The Info List - Duchy Of Bavaria

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The Duchy of Bavaria
(German: Herzogtum Bayern) was, from the sixth through the eighth century, a frontier region in the southeastern part of the Merovingian
kingdom. It was settled by Bavarian tribes and ruled by dukes (duces) under Frankish overlordship. A new duchy was created from this area during the decline of the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
in the late ninth century. It became one of the stem duchies of the East Frankish realm which evolved as the Kingdom of Germany
Kingdom of Germany
and the Holy Roman Empire. During internal struggles of the ruling Ottonian dynasty, the Bavarian territory was considerably diminished by the separation of the newly established Duchy of Carinthia
Duchy of Carinthia
in 976. Between 1070 and 1180 the Holy Roman Emperors were again strongly opposed by Bavaria, especially by the ducal House of Welf. In the final conflict between the Welf and Hohenstaufen
dynasties, Duke Henry the Lion
Henry the Lion
was banned and deprived of his Bavarian and Saxon fiefs by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Frederick passed Bavaria
over to the House of Wittelsbach, which held it until 1918. The Bavarian dukes were raised to prince-electors during the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
in 1623.


1 Geography 2 History

2.1 Older stem duchy

2.1.1 Agilolfings

2.2 Carolingians 2.3 Younger stem duchy

2.3.1 Luitpoldings
and Ottonians 2.3.2 House of Welf

2.4 Wittelsbachs

3 See also 4 References

Geography[edit] The medieval Bavarian stem duchy covered present-day Southeastern Germany
and most parts of Austria
along the Danube
river, up to the Hungarian border which then ran along the Leitha
tributary in the east. It included the Altbayern
regions of the modern state of Bavaria, with the lands of the Nordgau march (the later Upper Palatinate), but without its Swabian and Franconian regions. The separation of the Duchy of Carinthia
Duchy of Carinthia
in 976 entailed the loss of large East Alpine territories covering the present-day Austrian states of Carinthia
and Styria
as well as the adjacent Carniolan region in today's Slovenia. The eastern March of Austria
—roughly corresponding to the present state of Lower Austria— was likewise elevated to a duchy in its own right by 1156. Over the centuries, several further seceded territories in the territory of the former stem duchy, such as the County of Tyrol
County of Tyrol
or the Archbishopric of Salzburg, gained Imperial immediacy. From 1500, a number of these Imperial states were members of the Bavarian Circle
Bavarian Circle
of the Holy Roman Empire. History[edit] See also: History of Bavaria Older stem duchy[edit] The origins of the older Bavarian duchy can be traced to the year 551/555. In his Getica, the chronicler Jordanes
writes: "That area of the Swabians has the Bavarii
in the east, the Franks
in the west ..." Agilolfings[edit] Until the end of the first duchy, all rulers descended from the family of the Agilolfings. The Bavarians
then colonized the area from the March of the Nordgau
March of the Nordgau
along the Naab
river (later called the Upper Palatinate) up to the Enns in the east and southward across the Brenner Pass
Brenner Pass
to the Upper Adige
in present-day South Tyrol. The first documented duke was Garibald I, a scion of the Frankish Agilolfings, who ruled from 555 onward as a largely independent Merovingian
vassal. On the eastern border, changes occurred with the departure of the West Germanic Lombard tribes from the Pannonian basin to northern Italy
in 568 and the succession of the Avars, as well as with the settlement of West Slavic Czechs
on the adjacent territory beyond the Bohemian Forest at about the same time. At around 743, the Bavarian duke Odilo vassalised the Slavic princes of Carantania
(roughly corresponding with the later March of Carinthia), who had asked him for protection against the invading Avars. The residence of the largely independent Agilolfing dukes was then Regensburg, the former Roman Castra Regina, on the Danube
river. During Christianization, Bishop Corbinian
laid the foundations for the later Diocese of Freising before 724; Saint Kilian
Saint Kilian
in the 7th century had been a missionary of the Franconian territory in the north, then ruled by the Dukes of Thuringia, where Boniface founded the Diocese of Würzburg in 742. In the adjacent Alamannic (Swabian) lands west of the Lech river, Augsburg
was a bishop's seat. When Boniface established the Diocese of Passau in 739, he could already build on local Early Christian traditions. In the south, Saint Rupert had founded in 696 the Diocese of Salzburg, probably after he had baptized Duke Theodo of Bavaria
at his court in Regensburg, becoming the "Apostle of Bavaria". In 798 Pope Leo III created the Bavarian ecclesiastical province with Salzburg
as metropolitan seat and Regensburg, Passau, Freising and Säben (later Brixen) as suffragan dioceses. Carolingians[edit] With the rise of the Frankish Empire under the Carolingian dynasty, the autonomy of the Bavarian dukes under the Merovingians was terminated: In 716 the Carolingians had incorporated the Franconian lands in the north formerly held by the Dukes of Thuringia, whereby the bishops of Würzburg gained a dominant position. In the west, the Carolingian mayor of the palace Carloman had suppressed the last Alamannic revolt at the 746 Blood court at Cannstatt. The last tribal stem duchy to be incorporated was Bavaria
in 788, after Duke Tassilo III had tried in vain to maintain his independence through an alliance with the Lombards. The conquest of the Lombard Kingdom by Charlemagne entailed the fall of Tassilo, who was deposed in 788. Bavaria
was then administrated by Frankish prefects. Younger stem duchy[edit]

