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Map of the Swabian District 1572

Swabia is a historical landscape in southwest Germany, the name of which is still used in everyday language for the (cultural) area as well as for the predominantly Swabian- speaking population living in the area . Since this area does not form a political unit, its scope cannot be precisely defined. Generally, the areas between the Black Forest in the west, the Lech in the east, Lake Constance in the south and the southern part of the Heilbronn-Franconia region in the north are included in Swabia.

The name goes back to the medieval Duchy of Swabia and the early modern Swabian Empire , the historical subdivisions of the area into Lower Swabia and Upper Swabia in turn to the names for royal bailiffs of the Middle Ages . The expression Upper Swabia is still common and today roughly describes the region between the Swabian Alb , Lake Constance and the Allgäu Alps .

The term is often incorrectly equated with Württemberg , Baden-Württemberg or the Bavarian administrative district of Swabia . As synonyms for "Swabia" in everyday language, terms like Schwabenland or Ländle are often used, but this is more literary or playful than a kind of nickname .

Name origin

The Swabian Circle of the Early Modern Age (colored red)
The Duchy of Swabia in the 10th century (colored orange)

The name of all areas and ethnic groups that have been designated as Swabians in the course of time goes back to a Germanic tribe, which in the 3rd century had settled what is now the south-west of the German-speaking area from the Elbe and whose members have been known by the Romans as Suevi since the 5th century were designated. Archeology assigns these Suebi to the Elbe Germanic cultural area. Etymologically, the term may be derived from “to wander” (from Latin suevia ), which could indicate a nomadic origin of the original Swabians. Other sources claim the name means "coming from the Elbe".

The Suebi were partly equated with the Alemanni , partly viewed as one of their subgroups. The settlement area of ​​this tribe in today's southwestern Germany was originally referred to as Suebia or Alamannia . In the 5th century the Suebi invaded the Iberian Peninsula together with Vandals and Alans . The already weakened Roman Empire assigned them by lot to present Galicia and northern Portugal . The Suebian Empire founded there, however, went under in 585 without leaving its name in the region. In present-day Galicia there can still be found storage houses (Hórreo), which have been built there since the time of Sueven. The Gallegos also use the same recipe for pancakes with eggs as in today's Swabia.

Swabia as a political space

In the time of the Franconian Empire , the expression Alemannia was primarily used for the political structures in what is now Swabia. The Alemannic kingdoms and duchies included not only today's Swabia, but also, for example, Vorarlberg , Alsace and large parts of Switzerland . The medieval Duchy of Swabia also had roughly this scope. The early modern Swabian Empire, on the other hand, was much smaller. Many territories on the Upper Rhine were assigned to the Upper Rhine District in the 16th century , Habsburg areas - e.g. B. Vorarlberg - the Austrian district . By then, Switzerland had largely broken away from the association of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation .

The Margraviate of Baden had also been part of the Swabian Empire until 1803 , but the new Grand Duchy of Baden no longer saw itself as part of Swabia for the most part. Exceptions are some Neubadian areas that protrude deep into the old Swabian region, such as the area around Sigmaringen , parts of the Black Forest and the High Rhine , the Lake Constance area around Neubad Constance . This important former bishopric of Swabia is named in the Baden-Württemberg Great State Exhibition 2016/2017 together with Augsburg , Stuttgart and Ulm as a Swabian metropolis. The people of Baden - old and new - have been equating their Württemberg neighbors with Swabians since the 19th century.

With the exception of Baden, the current name Swabia essentially goes back to the Swabian Imperial Circle, even if the corresponding considerations usually only refer to the old Duchy of Swabia. The great, high medieval duchies actually shaped the ideas of the political landscapes in the empire for centuries. The names of the imperial circles formed in the 16th century were based on them. A few decades after its dissolution at the beginning of the 19th century, the administrative districts of the Kingdom of Bavaria were named after the former Swabian, Franconian and Bavarian Empire. As a result, Bavarian Swabia is the only political territory today that still uses the name Swabia.

