MERSEBLIRG, the chief town of a district of the same name in the Prussian province of Saxony, is situated on the river Saale, 10 miles to the south of Halle and 17 to the west of Leipsic. It consists of a quaint and irregularly built old town, with two extensive suburbs, and contains six churches and several schools and charitable institutions. The cathedral is an interesting old pile, with a Romanesque choir of the llth, a transept of the 13th, and a Late Gothic nave of the 16th century. Among its numerous monuments is that of Rudolph of Swabia, who fell in 1080 in an encounter with his rival Henry IV. It contains two paintings by Lucas Cranach. Contiguous to the cathedral is the Gothic chateau, formerly the residence of the Saxon princes and the bishops of Merseburg. The town-house, the post-oflice, and the " standehaus " for the meetings of the provincial estates are also noteworthy buildings. The industries of Merseburg consist of the manufacture of cardboard and coloured paper, dyeing, glue-boiling, machine-making, calico-printing, tanning, and brewing. Its population in 1880 was 15,205.
Merseburg (i.e., "march-town") is one of the oldest towns in Germany. From the 9th century down to 1007 it was the capital of a countship of its own name, and from 968 to 1543 it was the seat of a bishop. In the 10th, llth, and 12th centuries it was a favourite residence of the German emperors, and at this time its fairs enjoyed the importance afterwards inherited by those of Leipsic. The town was repeatedly visited by destructive conflagrations in the 14th to 17th centuries, and also suffered severely during the Thirty Years' War. From 1656 to 1738 it was the residence of the dukes of SaxeMerseburg. The great victory gained by the emperor Henry I. over the Iluns in 933 is believed to have been fought on the Keusehberg near Merseburg.