The year 1158 is assumed to be the foundation date, which is the earliest date the city is mentioned in a document. The document was signed in Augsburg. By that time the Guelph Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, had built a bridge over the river Isar next to a settlement of Benedictine monks—this was on the Old Salt Route and a toll bridge.
In 1175, Munich was officially granted city status and received fortification. In 1180, with the trial of Henry the Lion, Otto I Wittelsbach became Duke of Bavaria and Munich was handed over to the Bishop of Freising. (Wittelsbach's heirs, the Wittelsbach dynasty, would rule Bavaria until 1918.) In 1240, Munich was transferred to Otto II Wittelsbach and in 1255, when the Duchy of Bavaria was split in two, Munich became the ducal residence of Upper Bavaria.
Duke Louis IV was elected German king in 1314 and crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in 1328. He strengthened the city's position by granting it the salt monopoly, thus assuring it of additional income. In the late 15th century Munich underwent a revival of gothic arts—the Old Town Hall was enlarged, and Munich's largest gothic church, now a cathedral—the Frauenkirche—constructed in only twenty years, starting in 1468.
When Bavaria was reunited in 1506, Munich became its capital. The arts and politics became increasingly influenced by the court (see Orlando di Lasso, Heinrich Schuetz and later Mozart and Richard Wagner). During the 16th century Munich was a centre of the German counter reformation, and also of renaissance arts. Duke Wilhelm V commissioned the Jesuit Michaelskirche, which became a centre for the counter-reformation, and also built the Hofbräuhaus for brewing brown beer in 1589.
The Catholic League was founded in Munich in 1609.
In 1623 during the Thirty Years' War Munich became electoral residence when Maximilian I, Duke of Bavaria was invested with the electoral dignity but in 1632 the city was occupied by Gustav II Adolph of Sweden. When the bubonic plague broke out in 1634 and 1635 about one third of the population died. Under the regency of the Bavarian electors Munich was an important centre of baroque life but also had to suffer under Habsburg occupations in 1704 and 1742.
In 1806, the city became the capital of the new Kingdom of Bavaria, with the state's parliament (the Landtag) and the new archdiocese of Munich and Freising being located in the city. Twenty years later Landshut University was moved to Munich. Many of the city's finest buildings belong to this period and were built under the first three Bavarian kings. Later Prince Regent Luitpold's years as regent were marked by tremendous artistic and cultural activity in Munich (see Franz von Stuck and Der Blaue Reiter).
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, life in Munich became very difficult, as the Allied blockade of Germany led to food and fuel shortages. During French air raids in 1916, three bombs fell on Munich.
After World War I, the city was at the centre of much political unrest. In November 1918 on the eve of revolution, Ludwig III and his family fled the city. After the murder of the first republican premier of Bavaria Kurt Eisner in February 1919 by Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley, the Bavarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed. When Communists had taken power, Lenin, who had lived in Munich some years before, sent a congratulatory telegram, but the Soviet Republic was put down on 3 May 1919 by the Freikorps. While the republican government had been restored, Munich subsequently became a hotbed of extremist politics, among which Adolf Hitler and the National Socialism rose to prominence.
In 1923 Hitler and his supporters, who were then concentrated in Munich, staged the Beer Hall Putsch, an attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic and seize power. The revolt failed, resulting in Hitler's arrest and the temporary crippling of the Nazi Party, which was virtually unknown outside Munich.
The city once again became a Nazi stronghold when the National Socialists took power in Germany in 1933. The National Socialist Workers Party created their first concentration camp at Dachau, north-west of the city. Because of its importance to the rise of National Socialism, Munich was referred to as the Hauptstadt der Bewegung ("Capital of the Movement"). The NSDAP headquarters was in Munich and many Führerbauten ("Führer-buildings") were built around the Königsplatz, some of which have survived to this day.
The city is known as the site of the culmination of the policy of appeasement employed by Britain and France leading up to World War II. It was in Munich that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain assented to the annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland region into Greater Germany in the hopes of sating the desires of Hitler's Third Reich.
Munich was the base of the White Rose, a student resistance movement from June 1942 to February 1943. The core members were arrested and executed following a distribution of leaflets in Munich University by Hans and Sophie Scholl.
The city was heavily damaged by allied bombing during World War II — the city was hit by 71 air raids over a period of five years.
After US occupation in 1945, Munich was completely rebuilt following a meticulous and — by comparison to other war-ravaged West German cities— rather conservative plan which preserved its pre-war street grid. In 1957 Munich's population passed the 1 million mark.
Munich was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics, during which Israeli athletes were assassinated by Palestinian fedayeen in the Munich massacre, when gunmen from the Palestinian "Black September" group took hostage members of the Israeli Olympic team.
Most Munich residents enjoy a high quality of life. Mercer HR Consulting consistently rates the city among the top 10 cities with the highest quality of life worldwide — a 2011 survey ranked Munich as 4th. The same company also ranks Munich as the world's 39th most expensive city to live in and the most expensive major city in Germany. Munich enjoys a thriving economy, driven by the information technology, biotechnology, and publishing sectors. Environmental pollution is low, although as of 2006 the city council is concerned about levels of particulate matter (PM), especially along the city's major thoroughfares. Since the enactment of EU legislation concerning the concentration of particulate in the air, environmental groups such as Greenpeace have staged large protest rallies to urge the city council and the State government to take a harder stance on pollution.
Today, the crime rate is low compared to other large German cities, such as Hamburg or Berlin. This high quality of life and safety has caused the city to be nicknamed "Toytown" among the English-speaking residents. German inhabitants call it "Millionendorf", an expression which means "village of a million people".
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