Franken (Franconia) is an area in the German Federal State Bavaria (Bayern); consisting of 3 of Bavaria's seven administrative districts. It is located in the north of Bavaria and centrally in the south of Germany.
Coat of Arms
In medieval times and in past centuries there never was a united political entity called Franken (Franconia), only a lot of small formerly sovereign states, Imperial Free Cities and numerous ecclesiastical and secular holdings that made up this region. Due to this there had never been an actual historical coat of arms for the whole region of Franconia. Nevertheless the white and red Fränkischer Rechen became the symbol for whole Franconia; in the so-called great version of Bavaria's coat of arms as well as in the coat of arms of the three current day Franconian administrative districts.
Der Fränkische Rechen (the Franconian rake or saw-tooth) shows three white (silver) spires on a red background. The saw-tooth has become a symbol commonly associated with the whole region of Franconia - consisting of Middle Franconia, Upper Franconia and Lower Franconia.
Franconia is located in the north of Bavaria it consists of:
- Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia) in the northwest
- Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) in the northeast
- Unterfranken (Lower Franconia) in the northwest
These are three of Bavaria's seven Regierungsbezirke (administrative districts). Middle Franconia is area-wise second smallest of all administrative district, yet it is one of the most densely populated areas of Bavaria. Upper Franconia is one of the smallest, in size and populations wise. Lower Franconia ranks population-wise fourth and size-wise fifth.
|Data: 2003||Area in qkm||Population||Inhabitants /qkm|
(Source: Bayerisches Landesamt für Statistik und Datenverarbeitung, Genesis online)
Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia)
Middle Franconia is located in the northwest of Bavaria. It borders on all other Bavarian administrative districts (except Lower Bavaria). In the west it borders on ca. 180 km on the German Federal State of Baden-Württemberg. The first German railway system that ever was built, run in Middle Franconia in 1835, between Nürnberg and Fürth (Bayern).
Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)
Upper Franconia is located in the northeast of Bavaria. In the north it borders on the German Federal States Saxony, in the northeast on Thuringia and within Bavaria on the Bavarian administrative districts Middle Franconia, Lower Franconia and Upper Palatinate. In the east it borders on the Czech Republic. As a consequence of the unification of Germany and the opening of the borders to the East European countries, Upper Franconia as a former dead-end border area is now located right in the center of Europe.
Unterfranken (Lower Franconia)
Lower Franconia is located in the northwest of Bavaria and is the most northern of the seven Bavarian administrative districts. It borders on the Bavarian administrative districts Middle Franconia and Upper Franconia and it also borders on these German Federal States: in the northwest on Hesse, in the northeast on Thuringia and in the southwest on Baden-Württemberg.
The region of Franconia consists of these three Bavarian administrative districts:
|Administrative District (Regierungsbezirk)||Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia)||Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)||Unterfranken (Lower Franconia)|
|County names||Ansbach, Erlangen-Höchstadt, Fürth, Neustadt an der Aisch-Bad Windsheim , Nürnberger Land, Roth, Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen||Bamberg, Bayreuth, Coburg, Forchheim, Hof, Kronach, Kulmbach, Lichtenfels, Wunsiedel im Fichtelgebirge||Aschaffenburg, Bad Kissingen, Haßberge, Kitzingen, Main-Spessart, Miltenberg, Rhön-Grabfeld, Schweinfurt, Würzburg|
|Ansbach, Erlangen, Fürth (Bayern), Nürnberg, Schwabach||Bamberg, Bayreuth, Coburg, Hof,||Aschaffenburg, Schweinfurt, Würzburg|
|further maps||see here||see here||see here|
Structure before 1972/78
In 1972/78 Bavaria had a major re-organization of the administrative system - a county-reform (Landkreisreform) and the municipality-reform (Gemeindereform). Aim was to downsize the number of existing administrative counties (Landkreise), independent cities (Kreisfreie Städte) and municipalities (Gemeinden).
- Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia)#Structure before 1972/78
- Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)#Structure before 1972/78
- Unterfranken (Lower Franconia)#Structure before 1972/78
Due to historical reasons Middle Franconia is dominantly more protestant then any other Bavarian administrative district. Since 1527/28 and the Reformation (1517-1555) the majority of people there are Evangelical. Upper Franconia's total population is a mix of Protestant and Catholics. There are 9 counties in which the population is dominantly protestant, while 5 counties are more catholic. Lower Franconia population is dominantly more catholic then in the other two Franconian administrative districts.
- Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia)#Evangelical-Lutheran
- Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)#Evangelical-Lutheran
- Unterfranken (Lower Franconia)#Evangelical-Lutheran
- Evangelisch Lutherische Kirche in Bayern Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Bavaria
- Evangelisch-Reformierte Kirche (Evangelical-Reformed Church, Homepage)
- Territories and history see: Ev.-Ref. parishes in: Erlangen, Nürnberg , Schwabach (Middle Franconia); Bayreuth (Upper Franconia)
- Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia)#Roman-Catholic
- Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)#Roman-Catholic
- Unterfranken (Lower Franconia)#Roman-Catholic
- Römisch-Katholische Kirche in Bayern Roman Catholic church of Bavaria
- Röm.-Kath. Bistümer in Bayern Roman Catholic dioceses in Bavaria
Religion of Population (1987)
|Religion of population (1987)||Population||Roman|
|Middle Franconia (details)||1,521,484||36||54||0.04||5||6|
|Upper Franconia (details)||1,036,576||46||50||0.01||2||2|
|Lower Franconia (details)||1,202,711||75||20||0.02||2||3|
(**) incl. Freikirchen
(Source: Data: 1987, Bayerisches Landesamt für Statistik und Datenverarbeitung, Genesis online)
Franconia (nowadays Middle Franconia, Upper Franconia, Lower Franconia) became part of Bavaria only in 1803/1806/1810/1814/1920. Before that Franken consisted a long time of many separate sovereign states, numerous ecclesiastical and secular holdings and territories of Imperial Free Cities - in the past it never was a united historical, political entity.
In 1803 after the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss quite a few of these smaller sovereign states, plus Imperial Free Cities (after the Mediatization) and ecclesiastical holdings (after the Säkularisation) in this region lost their sovereignty and were already incorporated into the then Electorate of Bavaria. After Bavaria was raised to Kingdom of Bavaria in 1806 it incorporated the rest of Franconian territory at different times in the following years. See here summary information:
- Franconia before 1789 (English version currently in preparation)
- Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia) History, 1789 until today
- Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) History, 1789 until today
- Unterfranken (Lower Franconia) History, 1789 until today
Historical Political Structure
Before 1806 the area of Franconia - Mittelfranken, Oberfranken, Unterfranken - consisted of a varied mix of separate sovereign states and holdings (this situation is in German also called Kleinstaaterei). See here respective summary information:
- Mittelfranken - Middle Franconia Historical Political Structure
- Oberfranken - Upper Franconia Historical Political Structure
- Unterfranken - Lower Franconia Historical Political Structure
Genealogical and Historical Societies
- Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia)#Genealogical and Historical Societies
- Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)#Genealogical and Historical Societies
- Unterfranken (Lower Franconia)#Genealogical and Historical Societies
Gesellschaft für Familienforschung in Franken e.V. Society for family research in Franconia, in English and German
Gazetteers and Maps
- Bavaria Gazetteers How to find a place in Bavaria ?
- Middle Franconia Maps - 1789 until today
- Upper Franconia Maps - 1789 until today
- Lower Franconia Maps - 1789 until today
- Franconia Maps - 850 until today
- Bavaria Maps Overview of helpful Links to maps for genealogist.
Archives and Libraries
- Middle Franconia Archives
- Upper Franconia Archives
- Lower Franconia Archives
- Franconia Archives How to find an archive in Franconia or Bavaria ?
- Brenner Archiv (Middle Franconia) - Family group sheets only for certain parts of Middle Franconia
- Bay. Landesgeschichtliche Zeitschriftenschau Bay. Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library)
- Bayerische Bibliographie, BVB - BibliotheksVerbund Bayern Bavarian Bibliographie, Library association of Bavaria, in German
- Virtual Library Geschichte: Landes- und Regionalgeschichte
- The History Journals Guide, navigation in English
- WWWVL The World Wide Virtual Library: History Index
- Virtual Library: History: German History
Ethnology and Local History
The Franks (die Franken)
The tribe of the ca. 4,1 million Franken lives in the administrative districts of Middle Franconia, Upper Franconia and Lower Franconia, these areas have become part of Bavaria only in the early 19th century.
- Franken (Franconia) Literature#Genealogical Literature
- Good Bye Bayern - Grüß Gott America Emigration from Bavaria to America since 1683 (in English).
