The “old” Aachen
Aachen’s interesting history begins as early as the Neolithic Age (around 3000 – 2500 BC) when flint was mined in the area around what is now the city. This mainly happened on the 264 meter high Lousberg, Schneeberg and Königshügel. The flint was traded as a sought-after material. After the Bronze Age (around 1600 BC), in which the Aachen area remained settled, the Celts later came to this area (in the Iron Age), but they were taken over by the Roman general Julius Caesar as a result of the Gallic War(100 – 44 BC) subject. Despite Caesar’s victory in the 1st century BC The Romans did not settle in the area of today’s city until the 2nd decade AD. Because of the sulfur-containing springs in the region, they converted their settlement into a military bath, which they equipped with thermal facilities. The Roman armed forces remained in the settlement until the 4th century, but were then withdrawn during the migration of the peoples.
According to 800zipcodes, Aachen was mentioned in writing for the first time in 765, because in what was then called the Aquis Villa (“House for the Waters”), the Frankish King Pippin III. called The Short Christmas and Easter passed. His son was Charles I, who later went down in the history of the city and Europe as Charlemagne (748-814). His name has merged with the city of Aachen like no other in the world. Probably the most famous Carolingian and grandson of Karl Martell (who was able to repel the Moors at Poitiers and Tours in 732) became King of the Franks in 768 and King of the Franks in 800 Pope Leo III (died 816) crowned Roman emperor in Rome. His grave can still be visited today in the Aachen Cathedral ; he was buried in the forecourt of the Palatine Chapel. From 789, Karl had a magnificent palace and a palace chapel built in Aachen. Remnants of these structures are now parts of the town hall and Aachen cathedral. Aachen can sometimes be described as Karl’s residence city, as he spent a large part of the last two decades of his life here. He should later at the instigation of Emperor Friedrich I “Barbarossa” (1122-1190) in 1165 by the Archbishop of Cologne, with the approval of the then antipope Paschal III.(died 1168) to be canonized. This canonization by the antipope was made by Pope Alexander III. (approx. 1100 – 1181) but not accepted. But the Curia never objected to this canonization afterwards. On the contrary: Since 1176, the veneration of Charles as a saint has been tolerated by the Catholic Church.
Ludwig the Pious (778-840), son of Charles and co-emperor since 813, lived like his father for long periods in Aachen and had the Inda monastery (today Kornelimünster) built 10 kilometers away. Ludwig’s hapless son Lothar I (795 – 855), co-emperor since 817, was the last ruler of the Carolingian dynasty to reside in Aachen. The name Lorraine still reminds of him. In his day, the vast empire of Charlemagne broke into three parts. The Normans, who also invaded Aachen, took advantage of the weakening of the empire. In 881 they razed the imperial palace and the Inda monastery to the ground.
Aachen’s importance dwindled, but received a renaissance with Otto I (912 – 973). This king was crowned German king in Aachen in 936 and thus ushered in a 600-year-old tradition. According to established rules, the following rulers in Aachen were crowned German king until 1531. The coronation as Emperor of the Roman Empire was independent of this, and from the 15th century the title was given the addition of “German Nation”:
- 936 Otto I. (912-973)
- 961 Otto II (955-983)
- 983 Otto III. (980-1002)
- 1028 Henry III. (1017-1056)
- 1054 Henry IV (1050-1106)
- 1087 Konrad (King of Italy) ()
- 1099 Henry V (1086-1125)
- 1125 Lothar III. (1075-1137)
- 1138 Conrad III. (1093-1152)
- 1147 Heinrich Berengar (1137-1150)
- 1152 Frederick I, Barbarossa (1122-1190)
- 1169 Henry VI. (1165-1197)
- 1198 Otto IV. (1175-1218)
- 1205 Philip of Swabia (1179-1208)
- 1215 Frederick II (1194-1250)
- 1248 William of Holland (1227-1256)
- 1257 Richard of Cornwall (1209-1272)
- 1273 Rudolf I (1218-1291)
- 1292 Adolf of Nassau (1250-1298)
- 1298 Albrecht I (1255-1308)
- 1309 Henry VII (1278-1313)
- 1314 Ludwig IV. (1281-1347)
- 1349 Charles IV (1316-1378)
- 1376 Wenceslaus of Luxembourg (1361-1419)
- 1407 Ruprecht I (1352-1410)
- 1414 Sigismund of Luxembourg (1368-1437)
- 1442 Frederick III. (1415-1493)
- 1486 Maximilian I (1459-1519)
- 1520 Charles V (1500-1558)
- 1531 Ferdinand I (1503-1564)
In Aachen, the coronation site of the German kings for many centuries, the so-called Aachen imperial regalia were of course also located. These consisted of the imperial gospel, the Stephansburse and the saber of Charlemagne. They were used at every new coronation and played an immense role. Replicas of these objects can be seen in today’s town hall. The original pieces are in a treasury in Vienna. Otto III. (980 – 1002), crowned in 983 in Aachen, planned the expansion of the city. He wanted a second Rome (Roma Secunda) and intended to build the three churches of St. Adalbert, St. Salvator and the Burtscheid Abbey, which are known today, which were only to enrich the cityscape of Aachen under other kings.
In 1166 Aachen was granted market and minting rights by Friedrich I. “Barbarossa” (approx. 1122 – 1190). “Rotbart” also made it a free imperial city. Between 1171 and 1175 the city was surrounded by a 2.5 kilometer long wall, which was named Barbarossa Wall in honor of the emperor who granted privileges. Due to the importance of the city as the coronation place of the German kings and because of its privileges, it expanded rapidly and grew beyond its old city wall within the next 100 years. The new ring of fortifications was 5.5 kilometers long and should be sufficient for the size of the city until the 19th century. In 1248, the papal anti-king Wilhelm of Holland was coronated in Aachen(1227-1256). Although the Aacheners were devoted to the emperor Friedrich II. (1194 – 1250), who had been banished by the Pope, and offered resistance, Wilhelm’s request was forcibly enforced after a long siege of the city.
In 1278, Count Wilhelm IV of Jülich claimed the rights to the city of Aachen for himself and attacked it with 468 armed horsemen, for whom the Cologne Gate of Aachen had been opened by traitors within the city. However, Wilhelm’s plan did not work out: he and his three sons died due to strong resistance from the citizens of Aachen. But two years later atonement was agreed between the city and Wilhelm’s widow. In 1336 Ludwig the Bavarian confirmed the lands belonging to the municipality and thus laid the foundation stone for the Aachen Empire, which was secured with the help of a 70-kilometer-long land ditch and eight watchtowers. The tradition of the sanctuary tour, which still takes place every seven years, began in 1349 when the Aachen sanctuaries were shown for the first time that year. In order to cope with the influx of pilgrims, an extension of the Gothic choir hall was built in 1414.