Free City of Frankfurt

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Free City of Frankfurt
State of the
German Confederation
coat of arms flag
Frankfurt coat of arms
Flag of the Free City of Frankfurt 1833–1866
Form of government republic
Last chief Senior Mayor Karl Konstanz Viktor Fellner
Consist 1815-1866
Residents 91,150 (1864)
currency Gulden - club thaler
Immediately beforehand Grand Duchy of Frankfurt
Incorporated into Prussian Province of Hesse-Nassau
Environment map
Surroundings of the Free City of Frankfurt

The Free City of Frankfurt was one of four city-states in the German Confederation from 1815 to 1866 . It was the seat of the Bundestag and a financial center of European standing. In the Frankfurt Wachensturm in 1833 insurgents tried to get a German revolution going. In 1848/49 the Frankfurt National Assembly met in the Paulskirche .

During the German war it was occupied by Prussian troops on July 16, 1866 . On October 3, 1866 , Prussia annexed the Free City of Frankfurt and incorporated it into the newly created province of Hessen-Nassau .


Coalition Wars and Congress of Vienna

Withdrawal of the French army on November 1st, 1813
Acceptance of the citizens' oath on October 16, 1816

Frankfurt am Main had been a self-governing city since 1220 and became a Free Imperial City in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in 1372 . Due to its importance as the electoral and coronation city of the emperors , it was not mediatized like most other imperial cities after the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss 1803 , but retained its independence. It was not until the Rhine Confederation Treaty of July 12, 1806 that the imperial city fell to the Principality of Aschaffenburg , which Napoleon had awarded the last Archbishop of Mainz , Carl Theodor von Dalberg , and which in 1810 became part of the Grand Duchy of Frankfurt . Frankfurt formed its own department in the Grand Duchy .

Napoleon planned the Grand Duchy as a buffer state between Germany and France, which Napoleon's stepson Eugène de Beauharnais would later take over.

Dalberg introduced a series of reforms in the medieval city constitution. The after -fat dairy uprising enacted council constitution of 1614, which the patrician families of Ganerbschaften Old Limpurg and to Frauenstein secured the supremacy, was abolished, judicial and administrative reforms in the French style. All citizens, regardless of their denomination, were given the right to elect the 28 citizens' representatives , a kind of city parliament, in an equal and secret ballot. On December 28, 1811, the Frankfurt Jews also received full civil equality in exchange for a collective redemption of 440,000 guilders ; Serfdom and compulsory labor of the rural population living in the eight Frankfurt villages were abolished. The demolition of the medieval city ​​fortifications , which began in 1804, was quickly completed, and a building statute issued in 1809 by the city architect Johann Georg Christian Hess created the basis for the classicistic redesign of the cityscape.

The citizens took the end of the Old Kingdom calmly and were open to Dalberg's reforms. Catharina Elisabeth Goethe commented on the territorial changes of the coalition wars as follows: “May the right and left banks of the Rhine belong to whoever they want, that doesn't bother me either in my sleep or in my meal.” She wrote to her son on July 1, 1808 about the reforms : "The old wigs would not have been able to do something like that until Judgment Day." But there was also reason for dissatisfaction. The emancipation of the Jews created competition with Christian merchants and craftsmen, while the economy as a whole suffered from the continental blockade. In 1810 a large camp with English contraband was publicly burned on the Pfingstweide in front of the city gates , and the Frankfurt masses lay down.

After the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig on October 18, 1813, the townspeople turned against the French occupation during the French period, which was perceived as foreign rule . After the last fighting on October 31, 1813, the French army withdrew on November 1. The Grand Duke went into exile on October 28th. On November 6th, the Allies entered Frankfurt. The central administrative department for civil administration in the recaptured areas under the direction of Freiherr vom Stein took its provisional seat in Frankfurt. As early as December 1813, he demanded “to declare the city of Frankfurt with its former territory a free German city and reinstate it in its old constitution.” There was resistance to this, as the city claimed the Kingdom of Bavaria and was granted by Emperor Franz I. had already been promised by Austria. But Nassau also demanded sovereignty over Frankfurt. Only after tough diplomatic negotiations did the Congress of Vienna decide on June 9, 1815 in Article 46 of the Congress Act: "La ville de Francfort, avec son territoire, tel qu'il se trouvait en 1803, est déclarée libre et fera partie de la Ligue Germanique" . Since there was no longer an empire or an emperor, the former free imperial city was now called the Free City and, like the other German states, was a completely independent state under international law. At the time, this was in the Prussian interest because it did not want a second southern German power besides Austria and favored a neutral Frankfurt as the seat of the German Confederation. On July 9, 1815, the city received its sovereign rights.

The future constitution was fought for over a year. On October 18, 1816, the constitution amendment act was conjured up in a solemn citizens' meeting on the Römerberg . The new constitution largely restored the old imperial city laws, with the role of the council now falling to the senate. According to the constitutional act, "the sovereignty of the city rested on the entirety of the Christian citizenship". The residents of the Frankfurt rural communities and the Jews were again considered subject to the state without full civil rights. In 1818 serfdom was abolished for the villagers. It was not until September 1, 1824, after eight years of conflict, in which Austria and Prussia had last intervened in favor of the Frankfurt Jews, that the Legislative Assembly passed the law on civil equality for Jews .

The privileges of the patricians were not restored, but the constitution also contained sized items such. B. with regard to the composition of the Senate and the restriction of trade freedom by the guilds . Above all, however, political participation was tied to citizenship, which required proof of assets of at least 5,000 guilders. In 1817, of the 38,657 inhabitants of the small state, 4,848 were full citizens, with a further 17,670 members living in their households. In addition, there were 3,173 local Jews and 1,170 foreign Jews, inmates liable to tax in 1996 , 3408 permissionists (temporarily resident foreigners, mainly diplomats, merchants and craftsmen) and the 6,392 residents of the eight Frankfurt villages.

October 18, the anniversary of the Battle of Nations and the constitutional supplementary act, was celebrated annually as Frankfurt's national holiday until 1848.

Frankfurt as the federal capital

The Palais Thurn and Taxis around 1900

Since November 5, 1816, the Bundestag has had its seat in the Palais Thurn und Taxis on Grosse Eschenheimer Strasse . The member states set up embassies in the city. The Central Investigation Authority , a coordination office for the political police of the federal members, had its seat in Frankfurt since the 1830s.

Urban development

Frankfurt am Main with the classical main front, seen from the Mühlberg, around 1845
( old colored steel engraving by H. Worms )

Architects such as Salins de Montfort and Friedrich Rumpf built the city's wealthy upper class on the Zeil , on the Roßmarkt , along the system ring and on the banks of the Main , and founded a number of scientific societies, such as the Polytechnische Gesellschaft and the Physikalischer Verein . In 1819 Freiherr vom Stein founded the Society for Older German History ( Monumenta Germaniae Historica ), in 1825 city architect Johann Friedrich Christian Hess built the representative city ​​library , and at the same time the new building of the Senckenberg Natural Research Society was built on the Eschenheim Tower . From here Eduard Rüppell went on his extensive research trips to Africa. The Städelschule , which opened in 1829, attracted renowned artists from all over Europe, including Bertel Thorvaldsen , Philipp Veit , Eduard von Steinle and Moritz von Schwind . The city's cultural life was also looked after by civic foundations and associations, including the Frankfurter Kunstverein , the Museumgesellschaft , the Cäcilienverein and the Städtisches Theater .

In 1828, city gardener Sebastian Rinz laid out a new main cemetery and a Jewish cemetery about a quarter of an hour outside the old city walls . The old cemeteries from the Middle Ages, the Peterskirchhof and the old Jewish cemetery were closed. Also in 1828 the Knoblauch & Schiele company, the city's first gas works , began supplying private households.

In 1830, the city regulated the maintenance of the churches owned by the city, the salaries of the pastors and the church school system in the two endowment contracts . Many of the small older churches, especially the former monasteries that were secularized in 1803, fell into disrepair or were used for profane purposes. In contrast, the new building of the Paulskirche , which had been in ruins since 1789, was finally completed in 1833.

The settlement area of ​​the city grew only gradually beyond the ramparts built on the site of the old city fortifications , initially along the old country roads. Until 1837, the wrought-iron city gates were locked every evening at nightfall. Those who came later had to like the medieval blocking chunk of pay, leading to bloody riots (the 1830 and 1831 blocking chunk riot led).

The trade and traffic center

Frankfurt am Main 1831
The Taunus train station from 1839

Although the age-old Frankfurt trade fair experienced a low point in its history during the free city period, Frankfurt rose to become a trading and financial center of European importance. The most important major bank was the Rothschild House , which was represented throughout Europe . The Bethmann family took first place among the Christian bankers . Both dominated trading in European government securities.

