|Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg|
|Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List|
|UNESCO region||Europe and North America|
|Inscription||1996 (20th Session)|
Eisleben is a town in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is famous as the hometown of Martin Luther; hence, its official name is Lutherstadt Eisleben. As of 2005, Eisleben had a population of 24,552. It lies on the Halle–Kassel railway.
Eisleben is divided into old and new towns (Altstadt and Neustadt), the latter of which was created for Eisleben's miners in the 14th century.
Eisleben was first mentioned in 997 as a market called Islebia, and in 1180 as a town. The counts of Mansfeld governed the area until the 18th century. During the Protestant Reformation, Count Hoyer VI of Mansfeld-Vorderort (1477-1540) remained loyal to his Catholic faith, but the family's Mittelort and Hinterort branches sided with Martin Luther, who ended up dying in Eisleben, as discussed below. The German Peasants' War devastated the area, part of the Thirty Years War. Count Albert VII of Mansfeld-Hinterort (1480-1560) signed the Protestant Augsburg Confession in 1530 and joined the Schmalkaldic League, a defensive confederation of Protestant princes which ultimately lost the Schmalkaldic War over Saxony to the forces of Emperor Charles V but gained Lutheranism's recognition as an official religion within the Holy Roman Empire, letting princes determine the official religion within their lands.
After the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, the Countess of Mansfield, Agnes von Mansfeld-Eisleben (a Protestant canonness at the Abbey of Gerresheim to the east) converted Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg, the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne to Calvinism. Their marriage and his declaration of religious parity throughout his lands caused another round of religious war, the Cologne War. The couple fled numerous times through various German states before Gerhard relinquished his claims in 1588, then died and was buried in Strassbourg in 1601, having failed in his attempt to convert his electorate into a dynasty, His lady (who could not return to the convent) came under the protection of the Dukes of Württemberg and died in 1601, terminating the family's Mittelort branch.
In 1574, the surviving Mansfeld counts Hans Hoyer, Hans Georg, Hans Albrecht and Bruno concluded an agreement with the Elector of Saxony to repay the family's extensive debts, but some properties were forfeited by 1579 anyway. The Hinterort branches died out in 1666, but the Mansfeld-Vorderort line lasted until 1780, when it too became extinct and Eisleben came under directly under the Electorate of Saxony. After the Napoleonic Wars ended, the Vienna Congress assigned Eisleben to the Kingdom of Prussia, which had long been allied with House of Welf which held the Duchy of Magdeburg, and after secularization in 1680 was administered by the Elector of Brandenburg. The Prussian Province of Saxony became part of the Free State of Prussia after World War I. After World War II, Eisleben became part of the new state of Saxony-Anhalt (with Magdeburg as its capitol), part of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) until Germany's reuinification in 1990.
On June 6, 1927, American aviator Clarence D. Chamberlin landed in a wheat field outside Eisleben, completing the first transatlantic passenger flight (Charles Albert Levine was the passenger), and breaking Charles Lindbergh's distance record that set only two weeks earlier in Paris, France.
The Counts of Mansfield in 1229 endowed a monastery for women on the grounds of their castle in 1229, then built a separate monastery at Helfta near Eisleben, which opened in 1258. Governed under either the Benedictine or Cistercian model, Helfta became known for its powerful and mystical abbesses, including Gertrude of Hackeborn, Gertrude the Great and Mechtild. However, Duke Albrecht of Brunswick destroyed the nunnery in 1342. Rebuilt the following year, it was sometimes called the "Queen of German Convents." It closed in 1524, during the religious wars sometimes associated with Martin Luther, as discussed below, but reopened on a smaller scale until 1542, after which it became secularized, and controlled by local farmers. In 1712 it became a farm run by the Prussian state, and the buildings reused accordingly. In 1950, the GDR turned it into a fruit farm. In 1994, after Germany's reunification, the Catholic Diocese of Magdeburg bought the property using donations from all over the world and soon began restoration. Cistercian nuns from Seligenthal in Bavaria moved into the cloister starting circa 1999, Since 2006 Helfta has been on the southern portion of a major European cultural route, the Romanesque Road.
The Protestant reformer Martin Luther was born in Eisleben on November 10, 1483. His father, Hans Luther, was a miner like many in Eisleben. Luther's family moved to Mansfeld when he was only a year old and he lived in Wittenberg most of his life. Seemingly by chance Luther preached his last sermon and died in Eisleben in 1546.
Eisleben took steps to preserve its Luther memorials as far back as 1689, and pioneered "heritage tourism." Danish poet Hans Christian Andersen came to Eisleben while researching Lutheran links as well as touring through Saxony and the Harz Mountains in 1831.
In 1997, Eisleben's "Birth House" and "Death House" were designated a World Heritage Site, together with the Luther sites in Wittenberg. Also, Luther was baptised in Eisleben's St. Peter and Paul Church (the original font survives) and preached his last sermons at St. Andreas Church, both of which continue in use.
- St. Gertrud of Helfta (1256-1302), nun
- Martin Luther (1483–1546), Protestant reformer
- Johannes Agricola (1494–1566), Protestant reformer
- Friedrich Koenig (1774–1821), printer
- Ludwig Geyer (1779–1833), painter and actor
- Gudrun Berend (born 1955), hurdler
- Thomas Lange (born 1964), rower
- Timo Hoffmann (born 1974), boxer
- Jana Bach (born 1979), pornographic actress
- Mogens Brøndsted, Sven Hakon Rossel, Hans Christian Andersen (Rodopi, 1996) p. 141
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