Detmold is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, with a population of about 74,000. It was the capital of the small Principality of Lippe from 1468 until 1918 and then of the Free State of Lippe until 1947. Today it is the administrative center of the district of Lippe and of Regierungsbezirk Detmold.
Detmold was first mentioned in 783 as Theotmalli, and in 1005 a Tietmelli or Theotmalli region (Gau) is referred to in documents. In 1263, Bernard III of Lippe fortified the settlement at the crossing of the trade route from Paderborn to Lemgo over the Werre River with stone walls and granted it a municipal charter. Its population was reported in 1305 as 305. Market rights granted in 1265 led to rapid economic development. Its defenses were greatly strengthened after severe damage had been inflicted on the town during the conflict with Soest in 1447. A major fire in 1547 destroyed more than 70 houses.
In 1550, Detmold became the permanent residence of Count Simon III of Lippe. The counts were elevated to princes in 1789, and Detmold remained the capital of the small Principality of Lippe until the end of the First World War in 1918, when all princely states in Germany were abolished.
Street lighting was introduced in 1809, with oil-fired lanterns. By 1835, the town had become the most populous in Lippe, with over 4,000 residents. It grew to 12,000 in 1900 and over 30,000 in 1950.
From 1919 to 1947, Detmold was the capital of the Free State of Lippe. When Lippe was incorporated into the new German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the town became the seat of the Lippe district, and since 1972 it is the seat of the county administration of Lippe. With the administrative reform of 1970, 25 nearby villages were incorporated into the city.