There was considerable resistance to the Prussian Zollverein plans because they seriously threatened Frankfurt's role. In 1828 the city joined the Central German Trade Association , which was directed against Prussian activities , but could not prevent the neighboring state of Hessen-Darmstadt from joining the Prussian customs area. When Nassau also belonged to it after the establishment of the German Customs Union in 1834 , the city was completely enclosed by Prussian customs territory. Within a short period of time, this resulted in a dramatic decline in Frankfurt trade, while the neighboring cities of Offenbach , Höchst and Bockenheim flourished. In 1836, the Free City became the last state in the region to join the Zollverein.

The development of Frankfurt into a traffic center was more favorable, whereby the favorable location of the city made itself felt as always. In 1832 the city signed a free trade and shipping agreement with England. The first city flag was specially designed in the traditional Frankfurt colors: two red and two white stripes with the Frankfurt eagle in the upper left corner.

Although the steamship on the Main, promoted by Simon Moritz von Bethmann and operated since 1829, remained an episode due to the unfavorable flow of the non-canalised river, but the city played a leading role in the expansion of the German railway network from the start. Frankfurt bankers, headed by Moritz von Bethmann , did their best to promote the construction of the railway: “Our hometown, located in the center of Germany, where the roads from north to south and from east to west meet, must not fail to secure the means of connection ... The railways from Hamburg, Leipzig, Augsburg, Nuremberg, Basel, Mainz must meet in Frankfurt. Once this has been achieved, the prosperity of our city will be secured again. ”The first railway loan was oversubscribed forty times. However, the construction of the first Frankfurt railway was not successful until 1839 after tough negotiations, as the 40-kilometer stretch of the Taunus Railway to Wiesbaden, despite its short length, crossed the territory of three countries that were in economic competition with one another. Until 1848 Frankfurt was already a hub, converged in the five railway lines from all directions: The above Taunusbahn, the Main-Neckar-Bahn to Baden , the Main-Weser Railway to Kassel and in the Prussian space, the Frankfurt-Hanau railway direction Bavaria and Austria and the Homburg Railway with only regional significance.

Black red Gold

Frankfurt was one of the centers of the revolutionary movement of the Vormärz . Ludwig Börne , the journalist born in Judengasse in 1786, became an outstanding figure in Young Germany with his satirical writings . Although the Bundestag and the city authorities, who feared for their reputation, tried to ban the political associations and suppress the dissemination of liberal writings, the opposition circles in the city were filled with a revolutionary spirit at the latest after the July Revolution of 1830 . However, the step from idealistic zeal to decisive action failed thoroughly. The plan for the Frankfurt Wachensturm of April 3, 1833 was betrayed, and the town's small army, the line battalion , bloodily put down the uprising, which was mainly carried out by students and Polish officers in exile. For the bourgeois elite in Frankfurt, the largely uneventful event had serious consequences, since since then a garrison of 2,500 Austrian and Prussian soldiers , and from 1837 2,000 soldiers, challenged the city's sovereignty and the princely Bundestag diplomats from then on reviled the Free City as a “liberal nest”.

National awareness grew in the 1940s. The sculptor Ludwig Schwanthaler created the Goethe monument in 1844, the ceremonial inauguration of which became a national rally as was the first Germanist day in the Roman Emperor's Hall in 1846 , which had recently been organized by artists such as Philipp Veit , Alfred Rethel and Eduard von Steinle with the pictures of all 52 emperors of the Holy Roman Empire . The Monday wreath , an association of Frankfurt democratic associations founded by the lawyer Maximilian Reinganum , had met since the winter of 1845/46 .

At the beginning of March 1848 the revolutionary mood spilled over from France to Germany. As everywhere in Frankfurt, the demand for freedom of the press and assembly, constitutional equality of all citizens, amnesty for those imprisoned for political crimes and general arming of the people was made. On March 3, the Senate admitted all demands except for the complete emancipation of the Jews. The Monday wreath reform associations called for a constitutional reform for Frankfurt as well. A constituent assembly to be elected by all citizens should work out a new constitution to replace the constitutional supplementary act.

On March 9th the black, red and gold flag waved over the Federal Palace. On March 31, the pre-parliament met in the hastily rebuilt Paulskirche . The walls and windows of the church were decorated with black, red and gold flags, the pulpit was covered with a cloth, the organ was covered by a wide curtain that showed a painting: Germania with flag and sword, each with a laurel wreath on the right and left with patriotic verse. The presidential table was set up in place of the altar.

On May 18, 1848, the parliamentarians of the Frankfurt National Assembly , the first freely elected German parliament , solemnly entered the Paulskirche. The lawyer Friedrich Siegmund Jucho was elected as the representative of the Free City on April 28th . He became secretary of the National Assembly and joined the Westendhall faction of the center-left, later he belonged to the hereditary imperial family around Heinrich von Gagern .

Barricade fighting on September 18, 1848
Memorial to the fallen of September 18, 1848

As the parliamentary debates increased in length and toughness, the black, red and gold enthusiasm of the Frankfurters waned. An extra-parliamentary opposition of radical democrats and socialists gained increasing influence in the underprivileged sections of the population and the numerous foreigners who flocked to the city. The turning point of the revolution came, the September riots : after the National Assembly had accepted the ceasefire in Malmö in the Schleswig-Holstein War with a narrow majority on September 16, the mob, disappointed in its national feelings, radicalized. On September 18, insurgents tore up the pavement in forty places in the city and erected barricades. The Prussian MPs Felix Fürst von Lichnowsky and Hans von Auerswald were murdered on the street. Only the Prussian and Hessian military, called in from the federal fortress of Mainz , Darmstadt and Friedberg , forcibly restored order. 30 insurgents and 12 soldiers were killed.

From then on there was always an occupation force in Frankfurt from the large territorial states of Prussia, Austria and Bavaria. The mixed patrol was mocked on the one hand, and on the other hand it painfully reminded the citizens that the city was no longer trusted to maintain public safety and order on its own. The vigilante group, steeped in tradition, was dissolved and they had to hand over their weapons. Most citizens, however, welcomed the intervention of the military, including the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer , who had moved to Frankfurt and who gave his will to the bereaved of the 12 fallen soldiers.

After these September riots, the discussion also polarized in the National Assembly. The supporters of the Greater German Solution , who demanded a German nation-state including “the German lands of Austria”, could not prevail. When the small German solution of a constitutional monarchy with a hereditary imperial crown in the Prussian ruling house failed, the National Assembly largely dissolved. What was left of them moved to Stuttgart on May 31, 1849.

The revolution also failed in Frankfurt. Although the 120 members of the Constituent Assembly were elected on October 30, 1848 , work on the draft constitution made slow progress. In March 1849 a radical draft failed, in September 1849 a revised one. Finally, on December 3, 1849 , the Constituent Assembly passed a draft which, in 195 articles, was very much based on the Paulskirche constitution . In the meantime, however, the general political climate had changed in such a way that the Senate prohibited the constitutional reform. By resolution of December 31, 1849, he banned the planned referendum on the new constitution and instead announced regular elections under the old constitution for the Legislative Assembly, which met on January 21, 1850. The Constituent Assembly then dissolved itself. On August 13, 1850, the black, red and gold flag over the Palais Thurn und Taxis was withdrawn again.

The end of the free city

Frankfurt Princely Day

Even after the dissolution of the National Assembly and the restoration of Bundestag diplomacy in 1850, the democratic opposition continued to support their demands, even if the Senate steered a restorative course out of consideration for the German princes . In spite of this, there were also gradually reforms in the ancient city constitution. In 1853, an electoral reform brought the residents of the rural district the right to vote. The judicial and administrative reform of 1856 introduced the separation of powers by withdrawing the senators from the courts and the legislative assembly. In the future, court proceedings took place in public and verbal hearings, and jury courts that had long been common elsewhere were introduced.

From 1851 to 1859 Otto von Bismarck represented Prussian interests as envoy to the German Bundestag in Frankfurt. The liberality of the bourgeois society in Frankfurt and the freedom of the press displeased him thoroughly. On April 14, 1853, he wrote to Minister von Manteuffel : “As far as the democratic mood and the tumult among the population of the city and the surrounding area are concerned ... I am convinced that we can only successfully counter these dangers if we have this part of Germany subject to a military dictatorship regardless of legal forms and their protection ... "

In 1864, after years of conflict, the remnants of the medieval guild regulations finally fell. The economic freedom prevailed, and the last restrictions on the rights of Jewish citizens were abolished. Shortly before the end of the Free City, in June 1866, a direct majority vote for all citizens was introduced instead of the previous electoral procedure, which was organized according to occupations , although this was still tied to citizenship and thus assets of at least 5000 guilders. The new electoral law was no longer applied before the Prussian annexation.

Because of the economic structure determined by trade and crafts and the lack of freedom of trade, there was no industrial proletariat in Frankfurt until 1866. The first workers' association in Frankfurt, founded in 1863, had only 67 members, 33 of whom were tailors.

