Bavaria, First Reich...800 to 1806, History Highlights, Southern Germany

The German land of Swabia was the birthplace of five royal dynasties

Swabia, or Schwaben, was a region in SW Germany, now part of the states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Starting in the 9th century, Swabia was the birthplace of Charlemagne’s family… Charlemagne, or Karl der Grosse, was the first Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire in 800.

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Swabia was also home of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, which included Germany’s most celebrated medieval Kaiser, Frederick Barbarossa. The image accompanying this article is Frederick’s symbol of a fierce lion with outstretched claws. A vertical stack of three of these lions became the coat of arms of Schwaben.

The Hohenzollern dynasty also arose in Swabia. This family included the 17th century’s celebrated Great Elector of Brandenburg-Prussia, then his grandson Frederick the Great in the 18th century, and the 19th century Kaiser Wilhelm I, who unified modern Germany.

The Hapsburg Austrian dynasty also originated in Swabia…they were one of the most influential royal houses of Europe. The throne of the Holy Roman Empire was continuously occupied by the Habsburgs between 1438 and 1806. They were also rulers of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, as well as Spain and Portugal.

And the Welf dynasty, ancestors of Bavarian and Hanoverian rulers, originated in Swabia, most notably the Hanoverian family branch that became the British royal family from 1714 to today.

Swabia’s borders today are thought of as comprising the former German state of Württemberg (with the Prussian Hohenzollern Province) and the administrative region of Bavarian Swabia.


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