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From: The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.


Historic region and one of the five basic or stem duchies of medieval Germany, S Germany. The region was included in the Frankish kingdom of Austrasia, becoming in the 9th cent. a duchy and the center of the East Frankish (or East German) kingdom. It stretched from the western bank of the Rhine eastward along both banks of the Main and included the cities of Speyer, Worms, Mainz, Frankfurt, Würzburg, and Fulda. The name of the duchy survives in three administrative districts of Bavaria.

Middle Franconia, Ger. Mittelfranken, 2,941 sq mi (7,617 sq km), in N central Bavaria, is a hilly, fertile region located in the Franconian Jura Mts. It is drained by the Altmühl, Rednitz, and Pegnitz rivers. Ansbach is the capital; Nürnberg, Fürth, and Erlangen are important industrial and cultural centers.

After the demise of the German Carolingian house with the death of Louis the Child, Duke Conrad of Franconia was elected (911) German king as Conrad I, but was unable to keep the royal crown in his family. As a result of the rebellion of Duke Eberhard, King Otto I seized the duchy in 939 and partitioned it; vast territories passed to the loyal clergy, notably to the bishops of Würzburg and Bamberg and to the abbot of Fulda.

Two nominal duchies—that of Western or Rhenish Franconia and that of Eastern Franconia—emerged. Rhenish Franconia, which gave the empire the Franconian or Salian dynasty (1024–1125; Conrad II, Henry III, Henry IV, and Henry V), broke up into the free cities of Frankfurt and Worms, the ecclesiastical states of Mainz and Speyer, the Rhenish Palatinate, the landgraviate of Hesse, and other territories. Eastern Franconia, which Emperor Henry V had awarded to his nephew Conrad of Hohenstaufen in 1115, came increasingly under the control of the bishops of Würzburg, who were given legal title by Emperor Frederick I in 1168.

The title of duke of Franconia fell into disuse until it was again assumed (15th cent.) by the bishops of Würzburg, who continued to use it until their bishopric was secularized at the beginning of the 19th cent. The margraviates of Ansbach and Bayreuth, under the Franconian branch of the house of Hohenzollern, were the main secular territories in Eastern Franconia. The division (16th cent.) of the Holy Roman Empire into circles resulted in the creation of the Franconian circle, which included the bishoprics of Würzburg and Bayreuth, the free imperial city of Nuremburg, and the margraviates of Ansbach and Bayreuth. Most of Eastern Franconia passed to Bavaria between 1803 and 1815, and in 1837 King Louis I of Bavaria revived the name Franconia by creating the administrative districts of Lower, Middle, and Upper Franconia.

NOTE: The resources listed below may be in either the German or English language. If you do not know German, you can use an online webpage translator such as, to give you a basic understanding of the German text on a webpage.


Der Bezirk Mittelfranken - The official website for the District of Middle Franconia.

The following counties / Landkreis are in the district / Regierungsbezirk Mittelfranken. Click on the county name of your choice to visit that county's website. Use the list of towns in a Landkreis from each URL to locate any TOWN websites for Mittelfranken that might be available on the web. The town websites especially can be very useful in locating historical information about the exact place your ancestor was from, to make contact with local residents in the area via guestbook entry or contact city administration personnel at the Rathaus (city hall). Some lucky researchers find that Rathaus personnel may go out of their way to put them in contact with distant relatives who still live in the area or search for entries in a Heimatbuch (local history book) or Chronik (chronicle) that mentions the names of their ancestors.



Stadtarchiv Nürnberg und Verein für Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg; Bibliothek Nuremberg City Archive and Association for the History of the City of Nuremberg; Library.