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BOTZEN, or Bozen (Ital. Bolzano), a town in the Austrian province of Tirol, situated at the confluence of the Talfer with the Eisak, and a short way above the junction of the latter with the Adige or Etsch. It is built at a height of 869 ft., and is a station on the Brenner railway, being 58 m. S. of that pass and 35 m. N. of Trent. In 1900 it had a population of 13,632, Romanist and mainly German-speaking, though the Italian element is said to be increasing. Botzen is a Teutonic town amid Italian surroundings. It is well built, and boasts of a fine old Gothic parish church, dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, opposite which a statue was erected in 1889 to the memory of the famous Minnesinger, Walther von der Vogelweide, who, according to some accounts, was born (c. 1170) at a farm above Waidbruck, to the north of Botzen. Botzen is the busiest commercial town in the German-speaking portion of Tirol, being admirably situated at the junction of the Brenner route from Germany to Italy with that from Switzerland down the Upper Adige valley or the Vintschgau. Hence the transit trade has always been very considerable (it has four large fairs annually), while the local wine is mentioned as early as the 7th century. Lately its prosperity has been increased by the rise into favour as a winter resort of the village of Gries, on the other bank of the Talfer, and now practically a suburb of Botzen.
The pons Drusi (probably over the Adige, just below Botzen) is mentioned in the 4th century by the Peutinger Table. In the 7th to 8th centuries Botzen was held by a dynasty of Bavarian counts. But in 1027, with the rest of the diocese of Trent, it was given by the emperor Conrad II. to the bishop of Trent. From 1028 onwards it was ruled by local counts, the vassals of the bishops, but after Tirol fell into the hands of the Habsburgers (1363) their power grew at the expense of that of the bishops. In 1381 Leopold granted to the citizens the privilege of having a town council, while in 1462 the bishops resigned all rights of jurisdiction over the town to the Habsburgers, so that its later history is merged in that of Tirol. (W. A. B. C.)
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