The New International Encyclopædia/Swabia
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|Edition of 1905. See also Swabia on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.|
SWA'BIA, or SUABIA (Ger. Schwaben, Lat. Suevia). A mediæval duchy in the southwest of Germany. It took its name from the Suevi, by which the Germanic people of the Alemanni (q.v.), who occupied Southwestern Germany in the third century, were also known. The name Suevia alternates with that of Alemannia as the designation of the country in the early part of the Middle Ages, but the former finally prevailed. The region occupied by the Alemanni embraced Western Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, Alsace, and a great part of Switzerland. The bulk of the nation was subjected by the Franks at the close of the fifth century. As part of the Frankish realm, Alemannia was governed by native dukes, but the duchy was abolished before the dissolution of the Frankish Empire. The country from which Alsace and part of the Alpine territories had been detached, and which now came to be known as Swabia, was then placed under the rule of counts and nuntii cameræ, and for a time it was nearly independent.
In 919 Swabia was constituted one of the great duchies of the German Kingdom. It comprised the region between the Rhine and the Lech and part of Switzerland. The office of duke was frequently kept in the royal family. In 1079 the duchy passed to the House of Hohenstaufen, being bestowed by the Emperor Henry IV. upon Frederick of Staufen. Under the rule of this house, which occupied the Imperial throne of Germany from 1138 to 1254, Swabia was the most wealthy and powerful of the German duchies. In 1096 Frederick of Staufen was compelled to give up to Berthold of Zähringen the Breisgau and the Imperial bailiffship in Zurich. On the extinction of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in 1268 disintegration took place and the ducal vassals (cities, prelates, counts, etc.) claimed independence except for their allegiance to the emperors. The Count of Württemberg occupied the leading place among the petty rulers. The numerous lesser lords were for the most part obliged to accept the overlordship of the House of Zähringen or of Austria. The cities, of which many had become wealthy and powerful, were striving for local independence. In 1376 some of them formed the first Swabian League, which extended beyond the bounds of Swabia. In 1405 Württemberg, Baden, and seventeen cities joined together in the League of Marbach. The two Leagues were of little importance as political powers, but they paved the way for the Great Swabian League, formed in 1488, which under the leadership of the Count of Württemberg exercised administrative and judicial authority over the whole country. During this long period of strife a considerable portion of old Swabia had passed into the power of Bavaria. In 1512 Swabia became one of the ten circles into which Germany was divided for administrative purposes by Maximilian I. The dissolution of the Great Swabian League took place in 1533. Among the many city commonwealths which arose in Swabia were Augsburg, Ulm, and Constance. The southwestern Government District of Bavaria bears the name of Swabia (or Swabia and Newburg). Its capital is Augsburg. The best general history is Stälin, Geschichte Württembergs (Gotha, 1882-87).