Speyer (German pronunciation: [ˈʃpaɪ̯ɐ], older spelling Speier, known as Spire in French and formerly as Spires in English) is a town in Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located on the left bank of the river Rhine, Speyer lies 25 km (16 miles) south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim, and 21 km (13 miles) south-west of Heidelberg. Founded by the Romans, it is one of Germany's oldest cities.
Speyer Cathedral, a number of other churches and the Altpörtel (old gate) dominate the Speyer landscape. In the cathedral, beneath the high altar, are the tombs of eight Holy Roman Emperors and German kings.
The city is famous for the 1529 Protestation at Speyer.
The first known names were Noviomagus and Civitas Nemetum, after the Teutonic tribe, Nemetes, settled in the area. The name Spira is first recorded in the 7th century, taken from villa Spira, a Frankish settlement situated outside of Civitas Nemetum.
- In 10 BC, the first Roman military camp is established (situated between the town hall and the episcopal palace).
- In AD 150, the town appears as Noviomagus on the world map of the Greek geographer Ptolemy.
- In 346, a bishop for the town is mentioned for the first time.
- 4th century, Civitas Nemetum appears on the Peutinger Map.
- 5th century, Civitas Nemetum is destroyed.
- 7th century, the town is re-established, and named Spira after a nearby Frankish settlement.
- In 1030, emperor Conrad II starts the construction of Speyer Cathedral, today one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Also in the 11th century, the first city wall is built.
- In 1076, emperor Henry IV embarks from Speyer, his favourite town, for Canossa.
- In 1084, establishment of the first Jewish community in Speyer.
- In 1096, as Count Emicho's Crusader army rages across the Rhineland slaughtering Jewish communities, Speyer's Bishop John, with the local leader Yekutiel ben Moses, manages to secure the community's members inside the episcopal palace and later leads them to even stronger fortifications outside the town. It was ruled that anyone harming a Jew would have his hands chopped off.
- In 1294, the bishop loses most of his previous rights, and from now on Speyer is a Free Imperial Town of the Holy Roman Empire.
- In 1349, the Jewish community of Speyer is wiped out.
- Between 1527 and 1689, Speyer is the seat of the Imperial Chamber Court.
- In 1526, at the Diet of Speyer (1526) interim toleration of Lutheran teaching and worship is decreed.
- In 1529, at the Diet of Speyer (1529) the Lutheran states of the empire protest against the anti-Reformation resolutions (19 April 1529 Protestation at Speyer, hence the term Protestantism).
- In 1635, Marshal of France Urbain de Maillé-Brézé, together with Jacques Nompar de Caumont, duc de La Force, conquers Heidelberg and Speyer at the head of the Army of Germany.
- In 1689, the town is heavily damaged by French troops.
- Between 1792 and 1814, Speyer is under French jurisdiction after the Battle of Speyer.
- In 1816, Speyer becomes the seat of administration of the Palatinate and of the government of the Rhine District of Bavaria (later called the Bavarian Palatinate), and remains so until the end of World War II.
- Between 1883 and 1904, the Memorial Church is built in remembrance of the Protestation of 1529.
- In 1947, the State Academy of Administrative Science is founded (later renamed German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer).
- In 1990, Speyer celebrates its 2000th anniversary.
Speyer lies on the Schifferstadt-Wörth railway and offers hourly connections to Mannheim and Karlsruhe.
Since 1923 the mayor was a Lord Mayor.
