Swabian Circle

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The Swabian Circle as at the beginning of the 16th century

The Swabian Circle (German: Schwäbischer Reichskreis) was an Imperial Circle of the Holy Roman Empire established in 1500 on the territory of the former German stem-duchy of Swabia. However, it did not include the Habsburg home territories of Swabian Austria, the member states of the Swiss Confederacy nor the lands of the Alsace region west of the Rhine, which belonged to the Upper Rhenish Circle. The Swabian League of 1488, a predecessor organization, disbanded in the course of the Protestant Reformation later in the 16th century.

Administration[edit]

Coat of arms of the Swabian Circle, 1737

The directors of the Swabian Circle were the Bishop of Constance (replaced by the margrave of Baden after the 1803 Reichsdeputationshauptschluss) and the Duke of Württemberg; meetings of the circle's diet were usually held at the Imperial city of Ulm. Though it was shattered into a multitude of mainly very small states, the circle had an effective government, which, in view of the eastward expansion of France, from 1694 on even maintained its own army based at the Kehl fortress.

As of 1792 the Swabian Circle consisted of 88 territories, of which only the Duchy of Württemberg, the Margraviate of Baden and the Bishopric of Augsburg were of any significance. The Reichsdeputationshauptschluss reduced the number to 41 and the 1806 Rheinbundakte to seven (including the territories that had fallen to Bavaria).

Composition[edit]

The circle was made up of the following states:

