Swabia: Wikis


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Germany, showing modern borders. Light blue region is the state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg. To the east of B-W is state of Bavaria, with Swabia administrative region in pink. Swabia is a region, rather than a political entity, so well-defined borders do not exist.

Swabia, Suabia, or Svebia (German: Schwaben, Schwabenland or L├Ąndle) is both a historic and linguistic (see Swabian German) region in Germany. Swabia consists of much of the present-day state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg (specifically, historical W├╝rttemberg and the Hohenzollerische Lande, but not the western region of Baden), as well as the Bavarian administrative region of Swabia. In the Middle Ages, Baden, Vorarlberg, the modern principality of Liechtenstein, modern German-speaking Switzerland, and Alsace (now in France) were also considered to be a part of Swabia.




Europe in 400 AD, showing the Suebi in Swabia and their neighbors.

2000 years ago, the Suebi or Suevi were an Elbe Germanic people whose origin was near the Baltic Sea, which was thus known to the Romans as the Mare Suebicum (today, the term "Swabian Sea" is applied to Lake Constance). They migrated to the southwest, becoming part of the Alamannic confederacy. The Alamanni were ruled by independent kings throughout the 4th and 5th centuries. Also, a number of Suevi (20,000-50,000[1]) reached the Iberian Peninsula under king Hermeric and established an independent kingdom in 410 in what is now northern Portugal, Galicia, and western regions of Asturias and most of Le├│n (in northwest Spain). Their kingdom was known as Galliciense Regnum and endured until 585. Its political center was Braccara Augusta (present-day Braga, Portugal).

Duchy of Swabia

Swabia became a duchy under the Frankish Empire in 496, following the Battle of Tolbiac. Swabia was one of the original stem duchies of East Francia, the later Holy Roman Empire, as it developed in the 9th and 10th centuries. The Hohenstaufen dynasty (the dynasty of Frederick Barbarossa), which ruled the Holy Roman Empire in the 12th and 13th centuries, arose out of Swabia, but following the execution of Conradin, the last Hohenstaufen, on October 29, 1268, the original duchy gradually broke up into many smaller units.

Holy Roman Empire

Karl the Great's (or Charlemagne) family is known to hail from Swabia. The major dynasties that arose out of the region were the Habsburgs and the Hohenzollerns, who rose to prominence in Northern Germany. Also stemming from Swabia are the local dynasties of the Dukes of W├╝rttemberg and the Margraves of Baden. The Welf family went on to rule in Bavaria and Hanover, and are ancestral to the British royal family that has ruled since 1714. Smaller feudal dynasties eventually disappeared; however, for example, branches of the Montforts and Hohenems lived until modern times, and the F├╝rstenberg survive still. The region proved to be one of the most divided in the Empire, containing, in addition to these principalities, numerous free cities, ecclesiastical territories, and fiefdoms of lesser counts and knights.

The Old Swiss Confederacy was de facto independent from Swabia from 1499 as a result of the Swabian War.

Fearing the power of the greater princes, the cities and smaller secular rulers of Swabia joined to form the Swabian League in the 15th century. The League was quite successful, notably expelling the Duke of W├╝rttemberg in 1519 and putting in his place a Habsburg governor, but the league broke up a few years later over religious differences inspired by the Reformation, and the Duke of W├╝rttemberg was soon restored. The region was quite divided by the Reformation. While secular princes like the Duke of W├╝rttemberg and the Margrave of Baden-Durlach, as well as most of the Free Cities, became Protestant, the ecclesiastical territories (including the bishoprics of Augsburg, Konstanz and others) remained Catholic, as did the territories belonging to the Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns and the Margrave of Baden-Baden.

Modern history

In the wake of the territorial reorganization of the Empire of 1803 by the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss, the shape of Swabia was entirely changed. All the ecclesiastical estates were secularized, and most of the smaller secular states, and almost all of the free cities, were mediatized, leaving only W├╝rttemberg, Baden and Hohenzollern as sovereign states. Much of Eastern Swabia became part of Bavaria, forming what is now the Bavarian administrative region of Swabia.

