Online Encyclopedia

FRANCONIA (Ger. Franken)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 16 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
FRANCONIA (Ger. Franken), the name of one of the stem-duchies of medieval Germany. It stretched along the valley of the Main from the Rhine to Bohemia, and was bounded on the north by Saxony and Thuringia, and on the south by Swabia and Bavaria. It also included a district around Mainz, Spires and Worms, on the left bank of the Rhine. The word Franconia, first used in a Latin charter of 1053, was applied like the words France, Francia and Franken, to a portion of the land occupied by the Franks. About the close of the 5th century this territory was conquered by Clovis, king of the Salian Franks, was afterwards incorporated with the kingdom of Austrasia, and at a later period came under the rule of Charlemagne. After the treaty of Verdun in 843 it became the centre of the East Frankish or German kingdom, and in theory remained so for a long period, and was for a time the most important of the duchies which arose on the ruins of the Carolingian empire. The land was divided into counties, or gauen, which were ruled by counts, prominent among whom were members of the families of Conradine and Babenberg, by whose feuds it was frequently devastated. Conrad, a member of the former family, who took the title of " duke in Franconia " about the year 900, was chosen German king in 911 as the representative of the foremost of the German races. Conrad handed over the chief authority in Franconia to his brother Eberhard, who remained on good terms with Conrad's successor Henry I. the Fowler, but rose against the succeeding king, Otto the Great, and was killed in battle in 939, when his territories were divided. The influence of Franconia began to decline under the kings of" the Saxon house. It lacked political unity, had no opportunities for extension, and soon became divided into Rhenish Franconia (Francia rhenensis, Ger. Rheinfranken) and Eastern Franconia (Francia orientalis, Ger. Ostfranken). The most influential family in Rhenish Franconia was that of the Salians, the head of which early in the loth century was Conrad the Red, duke of Lorraine, and son-in-law of Otto the Great. This Conrad, his son Otto and his grandson Conrad are sometimes called dukes of Franconia; and in 1024 his great-grandson Conrad, also duke of Franconia, was elected German king as Conrad II. and founded the line of Franconian or Salian emperors. Rhenish Franconia gradually became a land of free towns and lesser nobles, and under the earlier Franconianemperors sections passed to the count palatine of the Rhine, the archbishop of Mainz, the bishops of Worms and Spires and' other clerical and lay nobles; and the name Franconia, or Francia orientalis as it was then called, was confined to the eastern portion of the duchy. Clerical authority was becoming predominant in this region. A series of charters dating from 822 to 1025 had granted considerable powers to the bishops of Wurzburg, who, by the time of the emperor Henry II., possessed judicial authority over the whole of eastern Franconia. The duchy was nominally retained by the emperors in their own hands until 1115, when the emperor Henry V., wishing to curb the episcopal influence in this neighbourhood, appointed his nephew Conrad of Hohenstaufen as duke of Franconia. Conrad's son Frederick took the title of duke of Rothenburg instead of duke of Franconia, but in 1196, on the death of Conrad of Hohenstaufen, son of the emperor Frederick I., the title fell into disuse. Meanwhile the bishop of Wurzburg had regained his former power in the duchy, and this was confirmed in 1168 by the emperor Frederick I. The title remained in abeyance until the early years of the 15th century, when it was assumed by John II., bishop of Wurzburg, and retained by his successors until the bishopric was secularized in 1802. The greater part of the lands were united with Bavaria, and the name Franconia again fell into abeyance. It was revived in 1837, when Louis I., king of Bavaria, gave to three northern portions of his kingdom the names of Upper, Middle and Lower Franconia. In 1633 Bernhard, duke of Saxe-Weimar, hoping to create a principality for himself out of the ecclesiastical lands, had taken the title of duke of Franconia, but his hopes were destroyed by his defeat at Nordlingen in 1634. When Germany was divided into circles by the emperor Maximilian I. in 1500, the name Franconia was given to that circle which included the eastern part of the old duchy. The lands formerly comprised in the duchy of Franconia are now divided between the kingdoms of Bavaria and Wurttemberg, the grand-duchies of Baden and Hesse, and the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau. See J. G. ab Eckhart, Commentarii de rebus Franciae orientalis et episcopalus Wirceburgensis (Wurzburg, 1729); F. Stein, Geschichte Frankens (Schweinfurt, 1885–1886); T. Henner, Die herzogliche Gewalt der Bischofe von Wurzburg (Wurzburg, 1874). FRANCS-ARCHERS. The institution of the francs-archers was the first attempt at the formation of regular infantry in France. They were created by the ordinance of Montils-les-Tours on the 28th of August 1448, which prescribed that in each parish an archer should be chosen from among the most apt in the use of arms; this archer to be exempt from the faille and certain obligations, to practise shooting with the bow on Sundays and feast-days, and to hold himself ready to march fully equipped at the first signal. Under Charles VII. the francs-archers distinguished themselves in numerous battles with the English, and assisted the king to drive them from France. During the succeeding reigns the institution languished, and finally disappeared in the middle of the 16th century. The francs-archers were also called francs-tau pins. See Daniel, Histoire de la milice francaise (1721) ; and E. Boutaric, Institutions militaires de la France avant lesarmees permanentes (1863). FRANCS-TIREURS (" Free-Shooters "), irregular troops, almost exclusively infantry, employed by the French in the war of 187o-1871. They were originally rifle clubs or unofficial military societies formed in the east of France at the time of the Luxemburg crisis of 1867. The members were chiefly concerned with the practice of rifle-shooting, and were expected in war to act as light troops. As under the then system of conscription the greater part of the nation's military energy was allowed to run to waste, the francs-tireurs were not only popular, but efficient workers in their sphere of action. As they wore no uniforms, were armed with the best existing rifles and elected their own officers, the government made repeated attempts to bring the societies, which were at once a valuable asset to the armed strength of France and a possible menace to internal order, under military discipline. This was strenuously resisted by the societies, to their sorrow as it turned out, for the Germans treated captured francs-tireurs as irresponsible non-combatants found with arms in their hands and usually exacted the death penalty. In July 187o, at the outbreak of the war, the societies were brought under the control of the minister of war and organized for field service, but it was not until the 4th of November—by which time the levee en masse was in force—that they were placed under the orders of the generals in the field. After that they were sometimes organized in large bodies and incorporated in the mass of the armies, but more usually they continued to work in small bands, blowing up culverts on the invaders' lines of communication, cutting off small reconnoitring parties, surprising small posts, &c. It is now acknowledged, even by the Germans, that though the francs-tireurs did relatively little active mischief, they paralysed large detachments of the enemy, contested every step of his advance (as in the Loire campaign), and prevented him from gaining information, and that their soldierly qualities inproved with experience. Their most celebrated feats were the blowing up of the Moselle railway bridge at Fontenoy on the 22nd of January 1871 (see Les Chasseurs des Vosges by Lieut.-Colonel St Etienne, Toul, 1906), and the heroic defence of Chateaudun by Lipowski's Paris corps and the francs-tireurs of Cannes and Nantes (October 18, 1870). It cannot be denied that the original members of the rifle clubs were joined by many bad characters, but the patriotism of the majority was unquestionable, for little mercy was shown by the Germans to those francs-tireurs who fell into their hands. The severity of the German reprisals is itself the best testimony to the fear and anxiety inspired by the presence of active bands of francs-tireurs on the flanks and in rear of the invaders.
End of Article: FRANCONIA (Ger. Franken)
[back]
FRANCOIS TURRETIN (1623-1687)
[next]
FRANEKER

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.