Swabia as the basis for map series

Up until the beginning of the 19th century, Swabia served as the basis for maps . After that, the separation into Württemberg and Bavarian Swabia, which continues to this day, became more and more noticeable. It is also clear on these maps that the area between the Black Forest and Upper Rhine is included. Until the end of the Old Empire, this area was divided into different imperial circles ( Upper Rhine and Austrian districts , smaller parts also to the Swabian district) and fell to Baden in 1803/1806, whereupon a Baden identity developed in these regions, which developed from the Swabian- the Württemberg region.


Various chroniclers, such as Tacitus and Ptolemy , used the term Suebi as a collective term for a tribal group that comprised different tribes and whose original settlement areas between the Baltic Sea and the Sudeten Mountains were mainly in the area of ​​the Elbe. According to today's archaeological findings, these tribes are mainly classified as Elbe Germanic . Before and during the third century AD, many of these Elbe Germans immigrated to southern Germany and occupied the Roman Agri decumates . In the fifth century, immigrants came from the Danube region. It was about Donausueben , which can be traced back to the also Elbe-Germanic Quads . Together with the relatives of the Gallo - Romans who had previously resided here, they formed the ethnic group of the Alemanni , who subsequently settled in the foothills of the Alps and expanded in all directions, but came into conflict with the Franks and Burgundians . There were also Donausueben, which invaded the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula at the beginning of the fifth century and founded an empire there that lasted until 585. The Bavarian and Thuringian tribes were formed from other Elbe Germanic associations with the inclusion of other tribal splinters .

In the early Middle Ages , the localized, localized areas of influence that predominated in the Alemanni settlement area had become flat territorial dominions. The Kingdom of Alemannia was created , but it was soon subjugated by the Franks under Clovis I and Theudebert I. From the beginning of the 6th century onwards, Alemannia was a tribal duchy under Franconian sovereignty. Although it was obliged to achieve military success, it enjoyed a high degree of internal political autonomy. When the Alemanni uprisings broke out in the middle of the 8th century, the Alemanni nobles were murdered by the Franks and the tribal duchy was dissolved. After the county reform was implemented, the territorially reduced Duchy of Swabia emerged in the East Franconian Empire , which primarily served to control the Alpine passes.

From 1079 to 1098 the Zähringen and the Hohenstaufen fought for supremacy in this duchy, until a compromise was finally found in which the Hohenstaufen could keep the title of Duke of Swabia to themselves. The third powerful family in the Duchy of Swabia were the Guelphs , whose property in the Schussengau around Ravensburg and Altdorf was finally obtained through an inheritance contract from Welf VI. , Duke of Spoleto , to whose nephew Friedrich I Barbarossa fell. Under Emperor Friedrich II , the Hohenstaufen household, which they also considered the Duchy of Swabia to be, became the crown property of the Hohenstaufen emperors. During the time of the interregnum from 1250 to 1273, the individual rulers of Swabia were, so to speak, ownerless, since there was no duke, and administered themselves. When Rudolf I of Habsburg became German king in 1273 , he wrote many of the government privileges of Swabian cities and monasteries as imperial freedom firmly. With this, the Duchy of Swabia ceased to exist as a political unit and was divided into individual counties and the imperial city and imperial monasteries.

In fact, Rudolf I of Habsburg tried to revive the title of Duke of Swabia and to claim it for his family. For this purpose he named his son Rudolf Duke of Swabia. After Rudolf's early death in 1290, his son Johann followed . When he murdered his uncle, King Albrecht I , in 1308 and then fled without leaving an heir, the Duchy of Swabia was in fact extinct.

The cohesion of the previous area was after Conradin no longer possible death, had but the Swabian Great, especially the Württemberg , served on imperial and Herzogsgut so that Rudolf only the remains of two imperial administrative territories could summarize: Lower Swabia and Upper Swabia , of to which the first quickly lost importance due to a lack of mass and in 1378 Oberschwaben was struck. After multiple pledges, the “ Reichslandvogtei in Ober- and Lower Swabia ” finally came to Austria in 1541 and then to Württemberg in 1805.

