Introduction of Cologne
City in North Rhine–Westphalia, on the Rhine River, 20 mi SSE of Dusseldorf. Garrisoned by the Romans in the first century b.c., it was made a Roman colony by Claudius in a.d. 50 and became the headquarters of the governor of Lower Germany. After a.d. 258 it was the capital of Postumus’s empire comprising Gaul, Britain, and Spain. Captured by the Franks in 456, it was made an archbishopric by Charlemagne. It prospered as a member of the Hanseatic League but declined after the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century. Seized by the French in 1794, it passed to Prussia in 1815. It was ruined by Allied air raids in World War II but has been rebuilt as an important industrial and commercial center. Its cathedral, which survives, was begun in 1248 and completed only in 1824.