Swabian settlements abroad

Outside of Germany, many Swabians settled in Hungary, including part of what is now Serbia; and Romania (the Danube Swabians and Swabian Turkey) in the 18th century, where they were invited as pioneers to repopulate some areas. They also settled in Russia, Bessarabia, and Kazakhstan. They were well-respected as farmers. Outside of Europe, Swabian settlements can also be found in Brazil, Canada, and the United States. The town of Swaffham, Norfolk means "homestead of the Swabians", some of whom must presumably have settled in England alongside the Angles and Saxons.

In several languages of eastern and south-eastern Europe, the local name for "Swabian" has come to be used as a colloquial name for "Germans" in general.

Popular culture

A campaign sticker, translated, "We can do everythingÔÇöexcept speak High German." This is an allusion to the fact that Baden-W├╝rttemberg is one of the principal centres for innovation in Germany with many inhabitants having distinctive dialects.
For information on the distinct Swabian dialect see Swabian German.

Swabians have in former times been the target of many jokes and stories where they are depicted as excessively stingy, overly serious, prudish, or as simpletons, for instance in "The Seven Swabians" (Die sieben Schwaben) published in Kinder- und Hausm├Ąrchen by the Brothers Grimm. However, this has ceased to a large extent, while Swabians are nowadays said to be frugal, clever, entrepreneurial and hard-working. In a widely respected publicity campaign on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Baden-W├╝rttemberg, the economically most successful state in modern Germany, the Swabians famously replied to the former jokes with: ""We can do everything - except speak Standard German" (Wir k├Ânnen alles. Au├čer Hochdeutsch), alluding to the region's distinct local dialect.

Many Swabian surnames end with the suffixes -le, -el, -ehl, and -lin. Examples would be: Sch├Ąuble, Egeler, Rommel, and Gmelin. The popular surname Schwab is derived from this area, meaning literally "Swabian".

In Switzerland, "Sauschwab" is a derogatory term for Germans, derived from the Swabian War of 1499. In Serbian, Polish, and Bulgarian, "Shvab" or "Szwab" may be a semi-abusive term for any German, not just one from Swabia. In parts of the former Yugoslavia (i.e. Slovenia, Slavonija in Croatia, and Vojvodina in Serbia), the term Swab (locally ┼ávab, from đĘđ▓đ░đ▒) is somewhat applied to all German peoples who lived in those regions until shortly after World War II, and many of their descendants; it is even occasionally used as a slang term to refer to all Germans as well as Austrians and Swiss German speaking people.

Related Alemannic dialects

Contemporary distribution of Alemannic dialects

Swabian (Schw├Ąbisch) is one of the Alemannic German dialects of High German, spoken in the region of Swabia, present in the North-Eastern area of the Alemannic Sprachraum. A separate version of Wikipedia is maintained in Alemannic German.[2]

Famous Swabians

The following is an abbreviated list of individuals who hailed from the region. Inclusion in this list is not indicative of descent from the original Swabians.

See also

External links


  1. ^ Their number would be comparable, but probably inferior, to that of the Vandals that passed into África after residing together in Galaecia for 10 years. See Victor Vitense Persecutiones, I.
  2. ^ Wikipedia in Alemannic German