- Philipp Lichtenberger (1855-1918) (1904–1911)
- Ernst Hertrich (1911–1914) (first full-time mayor)
- Otto Moericke (1880-1965) (1917–1919)
- Karl Leiling (1919–1943)
- Rudolf Trampler (1898-1974) (1943–1945)
- Karl Leiling (1945–1946)
- Hans Hettinger (1946)
- Paul Schaefer (1946–1949)
- Paulus Skopp (1905-1999) (1949–1969)
- Christian Roßkopf (born 1930) (1969–1995)
- Werner Schineller (born 1948) (1995–2010)
- Hansjörg Eger (born 1964) (2011-2018)
- Stefanie Seiler (born 1983) (since 2019)
Twin towns – sister cities
Speyer is twinned with:
- Spalding, United Kingdom, since 1956
- Chartres, France, since 1959
- Kursk, Russia, since 1989
- Ravenna, Italy, since 1989
- Gniezno, Poland, since 1992
- Yavne, Israel, since 1998
- Rusizi District, Rwanda, since 1982/2001
- Ningde, China, since 2013
Born before 1900
Carl Jakob Adolf Christian Gerhardt
Wilhelm Meyer around 1895
Anselm Feuerbach Self-portrait 1873
Hermann Detzner, 1921
- Samuel of Speyer (after 1096-death unknown), Exeget of Torah and Midrash
- Judah ben Samuel of Regensburg (1140-1217), scribe and philosopher
- Julian of Speyer (before 1225- ~ 1250), medieval choir master, composer and poet from the Order of the Franciscans
- Gabriel Biel (~ 1415-1495), scholastic philosopher
- Dietrich Gresemund (1477-1512), author
- Egon VIII of Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg (1588-1635), Reichsgraf of Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg
- Johann Joachim Becher (1635-1682), German physician, alchemist, precursor of chemistry, scholar and adventurer
- Moritz Georg Weidmann (1658-1693), publisher and bookseller
- Adolf von Dalberg (1678-1737), Prince of Fulda
- Simha of Speyer (13th century) German rabbi and tosafist. He was one of the leading signatories of the Takkanot Shum.
- Philipp Hieronymus Brinckmann (1709-1760), landscape and historical painters as well as copper cutters
- Johann Martin Bernatz (1802-1878), landscape painter
- Anselm Feuerbach (1829–1880), German painter
- Carl Jakob Adolf Christian Gerhardt (1832–1902), German physician
- Henry Villard (1835–1900), German-American journalist
- Hermann von Stengel (1837-1919), Bavarian Administrative Officer
- Wilhelm Meyer (philologist) (1845-1917), classical philologist, mediavist and librarian
- Karl Heinrich Emil Becker (1879-1940), general of the artillery, ballist and defense scientist
- Hans Purrmann (1880-1966), painter, graphic artist, art writer and collector
- Hermann Detzner (1882-1970), leader of the German Schutztruppe in German New Guinea
- Karl-Adolf Hollidt (1891-1985), Army officer (Generaloberst) and war criminal
- George Waldbott (1898–1982), German-American physician
Born after 1900
- Jakob Brendel (1907-1964), wrestler
- Karl Haas (1913–2005), German-American music educator and radio presenter
- Helmut Bantz (1921-2004), gymnast
- Alfred Cahn (1922-2016), German musician and composer
- Edgar E. Stern (born 1926), clinical social worker and author of The Peppermint Train: Journey to a German-Jewish Childhood
- Gabriel Kney (born 1929), Canadian organ builder
- Volker Straus (1936-2002) German tonmeister
- Jürgen Brecht (born 1940), fencer
- Gerhard Vollmer (born 1943), physicist and philosopher
- Jürgen Creutzmann (born 1945), politician (FDP)
- Hans-Joachim Lang (born 1951), journalist, Germanist, historian and honorary professor
- Axel Schimpf (born 1952), Vice Admiral of the German Navy
- Eberhard Bosslet (born 1953), artist
- Kay Friedmann (born 1963), footballer
- Markus Kranz (born 1969), football player
- Christoph Bechmann (born 1971), German field-hockey player
- Anke Vondung (born 1972), opera singer
- Ralf Schmitt (born 1977), football player
- Simone Weiler (born 1978), swimmer
- Jochen Kühner (born 1980), rower
- Martin Kühner (born 1980), rower
- Matthias Langkamp (born 1984), football player
- Christian Reif (born 1984), long jumper
- David McCray (born 1986), basketball player
- Florian Krebs (born 1988), football player
- Sebastian Langkamp (born 1988), footballer
- Lars Stindl (born 1988), German footballer
- Elias Harris (born 1989), German international basketball player
- Jonas Marz (born 1989), footballer
- Gianluca Korte (born 1990), footballer
- Raffael Korte (born 1990), footballer
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