The Prussian-Austrian antagonism meanwhile steered Germany more and more towards war. The Frankfurt Princes' Day , held at the invitation of Austria in August 1863, did not provide a solution due to the Prussian boycott. The failure of the summit brought the Frankfurt public, who had always sympathized with Austria, completely against Prussia. The liberal Frankfurt press was also largely anti-Prussian, especially the Frankfurter Ober-Post-Amts-Zeitung , which had been in existence since 1617 , the French-language Journal de Francfort and the trade newspaper , which had been in existence since 1856 . In the satirical journal Frankfurter Latern , which has been published since 1860, editor Friedrich Stoltze criticized Bismarck's policies in increasingly harsh glosses and caricatures. He was then wanted with an arrest warrant in Prussia and could no longer leave the borders of his hometown.

In the vicinity of the German National Association founded in Frankfurt in 1859 , however, there were also influential Frankfurters who believed in the “Prussian mission” to establish German unity. Their mouthpiece was the nationally liberal, Prussian subsidized Frankfurter Journal . The Prussian Consul General in Frankfurt was the respected banker Moritz von Bethmann , who had also been one of the hosts of the Prince's Day. In protest against Bismarck's policy, however, he later gave up his office.

Invasion of Prussian troops on July 16, 1866
Manteuffel's demand for contributions of July 20, 1866

When the German War inevitably became apparent in the early summer of 1866 , the city remained true to its motto, Stark in the law, nationwide. She voted on June 14, 1866 for federal execution against Prussia, but at the same time declared that she would not take part in the civil war. However, it did not succeed in staying out of the warlike entanglements, as Prussia viewed loyalty to the Frankfurt federal government as hostile and Bismarck was determined to restore German unity by force under Prussia's leadership and to oust Austria from German politics.

Announcement about billeting in Frankfurt am Main as a penalty for not paying the war contribution

On July 16, 1866, Prussian troops under General Eduard Vogel von Falckenstein occupied the undefended city and immediately subjected it to the toughest reprisals. As early as July 17th, she was charged an initial contribution of around 5.8 million guilders , which was paid immediately. Edwin von Manteuffel , who was appointed Falckenstein's successor on July 20 , then raised a second contribution claim of 25 million guilders, which was to be raised by the then approximately 35,000 citizens of the Free City (of which only around 8,000 were taxable). Numerous citizens, including all members of the Senate, were billeted , the citizens had to provide their private riding horses for the army, the traders and innkeepers in the city were forced to deliver large stocks of food, wine and cigars to the Prussian field management. The Frankfurt newspapers, with the exception of the journal, were banned from appearing, the editor of the Oberpostamtszeitung, Hofrat Fischer-Goullet, was arrested and suffered a fatal stroke during questioning . The Senators von Bernus and Speltz were brought hostage to the Cologne Fortress , but were allowed to return to Frankfurt on July 19, in return for pledging their word of honor . Numerous Frankfurters fled abroad, such as Friedrich Stoltze to Stuttgart and the natural scientist Eduard Rüppell to Switzerland. At the end of 1866 the emigrants were allowed to return under a general amnesty .

The Senate under Mayor Fellner did not refuse a voluntary affiliation of the city to Prussia and declared itself ready to continue the city business as an agent of the occupiers. Fellner was sworn in by the Prussian military command on July 22nd and pleaded in the Senate to meet the second contribution demand as well as the first, but to ask the Prussian government for an option to pay in installments.

Prussian annexation patent dated October 3, 1866
Proclamation of the Prussian King to the citizens of Frankfurt
Proclamation of the annexation on October 8, 1866

However, the Legislative Assembly and the Permanent Citizens' Representation of the Free City rejected this proposal on July 23, 1866, to protest the treatment of the city. The Prussian city commandant, Major General von Röder , interpreted this as an open rebellion and asked Fellner to publish a proscription list with the names and ownership of all members of the city bodies by the next morning. Otherwise he threatened to bomb and pillage the city.

Fellner found himself in an irresolvable conflict between his duties to the city and its citizens on the one hand and his oath as a government representative on the other - a situation in which he saw no other way out than suicide. On the morning of his 59th birthday, July 24th 1866, Fellner hanged himself in his house on Seilerstrasse .

Although the announcement of his death was suppressed by the Prussian military authorities, it quickly spread among the citizens. More than 6,000 citizens gave him the last escort at his funeral in the main cemetery on July 26, 1866 , although the funeral had to take place early in the morning at 4.30 a.m. by order of the city commandant. At the funeral, Fellner's brother-in-law, Appellate Judge Kugler , presented the new Prussian District Administrator Dienst with the empty proscription list and the rope with which Fellner had hanged himself.

After that, the worst reprisals were relaxed. In diplomatic contacts with the French Emperor and the Russian Tsar, Bismarck had gained the certainty that they would not oppose the Prussian annexation policy. At the end of July, a delegation from the city, led by Senator Müller, reached Bismarck's Bohemian headquarters to postpone the contribution demand, but at the same time received notification that the annexation was a done deal. On July 28th, Prussia set up a civil administration under District Administrator Guido von Madai and appointed Senator Samuel Gottlieb Müller as the incumbent mayor. In September both houses of the Prussian state parliament voted for the annexation law submitted by the government, which was published on September 23. The annexation took place on October 8, 1866 with the public reading of the patent for taking possession of the former Free City of Frankfurt and the Supreme Proclamation to the residents of the former Free City of Frankfurt by the new civil governor of Patow on the Römerberg . Only one of the assembled Frankfurters is said to have joined in the “cheers for the king”.

After more than 600 years as an independent city republic, only three city-states remained in Germany : Lübeck , which fell to Prussia in 1937, and the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and Hamburg , which continue this old tradition to this day.

Incorporation into the Prussian state

Municipalities of the Prussian urban district of Frankfurt
The cathedral fire on August 14, 1867
The Peace of Frankfurt

Despite the insight into the real political necessity and the certainty that the small republic, whose borders could be wandered around in one day, had long since become an anachronism in the age of nation states, the loss of freedom and political significance as a federal city overthrew Frankfurt society into a deep depression. Stoltze wrote sarcastically: "No, after all, the old free, imperial, electoral, coronation, mass and Hannels town is now a Prussian provincial town!" Until well into the 20th century, the Frankfurters referred to themselves as "Must Prussians" .

In addition to the humiliation, there was the fear of economic ruin due to the continuing Prussian demands for contributions. While the Frankfurt negotiators demanded repayment of the contribution that had already been made because it had been raised illegally, and found support from the Prussian civil governor Patow and even in the state parliament, the Ministry of Finance refused because the money had already been planned in the budget. Finally, Bismarck intervened, who wanted to influence Frankfurt public opinion in favor of Prussia. Since King Wilhelm had personally taken over the sole legislative power for the city for one year with the annexation patent, he was able to assure the representatives of the city committees in the summer of 1867 at an audience in Bad Ems that the Prussian state would use the “loans taken out to cover war burdens “See and take over as the national debt of the former Free City of Frankfurt.

This paved the way for a division of the state and municipal assets of the Free City of Frankfurt. In March 1869 the Frankfurt Recess was agreed. The Prussian state took over the land, buildings and other assets of the Frankfurt railways, the Frankfurt military, the state telegraphs, the state archives, various roads of supra-local importance and the Main Bridge as well as the debts of the Free City and the pension obligations to its officials. The city kept its lottery fund , which yielded 200,000 guilders annually, until 1872, plus a compensation of two million, which the king topped up by another million from his private fund.

As a further conciliatory gesture, the king supported the reconstruction of the imperial cathedral, which burned down on August 15, 1867 . The fire in the old electoral and coronation church of the emperors on the night before the Prussian king's inaugural visit to his new provincial town had appeared to the people of Frankfurt as a beacon. Friedrich Stoltze summed up the feelings of the Frankfurters in the words:

Everything that is dear to us and dear to
us , what is holy, high and dear to us:
Our temples were devoured by fire,
our freedom devoured by the sword.

But the reconstruction of the ruins also offered the citizens of Frankfurt a new field of activity. The cathedral building association, founded on August 29, included the city's most respected notables, including Mayer Carl von Rothschild . The Prussian Queen Augusta also joined the association, and King Wilhelm took over the patronage.

A conflict developed over the future constitution of the city that cemented the political front lines in Frankfurt for a long time. A group around the incumbent mayor Müller and members of the permanent citizen representation had tried to preserve essential elements of the old constitution, including the rule of the Senate, even under Prussian rule. However, Müller failed because he not only had the Prussian-minded National Liberals against him, but also those fundamentalist circles for whom his negotiations with Bismarck during the annexation phase had been too arbitrary and willing to grant concessions. The Prussian Ministry of the Interior then set up a municipal negotiating commission consisting exclusively of representatives who were friendly to Prussia, which advocated a complete renunciation of the free urban constitutional organs and proposed a real municipal constitution on the basis of the Prussian town code of 1853. The only aim was a specific adjustment of the census suffrage, which essentially served to exclude the poor population groups from political participation. The democratic opposition, led by the Frankfurter Zeitung Leopold Sonnemanns , criticized this voluntary abandonment of the free city legal positions by negotiators who were not legitimized by city committees, but could not assert itself.

