In 953, the archbishops of Cologne first gained noteworthy secular power when bishop Bruno was appointed as duke by his brother Otto I, King of Germany. In order to weaken the secular nobility, who threatened his power, Otto endowed Bruno and his archiepiscopal successors with the prerogatives of secular princes, thus establishing the Electorate of Cologne, formed by the temporal possessions of the archbishopric and included in the end a strip of territory along the left Bank of the Rhine east of Jülich, as well as the Duchy of Westphalia on the other side of the Rhine, beyond Berg and Mark. By the end of the 12th century, the Archbishop of Cologne was one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Emperor. Besides being prince elector, he was Archchancellor of Italy as well, technically from 1238 and permanently from 1263 until 1803.
Following the Battle of Worringen in 1288, Cologne gained its independence from the archbishops and became a Free City. Archbishop Sigfried II von Westerburg was forced to reside in Bonn. The archbishop nevertheless preserved the right of capital punishment. Thus the municipal council (though in strict political opposition towards the archbishop) depended upon him in all matters concerning criminal justice. This included torture, the sentence for which was only allowed to be handed down by the episcopal judge known as the "Greve". This legal situation lasted until the French conquest of Cologne.
Besides its economic and political significance Cologne also became an important centre of medieval pilgrimage, when Cologne's archbishop, Rainald of Dassel, gave the relics of the Three Wise Men to Cologne's cathedral in 1164 (after they, in fact, had been taken from Milan). Besides the three magi Cologne preserves the relics of Saint Ursula and Albertus Magnus.
Cologne's location on the river Rhine placed it at the intersection of the major trade routes between east and west as well as the main south–north Western Europe trade route, Northern Italy to Flanders. The intersection of these trade routes were the basis of Cologne's growth. By 1300 the city population was 50,000–55,000. Cologne was a member of the Hanseatic League in 1475, when Frederick III confirmed the city's imperial immediacy.
first European city I visited, business trip to a conference at Koln Messe. in my early 20s, rented a car with a work colleague and took a week off after, drove south to the Swiss border and back up along the Rhine. was fun can't say I remember too much about it, though.
It wasn't built to celebrate some namby-pamby touch-feely guy who forgives sins or anything, it is a huge scary building built to honour a huge scary god who smites people at the drop of a hat, the one who knocked down the walls of Jericho so that the Israelites could march right in and "destroy with the sword every living thing in it--men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys."
When you see that ugly but awesome black monstrosity rising from the ground it's not saying "Join us and we can promise you that everything will be alright" it's saying "If you don't join us then I can fucking guarantee that everything is definitely not gonna be alright cos we are going to smite the fucking shit out of you, and your family and your friends and basically we're gonna kill the fuck out of everyone you have ever met and then kill your donkeys and sheep and even your pet cat or dog just cos we can".
And that's what it looks like now, imagine how terrifying it must have been in 1500 or whatever, even if it was uncompleted at that point.
I also like those tiny test tubes of beer they serve in all the kneipes and the basic food of just sausage, raw onions and real manly mustard that will put hair on your chest.
Well some translations have it as ass in fact. Puts a bit of a different spin on it "Destroy the ass of every man, woman and child in Jericho" - also pretty nasty, but God is a pretty nasty guy when he has a strop on.