Augsburg is the third largest city in the state of Bavaria and has a population of approximately 280,000. The name can be traced back to the Roman military camp Augusta Vondelicorum, which was founded 15 BC and grew to become the capital of the Roman province of RaetiaToday, Augsburg is one of the oldest cities in Germany and is the only one which has its own holiday – the 8th of August.
The Middle Ages
The battles between Bavaria and Franconia in the time of Charlemagne (also known as Charles the Great) left their mark on Augsburg. A rise in the importance of the city and its subsequent recovery began in the early Middle Ages when Emperor Otto I, with Bishop Ulrich von Augsburg, successfully fought off the Hungarian invasions of Western Europe in 955 AD at the Battle of Lechfeld, which took place just south of the city, in 955 AD. Due to its central geographical location and its position along key routes connecting the Baltic Sea to Italy, Augsburg developed into a prosperous Hanseatic City.
When Hans Fugger moved to Augsburg in 1367, it marked the start of the political and financial rise of the influential Fugger family. At that time, he was a weaver, but with his talents in commerce, Hans Fugger developed his business into one of the leading trading companies in Europe. Nearly 100 years later, his descendant, Jakob Fugger, was one of the seven wealthiest citizens in Augsburg, making the name “Fugger“ synonymous with wealth and political influence. In 1511, the Fuggers developed the first balance sheet and used their expertise to oversee the financial transactions for the Roman Curia, or Council, gaining the family more and more political power. These activities in combination with maintaining strong business relations to the Habsburg Royal Family and owning trading centers in Venice and Nuremberg, helped to further increase the family’s wealth and political influence. Over time, the Fuggers functioned as a bank for popes, emperors and kings while maintaining their interests in the trade of goods, such as copper and newspapers .
The Modern Age
The arrival of Günther Zainers in Augsburg created a boom in letterpress printing in 1468. In addition to producing spiritual literature and pharmacopeias, Augsburg rose in prominence as a location for important book illustration and publisheing houses in Europe in the end of the 15th century. ”Theuerdank“, written by Johann Schönsperger, was one of the most important literary works of the Renaissance and was illustrated in Augsburg. Due to the business families, Welser and Fugger, Augsburg developed into a considerable trading center. However, on the 20th of April, 1632 the city was occupied by the Swedish army during the Thirty Years War.
Augsburg in the last 200 years
While Augsburg had been controlled by patrician families like Welser, after the treaty signed at the Peace of Pressburg in 1805, Augsburg lost its imperial city status and was annexed to Bavaria. The importance of Augsburg rose again in the 19th century, with the development of the machine and textile industries . MAN, the company where Rudolf Diesel produced the Diesel engine in 1892, still has its headquarters in Augsburg.
Meanwhile, one of Germany’s most popular daily newspapers, the”Allgemeine Zeitung,“ was founded. This periodical has evolved to become the ”Augsburger Allgemeine“.
During World War II, Messerschmitt AG built an aircraft factory in the city. This production facility and the MAN buildings were the main targets of bomb strikes, which caused extensive damage to the city. In the years following the war, much of the city was reconstructed, with several buildings in the city center restored to their pre-war condition.
In 1999, more repair work took place when the Lech and Wertach rivers flooded, causing millions in damages.
Nowadays, Augsburg is a university city. Founded in 1970, over 20,000 students are enrolled at the University of Augsburg. .