On March 25, 1867, King Wilhelm issued the municipal constitution law for the city of Frankfurt am Main . The city of Frankfurt and its former district with the communities Bornheim , Bonames , Hausen , Niederrad , Oberrad and Niederursel now formed the urban district of Frankfurt am Main in the administrative district of Wiesbaden , which belonged to the province of Hessen-Nassau . On October 1, 1867, the new municipal constitution came into force. In the first city council, the Liberals received a clear majority. The king appointed the citizen of Frankfurt and former Senator of the Free City, Daniel Heinrich Mumm von Schwarzenstein, as the first Lord Mayor of Frankfurt .

The Peace of Frankfurt represented an important milestone in the reconciliation of Frankfurt with the annexation . During the negotiations on May 10, 1871, Bismarck said: “It is a nice thought that the first major political act of the resurrected German Reich is taking place in Frankfurt old German imperial and coronation city, was able to take place. I sincerely wish that the Peace of Frankfurt will also bring peace for Frankfurt and with Frankfurt. "


Territory of the Free City of Frankfurt

The state territory of the Free City was largely within today's Frankfurt urban area, on both sides of the Main . It had remained essentially unchanged since the 15th century. The neighboring states of Frankfurt were the Grand Duchy of Hesse in the south ( Starkenburg province ) and north ( Upper Hesse province ), the Electorate of Hesse ( Hanau district ) in the north and east, the Landgraviate of Hessen-Homburg in the north-west and the Duchy of Nassau in the west.

The territory of the Free City comprised the actual city of Frankfurt as a city ​​district , eight villages in the rural district and the forest district .


The city district mainly consisted of the Staufer old town and the new town founded in the 14th century, both of which were located on the right bank of the Main within the city ​​fortifications that were transformed into ramparts at the beginning of the 19th century . Over 40,000 people lived in an area of ​​just under two square kilometers, and by 1866 this number had risen to around 70,000. In the Sachsenhausen district, also previously walled, on the left bank of the Main, around 5,000 people initially lived, mostly craftsmen and petty bourgeoisie.

Located outside the city walls in a radius of about three to four kilometers district initially consisted largely of agricultural land. Gardens, orchards and vineyards lay directly in front of the city . The outskirts, for example along today's Alleenring , were farmed according to a land constitution that had been handed down from time immemorial , the basis of which was still the medieval three-field economy . Part of the area was cultivated with summer grain, part with winter grain, while the third part lay fallow. In between, there were smaller stretches of forest and corridors such as the garlic field in the north end, where the vital sources for the city's water supply were located. The construction of the water supply between 1827 and 1834 was one of the Free City's most important public projects. The water was fed from four well chambers to two distribution stations near the Friedberger Tor and the Eschenheimer Tor , from where a pipe system of around 17 kilometers in length supplies around 1500 cubic meters of spring water to a total of 98 pump wells and 120 pipe wells, 120 fire hydrants and around 300 House nozzles distributed. During the construction of the water pipeline, city planner Hoffmann predicted that the water supply would be sufficient for several centuries with an assumed population growth of 10,000 per century and a requirement of 20.7 liters per person per day. The actual development of the population and water consumption caused increasing water scarcity at the end of the 1850s, but the plans to build a waterworks to treat Main water and to build a long-distance water pipeline were no longer realized before the end of the Free City.

In the 19th century there was still a wreath of large fortifications around the city , including the Gutleuthof , the Hellerhof, the Kettenhof, the Grünhof, the Kühhornshof and the Riederhöfe on the north bank of the Main , on the south bank of the Main Sandhof and the Riedhof. Only gradually, especially from 1840, did the closed settlement area expand into the district. Many of the former field names can still be found in street names today, e.g. B. Kettenhofweg , Feldgerichtstraße or Oeder Weg .

To the right of the Main, the district comprised the current districts of Bahnhofsviertel , Gutleutviertel , Gallusviertel , Westend , Nordend and Ostend (including Riederwald ) with an area of ​​10,770 acres , that is 2182 hectares , and to the left of the Main, the part of Sachsenhausen outside the walls with an area of ​​around 400 Hectares. Around 10,000 people recently lived in the district.

There were also a few smaller industrial companies in the area, such as the Brönner paint factory on Kettenhofweg in Westend. Especially in the Nordend, however, from 1825 onwards, businesses began to emerge, especially chemical factories, type foundries and art print shops. In 1836, the entrepreneur Friedrich Wippermann commissioned Frankfurt's first steam engine in Oeder Weg for his pulverization plant , a paint mill, which had existed there since 1825 .

The Frankfurter Landwehr , a system of impenetrable hedges with one or two trenches, which were only passable in a few places protected by guard towers , had served to protect the district since the Middle Ages . Although the maintenance of the Landwehr had already been discontinued in 1785, the facilities remained quite handsome until the area was built on. Between Eschersheimer Landstrasse and Friedberger Warte , the Landwehr was still recognizable until the former confederation was built around 1930. The Sachsenhausen Landwehr is still visible in places today, e.g. B. near the Goethe Tower .

The communities of the neighboring states bordering the city district were north of the Main: Griesheim , the city of Bockenheim , Ginnheim , Eschersheim , Eckenheim and Fechenheim , all of which were incorporated into Frankfurt at the beginning of the 20th century.


Of the eight municipalities in the district, Bornheim , Oberrad and Niederrad were within the Landwehr and thus directly bordered the urban area. Bornheim in particular developed more and more into a suburban suburb towards the end of the 19th century . On the former Bornheimer Heide along the Sandweg leading to Bornheim and Berger Straße , an almost closed development was built from 1820 to around 1860.

The villages of Hausen , Niederursel (half with the Grand Duchy of Hesse ), Bonames , Niedererlenbach and Dortelweil were separated from each other and from the main state area by Hessian and Nassau areas. Due to the greater distance from the city, they retained their rural character well into the 20th century, only in Bonames there had been a flourishing small business since the Middle Ages. With the exception of Dortelweil - today a district of Bad Vilbel - they all belong to the city of Frankfurt am Main again.

The entire land district had an area of ​​15,570 acres (3,153 hectares ), which was distributed as follows:

District Area in acres Area in hectares
Niedererlenbach 4366 884
Dortelweil 2568 520
Bornheim 2110 427
Niederursel 1703 345
Bonames 1559 316
Hausen 640 130

In addition, there were the districts of the southern Main villages of Oberrad and Niederrad with a total of 2624 acres (531 hectares). Of the area of ​​the rural district, only 4841 acres (31%) were owned by the villagers, 4249 acres belonged to Frankfurt citizens, foundations or the city, while the rest was owned by foreigners (e.g. the Teutonic Order ).

Forest district

The most important part of the 22,123 acres (4,480 hectares) large forest district was the since 1372 belonging to Frankfurt city forest , which the Main stretched south covering an area of nearly 40 square kilometers. Riederwald, south of Bornheim, and the exclave of Hohemark im Taunus, in which the villages of Hausen, Niedererlenbach, Bonames, Niederursel and Dortelweil had shares, also belonged to the forest district. The logging represented an important economic factor, while the importance of the forest for pig fattening had declined sharply compared to the time in the imperial city. On the Wäldchestag , the Tuesday after Whitsun, almost all citizens moved to the Oberforsthaus in the city forest to celebrate Frankfurt's largest folk festival. It had developed from the annual firewood allotments to the citizens.

In total, the territory of the Free City comprised 48,470 acres (9,815 hectares). After the annexation it existed until 1885 as the Prussian urban district of Frankfurt am Main , with the exception of the municipalities of Dortelweil and Niedererlenbach, which were ceded to the Grand Duchy of Hesse in exchange for half of Niederursel.

Population numbers

The development of the population shows a strongly accelerated growth from the end of the 1940s, both in the actual city as well as in the suburban communities, while the population of the rural communities hardly changed.

year 1837 1840 1843 1846 1849 1852 1855 1858 1861 1864
Borough 54,037 56,217 56,348 58,519 59,366 62,561 64,316 68,049 71,564 78.221
Suburban communities 6,296 6,562 6,630 6,860 7,052 7,587 7,522 8,254 8,880 9,866
Rural communities 2,818 2,743 2,853 2,861 2,936 3,002 2,946 2,975 2,946 3,063
Entire national territory 63.151 65,522 65,831 68,240 69,354 73,150 74,784 79.278 83,390 91,150

Constitution and Administration

Karl Konstanz Viktor Fellner , last mayor of the Free City of Frankfurt

The Basic Law of the Free City of Frankfurt was the constitutional supplementary act issued in 1816 , which modernized the old council constitution that was in force from 1614 to 1806 . According to the constitutional amendment act , “the sovereignty of the city rested on the entirety of the Christian citizenship.” The three most important constitutional organs were the legislative body , the permanent citizen representation and the Senate of the Free City of Frankfurt . They were intertwined with one another and with the administration of justice, so that the principles of the separation of powers were not observed.

