Bielefeld (bēˈləfĕlt) [key], city (1994 pop. 324,670), North Rhine–Westphalia, N central Germany. It has been noted since the 13th cent. for its handmade linens. Other manufactures include silks, clothing, sewing machines, bicycles, machinery, pharmaceuticals, and, most recently, electronic equipment. Chartered in 1214, Bielefeld became a member of the Hanseatic League in 1270. In 1647 it passed to Brandenburg. It is the seat of a university founded in 1966. Annexation of several neighboring cities in 1973 doubled the size of the city.
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