town prussia poland
DANTZIC (or, according to the German form, which is often used, DANZIG), an important seaport of Prussia, the capital of West Prussia, is situated on the left bank of the Vistula, about three miles from its mouth, 253 miles northeast of Berlin, in 54° 21' N. lat. and 18° 41' E. long. In 1875 the inhabitants, most of whom are Protestants, num tiered 98,181. The town is traversed by the Mottlau, a small branch of the Vistula. It ranks as a fortress of the first class, the fortifications including ramparts, bastions, wet ditches, and works for laying the surrounding country under water. There is a harbour in the town, but the principal port is at Neufahrwasser, at the mouth of the Vistula.
Dantzic is entered by four gates, one of which dates from the 16th century, and another from the 17th. The streets are narrow and winding, but in the Langgasse, the chief street, reaching from the Hohe Thor to the Langenmarkt, there are many interesting specimens of ancient architecture. The high gables, often elaborately ornamented, give the houses a very picturesque aspect. There are 13 Protestant churches, 5 Catholic churches, and 2 synagogues. Of these the most important is St Mary's, one of the largest Protestant churches in existence, begun in 1343, completed in 1503. It possesses a famous painting of the Lest Judgment, known as the Dantzic picture, formerly attributed to Jan van Eyck, but probably by Aremling. The town hall, founded in 1379, is a fine Gothic structure, the interior of which has recently been restored. Among other noteworthy buildings are the exchange, built in the 14th century, the citadel, built in 1605, and the theatre, of recent date. To the west of the town is a suburban district of considerable extent, with wide, pleasant streets.
The Government of West Prussia, and a Board of Commerce and of Admiralty, have their scat in Dantzic. It is also a naval station, with docks, magazines, and a _marine depot. The educational institutions of time town, besides providing amply for elementary education, include a gymnasium, founded in 1558, two real-schools of the highest class, a commercial academy, a technical school, and a school of navigation. There are a public library, containing 50,000 volumes, a collection of paintings, chiefly modern, and several societies for the promotion of science, art, and literature. The manufacture of arms and artillery is carried on to a large extent, and the imperial and private docks give employment to a great number of workmen. The town is still famous for its amber, beer, brandy, and the liqueur known as Danziges Goldwasser ; and its transit trade makes it one of the most important commercial towns in the north of Europe. Its harbours are visited annually by about 2000 sea-going vessels, besides an immense number of smaller craft employed in river navigation. The chief exports are grain, especially wheat, which comes for the most part from Poland and is of excellent quality, and timber. The principal imports are herring, coal, petroleum, salt, and wine. The annual value of the imports by sea is from £2,500,000 to £3,000,000, by river about £2,250,000, by railway from £2,400,000 to 12,750,000 ; that of exports by sea from £2,500,000 to £2,750,000, by river from £750,000 to £1,250,000, by railway about £2,500,000.
History. - The origin of Dantzie is unknown. but it is mentioned in 997 as an important town. At different times it was held by Pomerania, Poland, Brandenburg, and Denmark, and in 1308 it fell into the hands of the Teutonic knights, under whose rule it long prospered. It was one of the fo-.2r chief towns of the Hanseatic League. In 1455, when the Teutonic Order had become thoroughly corrupt, Dantzic shook off its yoke and submitted to the king of Poland, to whom it was formally ceded, along with the whole of West Prussia, at the Peace of Thorn. Although nominally subject to Poland, and represented in the Polish diets and at the election of Polish kings, it enjoyed the rights of a free city, and governed a considerable territory with more than thirty villages. It suffered severely through various wars of the 17th and 18th centuries, and in 1734, having declared in favour of Stanislas Lesezinski, was besieged and taken by the Russians and Saxons. At the first partition of Poland, in 1772, Dautzic was separated from that kingdom ; and in 1793 it came into the possession of Prussia. In 1807, during the war between France and Pussia, it was bombarded and captured by Marshal Lefebvre, who was rewarded with the title of duke of Dantzic ; and at the l'eace of Tilsit Napoleon declared it a free town, under the protection of France, Prussia, and Saxony, restoring to it its ancient territory. A French governor, however, remained in it, and by compelling it to submit to the Continental system almost ruined its trade. It was given back to Prussia in 1814.