The City Municipality of Bremen (German: Stadtgemeinde Bremen, pronounced [ˈbʁeːmən]) is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area (2.4 million people). Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany. Bremen is some 60 km (37 mi) south from the Weser mouth on the North Sea. With Bremerhaven right on the mouth the two comprise the state of Bremen (official name: Freie Hansestadt Bremen1 - Free Hanseatic City of Bremen).
In 150 AD the geographer Ptolemy refers to Fabiranum or Phabiranum, known today as Bremen. At that time the Chauci lived in the area now called north-western Germany or Lower Saxony. By the end of the 3rd century, they had merged with the Saxons. During the Saxon Wars (772-804) the Saxons, led by Widukind, fought against the West Germanic Franks, the founders of the Carolingian Empire and lost the war. Charlemagne, the King of the Franks, made a new law, the Lex Saxonum. This law stated that Saxons were not allowed to worship Odin (the god of the Saxons), but rather that they had to convert to Christianity on pain of death. This period was called the Christianisation. In 787 Willehad of Bremen was the first Bishop of Bremen. In 848 the diocese of Hamburg merged with the diocese of Bremen, and in the following centuries the bishops of Bremen were the driving force behind the Christianisation of north Germany. In 888 Archbishop Rimbert, managed to get Kaiser Arnulf of Carinthia, the Carolingian King of East Francia, to grant Bremen the right to hold its own markets, to mint its own coins and make its own customs laws. The first stone city walls were built in 1032. Around this time trade with Norway, England and the northern Netherlands began to grow, thus increasing the importance of the city.
In 1186 the Bremian Prince-Archbishop Hartwig of Uthlede and his bailiff in Bremen confirmed - without generally waiving the prince-archiepiscopal overlordship over the city - the Gelnhausen Privilege, by which Frederick I Barbarossa granted the city considerable privileges. The city was recognised as a political entity with its own laws. Property within the municipal boundaries could not be subjected to feudal overlordship; this also applied to serfs who acquired property, if they managed to live in the city for a year and a day, after which they were to be regarded as free persons. Property was to be freely inherited without feudal claims for reversion to its original owner. This privilege laid the foundation for Bremen's later status of imperial immediacy (Free Imperial City). In fact, however, Bremen did not have complete independence from the Prince-Archbishops, in that there was no freedom of religion, and burghers were still forced to pay taxes to the Prince-Archbishops. Bremen played a double role; it participated in the Diets of the neighbouring Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen as part of the Bremian Estates and paid its share of taxes, at least when it had previously consented to this levy. Since the city was the major taxpayer, its consent was generally sought. In this way the city wielded fiscal and political power within the Prince-Archbishopric, while not allowing the Prince-Archbishopric to rule in the city against its consent. In 1260 Bremen joined the Hanseatic League.
When the Protestant Reformation swept through Northern Germany, St Peter's cathedral belonged to the cathedral immunity district (German: Domfreiheit), an extraterritorial enclave of the neighbouring Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen. The cathedral chapter which was still Catholic at that time closed St Peter's in 1532 after a mob consisting of Bremen's burghers had forcefully interrupted a Catholic mass and prompted a pastor to hold a Lutheran service. Roman Catholic Church was condemned by most local burghers as a symbol of the abuses of a long Catholic past. In 1547 the chapter, which had in the mean time become predominantly Lutheran, appointed the Dutch Albert Rizaeus, called Hardenberg, as the first Cathedral pastor of Protestant affiliation. Rizaeus turned out to be a partisan of the Zwinglian understanding of the Lord's Supper, which was rejected by the then Lutheran majority of burghers, the city council, and chapter. So in 1561 - after heated disputes - Rizaeus was dismissed and banned from the city and the cathedral again closed its doors. However, as a consequence of that controversy the majority of Bremen's burghers and city council adopted Calvinism by the 1590s, while the chapter, which was at the same time the body of secular government in the neighbouring Prince-Archbishopric, clung to Lutheranism. This antagonism between a Calvinistic majority and a Lutheran minority, though it had a powerful position in its immunity district (mediatised as part of the city in 1803), remained dominant until in 1873 the Calvinist and Lutheran congregations of Bremen were reconciled and founded a united administrative umbrella Bremian Protestant Church, which still exists today, comprising the bulk of Bremen's burghers. At the beginning of the 17th c. Bremen continued to play its double role, wielding fiscal and political power within the Prince-Archbishopric, but not allowing the Prince-Archbishopric to rule in the city without its consent.
In 1811, Napoleon invaded Bremen and integrated it as the capital of the Département de Bouches-du-Weser (Department of the Mouths of the Weser) into the French State. In 1813, the French - as they retreated - withdrew from Bremen. Johann Smidt, Bremen's representative at the Congress of Vienna, was successful in achieving the non-mediatisation of Bremen, Hamburg and the Lübeck by which they were not incorporated into neighbouring monarchies, but became sovereign republics. The first German steamship was manufactured in 1817 in the shipyard of Johann Lange. In 1827, Bremen, under Johann Smidt, its mayor at that time, purchased land from the Kingdom of Hanover, to establish the city of Bremerhaven (Port of Bremen) as an outpost of Bremen because of the increased silting up of the river Weser. Brauerei Beck & Co KG, a brewery, was founded in 1837 and remains in operation today. The shipping company The North German Lloyd (NDL) was founded in 1857. Lloyd was a byword for commercial shipping and is now a part of Hapag-Lloyd. In 1872, the Bremer Cotton Exchange was created.
A Soviet (Council) Republic of Bremen existed from November 1918 to February 1919 in the aftermath of World War I before it was overthrown by Gerstenberg Freikorps. Henrich Focke, Georg Wulf and Werner Naumann founded Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau AG in Bremen in 1923; the aircraft construction company as of 2010 forms part of Airbus, a manufacturer of civil and military aircraft. Borgward, an automobile manufacturer, was founded in 1929, and is today part of Daimler AG. The town of Vegesack became part of the city of Bremen in 1939: the Bremen-Vegesack concentration camp operated during World War II. Following the bombing of Bremen in World War II, the British 3rd Infantry Division under General Whistler captured Bremen in late April 1945. After World War II, the city became an enclave, part of the American occupation zone. Bremen's mayor Wilhelm Kaisen (SPD) travelled 1946 to the U.S. to seek Bremen's independence from Lower Saxony, as Bremen had traditionally been a city-state. In 1947, Martin Mende founded Nordmende, a manufacturer of entertainment electronics. In 1958, OHB-System, a manufacturer of medium-sized spaceflight satellites, was founded.