Legislative body

The Legislative Body consisted of 85 members. 20 of these were provided by the Senate (until 1856) and 20 were the permanent representatives of the citizens, while 45 were determined by the citizens through indirect voting. To this end, they elected an electoral college of 75 citizens every year, to which nine deputies from the rural communities had come since 1823. It was not until 1853 that rural residents were given the right to vote. With the reform of the electoral law of 1866 direct elections were introduced, but there were no more elections before the Prussian annexation.

The legislative body was responsible for legislating, approving and collecting taxes, approving the budget and overseeing the state budget. The executive committee of the Legislative Body consisted of the President, two Vice-Presidents and a secretariat of four legal scholars.

Permanent citizen representation

The permanent citizen representation made up of 61 members of all estates was chaired by a senior elected from among their number . At her side stood a civil consultant and a legal registrar . The permanent representation of the citizens was responsible for the control of income and expenditure as well as the municipal accounting. The auditing of the accounts was the responsibility of the Stadtrechnungs-Revisionscolleg , also called Neunerkolleg , consisting of nine representatives .


The city senate was the executive branch of the Free City of Frankfurt and the successor to the council of the imperial city constitution. Like this one, it consisted of three banks with 14 members each. Unlike before 1806, however, the predominance was no longer with the patrician inheritance , especially the aristocratic societies Alten Limpurg and Zum Frauenstein .

The first senate bank was the bank of the lay judges , which included the four municipal syndici . Its members complemented each other according to the principle of anciency from the second bank, the Senators ' Bank , which consisted of lawyers and business people. The third bank consisted of 12 guild and two non- guild council members. The members of the second and third banks were co-opted by the senators using the balloting procedure .

In 1856, with a constitutional amendment, the third Senate bench was abolished and the number of Senate members was reduced to 21, four of whom had to be craftsmen. The senators could no longer be members of the Legislative Assembly at the same time. The judiciary was separated from the administration and the judges were elected by the Senate and the Legislative Assembly. The separation of powers was thus anchored in the Frankfurt Constitution.

However, Jewish citizens and residents of rural communities continued to be excluded from the Senate. A corresponding emancipation law from February 1849 was cashed in again after the failure of the revolution in 1851.


The two mayors were also elected annually by ballot. The senior mayor presided over the Senate and was in charge of foreign relations and the military. He always came from the jury's bench. The younger mayor from the Senatorial Bank was in charge of the police, the guild system and civil rights affairs and was his colleague's representative.


The city judicial administration consisted of the judicial colleges and the judicial offices. The highest judicial college was the higher appeal court in Lübeck . The appellate and criminal court with its six appellate judges was elected by the jury and the senator's bench in the Senate. In civil disputes, it formed the second instance to the city ​​court , which consisted of a director, a deputy director and four judicial councilors. Civil disputes were heard in the first instance before the city court; it was also the supreme guardianship court and the marriage court for Protestants. The judicial colleges also included the curatorial office of three senators, responsible for guardianship matters, and the police court for administrative offenses.

The judicial offices were the embarrassing interrogation office responsible for criminal investigations under the chairmanship of the younger mayor, the city ​​office and the land office , which were responsible for minor civil law cases below 300 guilders value in dispute in the city district or in the rural district, as well as the mortgage, transcription and currency authorities and that Fiscalat .


20 offices were entrusted with the city's administrative tasks, including the eviction commission for the recruitment of the city's military, the building authority , to which the lantern office, the paving inspection, the city tube fountain supervision, the city gardening, the road deputation and the fire insurance agency were assigned, the book inspection, as censorship the central financial Commission , the income tax and debt Commission , the Forestry Commission , the guild Commission for guild matters, Lutheran and the reformed consistory and the Catholic church and school Commission , the war Zeugamt , the deposit office , the police office , the Rechnei- and bond Office , the medical office , the Stadtkämmerei , the city lottery , the Foundation deputation , the Commission of inquiry and the customs administration . In the service of the city there were 12 Lutheran and two Reformed preachers along with the eight Lutheran village pastors, a police assessor, an actuary, two commissioners, 64 night guards and numerous gendarmes, watchmen and prison guards. The authorities supervised 78 doctors, 11 pharmacists, 12 first-class surgeons and eight second-class surgeons, plus four in the villages, seven dentists, 15 midwives in the city and 10 in the villages and five veterinarians. The police office was also responsible for the fire department, the fish and meat department, the market supervisory authority, the work and reform house as well as the supervision of the hospital for unclean people ( leprosy and venereal disease ).


City map of the old town, new town and Sachsenhausen around 1845

A relic of the old imperial city constitution was the division of the city area within the old city walls into 14 quarters , which had existed since the Fettmilch revolt of 1614 . Similar to the Contraden in Siena or the Sestieri in Venice today , the quarters formed social communities within urban society. Each quarter consisted of 170 to 270 houses, which were numbered within the quarters. A modern numbering system according to streets was only introduced in Prussian times.

Quarters A comprised the streets of the old town east of the Fahrgasse as well as the Fischerfeld , which was not built until after 1792 , while the four Quarters B to E lay from east to west in the Neustadt . Quarters F to M were in the densely populated old town : Quarters F formed the streets around the Großer Hirschgraben , G the area around Liebfrauenberg and Töngesgasse , H the northeastern old town between Fahrgasse and Trierischer Hof . Quarters I was between Neue Mainzer Strasse and Römerberg , K between Kornmarkt and Neuer Kräme , L between Schnurgasse and Markt and M was the area around the cathedral between Markt and the banks of the Main.

Quarters N and O were in Sachsenhausen . The border between the eastern quarter N - also called Oberhausen - and the western Unterhausen (quarter O ) was the Brückengasse .

In the days of the imperial city, the office of citizen-captain , as the head of the quarters was called, was the only office in the city awarded by democratic elections. The Dalberg reforms abolished this office and a number of tasks that had previously been in the districts were transferred to the city. In the Free City of Frankfurt, the quarters whose board members were now called majors had the role of quarters , i. H. the statistics of the residents of the quarter. It was used by the treasury to collect taxes from citizens and residents, but also as a register of residents to control the strangers rented in the neighborhood. In addition, the vigilante groups and the fire brigade continued to be organized according to neighborhoods.

On June 1, 1866, the Senate abolished the district councils because they had become superfluous due to the planned police and electoral reforms. The new residential areas created after the fall of the city walls were no longer included in the subdivision at all. Initially, only the plots along the old country roads were built on. From 1846, the first new streets were named in Westend , Nordend and Ostend , mostly after old field names, e.g. B. Wiesenau , Im Sachsenlager , Im Trutz Frankfurt or Eiserne Hand .

The quarters and their contemplative self-organization were already an object of nostalgic transfiguration in the free urban era. The comedy The Old Citizen Captain by Carl Malß , premiered in 1821 , has seen hundreds of performances over 45 years; the actor Samuel Friedrich Hassel became the embodiment of the sedate old Frankfurt citizen. The comedy is still one of the most frequently performed pieces in the Frankfurt Volkstheater .

School system

Until 1803 there was only one municipal school in Frankfurt, the municipal high school founded in 1520 , which was reserved exclusively for the sons of the Lutheran citizens. In addition to the grammar school, there were nine neighborhood schools dating from the Middle Ages , private schools with municipal concessions that could be inherited and sold. Each school generally had only one teacher. All the school teachers had formed a kind of guild. Since the income from the school fees they had collected was barely enough to live on, they often had sideline jobs, e.g. B. cutting nibs . Since each of them often had to look after several hundred students, no significant education could be expected from the neighborhood schools under these circumstances. The grammar school also had a bad reputation in the 18th century, as it taught according to a completely outdated curriculum and the discipline of its students gave rise to frequent complaints. Wealthy citizens such as B. Johann Caspar Goethe therefore had their children educated in foreign schools or hired private tutors, such as Friedrich Hölderlin , who worked in the house of the banker Gontard from 1796 to 1798 .

Since 1728 the supervision of all schools has been with the Lutheran consistory , a body made up of secular and spiritual members and appointed by the city council. Its chairmen, Friedrich Maximilian Freiherrn von Günderrode and Wilhelm Friedrich Hufnagel , the energetic senior of the Lutheran Ministry of Preachers , finally initiated a comprehensive school reform in 1803.

In 1803 Hufnagel founded Frankfurt's first secondary school , the model school , whose pedagogical concept was committed to the spirit of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi . One of their first teachers was the pastor and educator Anton Kirchner , himself a former student of the Frankfurt grammar school, where in 1806 he took over the professorship for religion, church history and the Hebrew language. During the Dalberg period, the Grand Duke commissioned him to prepare further school reforms. The basis was a law passed in 1812 on the nationalization of the school system. The Lyceum Carolinum , the attempt to found a Frankfurt university, remained a short-lived episode, but the founding of the two white women schools in 1813 (one elementary school each for boys and girls from the merchant class) was successful.

After the restoration of the Free City, the Senate lifted the state interdenominational school and study inspection . Supervision of the grammar school, the model school and all Lutheran schools was in future carried out by the Lutheran consistory , while a Catholic church and school commission was responsible for the Catholic schools . In 1818 the Senate converted the Lutheran schools into Protestant ones by including the Reformed Consistory in its supervision. The curricula were also reformed, e.g. For example, teaching mathematics , geography and French was introduced at high school .

