 1500 and again between 1567 and 1605. Hesse was one of the more powerful second-tier principalities in Germany.
Its "old enemy" was the Archbishop of Mainz, one of the Prince-electors, who competed with Hesse in many wars and conflicts, stretching over several centuries, for territory.
The Dominicans in Marburg.
The Dominicans settled in Marburg in the 13th century, near the castle. In 1420 the Provincial Chapter was there celebrated. The church of the priory was built in the early part of the 14th century.
By virtue of the ‘Reformatio Ecclesiarum Hassiae’ Marburg became protestant in 1526.
The landgrave of Hesse, Philipp I der Grossmütige, founded he first Protestant University - or Philipps-Universität –, on 1 June 1527. He arranged the Marburg Colloquy, to propitiate Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli in 1529.
Landgrave Philipp, Great Seal of University.
Germany 1977, Mi 939, Sc 1253.
After 1605, Marburg became just another provincial town, known mostly for the university. It became a virtual backwater for two centuries after the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648, when it was fought over by Hesse-Darmstadt and Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel). The Hessian territory around Marburg lost more than two thirds of its population, more than in all later wars (including World War I and World War II) combined.
Between 1874 and 1878 architect Karl Schäfer built on the grounds of the demolished priory the gothic university building. The church of the priory is today the representative space of the university.
450th Anniversary of the Philipps University.
Germany 1977. Postal card Marburg, Lahn.
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