An online exhibition of the HDBG - Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte (House of the Bavarian History). Contains many information around the topic emigration from Bavaria, e.g. preparation, farewell, departure, journey, passengers and ships, arrival etc.
- Middle Franconian culinary specialties (some of them known world-wide) are, e.g.
- Nürnberger Lebkuchen (a Christmas specialty, documented since the 13th/14th century)
- Nürnberger Christkindles Glühwein (spiced hot red wine, a delicacy at the world-famous Nürnberger Christkindles Market)
- Aischgründer Karpfen (a fish delicacy, documented since the 13./14. Century)
- Fränkische Bratwurst (Franconian sausages)
- Nürnberger Rostbratwurst (small grilled sausages, first documented in 1313)
- Middle Franconian food specialties - complete list
- Upper Franconian culinary specialties are, e.g.
- Lower Franconian culinary specialties are, e.g.
- Middle Franconia is basically located between the Fränkischen Jura in the South and East and the Frankenhöhe and the southern part of the Steigerwald in the West. The southern Steigerwald with the mountain Hohenlandsberg as its highest elevation (498 m), stretches along to the east into the Mittelfränkisches Becken. After this main valley area - the lower terrains of the rivers Rednitz/Regnitz - the countryside forms slowly the higher areas of the Fränkischen Jura. In the South in the National park Altmühltal arises, as the highest point of the Bavarian Jurazug and as well of Middle Franconia, the mountain Hesselberg (689 m). The central part of the scenic south Frankenalb is the Altmühltal (valley of the river Altmühl), with its deep valleys and Castle-crowned places (cities, villages).
Middle Franconia's main rivers are: Regnitz, Rednitz, Pegnitz, Aisch, Altmühl.
- The landscape of Upper Franconia is dominated by green low mountain ranges and picturesque river valleys, the Fichtelgebirge, the Frankenwald, the Fränkischen Jura, the Bavarian Vogtland and the upper parts of the river Main, with its many side arms.
The main rivers in Upper Franconia are: Main, Saale, Pegnitz, Regnitz, Röden, Itz, Weismain, Wiesent, Rodach, Kronach, Steinach, Selbitz.
- Lower Franconia is the landscape of the so-called Bildstöcke (Tilman Riemenschneider), of churches, castles, romantic stately homes and vineyards. Wine growing is an over 1200 years old documented tradition of Lower Franconia. The Franconian wine (Frankenwein) is considered as one of the top-quality wines of Germany and is an absolute top-quality product in Europe.
The largest river in Lower Franconia is the Main, the backbone and lifeline of this region.
- Gesellschaft f ür Familienforschung in Franken e.V. Society for family research in Franconia, in English and German
- Bavaria GenWeb Homepage
- Bavaria - FAQ
- Bavarian Surnames Index
- FOKO - FAQ in English, Database of researched surnames and researchers contact/address data
- FOKO Database direct Link
- Ollig Archiv - Totenzettel / Sterbebilder Collection of special forms of Bavarian obituaries
Click on left side on Totenzettel / Sterbezettel, see: alphabetisch sortierte Liste der Familiennamen (alphabetical sorted list of surnames). This online available collection contains currentyl over 20,000 persons with ca. 7,721 surnames. The main part of the collection comes from the Bavarian area. Available data: Familien- und Geburtsname (family or birth surname), additionally if available, Geburts- und Sterbedatum und Ort (birth/death date and place), Beruf (occupation), Ort der Bestattung (place of burial), Name und Ort der Druckerei (name and place of the company who printed the Sterbebilder).
- RootsWeb Germany Mailing Lists Overview, see Franconia and Bavaria related lists
- Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia)
- Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)
- Unterfranken (Lower Franconia)
|Administrative Districts in the Federal State Bavaria|
Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia) |
Niederbayern (Lower Bavaria) |
Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria) |
Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) |
|Counties and Independent Cities in Administrative District Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia)|
Ansbach (City) |
Erlangen (City) |
Fürth (City) |
Nürnberg (City) |
Schwabach (City) |
|Counties and Independent Cities in Administrative District|
Bamberg (City) |
Bayreuth (City) |
Schweinfurt (City) |
Coburg (City) |
Hof (City) |
|Counties and Independent Cities in Administrative District Unterfranken (Lower Franconia)|