Speyer (older spelling Speier, known as Spire in French and formerly as Spires in English) is a town in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located beside the river Rhine, Speyer is 25 km south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. Founded by the Romans, it is one of Germany's oldest cities. The first known names were Noviomagus and Civitas Nemetum, after the Teutonic tribe, Nemetes, settled in the area. Around the year 500 the name Spira first appeared in written documents and, as well as the French, this is still reflected in the names Spira and Espira used in Italian and Spanish. The city's name may be the origin of the Ashkenazi Jewish name, Shapiro, and its variants.
In 1635, Marshal of France Urbain de Maillé-Brézé, together with Jacques Nompar de Caumont, duc de La Force, conquers Heidelberg and Speyer at the head of the Army of Germany.
In 1689, the town is heavily damaged by French troops.
Between 1792 and 1814, Speyer is under French jurisdiction.
In 1816, Speyer becomes the seat of administration of the Palatinate and of the government of the Rhine District of Bavaria (later called the Bavarian Palatinate), and remains so until the end of World War II.
Between 1883 and 1904, the Memorial Church is built in remembrance of the Protestation of 1529.