about 788

In his 817 Ordinatio Imperii, Charlemagne's son and successor Emperor Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious
tried to maintain the unity of the Carolingian Empire: while imperial authority upon his death was to pass to his eldest son Lothair I, the younger brothers were to receive subordinate realms. From 825 Louis the German
Louis the German
styled himself "King of Bavaria" in the territory that was to become the centre of his power. When the brothers divided the Empire by the 843 Treaty of Verdun, Bavaria became part of East Francia
East Francia
under King Louis the German, who upon his death bequested the Bavarian royal title to his eldest son Carloman in 876. Carloman's natural son Arnulf of Carinthia, raised in the former Carantanian lands, secured possession of the March of Carinthia
upon his father's death in 880 and became King of East Francia
East Francia
in 887. Carinthia
and Bavaria
were the bases of his power, with Regensburg
as the seat of his government. Due mainly to the support of the Bavarians, Arnulf could take the field against Charles in 887 and secure his own election as German king in the following year. In 899 Bavaria
passed to Louis the Child, during whose reign continuous Hungarian ravages occurred. Resistance to these inroads became gradually feebler, and tradition has it that on 5 July 907 almost the whole of the Bavarian tribe perished in the Battle of Pressburg
Battle of Pressburg
against these formidable enemies. During the reign of Louis the Child, Luitpold, Count of Scheyern, who possessed large Bavarian domains, ruled the Mark of Carinthia, created on the southeastern frontier for the defence of Bavaria. He died in the great battle of 907, but his son Arnulf, surnamed the Bad, rallied the remnants of the tribe in alliance with the Hungarians and became duke of the Bavarians
in 911, uniting Bavaria
and Carinthia
under his rule. The German king Conrad I unsuccessfully attacked Arnulf when the latter refused to acknowledge his royal supremacy. Luitpoldings
and Ottonians[edit]