The expansion of local peasant uprisings from 1524 in large parts of the southern German-speaking area (southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland) is referred to as the German Peasants' War (also called the Uprising of the Common Man) , with the peasants for the first time formulating clearly defined demands with their twelve articles . Parallels to the demands made in the Twelve Articles can be found later in the American Declaration of Independence and the demands of the French Revolution .

Most of the free imperial cities , imperial monasteries and other smaller and larger rulers (the area of ​​the imperial monastery Weingarten comprised half of Upper Swabia) remained in existence until mediatization or secularization after the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss of 1803.

Swabia as a linguistic and cultural area and as a population of the same

The traditional distribution area of ​​West Upper German (= Alemannic) dialect features in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Swabian dialects form one of the large Alemannic subgroups.

Etymologically, the later name of the Swabians is derived from the historical Suebi . However, both terms were mostly meant politically . The historical “tribe” is usually assigned to the administrative district of the same name. Both the population and linguistics refer to certain dialect characteristics as Swabian . However, the current distribution area of ​​the Swabian dialects is no longer important for understanding the spatial term "Swabia". The Swabian dialects form one of the four major Alemannic subgroups.

The traditional journal of the Historisches Verein für Schwaben (ZHVS) is the main publication organ for the historical presentation of the Bavarian Swabia region. The individual volumes usually also contain a detailed bibliography on the new publications in the fields of culture, history, economics, social affairs and society.

External attributions

The Swabians are ascribed a particular thrift, especially with regard to the economy and private households. This quality is often interpreted as avarice and is the content of a large number of Swabian jokes.

Idiomatic uses

Swabians in art, culture and literature

  • The Seven Swabians are a narrative that deals with the adventures of seven Swabians portrayed as stupid.
  • In Nikolai Gogol's story “ Newski Prospect ”, a Swabian beltman named Schiller , who lives in Saint Petersburg , has set himself the goal of amassing a fortune of 50,000 rubles within ten years , considering all conceivable austerity measures and getting drunk State is even ready to cut off his nose in order not to have to spend any more money on snuff .
  • Äffle and Pferdle are two cartoon characters of the Süddeutscher Rundfunk (SDR), today Südwestrundfunk (SWR), whose films have been broadcast since 1959 and which are used in songs, calendars and books.
  • Häberle and Pfleiderer were a comedian duo created in 1931 by the Stuttgart entertainer Willy Reichert and the Austrian Charly Wimmer.
  • Hannes and the Mayor is a loose sequence of Swabian folk theater scenes that have been performed since 1985 and shown on television since 1994.
  • Dominik Kuhn , better known as Dodokay , lets people appearing in the Tagesschau and in the Bundestag become protagonists of Swabian comedy pieces by resynchronizing them.

"Swabia" as a name for other population groups

In both German-speaking Switzerland and Alsace, “Swabians” is sometimes equated with “Germans” (cf. French “Allemagne” for Germany).

To the west of Romania who settled Banat Swabians and in the northwest of Romania, Satu Mare Swabians . This goes back to the settlement of Swabians as colonists in the so-called Swabian trains in these areas after the Ottomans were driven out . Together with the German minority in Vojvodina ( Serbia ), Slavonia ( Croatia ) and southern Hungary , they are assigned to the Danube Swabians . Their ancestors were originally brought into the country as colonists (not only from Swabia) when the areas belonged to the Habsburg Monarchy .

Derived from this, the German-speaking Austrians in particular are still referred to as Swabians (Švabi) in former Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. The terms szwaby and švábi (Swabia) also appear in Poland and the Czech Republic , meaning generally German-speaking people in a derogatory sense.

