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Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of worship were built on the Heiligenberg, or "Mountain of Saints". Both places can still be identified. In 40 AD, a fort was built and occupied by the 24th Roman cohort and the 2nd Cyrenaican cohort. The Romans built and maintained permanent camps and a signalling tower on the bank of the Neckar. They built a wooden bridge based on stone pillars across it. The Romans remained until 260 AD, when the camp was conquered by Germanic tribes. Modern Heidelberg can trace its beginnings to the fifth century. The village Bergheim (Mountain Home) is first mentioned in that period, in documents dated to 769 AD. Bergheim now lies in the middle of modern Heidelberg. In 863 AD, the monastery of St. Michael was founded in Heiligenberg inside the double rampart of the Celtic fortress. Around 1130, the Neuberg Monastery was founded in the Neckar valley. At the same time, the bishopric of Worms extended its influence into the valley, founding Schönau Abbey in 1142. Modern Heidelberg can trace its roots to this 12th century monastery. The first reference to Heidelberg can be found in a document in Schönau Abbey dated to 1196. In 1155, Heidelberg castle and its neighboring settlement were taken over by the house of Hohenstaufen. Conrad of Hohenstaufen became Count Palatine of the Rhine. In 1195, the Electorate of the Palatinate passed to the House of Welf through marriage. In 1225, Louis I, Duke of Bavaria obtained the Palatinate, and thus the castle came under his control. By 1303, another castle had been constructed for defense. In 1356, the Counts Palatine were granted far-reaching rights in the Golden Bull, in addition to becoming Electors. In 1386, Heidelberg University was founded by Rupert I, Elector Palatine. Heidelberg University played a leading part in the era of humanism and reformation and the conflict between Lutheranism and Calvinism in the 15th and 16th centuries. Heidelberg's library, founded in 1421, is the oldest public library in Germany still intact. A few months after the proclamation of the 95 Theses, in April 1518, Martin Luther was received in Heidelberg, to defend them. In 1537, the castle located further up the mountain was destroyed in a gunpowder explosion. The duke's palace was built at the site of the lower castle. In November 1619, the royal crown of Bohemia was offered to the Elector, Frederick V. He became known as the "winter king", as he reigned for only one winter before the Imperial House of Habsburg regained the crown by force. This overthrow in 1621 marked the beginning of the Thirty Years' War. In 1622, after a siege of two months, the armies of the Catholic League, commanded by Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly, captured Heidelberg. He gave the famous Bibliotheca Palatina from the Church of the Holy Spirit to the Pope as a present. The Catholic Bavarian branch of the House of Wittelsbach gained control over the Palatinate and the title of Prince-Elector. In 1648, at the end of the war, Frederick V's son Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine, was able to recover his titles and lands. See Wikipedia for more information.
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