Franconian knight circle

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With this certificate in 1778, Emperor Joseph II authorized the knightly canton of Odenwald to award medals

The Franconian Knight Circle was the amalgamation of the Franconian Imperial Knighthood (see also Ministeriale ). Families and people are listed in the list of Frankish knight families .

Franconian Knight Circle and Franconian Imperial Circle

The Franconian Imperial Circle was created in 1500 by the Roman-German King Maximilian I in order to better guarantee the peace in the Holy Roman Empire . A total of ten such imperial circles were created by 1512 .

Ecclesiastical and secular princes , counts and lords and the imperial cities were represented in the Frankish Imperial Circle . Common tasks such as tariffs, maintaining an army, stable currencies, an adequate supply of grain, the expansion of infrastructure or the containment of epidemics, were solved surprisingly well in him, although the district repeatedly had financing problems and ultimately still in the field of tension larger territories of Prussia and Bavaria fell apart.

The imperial-free knights, who had no voice in the imperial circle, organized themselves in the knight's circle. Their relatively small imperial-free territories penetrated the areas of the other rulers. With the establishment of the knight circle, the imperial knighthood created a common interest group. On the other hand, parallel structures emerged, because as a rule each of the two bodies required the consent of the other, since it was ultimately about a single region, namely Franconia . The Reichskreis played a pioneering role in this. During the whole of the 15th century, there was evidence of supraterritorial and territorial unification efforts of the knight nobility in Franconia in a variety of forms and mostly on a case-by-case basis. The forerunner was certainly the Würzburg monastery knighthood, which united as a cooperative and opposed the territorialization efforts of the Würzburg bishops . In the 16th century they succeeded in leaving the parliaments of the Würzburg and Bamberg monasteries and thus evaded episcopal taxation and sovereignty.

Structure in cantons

The latent, landscape-oriented organization of the Franconian knighthood in places (cantons) was now consolidated, as was the internal organization with a captain and two councilors at the head. The Franconian Knight Circle is divided into six knight cantons according to regions:

Politics of the knight circle

When the emperor approached the knighthood in Franconia with tax claims again in 1528, 1532, 1542 and then in regular succession, they could fall back on the well-known and practiced organizational structures. In terms of professional politics, however, a clear change of course took place: in 1495, insisting on their own eyes, they united themselves as "free knights in the land of Franconia" against the territorialization plans of the princes and against the tax demands of the emperor; from now on they organized themselves closely following and fulfilling the imperial demands and so set out constitutionally and politically on the way to the "Reichsritterschaft Landes zu Franken".

Tax demands of the emperor as well as complaints against the princely politics were negotiated at local days and then bundled within the framework of six-place days and the results passed on to the emperor. The collection of the common penny also meant that the united knighthood now had to endeavor to record every member in the village (tax register); thus a quasi-territorial organization was given considerable support. The imperial knighthood was legally founded through important imperial privileges and protective mandates. Milestones were the concession of religious sovereignty within the framework of the Augsburg Religious Peace in 1555 , the privilege "against the landsesserey" in 1559 and the guarantee of tax sovereignty (ius collectandi) in 1566. With the Knighthood of 1590, the Imperial Knighthood of the Franconian country finally gave itself its own constitution; From a legal point of view, this was made clear by the company's own seal management. Incidentally, the knights had finally left the state assembly of both the bishopric of Bamberg and the margraviate of Brandenburg-Kulmbach in the 1560s.


The knight's canton was legally and politically the decisive level of the imperial knighthood corporation. It was both an association of persons and an association of goods, ie one had to be personally admitted and enrolled with a manor. The six cantons formed the Franconian knight circle, which was also legally institutionalized in 1590 by the order of knights. This consisted of the regular six-place conventions of the committees of the individual cantons and a special board of directors that changed regularly. Since 1577 there have been general correspondence days of the knight circles of Franconia, Rhineland and Swabia for the internal coordination of the reactions to imperial tax demands as well as for the bundling of knightly gravamina for the lecture to the emperor.

Dissolution and re-establishment as an association

After Prussia, as sovereign of Brandenburg-Ansbach, had already taken measures against the imperial knighthood in the 1790s by Karl August von Hardenberg , the areas on the left of the Rhine had collapsed around the same time as a result of the French Revolution and some princes after the Peace of Lunéville (1802 ) had staged unauthorized but unsuccessful " Ritterstürme ", in 1805/06 the imperial knighthood went under with the old kingdom in the course of general mediatization . The Franconian Knight Circle announced its dissolution to the Reichstag on January 26, 1806.

On October 11, 2013, members of the 40 or so thriving families of knights who were once enrolled in the Franconian Knight Circle founded an association called Franconian Knighthood, to which all members of these families can be accepted. The Althessian knighthood , which has existed without interruption since 1532, serves as a model . Götz Freiherr von Rotenhan was elected knight captain . A knight's day should take place at regular intervals.


See also


  • Johann Kaspar Bundschuh : Attempt of a historical-topographical-statistical description of the immediate Freyen imperial knighthood in Franconia according to its six places. Ulm 1801, digitized at: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
  • Rudolf Endres : Der Fränkische Reichskreis , House of Bavarian History, Issue 29/03, Augsburg 2004, the issue is available as a PDF file, cf. Web links
  • Cord Ulrichs: The origin of the Frankish imperial knighthood: Development lines from 1370 to 1590 . Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2016 ISBN 978-3-412-50527-1 (not incorporated)
  • Cord Ulrichs: From the feudal court to the imperial knighthood - structures of the Franconian lower nobility at the transition from the late Middle Ages to the early modern period , Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-515-07109-1 , Google Book
  • Gerhard Pfeiffer : Studies on the history of the Frankish imperial knighthood. In: Yearbook for Franconian State Research , Volume 22 (1962), pp. 173-280. Digitized version (not incorporated)
  • Kurt Andermann : Imperial Knighthood in: Historisches Lexikon Bayern
  • Robert Fellner: The Franconian Knighthood from 1495 - 1524 . Mainly based on sources from the Würzburg monastery. Berlin 1905 (historical studies; 50)
  • Michael Puchta: Mediatization "with skin and hair, body and life": The submission of the Imperial Knights by Ansbach-Bayreuth (1792–1798) Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012 Google Books
  • Paul Sörgel: The Franconian Knighthood in: Frankenland online, magazine for Franconian regional studies and culture, 1994 edition

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c d e Klaus Rupprecht: Imperial Knighthood, Canton Mountains in: Historisches Lexikon Bayerns
  2. ^ A b Kurt Andermann: Imperial Knighthood
  3. ^ Deutsches Adelsblatt , Volume 32, Number 12, of December 13, 2013, Page 34