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

The Franconian Circle as at the beginning of the 16th century within the Holy Roman Empire
Historical eraEarly modern period
Today part of Germany


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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