Franconian Circle

The Franconian Circle (German: Fränkischer Reichskreis) was an Imperial Circle established in 1500 in the centre of the Holy Roman Empire. It comprised the eastern part of the former Franconian stem duchy—roughly corresponding with the present-day Bavarian Regierungsbezirke of Upper, Middle and Lower Franconia—while western Rhenish Franconia belonged to the Upper Rhenish Circle. The title of a "Duke of Franconia" was claimed by the Würzburg bishops.

Franconian Circle
Fränkischer Reichskreis
Flag of Fränkischer Reichskreis
Locator Franconian Circle.svg
The Franconian Circle as at the beginning of the 16th century within the Holy Roman Empire
Historical eraEarly modern period
• Established
• Disestablished
Today part ofGermany Germany
The Franconian Circle as at 1789, before the French Revolutionary Wars and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire


The circle was made up of the following states:

Name Type of entity Comments
  Ansbach Margraviate Established in 1398, held by the House of Hohenzollern, acquired by Prussia in 1791
  Bamberg Prince-Bishopric Diocese established in 1007 by King Henry II, Prince-Bishopric since about 1245
  Bayreuth Margraviate Established in 1398 at Kulmbach, held by the House of Hohenzollern, personal union with Ansbach from 1769, acquired by Prussia in 1791
  Castell County Imperial counts since 1202
  Eichstätt Prince-Bishopric Established in 741 by Saint Boniface
  Erbach County Imperial counts from 1532
  Franconia Teutonic bailiwick Seated in Bad Mergentheim
  Hausen Lordship Held by Bamberg since 1007, condominium with Bayreuth and Nuremberg from 1538
  Henneberg Princely County Principality since 1310, line extinct in 1583, acquired by Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha in 1660
  Hohenlohe County Immediate counts since 1450, raised to principality in 1744
  Limpurg Lordship Territory around Limpurg Castle near Schwäbisch Hall, held by the Schenken von Limpurg, hereditary cup-bearers of the Empire for the Bohemian kings
  Löwenstein County Imperial immediacy since 1494, Löwenstein-Wertheim from 1574, raised to principality in 1711
  Nuremberg Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in 1219
  Reichelsberg Lordship Territory around Reichelsberg Castle near Aub, originally a fiefdom granted by Bamberg to Hohenlohe, since 1401 a fief of Würzburg
  Rieneck County Territory around Rieneck Castle, established in 1168, claimed as a fief by Mainz from 1366, line extinct in 1559, acquired by the Imperial counts of Nostitz in 1673
  Rothenburg ob der Tauber Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg 1274
  Schwarzenberg Lordship Established in 1429 by the Lords of Seinsheim, territory around Schwarzenberg Castle near Scheinfeld, Imperial county from 1599, principality from 1670
  Schweinfurt Imperial City Since 1254
  Seinsheim Lordship Held by the Counts of Schwarzenberg from 1655
  Weißenburg Imperial City Since 1296
  Welzheim Lordship Fiefdom of Württemberg, from 1379 to 1713 in possession of the Schenken von Limburg
  Wertheim County Established in 1132, acquired by Löwenstein in 1574
  Wiesentheid Lordship Imperial county from 1678, acquired by the Counts of Schönborn in 1701
  Windsheim Imperial City Since 1248
  Würzburg Prince-Bishopric Established in 741 by Saint Boniface, prince-bishopric since 1168, titular "Duke in Franconia"


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