Franconia: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Franconian coat of arms
Walberla in Franconia
Water wheel at the Regnitz

Franconia (German: Franken) is a region of Germany comprising the northern parts of the modern state of Bavaria, a part of southern Thuringia, and a much smaller region in northeastern Baden-Württemberg called Heilbronn-Franken. The Bavarian part is made up of the administrative regions of Lower Franconia (Unterfranken), Middle Franconia (Mittelfranken), and Upper Franconia (Oberfranken).

Franconia (just like France) is named after the Germanic tribe of the Franks. This tribe played a major role after the breakdown of the Roman Empire and colonised large parts of medieval Europe.

Modern day Franconia comprises only a very tiny and rather remote part of the settlement area of the ancient Franks. In German, Franken is used for both modern day Franconians and the historic Franks, which leads to some confusion. The historic Frankish Empire, Francia, is actually the common precursor of the Low Countries, France and Germany. In 843 the Treaty of Verdun led to the partition of Francia into West Francia (modern day France), Middle Francia (from the Low Countries along the Rhine valley to northern Italy) and East Francia (modern day Germany). Frankreich, the German word for "France", literally means "the Frankish Empire".



Nürnberg is the largest city of Franconia

The Western natural border of Franconia is formed by the Spessart. To the north it is framed by the Thuringian Forest and the Franconian Forest, to the east by the Fichtelgebirge and the Fränkische Alb. The largest River of Franconia is the Main. Together with its largest tributary the Regnitz, the Main drains the most parts of Franconia. Other large Rivers are the Tauber, the Jagst and the Altmühl.

Rothenburg is one of the most famous places of Franconia

The largest cities are Nürnberg, Würzburg, Fürth, Erlangen, Bayreuth, Bamberg, Schweinfurt, Hof, Coburg, Ansbach and Schwabach.



Early middle Ages

Until the 6th century, the region of today's Franconia was probably dominated by Alamanni and Thuringians. After the Frankish triumphs among both tribes around 507 and 529–534 n. Chr. most parts were occupied by the Franks.

Stem Duchy of Franconia

The Holy Roman Empire at the beginning of the Salic dynasty.

East Francia was made up of four stem duchies, one of them was the Duchy of Franconia. The historic duchy of Franconia extended further west to Speyer, Mainz, and Worms (west of the Rhine) than modern day Franconia and even included Frankfurt (ford of the Franks). Sometime around 906, Conrad of the Conradine dynasty succeeded in establishing his ducal hegemony over Franconia. At the failure of the direct Carolingian male line in 911, Conrad was acclaimed King of the Germans, largely because of his weak position in his own duchy. Franconia, like Alamannia, was not as united as Saxony or Bavaria and the position of duke was often disputed between the chief families.

Conrad had granted Franconia to his brother Eberhard on his succession; but when Eberhard rebelled against Otto I in 938, he was deposed from his duchy, and, rather than appoint a new duke from his own circle, Otto divided the threatening power of the duchy among the great ecclesiastics with and through whom he ruled, who had remained faithful to his cause: the Bishop of Würzburg and the Abbot of Fulda (939). They were later joined (1008) by a new bishopric erected on former ducal territory: Bamberg.

Thenceforth the great abbeys and episcopal seats that Saint Boniface and his successors had established in southwestern Germany had a monopoly on temporal office in Franconia, on a par with the counts of lands further west. They had another virtue in the Ottonian scheme: as celibates they were less likely to establish hereditary lineages. By contrast, Otto's son-in-law, Conrad the Red, whom he had installed as Duke of Lorraine in 944, extended his power base in Franconia.

Divided Franconia

In the High Middle Ages, Franconia came to be divided into two distinct regions, though these regions were not coherent territories with distinct governments. Rather, they were culturally different regions which came to be dominated by different political and religious forces and thus came under the de facto "rule" of different bodies.

Rhenish Franconia

Rhenish Franconia (Rheinfranken) was the western half of Franconia, immediately east of the Rhine. It was the heartland of the Salian dynasty, which provided four emperors in the 11th and 12th centuries: Conrad II, Henry III, Henry IV, and Henry V. Rhenish Franconia contained the ancient cities of Mainz, Speyer, and Worms, the latter two being countships within the hands of the descendants of Conrad the Red (the Salians). These counts were sometimes referred to informally, on account of the great power in the region, as dukes of Franconia.

Rhenish Franconia was actually governed, however, as a constellation of small states, like the free cities (Frankfurt and Worms), the bishoprics (Mainz, Speyer, and Worms), and the Landgraviate of Hesse. Alongside these powerful entities there were many smaller, petty states. In 1093, the Salian Franconian territories were granted as a fief to the Count Palatine of Aachen, a territory that would evolve into the important German principality of the Rhenish Palatinate. In this way, Rhenish Franconia was divided and extinguished.