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SWABIA, Suabia or Suevia (Ger. Schwaben), one of the stem-duchies of medieval Germany, taking its name from the Suevi, a tribe who inhabited the district in the first century of the Christian era. Dwelling in the angle formed by the Rhine and the Danube, they were joined by other tribes, and were called Alamanni, whilst the district was called Alamannia, until about the 11th century, when the form Swabia began to prevail. In 496 the Alamanni were defeated by Clovis, king of the Franks, brought under Frankish rule, and governed by dukes who were dependent on the Frankish kings. In the 7th century the people were converted to Christianity, bishoprics were founded at Augsburg and Constance, and in the 8th century abbeys at Reichenau and St Gall. The Alamanni had gradually thrown off the Frankish yoke, but in 730 Charles Martel again reduced them to dependence, and his son Pippin the Short abolished the tribal duke and ruled the duchy by two counts palatine, or Kammerboten. The duchy, which was divided into gaus or counties, took about this time the extent which it retained throughout the middle ages, and was bounded by the Rhine, the lake of Constance, the Lech and Franconia. The Lech, separating Alamannia from Bavaria, did not form, either ethnologically or geographically, a very strong boundary, and there was a good deal of intercommunion between the two races. During the later and weaker years of the Carolingian rule the counts became almost independent, and a struggle for supremacy took place between them and the bishops of Constance. The chief family in Alamannia was that of the counts of Raetia, who were sometimes called margraves, and one of whom, Burkhard, was called duke of the Alaminnia. Burkhard was killed in 911, and two counts palatine, Bertold and Erchanger, were accused of treason, and put to death by order of the German king Conrad I. In 917, Burkhard, count in Raetia, took the title of duke, and was recognized as such by King Henry I., the Fowler, in 919. His position was virtually independent, and when he died in 926 he was succeeded by Hermann, a Franconian noble, who married his widow. When Hermann died in 948 Otto the Great gave the duchy to his own son Ludolf, who had married Hermann's daughter Ida; but he reduced the ducal privileges and appointed counts palatine to watch the royal interests. Ludolf revolted, and was deposed, and other dukes followed in quick succession. Burkhard II., son of Burkhard I., ruled from 954 to 973, Ludolf's son, Otto, afterwards duke of Bavaria, to 982, and Conrad I., a relative of Duke Hermann I., until 997. Hermann II., possibly a son of Conrad, succeeded, and, dying in 1003, was followed by his son Hermann III. During these years the Swabians were loyal to the kings of the Saxon house, probably owing to the influence of the bishops. Hermann III. had no children, and the succession passed to Ernest, son of his eldest sister Gisela and Ernest I., margrave of Austria. Ernest held the duchy for his son until his own death in 1015, when Gisela undertook the government, and was married a second time, to Conrad, duke of Franconia, who was afterwards the German king Conrad II. When Ernest came of age he quarrelled with his step-father, who deposed him, and, in 1030, gave the duchy to Gisela's second son, Hermann IV. and, on his death in 1038, to Henry, his own son by Gisela. In 1045 Henry, who had become German king as Henry III., granted Alamannia to Otto, grandson of the emperor Otto II. and count palatine of the Rhine, and, in 1048, to Otto, count of Schweinfurt. Rudolph, count of Rheinfelden, was the next duke, and in 1077 he was chosen German king in opposition to the emperor Henry IV., but found little support in Swabia, which was given by Henry to his faithful adherent, Frederick I., count of Hohenstaufen. Frederick had to fight for his position with Bertold, son of Duke Rudolph, and the duke's son-in-law, Bertold II., duke of Zahringen, to whom he ceded the Breisgau in 1096. Frederick II. succeeded his father in 1105, and was followed by Frederick III., afterwards the emperor Frederick I. The earlier Hohenstaufen increased the imperial domain in Swabia, where they received steady support, although ecclesiastical influences were very strong. In 1152 Frederick I. gave the duchy to his kinsman, Frederick, count of Rothenburg and duke of Franconia, after whose death in 1167 it was held successively by three sons of the emperor, the youngest of whom, Philip, was chosen German king in 1198. During his struggle for the throne Philip purchased support by large cessions of Swabian lands, and the duchy remained in the royal hands during the reign of Otto IV., and came to Frederick II. in 1214. Frederick granted Swabia to his son Henry, and, after his rebellion in 1235, to his son Conrad, whose son Conradin, setting out in 1266 to take possession of Sicily, pledged his Swabian inheritance to Ulrich II. count of Wurttemberg. The duchy was ripe for dissolution and, after Conradin's death, in 1268, the chief authority in Swabia fell to the counts of Wurttemberg, the margraves of Baden, the counts palatine of Tubingen, the counts of Hohenzollern and others.

When the emperor Maximilian I. divided Germany into circles in 1512, one, which was practically coterminous with the duchy, was called the Swabian circle. The area, which was formerly Swabia, is now covered by the kingdom of WUrttemberg, the grand-duchy of Hesse and the western part of the kingdom of Bavaria. Although the name Swabia is occasionally used in a general way to denote the district formerly occupied by the duchy, the exact use of the name is now confined to a Bavarian province, with its capital at Augsburg.

See J. Leichtlen, Schwaben enter den Riimern (Freiburg, 1825); J. C. v. Pfister, Pragmatische Geschichte von Schwaben (Heilbronn, first part, 1803, continuation to 1496, 1827).

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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. A historical region of Germany.



  • Suabia
  • Svebia

Derived terms


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