imperial free rhine
SPIRES (Germ. Speyer or Speier), the chief town of the Rhenish palatinate, Bavaria, and formerly a free imperial city, is situated on the left bank of the Rhine, at to its high antiquity, owing to the fact that it was burned Romanesque churches of the Rhineland, Spires cathedral has a peculiar importance in the history of architecture as probably the earliest Romanesque basilica in which the nave as well as the side arcades was vaulted from the first. Built in 1030-61 by Conrad II. and his successor, this church has had a chequered history, its disasters culminating in 1689, when the soldiers of Louis XIV. burned it to the bare walls and scattered the ashes of the eight German emperors who had been interred in the kings' choir. Restored in 1772-84 and provided with a vestibule and façade, it was again desecrated by the French in 1794; but in 1846-53 it was once more thoroughly restored and adorned in the interior with gorgeous frescos at the expense of the king of. Bavaria. The large cathedral bowl (Domnapf) in front of the west facade formerly marked the boundary between the episcopal and municipal territories. Each new bishop on his election had to fill the bowl with wine, while the burghers emptied it to his health. The heathen tower to the east of the church, on foundations supposed to be Roman, was probably part of the town wall built in 1080 by Bishop Rudger. Of the Retscher, or imperial palace, so called because built after the model of the Hradschin at Prague, only a mouldering fragment of wall remains. It was in this palace that the famous diet of Spires met in 1529, at which the Reformers first received the name of Protestants. The Altportel (alta porta), a fine old gateway of 1246, is a relic of the free imperial city. Among the modern buildings are several churches and schools, a museum and picture gallery, &c. Spires, although rebuilt in 1697, has never recovered from the cruel injuries inflicted by the French in 1689. Its trade is insignificant, although it still has a free harbour on the Rhine. Its manufactures include paper, tobacco and cigars, sugar, sugar of lead, vinegar, beer, and leather. Vines and tobacco are grown in the neighbourhood. The population in 1880 was 15,589 and in 1885 16,228.
Spires, known to the Romans as Augusta Nemetum or Nemette, and to the Gauls as Naviomagus, is one of the oldest towns on the Rhine. The modern name appears first, under the form Spira, about the 7th century. Captured by Julius Caesar in 47 II. c., it was repeatedly destroyed by the barbarian hordes in the first few centuries of the Christian era. The town had become an episcopal seat in the 4th century; but heathenism supervened, and the present bishopric dates from 610. In 830 Spire became part of the Frankish empire, the emperors having a "palatium" here; and it was especially favoured by the Salic imperial house. The contentions between the bishops and the citizens were as obstinate and severe as in any. other city of Germany. The situation of the town opposite the mouths of several roads through the Rhine valley early fostered its trade ; in 1294 it rose to be a free imperial city, although it owned no territory beyond its walls and had a population of less than 30,000. It enjoyed great renown as the seat of the imperial supreme court from 1527 till 1689 ; it was fifth among the free cities of the Rhine, and had a vote in the Upper Rhenish diet. Numerous imperial diets assembled here. From 1801 till 1814 it was the capital of a department of France ; but it was restored to Bavaria in the latter year. By the peace of Spires in 1544 the Hapsburgs renounced their claims to the crown of Sardinia.