"Swabia" as namesake


Common family names in the German-speaking area are Schwab , Schwaab , Schwob , Schwabe , Italian: Svevo and Slavic Švob . On the one hand, these names can be names of origin ( tribal names ) in Middle High German Swāp , Swāb (e) > Schwabe <or nicknames for someone who had relationships (e.g. trade relations) with Swabia. Well-known namesake include the writer Gustav Benjamin Schwab , the astronomer Samuel Heinrich Schwabe , the actor Willi Schwabe , the American entrepreneur Charles Schwab , the French photographer Éric Schwab , the football player Daniel Schwaab , the Polish legal scholar Gottfried Suevus the Elder , the French writer Marcel Schwob and the Croatian biologist Melita Švob .

See also


  • Otto Borst : The secret rebels. Swabian heads from five centuries. Theiss, Stuttgart 1980, ISBN 3-8062-0247-8 .
  • Klaus Graf: The “Land” of Swabia in the late Middle Ages . In: P. Moraw (Ed.): Regional and social groups in the German Middle Ages . (= Journal for Historical Research. Supplement No. 14). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-428-07472-6 , pp. 127-164
  • Werner Groß, Wolfgang Urban: Suevia sancta. Swabian witnesses of faith . Schwabenverlag, Ostfildern 2004, ISBN 3-7966-1110-9
  • Anton Hunger: Instructions for use for Swabians . Piper, 2007, ISBN 978-3-492-27559-0
  • Utz Jeggle (Ed.): Schwabenbilder. To construct a regional character . Tübingen 1997, ISBN 3-925340-97-1 ( PDF )
  • G. Poggenpohl: Swabian cuisine . Publisher EDITION XXL, ISBN 3-89736-140-X
  • Gerhard Raff : The Swabian History . Hohenheim Verlag, Stuttgart / Leipzig 2000
  • Olaf Siart, Frank Lang (Ed.): The Swabians. Between myth & brand. Exhibition catalog of the Great State Exhibition Baden-Württemberg 2016/17. Landesmuseum Württemberg / Belser Verlag, Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-7630-2757-6 (book trade edition), ISBN 978-3-929055-75-7 (museum edition).
  • Werner Rudolf Stirnweiss: Language, customs and traditions of a Swabian agricultural town (= Höchstädt a. D. Danube) in the central Danube region around the turn of the century . Dissertation . Munich 1975
  • Squidward Troll : Germany your Swabians. In the new suit. Viewed superficially and from behind . New edition. Tübingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-87407-772-9
  • Hermann Wax: Etymology of Swabian - history of more than 4,300 Swabian words . Ulm 2005, ISBN 3-9809955-1-8
  • Wolfgang Wüst , Georg Kreuzer, David Petry (eds.): Crossing borders. The foreign relations of Swabia in the Middle Ages and modern times. Interdisciplinary and international symposium on the 100th volume of the magazine of the Historisches Verein für Schwaben, Irsee 22.-24. November 2007 . (ZHVS 100) Augsburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-89639-674-7
  • Alfons Zettler: History of the Duchy of Swabia . Stuttgart 2003


  • Journal of the Historical Association for Swabia . Edited by the Historischer Verein für Schwaben, Augsburg 1834 ff., Wißner Verlag Augsburg ISSN  0342-3131
  • Suevica. Contributions to Swabian literary and intellectual history . Edited by Reinhard Breymayer ; Verlag Hans-Dieter Heinz, Akademischer Verlag Stuttgart, ISSN  0179-2482
  • Nice Swabia. Experience the country and its people . Silberburg publishing house, Tübingen. Published monthly with a double issue in July / August, from May 2007 22nd year. ISSN  0931-2323

Web links

Wiktionary: Schwaben  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Schwaben  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikiquote: Swabia  - Quotes
Wikisource: Topographia Sueviae  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Webpage https://www.landesmuseum-stuttgart.de/ausstellungen/sonderausstellung/ (accessed on October 23, 2016): “Significant works of art from the early Middle Ages to the present bear witness to the importance of the Swabian metropolises Constance, Ulm, Augsburg and Stuttgart."
  2. ^ Swabia - an area like a patchwork carpet . Augsburger Allgemeine from October 16, 2008
  3. Rangendingen German online price comparison master - Schwaben am sparsamsten At www.preis.de , from June 8, 2011