in 976, with the marches of Austria, Carinthia
and Verona

The Carolingian reign in East Francia
East Francia
ended in 911 when Arnulf's son, King Louis the Child, died without heirs. The discontinuation of the central authority led to a new strengthening of the German stem duchies. At the same time, East Francia
East Francia
was exposed to the rising threat from Hungarian invasions, especially in the Bavarian March of Austria
(marchia orientalis) beyond the Enns river. In 907 the army of Luitpold, Margrave of Bavaria
suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Pressburg. Luitpold himself was killed in action and his son Arnulf the Bad assumed the ducal title, becoming the first Duke of Bavaria from the Luitpolding dynasty. However, the Austrian march remained occupied by the Hungarians and the Pannonian lands were irrecoverably lost. Nevertheless, the self-confidence of the Bavarian dukes was an ongoing matter of dispute in the newly established Kingdom of Germany: Duke Arnulf's son Eberhard was deposed by King Otto I of Germany
in 938; he was succeeded by his younger brother Berthold. In 948, King Otto finally disempowered the Luitpoldings
and installed his younger brother Henry I as Bavarian duke. The late Duke Berthold's minor heir, Henry III, was fobbed off with the office of a Bavarian Count palatine. The last attempt of the Luitpoldings
to regain power by joining the rebellion of King Otto's son Duke Liudolf of Swabia
was crushed in 954. In 952 Duke Henry I also received the Italian March of Verona, which Otto I had seized from King Berengar II of Italy. He still had to deal with the Hungarian threat, which was not eliminated until King Otto's victory at the 955 Battle of Lechfeld. The Magyars retreated behind the Leitha
and Morava rivers, facilitating a second wave of German Ostsiedlung
into the areas of today's Lower Austria, Istria
and Carniola. Although ruled by the Ottonian descendants of Henry I, a cadet branch of the Saxon royal dynasty, the conflict of the Bavarian dukes with the German (from 962: Imperial) court continued: in 976, Emperor Otto II deposed his rebellious cousin Duke Henry II of Bavaria and established the Duchy of Carinthia
Duchy of Carinthia
on former Bavarian territory granted to the former Luitpolding Count palatine
Count palatine
Henry III, who also became Margrave of Verona. Though Henry II reconciled with Emperor Otto's widow Theophanu
in 985 and regained his duchy, the power of the Bavarian dukes was further diminished by the rise of the Franconian House of Babenberg, ruling as Margraves of Austria
(Ostarrichi), who became increasingly independent. House of Welf[edit]

Coat of Arms of the House of Welf

The last Ottonian duke, Henry II's son Henry III, was elected King of the Romans in 1002. At different times the duchy was ruled by the German kings in personal union, by dependent dukes, or even by the emperor's sons, a tradition maintained by Henry's Salian successors. This period saw the rise of many aristocratic families, such as the Counts of Andechs
Counts of Andechs
or the House of Wittelsbach. In 1061 the dowager empress Agnes of Poitou
Agnes of Poitou
enfeoffed the Saxon count Otto of Nordheim. Nevertheless, her son King Henry IV again seized the duchy on fallacious grounds, which ultimately led to the Saxon Rebellion
Saxon Rebellion
of 1073. Henry entrusted Bavaria
to Welf, a scion of the Veronese margravial House of Este
House of Este
and progenitor of the Welf dynasty, which intermittently ruled the duchy for the next 110 years. Only with the establishment of Guelph rule as dukes from 1070 by Henry IV was there a re-emergence of the Bavarian dukes. This period is characterized by the Investiture Controversy
Investiture Controversy
between Emperor and Pope. It strengthened Guelph rule through siding with the pope's position. A conflict with the Swabian dynasty of Hohenstaufen
in the election of the king led the discretion of the Hohenstaufen
Conrad III to the king but to the fact that Bavaria
was given to the Babenbergs
1139. The Swabian area was during the reign of the Staufer king largely countryside. Increasingly, Franconia
also became the center of Staufer power. Franken obtained a dominant position of the Bishop of Würzburg by the founding of the diocese of Bamberg, and new secular rulers lost 1007th The Hohenstaufen
Frederick I Barbarossa
Frederick I Barbarossa
attempted reconciliation with the Guelphs[1] and in 1156 gave back the Marcha Orientalis scaled to Bavaria
the Guelph Henry the Lion. The detached Marcha Orientalis was the Babenbergs
as the new Duchy of special privileges to the nucleus of the later Austria
(Ostarrichi). Henry the Lion
Henry the Lion
founded numerous cities, including Munich
in 1158. Through his strong position as ruler of the two duchies of Saxony and Bavaria
he came into conflict with Frederick I Barbarossa. With the banishment of Henry the Lion
Henry the Lion
and the separation of Styria
as a private duchy in 1180 the younger tribal duchy came to an end. Wittelsbachs[edit]