In 1824 the last neighborhood schools were abolished and three new state schools were founded. In addition to the grammar school and the model school, there was now the Katharinenschule as a middle school and the All Saints' School, the Three Kings and the White Women School as elementary schools. Since the Dalberg period, the grammar school also accepted Catholic and Jewish students, all other institutes only accepted Protestant students. There were four elementary schools for the Catholics. Schools for boys were the Selektenschule at the Liebfrauenkirche and the Cathedral School, girls schools were the schools of the English Misses and the Rosenberg Unification . Since 1804, the Jewish community had had its own secondary school, Philanthropin, as well as an elementary school for the children of poor parents.

With the school reform, the reputation and attractiveness of the Frankfurt schools rose again. The grammar school in particular attracted well-known scholars in the free urban era, including the decipherer of the cuneiform script , Georg Friedrich Grotefend , the founder of mechanical engineering , Johann Heinrich Moritz von Poppe , the historians Friedrich Christoph Schlosser , Georg Ludwig Kriegk , Theodor Creizenach and Johannes Janssen , den Geographer Carl Ritter and the classical philologists Johannes Classen and Tycho Mommsen .

In 1830, the Senate confirmed the transfer of the school buildings for the elementary and middle schools to the churches in the two endowment documents and promised to release them from all burdens. The contracts declared "The city council is obliged to use state funds to supplement those needs of these community schools that are not covered by school fees or other income at any time." It remained the same until the end of the Free City the denominational organization of the school supervision, only in 1872 a state education authority was founded.

Religious communities

Church constitution

Anton Kirchner, pastor and school reformer

While the Lutheran consistory had ruled the church during the imperial city period , the legal equality of the Christian denominations required a new regulation of the church constitution after 1806. The Constitutional Act of 1816 stipulated in Article 35: “All and every Christian as well as other ecclesiastical congregation, no matter how they are entitled to the protection of the state, are also subordinate to the supervision of the state and may not form a special state within the state. “This supervision was given to the Senate, which re-established the Lutheran consistory that existed before 1806 . According to Article 36, it consisted of two Lutheran senators, the senior of the ministry of preachers , two Lutheran pastors and a lawyer consistorial councilor . With the exception of the matrimonial matters, which were now transferred to the city court, the responsibilities remained as regulated since 1728. Article 37 left the Reformed Church free to set up a consistory, which was also done on February 8, 1820 by decree of the Senate. Article 38 regulated the establishment of the Catholic Church and School Commission , Article 39 stipulated that the state had to provide for the endowment of the Lutheran and Catholic religious cult and school system based on the identified need. However, negotiations about this endowment dragged on, so that the two endowment documents were not issued until 1830. According to Article 40 of the constitution amendment act, the three denominations each had the right to elect a parish council.

Overall, since the Enlightenment in Frankfurt, there has been a clear decline in church ties in all strata of the population. Carl Ritter wrote in 1811 about his time as tutor to the banker Johann Jakob Bethmann-Hollweg :

“We all have such a sensual love for the earthly that that for the spiritual, the divine is one of the greatest rarities. I can live for years in our house, which consists of a significant number of people, without hearing a single religious expression of my own free will. There is no question of anything in a religious context, since this view is completely absent. People are born and die here, they are happy and unhappy, they hope and fear, and none of this reminds us of a higher connection between God and immortality. "

Evangelical Lutheran Church

The Evangelical Lutheran congregation belonged to around 28,000 people in 1814. It extended over the entire city area until 1899 and had six preaching places where 12 clergy worked. There was no fixed allocation of parishes , for example according to residence, in Frankfurt; instead, each family adhered to a church or a preacher of their choice. Popular pastors like the eminent preacher Anton Kirchner had good church attendance, a high number of casuals and a rich income in collections and fees, while others were far less used. Overall, only two-thirds of the children were baptized, half of the marriages were clerical and around 40% of the deceased were buried in church. In the new building areas outside the old city walls, there was no church supply at all; the Luther Church was the first new church to be built in the Nordend in 1892 .

The Lutheran parish council met for the first time on May 17, 1820. It consisted of 36 secular people who were elected annually from among the citizens of the Lutheran denomination, regardless of their neighborhood or church . Clergymen, senators and members of the consistory did not have the right to stand for election "because they are constitutionally effective in other respects". However, never more than 600 parishioners participated in these elections; H. less than three percent.

Because the competencies of the parish council were not completely clearly demarcated from those of the ministry of preachers, friction arose over the course of time. It was not until 1833 that the parish council was given the right to participate in the election of pastors; from 1835 there were joint commissions and committees of both bodies.

A major change in the church constitution occurred after 1848. The failed constitutional draft of the Constituent Assembly provided for a strict separation of state and church, a ban on the establishment of Catholic monasteries and orders, and the abolition of church school supervision. At first only one of these demands remained: in 1851 Frankfurt finally introduced civil marriage and the city's registry of registry books. On the grounds that the Senate had long since ceased to be Lutheran, and recently not even Christian, the parish council and the ministry of preachers now also demanded the creation of a church independent of the state. This happened with three laws promulgated on February 5, 1857, the Organic Law, the amendment of some provisions of the Constitutional Supplementary Act affecting the Evangelical Lutheran Church Constitution , the Law on the Business Circle of the Evangelical Lutheran Consistory and the Law, the Composition and the Concerning the business group of the Evangelical Lutheran parish council. With the new church constitution, the church was divided into six districts, each of which was assigned a church. In future, the parish council consisted of 12 pastors and 36 secular members. The church regiment was transferred to the consistory. The pastors had to have Frankfurt citizenship.

In principle, this constitution remained in place even after the Prussian annexation, even if the church government was transferred to the new state government and the state church law provisions of the Prussian constitution of 1850 were also transferred to Frankfurt. In 1899 the two previous consistories, the Lutheran and the Reformed, merged with the Lutheran parishes in Bornheim, Oberrad, Niederrad, Bonames, Niederursel and Hausen to form a Evangelical Regional Church in Frankfurt am Main .

The endowment continues to have an effect

The endowment negotiated in 1830 remained in principle to this day and was last confirmed in 1962 as continuing Hessian state law. Despite multiple efforts, the city was not ready until 1866 to increase the annual grant of 28,500 guilders to the pastor's salaries and religious costs. This amount remained unchanged across all currency reforms and is now 24,980 euros a year. All benefits in kind, e.g. B. the delivery of 96 fathoms of beech logs annually , were replaced over time, the last in 1940.

Much larger amounts flowed and flow into the upkeep of the churches. Of the originally six endowed churches, one, the old Heilig-Geist-Kirche, was torn down in 1840 and exchanged for the old Nikolaikirche . The dilapidated Dreikönigskirche and Peterskirche were demolished at the end of the 19th century and rebuilt at the city's expense.

After the destruction in World War II, the city rebuilt all churches except for the Weißfrauenkirche . In exchange for the Paulskirche , the Evangelical Church was assigned the Dominican monastery and the associated Heiliggeistkirche in 1954 .

Evangelical Reformed Church

The approximately 2000 members of the two Reformed parishes, the German Reformed and the French Reformed , formed their own Evangelical Reformed consistory in 1820. According to the constitution amendment act, the communities had to cover “all costs of their religious cult according to the contract from their own resources without competition from the city ararii” and were therefore not included in the endowment of 1830.

Since 1817 there was a communion communion between Lutherans and Reformed, but unlike in Prussia, there was no church union . Both consistories existed independently side by side. It was not until 1899 that the Reformed congregations joined the Evangelical Church in Frankfurt am Main, where they formed their own Reformed city synod. The two congregations still exist today as staff congregations of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau .

Catholic Church

The Frankfurt Catholics had belonged to the Archdiocese of Mainz since the Middle Ages . Their number, which had initially fallen below 100 after the Reformation - apart from the clergy who worked in the Catholic collegiate churches that still existed - had increased again over the course of time due to immigration. With the end of the old imperial city and the Edict of Tolerance of 1806, they achieved full legal equality.

Soon after the constitution of the Free City of Frankfurt, the old relations with Mainz were dissolved and, with the support of the Frankfurt Senate, the new Diocese of Limburg was founded, which brought together the Catholics of the Duchy of Nassau and the Free City of Frankfurt. In 1822, Georg Friedrich von Guaita was the first Catholic to be elected mayor of Frankfurt. At first there was a good understanding between the denominations, until after the revolution of 1848, mainly through the work of the Jesuits , the distance grew again.

