Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) History

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Regional Research > Germany, after 1989 > Bavaria > Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) > Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) History


General Information Upper Franconia



History of Upper Franconia

Nowadays Upper Franconia became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria only in 1803/1806/1810 and 1920. Before that Upper Franconia consisted a long time of separate sovereign states and numerous ecclesiastical holdings. And in fact this was true for the whole region of Franconia (Franken) - that never was a united historical, political entity - which includes also Middle Franconia and Lower Franconia.

In 1803 after the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss quite a few of these smaller sovereign states (after the Mediatization) and ecclesiastical holdings (after the Säkularisation) in this region lost their sovereignty and were already incorporated into the Electorate of Bavaria. For example the former Hochstift Bamberg (an ecclesiastical principality of the catholic bishopric Bamberg) that owned large parts of nowadays Upper Franconian area, was disolved in 1803 and its holdings were incorporated into the Electorate of Bavaria.

Yet large parts of Upper Franconian territory belonged in the past also to the Franconian Markgrafschaft: Margravate Brandenburg-Bayreuth, a principality consisting of the so-called above Gebuergs and beyond Gebuergs parts. The Margraves of Brandenburg-(Kulmbach)-Bayreuth were one line of the Franconian lines of the House of Hohenzollern. They played for nearly 500 years a prominent role in Upper Franconias history and as well in that of Franconia as a whole. The Margraves of Brandenburg-Bayreuth were former Burggrafen of Nürnberg (1192) who became also Electors of Brandenburg-Bayreuth (after acquisition of Mark Brandenburg, 1415). The other Franconian line of the Hohenzollern were the Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach (Principality), who owned the territory that made up main parts of nowadays Middle Franconia.

In 1769 after the Bayreuth-line of the Hohenzollern extinct the Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach took over the other Margravate too and ruled both Franconian Principalities (Brandenburg-Ansbach and Brandenburg-Bayreuth). In 1792 Margrave Carl Alexander of Brandenburg-Ansbach sold both of his protestant Margravates to the Kingdom of Prussia (ruled by the Prussian line of the House of Hohenzollern). And so, Margravate Brandenburg-Bayreuth, today a major part of Upper Franconia, became for a short period in time Prussian (1792-1806).

Meanwhile the Electorate of Bavaria (Kurfürstentum Bayern), under pressure from French Emperor Napoleon became part of the Rheinbund (Confederation of the Rhine). When in 1806 Prussia declared war on Napoleon (see: Napoleonic wars, Fourth Coalition) the states within the Rheinbund, amongst them Electorate of Bavaria, kept neutral. Napoleon defeated Prussia and won the war. For his cooperation in this conflict the Elector of Bavaria (a French ally) was raised to King of Bavaria in 1806. And Napoleon awarded parts of the territory of his Prussian enemy to the then Kingdom of Bavaria - yet in 1806 only the Franconian Margravate of Brandenburg-Ansbach (later part of Middle Franconia). The Franconian Margravate Brandenburg-Bayreuth Napoleon kept for himself and placed it under French military jurisdiction, until finally in 1810 he handed it over to the Kingdom of Bavaria too. So, for a short period in time parts of current day Upper Franconia became French (1806-1810) and lastly in 1810 Bavarian.

That way most of the protestant areas of current day Upper Franconia were incorporated into the Kingdom of Bavaria, to whom until 1810 they had neither historical, political nor religious bonds or relations. For most of the protestant Franconians - who for centuries were hohenzollerisch and since 1792 Prussian - the Kingdom of Bavaria at that time was a foreign country and a pure catholic one too, plus an ally of Napoleon. And the protestant Franconia (since 1527) did not wanted to be dominated by the Bavarian Catholicism. The Bavarian-Franconian contrast lead to deep-rooted ambivalent feelings that influenced relations between the Franconians (Franken) and the Old-Bavarians (Altbayern) in the 19th century and can sometimes even still be felt today.

In 1920 the meanwhile Free State of Bavaria (Freistaat Bayern) was further enlarged. The newly formed so-called Free State of Saxe-Coburg (Sachsen-Coburg) became an additional (protestant) part of Bavaria. Until 1918 Sachsen-Coburg was one of the duchies of the sovereign double - Duchy Saxe-Coburg and Gotha - (Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha), which declared and separated itself into two Free states in 1919. In 1920 the Sachsen-Gotha part was incorporated into Thuringia while the people of Sachsen-Coburg voted to became part of Bavaria and with that became an area of the Bavarian administrative district later called Upper Franconia.

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Counties and Independent Cities in Administrative District

Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)

Bamberg (City) | Bayreuth (City) | Schweinfurt (City) | Coburg (City) | Hof (City) |
Counties: Bamberg | Bayreuth | Coburg | Forchheim | Hof | Kronach | Kulmbach | Lichtenfels | Wunsiedel im Fichtelgebirge |



Administrative Districts in the Federal State Bavaria

Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia) | Niederbayern (Lower Bavaria) | Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria) | Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) |
Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate) | Schwaben (Swabia) | Unterfranken (Lower Franconia) |


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