Coat of arms of counts of Bogen, later House of Wittelsbach

From 1180 to 1918, the Wittelsbachs were the rulers of Bavaria, as dukes, later as electors and kings. When Count Palatine Otto VI. of Wittelsbach
became Otto I, Duke of Bavaria
in 1180, the Wittelsbach treasury was rather low. In the following years it was significantly augmented by purchase, marriage, and inheritance. Newly acquired land was no longer given as a fief, but managed by servants. Also, powerful families, such as the counts of Andechs, died out during this period. Otto's son Ludwig I of Wittelsbach
was enfeoffed in 1214 with the County of Palatine of the Rhine. Since there was no preference for succession of the firstborn in the Wittelsbach
dynasty, in contrast to many governments of this time, there was in 1255 a division of the land into Upper Bavaria
with the Palatinate and the Nordgau (headquartered in Munich) and Lower Bavaria (with seats in Landshut
and Burghausen). There is still today a distinction made between upper and lower Bavaria
(cf. Regierungsbezirke) . Despite renewed division after a short time of reunification, Bavaria gained new heights of power with Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor, who became the first Wittelsbach
emperor in 1328. The newly gained areas of Brandenburg
(1323), Tyrol (1342), the Dutch provinces Holland, Zeeland
and Friesland
and the Hainaut (1345) were, however, lost under his successors. In 1369, Tyrol fell through the Treaty of Schärding to the Habsburgs. The Luxemburgish rider followed in 1373 and the Dutch counties fell to Burgundy in 1436. In the 1329 Treaty of Pavia, Emperor Louis divided ownership in a Palatine region, with the Rhine Palatinate, and a later so-called Upper Palatinate. Thus, the electoral dignity for the line onwards to the Palatinate was also lost. With the recognition of the limits of domination by the Bavarian Duke in the year 1275, Salzburg
of Bavaria
went into their final phase. When the Salzburg
Archbishop issued its own country regulations in 1328, Salzburg
become a largely independent state within the Holy Roman Empire.

Bavarian lands after 1392 partition

Late Coat of arms of Wittelsbachs

In the 14th and 15th centuries, upper and lower Bavaria
were repeatedly subdivided. Four Duchies existed after the division of 1392: Bavaria-Straubing, Bavaria-Landshut, Bavaria-Ingolstadt
and Bavaria-Munich. These dukes often waged war against each other. Duke Albrecht IV of Bavaria- Munich
united Bavaria
in 1503 through war and primogeniture. However, the originally Bavarian offices Kufstein, Kitzbühel
and Rattenberg
in Tirol were lost in 1504. In spite of the decree of 1506, Albert's oldest son William IV was compelled to grant a share in the government in 1516 to his brother Louis X, an arrangement which lasted until the death of Louis in 1545. William followed the traditional Wittelsbach
policy of opposition to the Habsburgs until in 1534 he made a treaty at Linz
with Ferdinand I, the king of Hungary
and Bohemia. This link strengthened in 1546, when the emperor Charles V obtained the help of the duke during the war of the league of Schmalkalden by promising him in certain eventualities the succession to the Bohemian throne, and the electoral dignity enjoyed by the count palatine of the Rhine. William also did much at a critical period to secure Bavaria
for Catholicism. The reformed doctrines had made considerable progress in the duchy when the duke obtained extensive rights over the bishoprics and monasteries from the pope. He then took measures to repress the reformers, many of whom were banished; while the Jesuits, whom he invited into the duchy in 1541, made the Jesuit College of Ingolstadt, their headquarters in Germany. William, whose death occurred in March 1550 and was succeeded by his son Albert V, who had married a daughter of Ferdinand I. Early in his reign Albert made some concessions to the reformers, who were still strong in Bavaria; but about 1563 he changed his attitude, favoured the decrees of the Council of Trent, and pressed forward the work of the Counter-Reformation. As education passed by degrees into the hands of the Jesuits, the progress of Protestantism
was effectually arrested in Bavaria. The succeeding duke, Albert's son, William V, had received a Jesuit education and showed keen attachment to Jesuit tenets. He secured the Archbishopric of Cologne
Archbishopric of Cologne
for his brother Ernest in 1583, and this dignity remained in the possession of the family for nearly 200 years. In 1597 he abdicated in favour of his son Maximilian I. Maximilian I found the duchy encumbered with debt and filled with disorder, but ten years of his vigorous rule effected a remarkable change. The finances and the judicial system were reorganised, a class of civil servants and a national militia founded, and several small districts were brought under the duke's authority. The result was a unity and order in the duchy which enabled Maximilian to play an important part in the Thirty Years' War; during the earlier years of which he was so successful as to acquire the Upper Palatinate
Upper Palatinate
and the electoral dignity which had been enjoyed since 1356 by the elder branch of the Wittelsbach
family. The Electorate of Bavaria
Electorate of Bavaria
then consisted of most of the modern regions of Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, and the Upper Palatinate. See also[edit]

