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The literal meaning of Königsberg is 'King’s Barrow'. In the local Low German dialect, spoken by many of its German former inhabitants, the name was Königsbarg. Further names included Russian: Кёнигсберг (Kyonigsberg), Old Prussian: Kunnegsgarbs, Knigsberg, Lithuanian: Karaliaučius and Polish: Królewiec.
Königsberg was founded in 1255 on the site of the ancient Old Prussian settlement Twangste by the Teutonic Knights during the Northern Crusades, and was named in honour of King Ottokar II of Bohemia. A Baltic port, the city successively became the capital of their monastic state, the Duchy of Prussia (1525-1701) and East Prussia. Königsberg remained the coronation city of the Prussian monarchy, though the capital was moved to Berlin in 1701, until the monarchy was abolished after the Prussian Revolution. It remains the easternmost major city in Prussia.
A university city, home of the University of Königsberg (founded in 1544), Königsberg has developed into an important Prussian intellectual and cultural center, being the residence of Simon Dach, Immanuel Kant, Käthe Kollwitz, E. T. A. Hoffmann, David Hilbert, Agnes Miegel, Hannah Arendt, Michael Wieck and others.
Between the thirteenth and the twentieth centuries, the inhabitants spoke predominantly German, but the multicultural city also had a profound influence on the Lithuanian and Polish cultures. The city was a publishing center of Lutheran literature, including the first Polish translation of the New Testament, printed in the city in 1551, the first book in Lithuanian language and the first Lutheran catechism, both printed in Königsberg in 1547.