Name Type of entity Comments
Coa Aalen.svg Aalen Imperial City Imperial immediacy (Reichsfreiheit) granted by Emperor Charles IV of Luxembourg in 1360.
Augsburg-Bistum.PNG Augsburg Prince-Bishopric Established in the 11th century, from the 15th century residence at Dillingen.
Wappen Augsburg 1811.svg Augsburg Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1276.
Aulendorf Wappen.png Aulendorf Lordship Held by the Lords of Königsegg from about 1350.
Baar Landgraviate Territory around Rottweil, held by the Counts of Fürstenberg since 1283.
Coat of arms of Baden.svg Baden Margraviate Established in 1112, partitioned into Baden-Durlach and Baden-Baden from 1535 to 1771.
Baden-Baden.JPG Baden-Baden Margraviate Subdivision of Baden from 1535, residence at Rastatt from 1705, fell to Baden-Durlach in 1771.
Baden-Durlach.JPG Baden-Durlach Margraviate Subdivision of Baden from 1535, residence at Karlsruhe from 1715.
Coat of arms of Baden.svg Baden-Hachberg-Sausenberg Margraviate Markgräflerland territory, inherited by Baden in 1503.
Wappen Baindt.svg Baindt Prince-Abbacy Gained Reichsfreiheit in 1376.
Wappen Biberach.svg Biberach an der Riß Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1281.
Wappen Bonndorf im Schwarzwald.png Bonndorf Lordship Acquired by St. Blaise's Abbey in 1609 to gain Reichsfreiheit.
Bopfingen-wappen.png Bopfingen Imperial City Since 1241.
Coats of arms of None.svg Buchau Prince-Abbacy Established in 819 by Louis the Pious.
Wappen Bad Buchau.svg Buchau Imperial City Since the 13th century.
Friedrichshafen Wappen.png Buchhorn Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1275.
Wappen Bistum Konstanz.svg Constance Bishopric Established about 585, Reichsfreiheit confirmed by Frederick I Barbarossa in 1155, residence at Meersburg from 1526.
Wappen von Dinkelsbuehl.png Dinkelsbühl Imperial City Since 1351.
Wappen Grafschaft Eberstein.svg Eberstein County Line extinct in 1660, inherited by Württemberg.
Wappen Eglingen.png Eglingen Lordship Held by Thurn und Taxis from 1726.
Argenbuehl Wappen.svg Eglofs Lordship Held by the Counts of Abensberg from 1661.
Elchingen Prince-Abbacy Established about 1120, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1485.
Wappen Probstei Ellwangen.gif Ellwangen Prince-Provostry Established in 1460 as successor of Ellwangen Imperial Abbey.
DEU Esslingen am Neckar COA.svg Eßlingen Imperial City Since 1229.
Fugger Coat of Arms.svg Fugger Freiherren Acquired the former County of Kirchberg and Weißenhorn in 1507, ennobled by Maximilian I in 1511, hereditary Imperial counts from 1530.
Wappen Zaehringer.png Fürstenberg County Various territories, established from the bequest of Berthold V of Zähringen in 1218, Fürstenberg-Baar since 1441.
Wappen Zaehringer.png Fürstenberg-Blumberg County Subdivision from 1559, again partitioned in 1614.
Wappen Zaehringer.png Fürstenberg-Messkirch County Subdivision of Fürstenberg-Blumberg from 1614, raised to Principality in 1716, inherited by Fürstenberg-Fürstenberg in 1744.
Wappen Zaehringer.png Fürstenberg-Stühlingen County Subdivision of Fürstenberg-Blumberg from 1614, again partitoned between Fürstenberg-Fürstenberg and Fürstenberg-Weitra in 1704.
Wappen Zaehringer.png Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg County Subdivision from 1559, raised to Principality in 1664, inherited by Fürstenberg-Fürstenberg in 1716.
Wappen Reichenbach (Gengenbach).png Gengenbach Prince-Abbacy Established about 730 by Saint Pirmin, granted to Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg by Henry II in 1007.
Wappen Gengenbach.png Gengenbach Imperial City Since 1360.
Wappen Giengen an der Brenz.svg Giengen an der Brenz Imperial City Since 1391.
WappenGundelfingen.png Gundelfingen Lordship Acquired by Baden in 1507.
Coats of arms of None.svg Gutenzell Prince-Abbacy Established in 1237, Reichsfreiheit granted by Emperor Sigismund in 1437.
Wappen Hausen im Tal.svg Hausen Lordship Territory around Hausen Castle near Beuron, acquired by Fugger in 1682, to Castell in 1735.
Coats of arms of None.svg Heggbach Prince-Abbacy Established in 1231, gained Reichsfreiheit about 1428.
Wappen Heilbronn.svg Heilbronn Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Charles IV in 1371.
Wappen Heiligenberg.svg Heiligenberg County Held by the Counts of Fürstenberg from 1535.
Wappen Hohenems.svg Hohenems County Reichsfreiheit granted by Ferdinand I in 1560, acquired by Habsburg in 1765.
Wappen-geroldseck before 1636AD 20px.png Hohengeroldseck County 948AD to 1636AD then to Count Palatine, then held by the House of Leyen from 1807, Imperial Counts from 1711, Principality of Leyen in 1806.
Coats of arms of None.svg Hohenhöwen Lordship Established in 1415, with Stühlingen acquired by Pappenheim in 1582, to Fürstenberg-Stühlingen in 1639.
Wappen Hechingen.svg Hohenzollern County County of Zollern established in the 11th century, partitioned in 1576.
Hohenzollern-arms.JPG Hohenzollern-Hechingen County Subdivision of Hohenzollern from 1576, raised to principality in 1623.
Wappen Hechingen.svg Hohenzollern-Haigerloch County Former Lordship of Haigerloch, subdivision of Hohenzollern from 1576, inherited by Hohenzollen-Sigmaringen in 1767.