List of rulers of Bavaria


^ Görich, Knut: Die Staufer. Herrscher und Reich. Munich
2006. p. 41.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bavaria". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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Barbarian kingdoms
established around the Migration Period

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Alamannian Kingdom Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy Bavarian Duchy Burgundian Kingdom Frankish Kingdom Frisian Kingdom Gepid Kingdom Odoacer's Kingdom Lombard Kingdom Petty kingdoms of Norway Suevian Kingdom Ostrogothic Kingdom Rugian Kingdom Saxonian Duchy Thuringii
Kingdom Vandal Kingdom Visigothic Kingdom

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Hunnic Empire

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Alani Kingdom Avar Khaganate

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Bro Gwened Cantabri Cornouaille Domnonée Hen Ogledd Gaelic Ireland Petty kingdoms of Wales

Slavic kingdoms

Carantian Principality Samo's Empire

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Swabian League
Swabian League
(1488–1534) of the  Holy Roman Empire

Imperial cities

Aalen Augsburg Biberach Bopfingen Dinkelsbühl Donauwörth Esslingen Giengen Heilbronn Isny Kaufbeuren Kempten Leutkirch Lindau Memmingen Nördlingen Pfullendorf Ravensburg Reutlingen Schwäbisch Gmünd Schwäbisch Hall Überlingen Ulm Wangen Weil Wimpfen


St George's Shield (Gesellschaft von Sanktjörgenschild)


Brandenburg-Ansbach Baden Bavaria Bayreuth Palatinate Hesse Mainz Trier Württemberg

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Bavarian Circle
Bavarian Circle
(1500–1806) of the Holy Roman Empire


Berchtesgaden Freising Niedermünster Obermünster Passau Regensburg Salzburg St. Emmeram


Bavaria Breitenegg Ehrenfels Haag Hohenwaldeck Leuchtenberg Neuburg Ortenburg Regensburg Störnstein Sulzbach Sulzbürg-Pyrbaum

Circles est. 1500: Bavarian, Swabian, Upper Rhenish, Lower Rhenish–Westphalian, Franconian, (Lower) Saxon Circles est. 1512: Austrian, Burgundian, Upper Saxon, Electoral Rhenish     ·     Unencircled territories

v t e

Catholic League (1609–1635) within the  Holy Roman Empire


Abbacies Ellwangen Kempten

Bishoprics Augsburg Constance Eichstätt Passau Speyer

Straßburg Worms Würzburg  and Bamberg

Archbishoprics Mainz Cologne Trier

Duchies Bavaria