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METZ

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 308 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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METZ, a town, first-class fortress and episcopal see of Germany, in the imperial province of Alsace-Lorraine, capital of (German) Lorraine, on the Moselle, 99 M. N.W. of Strassburg by rail, and at the radiation of lines to Luxemburg, Coblenz and Noveant, on the French frontier (102 m. W.). Pop. (1905), 60,396. The general appearance of the town is quaint and irregular, but there are several handsome modern streets. The Moselle, which is here joined by the Seille, flows through it in several arms, and is crossed by fourteen bridges. In the south-west corner of the town is the esplanade, with an equestrian statue of the emperor William I., and monuments to Prince Frederick Charles and Marshal Ney, commanding a fine view of the " pays messin," a fertile plain lying to the south. Of the ten city gates the most interesting are the Porte d'Allemagne, or Deutsche Tor, on the east, a castellated structure erected in 1445 and still bearing traces of the siege by Charles V.; the Porte Serpenoise, or Romer Tor, on the south, and the Porte Francaise, or Franzosische Tor, on the west. Among its ecclesiastical edifices (nine Roman Catholic and four Protestant churches) the most noteworthy is the Roman Catholic cathedral, with huge pointed windows, slender columns and numerous flying but-tresses, which, begun in the 13th century and consecrated in 1546, belongs to the period of the decadence of the Gothic style. The Gothic churches of St Vincent and St Eucharius, and the handsome Protestant garrison church, completed in 1881, also deserve mention. Among secular buildings the most important are the town-hall, the palace of justice, the theatre, the governor's house, and the various buildings for military purposes. The public library contains 40,000 volumes, including an extensive collection of works relating to the history of Lorraine. In the same building is the museum, which contains a picture gallery, a numismatic cabinet, and a collection of specimens of natural history. Metz also possesses several learned societies, charitable institutions and schools, and a military academy. The cemetery of Chambiere contains the graves of 7200 French soldiers who died here in 187o. The chief industries are tanning and the manufacture of weapons, shoes, cloth, hats and artificial flowers. There is a trade in wine, beer, wood and minerals. As a fortress, Metz has always been of the highest importance, and throughout history down to 1870 it had never succumbed to an enemy, thus earning for itself the name of La pucelle. It now ranks with Strassburg as one of the two great bulwarks of the west frontier of Germany. The original town walls were replaced by ramparts in 1550, and the citadel was built a few years later. By 1674 the works had been reconstructed by Vauban. Under Napoleon III. the fortress was strengthened by a circle of detached forts, which, after 187o, were modified and completed by the Germans, who treated the fortress as the principal pivot of offensive operations against France. The plans in FORTIFICATION AND SIEGECRAFT (fig. 43) show Metz as it was about 1900; in the years following a new outer chain of defences was constructed, which extends as far as Thionville on the north side and has its centre in front of Metz on the Gravelotte battleground. The old enceinte (which includes Cormontaingne's forts—Moselle and Bellevroix) is doomed to demolition, and has in part been already removed. The garrison, chiefly composed of the XVI. Army Corps, numbers about 25,000. (See GERMANY: Army.) History.—Metz, the Roman Divodurum, was the chief town of the Mediomatrici, and was also called by the Romans Mediomatrica, a name from which the present form has been derived by contraction. Caesar describes it as one of the oldest and most important towns in Gaul. The Romans, recognizing its strategical importance, fortified it, and supplied it with water by an imposing aqueduct, the remains of which still exist. Under the Roman emperors Metz was connected by military roads with Toul, Langres, Lyons, Strassburg, Verdun, Reims and Trier. Christianity was introduced in the 3rd century of our era. In the middle of the 5th century the town was plundered by the Huns under Attila; subsequently it came into possession of the Franks, and was made the capital of Austrasia. On the partition of the Carolingian realms in 843 Metz fell to the share of the emperor Lothair I. as the capital of Lorraine. Its bishops, whose creation reaches back to the 4th century, now began to be very powerful. Metz acquired the privileges of a free imperial town in the 13th century, and soon attained great commercial prosperity. Having adopted the reformed doctrines in 1552 and 1553, it fell into the hands of the French through treachery, and was heroically and successfully defended against Charles V. by Francis duke of Guise. It now sank to the level of a French provincial town, and its population dwindled from 6o,000 to about 22,000. At the peace of Westphalia in 1648 Metz, with Toul and Verdun, was formally ceded to France, in whose possession it remained for upwards of two centuries. The battles of August 187o, and the investment and capture of the army of Metz which followed, are described below. By the peace of Frankfort on the loth of May 1871 Metz was again united to the German Empire. See Westphal, Geschichte der Stadt Metz (1875-1897); Georg Lang, Metz and seine Umgebungen (1883), the Statistisch-topographisches Handbuch fiir Lothringen; Albers, Geschichte der Stadt Metz (Metz, 1902); G. A. Prost, Etudes sur l'histoire de Metz (1897); and Tauber, Die Schlachtf elder von Metz (Berlin, 1902). (See also FRANCOGERMAN WAR: Bibliography.)
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