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.JPG Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen County Subdivision of Hohenzollern from 1576, raised to principality in 1623.
Reichsabtei Irsee coat of arms.svg Irsee Prince-Abbacy Established in 1186, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1694.
Wappen Isny.svg Isny Imperial City From 1365.
Wappen Justingen.png Justingen Lordship Territory around Justingen Castle near Schelklingen, acquired by Württemberg in 1751.
Wappen Markt Kaisheim.png Kaisheim Prince-Abbacy Established in 1133, Imperial abbey since 1346.
Wappen Kaufbeuren.svg Kaufbeuren Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1286.
Fuerststift Kempten coat of arms.png Kempten Prince-Abbacy Established in 752, Reichsfreiheit granted by Henry IV in 1062.
Wappen Kempten.svg Kempten Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1289.
Wappen Kinzigtal.png Kinzigtal Lordship Territory around Wolfach, held by Fürstenberg since 1291.
Wappen Klettgau.png Klettgau Landgraviate Held by the Counts of Sulz since 1410, acquired by the House of Schwarzenberg in 1698.
COA family de von Königsegg.svg Königsegg Lordship Territory around Guggenhausen, acquired the Imperial county of Rothenfels in 1565, Freiherren from 1621, partitioned in 1622.
COA family de von Königsegg.svg Königsegg-Aulendorf Lordship Subdivision of Königsegg from 1622, Imperial county from 1629.
Grafschaft Koenigsegg-Rothenfels coat of arms.svg Königsegg-Rothenfels Lordship Subdivision of Königsegg from 1622, Imperial county from 1629.
Wappen Leutkirch im Allgaeu.png Leutkirch Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Adolf of Nassau in 1293.
Blason Liechtenstein.svg Liechtenstein Principality Former County of Vaduz and Lordship of Schellenberg, acquired by the Counts of Sulz and Klettgau in 1510, sold to Hohenems in 1613, finally to the Princely Family of Liechtenstein in 1699 (Schellenberg) and 1712 (Vaduz).
Coats of arms of None.svg Lindau Prince-Abbacy Established about 822, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1466.
Wappen Lindau (Bodensee).png Lindau Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1275.
Den tyske ordens skjold.svg Mainau Commandery An administrative grouping of lands held by the Teutonic Order since 1272.
Wappen Kloster Marchtal.svg Marchtal Prince-Abbacy Established about 776, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1500.
Wappen Memmingen.svg Memmingen Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1286.
Wappen Messkirch.png Meßkirch Lordship Held by the Counts of Zimmern since 1354, fell to the House of Helfenstein in 1594, Fürstenberg-Messkirch from 1627.
Wappen Mindelheim.png Mindelheim Lordship Held by the House of Frundsberg since 1467, fell to the Duchy of Bavaria in 1586, held by John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough as Prince of Mindelheim from 1705 to 1714.
Coats of arms of None.svg Neresheim Prince-Abbacy Established in 1095, Reichsfreiheit contested by the House of Oettingen-Wallerstein, confirmed by the Reichskammergericht in 1764.
Wappen Noerdlingen.svg Nördlingen Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in 1215.
Wappen Ochsenhausen.svg Ochsenhausen Prince-Abbacy Established about 1090, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1495.
Coa Germany Family Oettingen.svg Oettingen County Partitioned in 1522.
Coa Germany Family Oettingen.svg Oettingen-Oettingen County Subdivision of Oettingen from 1522, raised to principality in 1674, extinct in 1731.
Coa Germany Family Oettingen.svg Oettingen-Wallerstein County Subdivision of Oettingen from 1522, raised to principality in 1774.
Coa Germany Family Oettingen.svg Oettingen-Spielberg County Subdivision of Oettingen-Wallerberg from 1623, raised to principality in 1734.
Offenburg Wappen neu.png Offenburg Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in 1240.
Wappen Kloster Petershausen.svg Petershausen Prince-Abbacy Established in 983 by Saint Gebhard of Constance, Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.
Wappen Pfullendorf.svg Pfullendorf Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in 1220.
Wappen Ravensburg.svg Ravensburg Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1278.
Wappen Stadt Reutlingen.svg Reutlingen Imperial City From about 1240.
Reichsabtei Roggenburg coat of arms.png Roggenburg Prince-Abbacy Established in 1126, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1482.
Wappen Rot an der Rot.svg Rot an der Rot Prince-Abbacy Established in 1126, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1376.
Grafschaft Koenigsegg-Rothenfels coat of arms.svg Rothenfels County Territory around Immenstadt held by the Counts of Montfort since 1332, acquired by Königsegg in 1565.
Coats of arms of None.svg Rottenmünster Prince-Abbacy Established in 1224, Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in 1237.
Wappen Rottweil.svg Rottweil Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Sigismund of Luxembourg in 1434, associate of the Swiss Confederacy 1519–1689.
Salem Baden Wappen.svg Salem Prince-Abbacy Established about 1134, Reichsfreiheit granted by Conrad III of Hohenstaufen in 1142.
Wappen Bad Schussenried.svg Schussenried Prince-Abbacy Established by Rot an der Rot Abbey in 1183, gained Reichsfreiheit about 1440.
Schwäbisch Gmünd Wappen.svg Schwäbisch Gmünd Imperial City Since about 1250.
Wappen Schwaebisch Hall.png Schwäbisch Hall Imperial City Since 1280.
Wappen Sickingen.svg Sickingen Lordship Territory in the Kraichgau, held by the successors of Imperial Knight Franz von Sickingen, Freiherren from 1606, Imperial counts from 1790.
Coats of arms of None.svg Söflingen Prince-Abbacy Established about 1258 by the Counts of Dillingen, gained Reichsfreiheit against Ulm in 1773.
Wappen Isny.svg St George in Isny Prince-Abbacy Established in 1096, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1781.
Oberstadion Wappen.png Stadion County Reached Reichfreiheit in 1705 by purchasing the Lordship of Thannhausen (not to be confused with Tannhausen), split into Stadion-Thannhausen and Stadion-Warthausen in 1741.
Wappen Staufen im Breisgau.png Staufen Lordship Held by the Freiherren von Staufen (not related to the House of Hohenstaufen), extinct in 1602, then part of Further Austria, acquired by St Blaise's Abbey in 1738.
Wappen Stuehlingen.svg Stühlingen Landgraviate Held by the Counts of Lupfen since 1251, extinct in 1582, acquired by Pappenheim, to Fürstenberg-Stühlingen in 1639.
Teck Arms.svg Teck Duchy Former branch of the House of Zähringen, extinct in 1439, ducal title granted to Eberhard I of Württemberg by Maximilian I in 1495.
Wappen Tettnang.svg Tettnang Lordship Held by the Counts of Monfort, fell to Further Austria in 1780.
Coats of arms of None.svg Thannhausen Lordship Reichsfrei territory around Tannhausen (not to be confused with Thannhausen).
Wappen Tengen-alt.png Thengen County Rear county held by the Mainau commandery of the Teutonic Order since 1488, front county to Further Austria in 1522 and held by the Princes of Auersperg from 1663.
Wappen Überlingen.svg Überlingen Imperial City Reichsfreiheit confirmed about 1400.
Coat of arms of Ulm.svg Ulm Imperial City Gained Reichsfreiheit in the 12th century.
Wappen von Ursberg.png Ursberg Prince-Abbacy Established about 1128, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1143.
Wappen Nüziders.svg Waldburg-Sonnenburg Archstewardship Territory around Nüziders, lordship held by the Truchsess of Waldburg since 1455, Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick III of Habsburg in 1463, line extinct in 1511.
Wappen Waldburg.svg Waldburg-Trauchburg Archstewardship Territory around Trauchburg castle near Isny, held by Waldburg since 1306, Imperial county from 1628, extinct in 1772.
Wappen Nüziders.svg Waldburg-Scheer Archstewardship Former County of Friedberg around Scheer castle, held by Waldburg-Sonnenburg since 1454, inherited by Waldburg-Trauchburg in 1511, to Thurn und Taxis in 1785.
Wappen Waldburg.svg Waldburg-Wolfegg-Zeil Archstewardship Territory around Zeil castle near Leutkirch, held by Waldburg since 1337, acquired Wolfegg and Waldsee from Waldburg-Trauchburg in 1508, partitioned in 1589.
Wappen Waldburg.svg Waldburg-Wolfegg Archstewardship Subdivision of Waldburg-Wolfegg-Zeil from 1589, Imperial county from 1628, again partitioned in 1667, extinct in 1798.
Wappen Waldburg.svg Waldburg-Waldsee Archstewardship Subdivision of Waldburg-Wolfegg from 1667, inherited Waldburg-Wolfegg in 1798, raised to principality in 1803.
Wappen Waldburg.svg Waldburg-Zeil Archstewardship Subdivision of Waldburg-Wolfegg-Zeil from 1589, Imperial county from 1628, again partitoned in 1674, inherited Waldburg-Trauchburg in 1772, raised to principality in 1803.
Wappen Waldburg.svg Waldburg-Wurzach Archstewardship Subdivision of Waldburg-Zeil from 1674, raised to principality in 1803.
Wappen Wangen im Allgäu.svg Wangen Imperial City Reichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1286.
Wappen Weil der Stadt.png Weil Imperial City Since about 1275.
Wappen Weingarten.png Weingarten Prince-Abbacy Established in 1056 by Duke Welf I of Bavaria, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1274.
Eschach Ravensburg Wappen.png Weißenau Prince-Abbacy Established in 1145, gained Reichsfreiheit about 1257.
Reichsstift Wettenhausen coat of arms.png Wettenhausen Prince-Provostry Established in 1130.
Wappen Wiesensteig.svg Wiesensteig Lordship Held by the House of Helfenstein, partitioned between Fürstenberg and the Duchy of Bavaria in 1627.
Wappen Bad Wimpfen.svg Wimpfen Imperial City Since about 1300.
Wuerttemberg Arms.svg Württemberg Duchy County of Wirtemberg established in the 12th century, raised to duchy in 1495 by Maximilian I.
Wappen Zell am Harmersbach.png Zell am Harmersbach Imperial City Since the 14th century.
Wappen Grafen von Achalm.svg Zwiefalten Prince-Abbacy Established in 1089, gained Reichsfreiheit from Württemberg in 1750.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

The list of states making up the Swabian Circle is based on that in the German Wikipedia article Schwäbischer Reichskreis.

External links[edit]