Israelite community

View into Judengasse, 1845
(steel engraving by Wilhelm Lang based on a model by Jakob Fürchtegott Dielmann )
Inauguration of the main synagogue on March 23, 1860

Since 1462 the Frankfurt Jews had been forced to live in the Judengasse . Even after the de facto end of the ghetto , which was set on fire during the siege of Frankfurt in 1796, it was still another generation before the final emancipation . The residents of the destroyed Judengasse were allowed to settle in the Christian part of the city, and Dalberg's Edict of Tolerance of 1806 also gave them civil equality. Nevertheless, the city of Frankfurt created a new location in 1807 and again assigned the Judengasse as quarters for the Jews. Only Dalberg's highest ordinance, the civil legal equality of the Jewish community in Frankfurt , finally abolished ghetto compulsory and special taxes in 1811. For this, however, the community had to make an advance payment of 440,000 guilders.

Rothschildhaus in Börnestrasse, the former Judengasse

When the Constitutional Amendment Act came into force in 1816, the Senate again curtailed the civil rights of the more than 4,000 Frankfurt Jews, citing the will of the majority of the Christian citizens, especially the crafts and trade, who feared competition from the Jewish citizens. The ghetto obligation, however, was lifted. In 1824 the Jews were put on an equal footing with the Christians under private law, but it was not until 1864 that Frankfurt became the second German state after the Grand Duchy of Baden (1862) to lift all restrictions on civil rights and put Jews on an equal footing with other citizens.

Due to the cramped living conditions, most Jews left the former ghetto in the course of the 19th century and settled mainly in the neighboring quarters, later also in the new quarters outside the ramparts. The Judengasse became a poor district, the inhabitants of which lived in unsustainable hygienic conditions. Although the picturesque streetscapes attracted tourists and painters, the city wanted to get rid of the remains of the ghetto, but this did not succeed until the end of the Free City. It was not until 1874 that the houses on the west side of Judengasse, which were now considered uninhabitable, were demolished; the houses on the east side even stood until 1884. One of the few buildings of the former ghetto that have been preserved was the Rothschilds' main building in Judengasse No. 148. Mayer Amschel's widow, Gutele Rothschild , née Schnaper, did not leave it after her five sons were raised to the nobility in 1817, but lived until her death in this small house in the ghetto in which the financial dynasty was founded .

In the first half of the 19th century tensions grew between the Orthodox Jews of Frankfurt and the supporters of Reform Judaism under Rabbi Abraham Geiger . In 1844 the community council appointed Rabbi Leopold Stein to Frankfurt, a moderate representative of the reform wing. The appointment split the community, as the incumbent Chief Rabbi Salomon Abraham Trier was a staunch opponent of Stein. In 1851 the Orthodox Association separated from the Israelite community under the leadership of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch , in which an Orthodox wing remained in addition to the liberal wing.

The synagogue was the spiritual center of the community. As early as 1854, at Leopold Stein's instigation, the Israelite community had the old synagogue from 1711 torn down and replaced by a representative new building for over 1000 visitors in 1859/60. The speech at the inauguration of the main synagogue on March 23, 1860 was given by Rabbi Stein in the presence of the two mayors and the Senate. In it he emphasized that the new synagogue was a symbol of the solidarity of the Israelite community with the old religion and belonging to the German nation. As a result of this speech there was a scandal in the community council, which two years later led to Stein's resignation from his office as rabbi.

External relations

The Free City of Frankfurt maintained diplomatic relations with numerous European countries as well as with the United States of America. The states of Baden , Bavaria , Belgium , Denmark , France , Great Britain , Hanover , Hessen-Darmstadt , Hessen-Kassel , Nassau , Austria , Prussia , Russia , Saxony , Sweden and Norway , both Sicily , the USA had their own embassies and consulates in Frankfurt and Württemberg . The following states owned joint representations:

  • Hohenzollern, Liechtenstein, Waldeck, Reuss, Schaumburg-Lippe and Lippe,
  • Mecklenburg,
  • Oldenburg, Anhalt and Schwarzburg as well
  • the grand ducal and ducal Saxon houses.

The Free City was represented in the Bundestag of the German Confederation by its own envoy . This was delegated by the Senate of the Free City of Frankfurt, the highest executive body of the Free City, and was its diplomatic representative towards the diplomacy of the German Confederation .

According to Articles IV, V and IX of the German Federal Act of 1815, the representatives of the four free cities had to share the 17th vote in the inner council as the “ curate vote ”. The common vote was only valid if all four free cities were unanimous.

Frankfurt had its own vote in the plenum responsible for certain federal matters under Articles VI and VII .

Military affairs

The Voluntary Landsturm on Horseback , ca.1840
Caricature of the Frankfurter Latern on the mixed patrol

The military of the Free City of Frankfurt consisted of the 700 men strong line battalion under the command of a lieutenant colonel , of which the city provided 579 men to the federal contingent . This battalion was always assigned to protect the headquarters of the armed forces. The line military consisted of southern German mercenaries . During the occupation of Frankfurt on the afternoon of July 16, 1866, the six companies of the line battalion remained in their barracks and guard rooms. In the evening the Hauptwache handed it over to the Prussian army with full military honors . Ten days later, on July 26, 1866, the battalion was disbanded after a final roll call and the soldiers were dismissed from service after they had surrendered their weapons. Depending on the length of service, they received a severance payment between 50 and 250 guilders. Many of them were subsequently recruited by the French Foreign Legion or joined the Hanseatic military.

Until 1848, in addition to the line military, the volunteer vigilante corps set up in 1823 existed under the command of a colonel . All male Frankfurters between 21 and 25 years of age were obliged to do military service, but could be represented by a substitute. All citizens capable of weapons were assigned to one of the units of the city defense:

The veterans formed another association of the city armed forces .

The troops provided by the villages formed a Landwehr of two battalions. The residents of Oberrad, Niederrad and Hausen provided the first battalion, those of Bornheim, Nieder-Erlenbach, Dortelweil, Bonames and Niederursel the second.

After the September unrest in 1848, the vigilante group was disarmed and disbanded. The city received a crew of one battalion each of Prussian, Austrian and Bavarian infantry, which, in addition to the Frankfurt line military , was supposed to ensure the security of the city and the Bundestag . Since then, the mixed patrol , a unit of three soldiers from each of the four military units under changing command , has been an integral part of the cityscape .

Currency and units of measure


Frankfurt guilder coin from 1861

The most important unit of account in Frankfurt's financial system was the gulden , a Kurant coin whose base rate had been set at 24 ½ gulden on a fine silver mark since the Munich Mint Treaty of 1837 . One guilder thus corresponded to 9.545 grams of pure silver. The coins minted in Frankfurt bore the Frankfurt eagle on one side and the lettering "1 Gulden" with the year on the other side, surrounded by oak leaves. Special coins showed other motifs, e.g. B. on Goethe's hundredth birthday in 1849. On the edge of the coins, the motto Strong in the Right was stamped.

The guilder was divided into 60 kreuzers . There were dividing coins of one, three and six cruisers and silver coins of 12, 24 and 30 cruisers. A coin worth four cruisers was the lump .

Club thaler from 1865
Reverse side of the coin

From 1857 onwards, club thalers were also minted in Frankfurt with a coin foot of 14 thalers to one silver mark. Two thalers were worth 3 ½ guilders. The Frankfurter Vereinstaler carried the profile picture of an allegorical female figure, the Francofurtia , designed by the sculptor August von Nordheim on one side . Actress Fanny Janauschek is said to have been the model for the Frankofurtia . On the other hand, the thalers showed the Frankfurt eagle with the words "Ein Vereinstaler - XXX a pound fine" all around. There were also special coins for the talers, e.g. B. on the occasion of the Frankfurt Fürstentag .

It is not possible to measure the purchasing power of the guilder in today's currency exactly because there is no shopping cart . The pure silver value of the guilder is around 6.54 euros at today's silver prices . Another conversion method uses the gold standard valid from 1871 to 1914 with a fixed conversion value of 15.5: 1 from silver to gold and the 1914 construction price index of the Federal Statistical Office (currently: 12.304). This results in a calculated purchasing power of EUR 21.09 per guilder. A comparison of purchasing power, based on data from the Hamburg State Archives and the Federal Statistical Office, results in purchasing power of 16.90 euros for one guilder (1866).


