) is the largest city in the German federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the fourth-largest city in Germany (after Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich).
It is located within the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region, one of the major European metropolitan areas, and with more than ten million inhabitants, the largest in Germany.
The city was the capital of a Roman province until occupied by the Ripuarian Franks in 462.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 successors on the bishop's see 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.The city functioned as the capital of the Roman province of Germania Inferior and as the headquarters of the Roman military in the region until occupied by the Franks in 462.During the Middle Ages it flourished on one of the most important major trade routes between east and west in Europe.
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Cologne was one of the leading members of the Hanseatic League and one of the largest cities north of the Alps in medieval and Renaissance times.Up until World War II the city had undergone several occupations by the French and also by the British (1918–1926).The University of Cologne (Universität zu Köln) is one of Europe's oldest and largest universities."Cologne", the French version of the city's name, has become standard in English as well.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 Western Europe trade route, South - North Northern Italy-Flanders.
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