OSNABRUCK, a prosperous manufacturing town of Prussia, the see of a Roman Catholic bishop, and the capital of a district of its own name in the province of Hanover, is pleasantly situated on the Hase, 70 miles to the west of the town of Hanover. The older streets are narrow and crooked, containing many interesting examples of Gothic and Renaissance domestic architecture, while the substantial houses of the modern quarters testify to the present well-being of the town. The old fortifications have been converted into promenades. The Roman Catholic cathedral, with its three towers, is a spacious building of the 12th century, partly in the Romanesque and partly in the Transitional style ; but it is inferior in architectural interest to the Marienkirche, a fine Gothic structure of the 14th century. The town-house contains portraits of the plenipotentiaries engaged in concluding the peace of Westphalia, the negotiations for which were partly carried on here. Among the other principal buildings are the episcopal residence, the law courts, the two gymnasia, the commercial school, and various other educational and charitable institutions. The museum contains antiquities and objects of natural history. The lunatic asylum on the Gertrudenberg occupies the site of an ancient nunnery. Linen was formerly the staple product of Osnabriick, but no longer takes so prominent a position among its manufactures, which now include paper, dyes, chemicals, machinery, nails, pianos, tobacco, and cotton. There are also large iron and steel works and a rolling mill. A brisk trade is carried on in grain, drugs, linen, and Westphalian hams, and important cattle and horse fairs are held here at regular interOsnabriick contains (1880) 32,812 inhabitants, one-third of whom are Roman Catholics. The patriotic writer and philanthropist Julius Moser (1720-94) was a native of Osnabriick, and has a statue in the cathedral square.
Osnabruck is a place of very ancient origin, and in 888 received the right to establish a mint, an annual fair, and a custom-house. It was surrounded with walls towards the close of the llth century. The bishopric to which it gave name was founded by Charlemagne after the subjugation of the Saxon inhabitants of the district (c. 790), and embraced what was afterwards the south-west part of the kingdom of Hanover. The town maintained a very independent attitude towards its nominal rulers, the bishops, and joined the Hanseatic League. It reached the height of its prosperity in the 15th century, but the decay inaugurated by the dissensions of the Reformation was accelerated by the trials of the Thirty Years' War. The peace of Westphalia decreed that the bishopric of Westphalia should be held alternately by a Roman Catholic and a Protestant bishop, and this curious state of affairs lasted down to its secularization in 1803. The last bishop was the late duke of York. Since 1859 Osnabruck has again been the seat of a Roman Catholic bishop, who, of course, has no territorial jurisdiction. The revived prosperity of the town dates from the middle of last century.