The Fortress of Mainz was a fortressed garrison town between 1620 and 1918. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, under the term of the 1815 Peace of Paris, the control of Mainz passed to the German Confederation and became part of a chain of strategic fortresses which protected the Confederation. With the dissolution of the Confederation and the Austro-Prussian War, control of the fortress first passed to Prussia, and, after the 1871 Unification of Germany, to the German Empire.
In 1839 an article on Mainz in The Penny Cyclopædia stated that Mainz was one of the strongest fortresses in Europe, and a chief bulwark of Germany against France. At the Congress of Vienna, Mainz was assigned to the Louis, Grand-Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, but it was decided that, as a fortress, it should belong to the German Confederation, with a garrison of Austrian, Prussian, and Hessian troops. This garrison in time of peace consisted of 6,000 men. The military governor, who retained his post five years, was alternately an Austrian and a Prussian general. A criticism of the fortress was that it was too large, as it required for its defence a garrison of 30,000 men.
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