Marburg is a university town in the German federal state (Bundesland) of Hessen, capital of the Marburg-Biedenkopf district (Landkreis). The town area spreads along the valley of the river Lahn and has a population of approximately 72,000.
Having been awarded town privileges in 1222, Marburg served as capital of the landgraviate of Hessen-Marburg during periods of the 15th to 17th centuries. The University of Marburg was founded in 1527 and dominates the public life in the town to this day.
In the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, the Prince-elector of Hessen had backed Austria. Prussia won and took the opportunity to invade and annex the Electorate of Hessen (as well as Hanover, the city of Frankfurt, and other territories) north of the Main River. However, the pro-Austrian Hesse-Darmstadt remained independent. For Marburg, this turn of events was very positive, because Prussia decided to make Marburg its main administrative centre in this part of the new province Hessen-Nassau and to turn the University of Marburg into the regional academic centre. Thus, Marburg's rise as an administrative and university city began. As the Prussian university system was one of the best in the world at the time, Marburg attracted many respected scholars. However, there was hardly any industry to speak of, so students, professors, and civil servants – who generally had enough but not much money and paid very little in taxes – dominated the town, which tended to be very conservative.