The following units of measurement were used in the Free City of Frankfurt:

Frankfurt unit Subdivision Metric unit Etalon
1 work shoe ( foot ) 12 inches = 144 lines 0.2846 meters Brass standard, 1777
1 cubit Half, quarter, eighth, etc. 0.5473 meters Brass standard, 1778
1 suburban field rod 12.5 work shoe = 10 field shoe = 100 field inches 3.5576 meters No
1 suburban forest rod 10 forest feet = 100 forest inches = 1000 forest lines = 15.8489 Werkschuh 4,511 meters Brass, 1801
1 field morning 160 square field rods = 25,000 square shoe 2025 square meters
1 forest morning 160 square wood rods = 40,190 square shoe 3255.5 square meters
1 hoof or hoof 30 field mornings 60,751 square meters
1 cubic rod 1953.125 cubic shoe 45,028 cubic meters
1 hand measure or tap measure ( young measure ) 4 young bottles 1.608 liters Poured
from brass for beer, brandy and vinegar
1 ohm 20 quarters = 80 standard or old size = 320 bottles 143.43 liters Standard measure for oil and wine
cast from brass
1 load 6 ohms 860.58 liters For wine barrels
1 piece 2 load = 8 ohms 1147.44 liters For wine barrels
1 malter or eighth 4 simmers = 8 gauges = 16 sixths = 64 gables = 64 standard = 256 gauges 114.74 liters Copper standards, 1806
1 heavy pound
(trading pound , wholesale )
Half, quarter, eighth, etc. 505.296 grams
1 light pound
(shopper pound , in detail )
2 marks = 16 ounces = 32 lots =
128 quents = 256 pfennigs
467.867 grams Augsburg-Cologne mark ,
brass, 1761
1 quintals 100 heavy pounds = 108 light pounds 50.53 kilograms

See also


  • Heinrich Bingemer, Wilhelm Fronemann, Rudolph Welcker: Around Frankfurt . Publishers Englert and Schlosser, Frankfurt am Main 1924. Reprint in Verlag Weidlich, Würzburg 1985, ISBN 3-8035-1276-X .
  • Friedrich Bothe : History of the city of Frankfurt am Main . Verlag Wolfgang Weidlich, Frankfurt am Main 1977, ISBN 3-8035-8920-7 .
  • Frankfurt Historical Commission (ed.): Frankfurt am Main - The history of the city in nine contributions. (=  Publications of the Frankfurt Historical Commission . Volume XVII ). Jan Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1991, ISBN 3-7995-4158-6 .
  • The Free City of Frankfurt am Main and its surroundings. A guide for strangers and locals . Verlag der J. C. Hermannschen Buchhandlung, Frankfurt am Main 1843. Reprint from Verlag Haag and Herchen, Frankfurt am Main 1982, ISBN 3-88129-592-5 .
  • Wolfgang Klötzer : Frankfurt 1866. A documentation from German newspapers. Publishing house Dr. Waldemar Kramer, Frankfurt am Main 1966 (special edition of the Archives for Frankfurt's History and Art. No. 50)
  • Waldemar Kramer (Ed.): Frankfurt Chronicle. 3rd edition, Verlag Waldemar Kramer, Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-7829-0321-8 .
  • Hans Lohne: Frankfurt around 1850. Based on watercolors and descriptions by Carl Theodor Reiffenstein and the painterly plan by Friedrich Wilhelm Delkeskamp . Waldemar Kramer publishing house, Frankfurt am Main 1967.
  • Ralf Roth: The emergence of a modern civil society. History of the city of Frankfurt am Main 1789–1866 . Ed .: Frankfurter Historical Commission (=  publications of the Frankfurter Historical Commission . Volume XXV ). Thorbecke, Ostfildern 2013, ISBN 978-3-7995-0762-2 .
  • Richard Schwemer : History of the Free City of Frankfurt a. M. 1814-1866. On behalf of the Municipal Historical Commission . 3 volumes, Baer & Co, Frankfurt am Main 1910–1918.

Web links

Commons : Free City of Frankfurt  - Collection of Images

Sources and Notes

  1. ^ Letter of January 20, 1798 to her son . Quoted from: A. Köster (Ed.): The letters of Frau Rat Goethe. Leipzig 1968, p. 423.
  2. ^ R. Schwemer: History of the Free City of Frankfurt. Frankfurt am Main 1910/18, vol. 1, p. 21.
  3. "The city of Frankfurt and its territory, as it was in 1803, will be declared a Free City and part of the German Confederation."
  4. Exact population figures were first collected for 1817, information from: Rainer Koch: Basics of bourgeois rule. Frankfurt a. M. 1612-1866. Wiesbaden 1983.
  5. ^ R. Schwemer: History of the Free City of Frankfurt. Volume 3/1, p. 12f.
  6. ^ Henning Roet: Frankfurt as a garrison town between 1866 and 1914. With a special view of the town's war clubs . P. 109. In: Robert Bohn, Michael Epkenhans (Ed.): Garrison cities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Bielefeld 2015, ISBN 3-7395-1016-1 , pp. 109–118.
  7. ^ W. Klötzer: Frankfurt, the Liberal Nest. 1977.
  8. ^ Walter Gerteis: The unknown Frankfurt. New episode. Verlag Frankfurter Bücher, Frankfurt am Main 1961, p. 191.
  9. ^ Henning Roet: Frankfurt as a garrison town between 1866 and 1914. With a special view of the town's war clubs . P. 111. In: Robert Bohn, Michael Epkenhans (Ed.): Garrison cities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Bielefeld 2015, ISBN 3-7395-1016-1 , pp. 109–118.
  10. ^ Walter Gerteis: The unknown Frankfurt. Third episode. Verlag Frankfurter Bücher, Frankfurt am Main 1963, p. 18.
  11. Law on the dispute between the state and the city of Frankfurt am Main from 5./10. March 1869 . (No. 7344). In: Law Collection for the Royal Prussian States . Berlin March 5, 1869, p. 379-392 ( digitized version ).
  12. ^ Municipal Constitutional Law for the City of Frankfurt am Main . (No. 6597). In: Law Collection for the Royal Prussian States . No. 27. Issued in Berlin on April 9, 1867, p. 401-422 ( digitized version ).
  13. ^ F. Bothe: History of the City of Frankfurt am Main. P. 313.
  14. ^ A b Volker Rödel: Civil engineering in Frankfurt am Main 1806–1914. Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1983, ISBN 3-7973-0410-2 .
  15. All area information in this section comes from a submission by the Senate to the Legislative Assembly of 1831, quoted from: Heinrich Voelcker: Zur Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Rechtsmainischen Umgebung Frankfurts. In: Heinrich Bingemer, Wilhelm Fronemann, Rudolph Welcker: Around Frankfurt. Verlag Englert and Schlosser, Frankfurt am Main 1924. Reprint from Verlag Weidlich, Würzburg 1985, ISBN 3-8035-1276-X , p. 288.
  16. ^ Volker Rödel: Factory architecture in Frankfurt am Main 1774–1924. Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1984, ISBN 3-7973-0435-8 .
    See also factory architecture in the north end
  17. ^ Statistical department of the Frankfurter Verein für Geographie und Statistik (Ed.): Contributions to the statistics of the Free City of Frankfurt . J. D. Sauerländer, Frankfurt 1866. Table 7, page 18.
  18. One Erbarn Raths Der Statt Franckfurt am Mayn Quartir -ordnung. Frankfurt am Main, October 25, 1614. A detailed account of the district's history can be found in: Wolfgang Klötzer: Vom Stadtquartier zum district. reprinted in: No dearer city than Frankfurt. Studies on Frankfurt History Volume 45. Waldemar Kramer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-7829-0509-1 .
  19. a b document pertaining to the endowment for the Evangelical Lutheran religious cult and document pertaining to the endowment for the church and school system of the local Catholic community
  20. For the church constitution of the Free City of Frankfurt see also: Jürgen Telschow: The old Frankfurter Church. Law and organization of the former Evangelical Church in Frankfurt. Evangelical Regional Association Frankfurt am Main, 1979, ISBN 3-922179-00-2 and the contributions by Karl Dienst in: Roman Fischer (Ed.): From the Barfüßerkirche to the Paulskirche. Studies on Frankfurt History Volume 44. Waldemar Kramer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-7829-0502-4 .
  21. ^ Friedrich Bothe: History of the City of Frankfurt am Main. Verlag Wolfgang Weidlich, Frankfurt am Main 1977. ISBN 3-8035-8920-7 , p. 264.
  22. Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the ordinance concerning the formation of a church board of the Evangelical Lutheran congregation on February 18, 1820
  23. Tobias C. Bringmann: Handbuch der Diplomatie 1815-1963: Foreign Heads of Mission in Germany and German Heads of Mission abroad from Metternich to Adenauer. KG Saur, Munich 2012, p. 180.
  24. ^ Henning Roet: Frankfurt as a garrison town between 1866 and 1914. With a special view of the town's war clubs . P. 110. In: Robert Bohn, Michael Epkenhans (Ed.): Garrison cities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Bielefeld 2015, ISBN 3-7395-1016-1 , pp. 109–118.
  25. Purchasing power as a measure of the value of money. (No longer available online.) Rolf-Fredrik Matthaei, June 25, 2018, archived from the original on January 2, 2015 ; Retrieved July 4, 2018 (see also article Mark (1871) ). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  26. Sources: Ferdinand Malaisé : Theoretically practical instruction in arithmetic for the lower classes of the regimental schools of the Königl. Bayer. Infantry and cavalry . Munich, self-published in 1842.
    Wilfried Ehrlich: according to the best synnen and sensible. History of city surveying in Frankfurt am Main. Stadtvermessungsamt Frankfurt, 1987
    Georg Kaspar Chelius : Measure and weight book. Third edition. Verlag der Jägerschen Buch-, Papier- und Landkartenhandlung, Frankfurt am Main 1830, with additions by Johann Friedrich Hauschild and a preface by Heinrich Christian Schumacher ; online in the google book search.
    See also Official Units of Measure in Europe 1842.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on March 23, 2007 in this version .