What You Need To Know
Mainz is the capital and largest city of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany. It was the capital of the Electorate of Mainz at the time of the Holy Roman Empire. In antiquity Mainz was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire; it was founded as a military post by the Romans in the late 1st century BC and became the provincial capital of Germania Superior. During World War II, more than 30 air raids destroyed about 80 percent of the city’s center, including most of the historic buildings. The city is located on the river Rhine at its confluence with the Main opposite Wiesbaden, in the western part of the Frankfurt Rhine-Main region; in the modern age, Frankfurt shares much of its regional importance.
The city is famous as the home of the invention of the movable-type printing press, as the first books printed using movable type were manufactured in Mainz by Gutenberg in the early 1450s. Until the twentieth century, Mainz was usually referred to in English by its French name: Mayence.
Population: 214, 418 Visit Population City
Area: 97,75 km²
In the early Middle Ages, Mainz was a centre for the Christianisation of the German and Slavic peoples. The first archbishop in Mainz, Boniface, was killed in 754 while trying to convert the Frisians to Christianity and is buried in Fulda. Harald Klak, king of Jutland, his family and followers, were baptized at Mainz in 826, in the abbey of St. Alban’s. Other early archbishops of Mainz include Rabanus Maurus, the scholar and author, and Willigis (975–1011), who began construction on the current building of the Mainz Cathedral and founded the monastery of St. Stephan. St. Martin’s Cathedral in Mainz, by Wenzel Hollar; pen-and-ink drawing 1632
From the time of Willigis until the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Archbishops of Mainz were archchancellors of the Empire and the most important of the seven Electors of the German emperor. Besides Rome, the diocese of Mainz today is the only diocese in the world with an episcopal see that is called a Holy See (sancta sedes). The Archbishops of Mainz traditionally were primas germaniae, the substitutes of the Pope north of the Alps.
In 1244, Archbishop Siegfried III granted Mainz a city charter, which included the right of the citizens to establish and elect a city council. The city saw a feud between two archbishops in 1461, namely Diether von Isenburg, who was elected Archbishop by the cathedral chapter and supported by the citizens, and Adolf II von Nassau, who had been named archbishop for Mainz by the pope. In 1462, the Archbishop Adolf raided the city of Mainz, plundering and killing 400 inhabitants. At a tribunal, those who had survived lost all their property, which was then divided between those who promised to follow Adolf. Those who would not promise to follow Adolf (amongst them Johannes Gutenberg) were driven out of the town or thrown into prison. The new archbishop revoked the city charter of Mainz and put the city under his direct rule. Ironically, after the death of Adolf II his successor was again Diether von Isenburg, now legally elected by the chapter and named by the Pope.
Early Jewish community
The Jewish community of Mainz dates to the 10th century AD. It is noted for its religious education. Rabbi Gershom ben Judah (960–1040) taught there, among others. He concentrated on the study of the Talmud, creating a German Jewish tradition. Mainz is also the legendary home of the martyred Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, composer of the Unetanneh Tokef prayer. The Jews of Mainz, Speyer and Worms created a supreme council to set standards in Jewish law and education in the 12th century. The city of Mainz responded to the Jewish population in a variety of ways, behaving, in a sense, in a bipolar fashion towards them. Sometimes they were allowed freedom and were protected; at other times, they were persecuted. The Jews were expelled in 1012, 1462 (after which they were invited to return), and in 1474. Jews were attacked in 1096 and by mobs in 1283. Outbreaks of the Black Death were usually blamed on the Jews, at which times they were massacred, such as the burning of about 6,000 Jews alive in 1349. Nowadays the Jewish community is growing rapidly, and a new synagogue by the architect Manuel Herz was constructed in 2010 on the site of the one destroyed under the Third Reich. The community itself has 1,034 members, according to the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and at least twice as many Jews altogether since many are unaffiliated with Judaism.
Through a series of incursions during the 4th century Alsace gradually lost its Belgic ethnic character of formerly Germanic tribes among Celts ruled by Romans and became predominantly influenced by the Alamanni. The Romans repeatedly reasserted control; however, the troops stationed at Mainz became chiefly non-Italic and the emperors had only one or two Italian ancestors in a pedigree that included chiefly peoples of the northern frontier. The last emperor to station troops serving the western empire at Mainz was Valentinian III (reigned 425–455), who relied heavily on his Magister militum per Gallias, Flavius Aëtius. By that time the army included large numbers of troops from the major Germanic confederacies along the Rhine, the Alamanni, the Saxons and the Franks. The Franks were an opponent that had risen to power and reputation among the Belgae of the lower Rhine during the 3rd century and repeatedly attempted to extend their influence upstream. In 358 the emperor Julian bought peace by giving them most of Germania Inferior, which they possessed anyway, and imposing service in the Roman army in exchange. European factions in the time of master Aëtius included Celts, Goths, Franks, Saxons, Alamanni, Huns, Italians, and Alans as well as numerous other minor peoples. Aëtius played them all off against one another in a masterly effort to keep the peace under Roman sovereignty. He used Hunnic troops a number of times. At last a day of reckoning arrived between Aëtius and Attila, both commanding polyglot, multi-ethnic troops. Attila went through Alsace in 451, devastating the country and destroying Mainz and Triers with their Roman garrisons. Shortly after he was thwarted by Flavius Aëtius at the Battle of Châlons, the largest of the ancient world. Aëtius was not to enjoy the victory long. He was assassinated in 454 by the hand of his employer, who in turn was stabbed to death by friends of Aëtius in 455. As far as the north was concerned