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Swabia (German: Schwaben) is both a historic and linguistic (see Swabian German) region in Germany. Swabia consists of most of the present-day state of Baden-Württemberg (specifically, historical Württemberg and the Hohenzollerische Lande), as well as the Bavarian administrative district of Swabia. In the Middle Ages, Baden, Vorarlberg, the modern principality of Liechtenstein, modern German-speaking Switzerland, and Alsace (nowadays belonging to France) were also considered to be a part of Swabia.

The people of Swabia have been the target of many jokes and stories where they are depicted as excessively frugal, overly serious, prudish, or as simpletons, for instance in "The Seven Swabians" (Die sieben Schwaben) published in Kinder- und Hausmärchen by the Brothers Grimm. Similar jokes are often made by the French toward Belgians, Australians toward New Zealanders, or Canadians towards Newfoundlanders.


Swabia, whose name derives from the Suebi, a Germanic tribe that inhabited the region, was one of the original stem duchies of the German Kingdom, as it developed in the 9th and 10th centuries. The Hohenstaufen Dynasty (the dynasty of Frederick Barbarossa), which ruled the Holy Roman Empire in the 12th and 13th centuries, arose out of Swabia, but following the execution of Conradin, the last Hohenstaufen, on October 29, 1268, the original duchy gradually broke up into many smaller units. Two major dynasties which arose out of the region were the Habsburgs and the Hohenzollerns, as well as the Dukes of Württemberg and the Margraves of Baden. The region proved to be one of the most divided in the Empire, containing, in addition to these principalities, numerous free cities, ecclesiastical territories, and fiefdoms of lesser counts and knights.

Fearing the power of the greater princes, the cities and smaller secular rulers of Swabia joined together to form the Swabian League in the 15th century. The League was quite successful, notably expelling the Duke of Württemberg in 1519 and putting in his place a Habsburg governor, but the league broke up a few years later over religious differences inspired by the Reformation, and the Duke of Württemberg was soon restored. The region was quite divided by the Reformation. While secular princes like the Duke of Württemberg and the Margrave of Baden-Durlach, as well as most of the Free Cities, became Protestant, the ecclesiastical territories (including the bishoprics of Augsburg, Constance, and others) remained Catholic, as did the territories belonging to the Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns and the Margrave of Baden-Baden.

In the wake of the territorial reorganization of the Empire of 1803, the shape of Swabia was entirely changed. All the ecclesiatical estates were secularized, and most of the smaller secular states, and all of the free cities, were mediatized, leaving only Württemberg, Baden and Hohenzollern as souvereign states. Much of Eastern Swabia became part of Bavaria, forming what is now the Bavarian administrative region of Swabia.

The Surname "Schwab" is derived from this area, meaning literally, "One who hails from Swabia."

Famous Swabians


Modern Era


  • Suevica. Beiträge zur schwäbischen Literatur- und Geistesgeschichte. Edited by Reinhard Breymayer. Stuttgart: Hans-Dieter Heinz, Akademischer Verlag (Stuttgarter Arbeiten zur Germanistik. Editors: Ulrich Müller (Salzburg), Franz Hundsnurscher (Münster in Westfalen), Cornelius Sommer (Kaliningrad / Königsberg am Pregel)).

See also

de:Schwaben nl:Zwaben pt:Suábia sv:Schwaben ru:Швабия

External links

  • [1] Suevica - Beiträge zur schwäbischen Literatur- und Geistesgeschichte. Edited by Reinhard Breymayer (Contributions to the Swabian History of Literature and Ideas)