Successor states of Western Franconia

The following are the most important of the states that had formed on the territory of Western (or Rhenish) Franconia by the 13th century:

Eastern Franconia

In 1115, Henry V awarded the territory of Eastern Franconia (Ostfranken) to his nephew Conrad of Hohenstaufen, who used the title "Duke of Franconia." Franconia remained a Hohenstaufen power base until 1168, when the Bishop of Würzburg was formally ceded the ducal rights in Eastern Franconia. The name "Franconia" fell out of usage, but in 1500 the Franconian Circle was created. Also the bishop of Würzburg had revived it in his own favour in 1442 and held it until the reforms of Napoleon Bonaparte abolished it. It should be noted that the Bishop of Würzburg was more properly the Duke in Franconia (Herzog in Franken) rather than the Duke of Franconia (Herzog von Franken) during this time although both titles were used.

Successor states of Eastern Franconia

As of the 13th century, the following states, among others, had formed in the territory of the former Duchy:

Modern Franconia

Map of modern Franconia
map of the Franconia (wine region)

Most of modern day Franconia became Bavarian in 1803 thanks to Bavaria's alliance with Napoleon. Culturally it is in many ways different from Bavaria proper ("Altbayern", Old Bavaria), however. The ancient name was resurrected in 1837 by Ludwig I of Bavaria. During the Nazi period, Bavaria was broken up into several different Gaue, including Franconia and Main-Franconia.

While Old Bavaria is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, Franconia is a mixed area. Lower Franconia and the western half of Upper Franconia (Bamberg, Lichtenfels, Kronach) is predominantly Catholic, while most of Middle and the eastern half of Upper Franconia (Bayreuth, Hof, Kulmbach) are predominantly Protestant (Evangelical Church in Germany). The city of Fürth in Middle Franconia historically (before the Nazi era) had a large Jewish population; Henry Kissinger was born there.

East Franconian German is very different from the Austro-Bavarian language. Most Franconians do not call themselves Bavarians, but their insistence on this point is generally a lighthearted matter in modern times. In fact, Franconians will most likely take umbrage at insults directed at Bavaria. Even if there is no Franconian state, red and white are regarded as state colours (Landesfarben) of Franconia. The existence of the region of Heilbronn-Franken in Baden-Württemberg is largely ignored outside this state.

See also

External links


  • Reuter, Timothy. Germany in the Early Middle Ages 800–1056. New York: Longman, 1991. ISBN 0-582-49034-0
  • Cantor, Norman, The Civilization of the Middle Ages. 1993. ISBN 0-06-017033-6

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Franconia (Franken) is a region of northern Bavaria, a state of Germany, that was formerly a separate kingdom (a duchy) of the Holy Roman Empire. The history of the area stretches back over a thousand years. Franconia encompasses three administrative regions of Bavaria: Lower Franconia (Unterfranken), Middle Franconia (Mittelfranken), and Upper Franconia (Oberfranken). Culturally Franconians identify themselves as being different from Bavarians. Within Franconia are the historically important city of Nuremberg, the UNESCO World Heritage town of Bamberg, and a huge range of outdoor activities in the Franconian Switzerland and Franconian lake district.

Regional Map of Franconia, part of Bavaria, Germany
Regional Map of Franconia, part of Bavaria, Germany

Lower Franconia (Unterfranken)

Middle Franconia (Mittelfranken)

Upper Franconia (Oberfranken)

  • Fränkische Schweiz (Franconian Switzerland) -- Castle ruins, hiking, canoeing.
  • Fränkisches Seenland (Franconian lake district) -- The Lake District comprises of 7 lakes. The total expanse of water is about 20 km².
  • Fränkisches Weinland (Franconian Wineland) -- Wine tasting, hiking, biking, and more.
  • Fichtelgebirge is in the north-east corner of Franconia. It is arranged like a horseshoe around an inner hill-landscape. The highest mountain is the "Schneeberg (Snow Mountain)" with 1053 m above sealevel.
  • Aufsess is a tiny town which the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes as the town with the most breweries per capita! There's even a beer trail that you can hike with stops at all the local biergartens.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Proper noun


  1. historic region of Germany comprising the northern parts of the modern state of Bavaria and the area to its immediate west


Simple English

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Franconia (German: Franken) is the northern part of the German federal state of Bavaria. This region is divided in three smaller regions: Oberfranken, Mittelfranken, and Unterfranken. The biggest city in Franconia is Nuremberg.

Other large cities in Franconia are Coburg, Aschaffenburg, Würzburg, Erlangen, Fürth, Bamberg, Bayreuth, Schweinfurt and Hof.


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