this was the effective end of the Roman empire there. After some sanguinary but relatively brief contention a former subordinate of Aëtius, Ricimer, became emperor, taking the name Patrician. His father was a Suebian; his mother, a princess of the Visigoths. Patrician did not rule the north directly but set up a client province there, which functioned independently. The capital was at Soissons. Even then its status was equivocal. Many insisted it was the Kingdom of Soissons. Previously the first of the Merovingians, Clodio, had been defeated by Aëtius at about 430. His son, Merovaeus, fought on the Roman side against Attila, and his son, Childeric, served in the domain of Soissons. Meanwhile, the Franks were gradually infiltrating and assuming power in this domain. They also moved up the Rhine and created a domain in the region of the former Germania Superior with capital at Cologne. They became known as the Ripuarian Franks as opposed to the Salian Franks. It is unlikely that much of a population transfer or displacement occurred. The former Belgae simply became Franks. Events moved rapidly in the late 5th century. Clovis, son of Childeric, became king of the Salians in 481, ruling from Tournai. In 486 he defeated Syagrius, last governor of the Soissons domain, and took northern France. He extended his reign to Cambrai and Tongeren in 490–491, and repelled the Alamanni in 496. Also in that year he converted to non-Arian Christianity. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the Franks under the rule of Clovis I gained control over western Europe by the year 496. Clovis annexed the kingdom of Cologne in 508. Thereafter, Mainz, in its strategic position, became one of the bases of the Frankish kingdom. Mainz had sheltered a Christian community long before the conversion of Clovis. His successor Dagobert I reinforced the walls of Mainz and made it one of his seats. A solidus of Theodebert I (534–548) was minted at Mainz. Charlemagne (768–814), through a succession of wars against other tribes, built a vast Frankian empire in Europe. Mainz from its central location became important to the empire and to Christianity. Meanwhile, language change was gradually working to divide the Franks. Mainz spoke a dialect termed Ripuarian. On the death of Charlemagne, distinctions between France and Germany began to be made. Mainz was not central any longer but was on the border, creating a question of the nationality to which it belonged, which descended into modern times as the question of Alsace-Lorraine.
German is the Official Language.
Republic of Mainz
During the French Revolution, the French Revolutionary army occupied Mainz in 1792; the Archbishop of Mainz, Friedrich Karl Josef von Erthal, had already fled to Aschaffenburg by the time the French marched in. On 18 March 1793, the Jacobins of Mainz, with other German democrats from about 130 towns in the Rhenish Palatinate, proclaimed the ‘Republic of Mainz’. Led by Georg Forster, representatives of the Mainz Republic in Paris requested political affiliation of the Mainz Republic with France, but too late: Prussia was not entirely happy with the idea of a democratic free state on German soil (although the French dominated Mainz was neither free nor democratic). Prussian troops had already occupied the area and besieged Mainz by the end of March, 1793. After a siege of 18 weeks, the French troops in Mainz surrendered on 23 July 1793; Prussians occupied the city and ended the Republic of Mainz. It came to the Battle of Mainz in 1795 between Austria and France. Members of the Mainz Jacobin Club were mistreated or imprisoned and punished for treason. Tombstone of Jeanbon Baron de St. André, Prefect of Napoleonic Mainz In 1797, the French returned. The army of Napoléon Bonaparte occupied the German territory to the west of the Rhine, and the Treaty of Campo Formio awarded France this entire area. On 17 February 1800, the French Département du Mont-Tonnerre was founded here, with Mainz as its capital, the Rhine being the new eastern frontier of la Grande Nation. Austria and Prussia could not but approve this new border with France in 1801. However, after several defeats in Europe during the next years, the weakened Napoléon and his troops had to leave Mainz in May 1814.
Mainz is a major transport hub in southern Germany. It is an important component in European distribution, as it has the fifth largest inter-modal port in Germany. The Port of Mainz, now handling mainly containers, is a sizable industrial area to the north of the city, along the banks of the Rhine. In order to open up space along the city’s riverfront for residential development, it was shifted further northwards in 2010.
Mainz Central Station or Mainz Hauptbahnhof, is frequented by 80,000 travelers and visitors each day and is therefore one of the busiest 21 stations in Germany. It is a stop for the S-Bahn line S8 of the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund. Additionally, the Mainbahn line to Frankfurt Hbf starts at the station. It is served by 440 daily local and regional trains (StadtExpress, RE and RB) and 78 long-distance trains (IC, EC and ICE). Intercity-Express lines connect Mainz with Frankfurt (Main), Karlsruhe Hbf, Worms Hauptbahnhof and Koblenz Hauptbahnhof. It is a terminus of the West Rhine Railway and the Mainz–Ludwigshafen railway, as well as the Alzey–Mainz Railway erected by the Hessische Ludwigsbahn in 1871. Access to the East Rhine Railway is provided by the Kaiserbrücke, a railway bridge across the Rhine at the north end of Mainz.
Mainz offers a wide array of bicycle transportation facilities and events, including several miles of on-street bike lanes. The Rheinradweg (Rhine Cycle Route) is an international cycle route, running from the source to the mouth of the Rhine, traversing four countries at a distance of 1,300 km (810 mi). Another cycling tour runs towards Bingen and further to the Middle Rhine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (2002).
Mainz is served by Frankfurt Airport, the busiest airport by passenger traffic in Germany by far, the third busiest in Europe and the ninth busiest worldwide in 2009. Located about 10 miles (16 kilometres) east of Mainz, it is connected to the city by an S-Bahn line. The small Mainz Finthen Airport, located just 3 miles (5 km) southwest of Mainz, is used by general aviation only. Another airport, Frankfurt-Hahn Airport located about 50 miles (80 km) west of Mainz, is served by a few low-cost carriers.
Mainz experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb).