Swabian Circle

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Swabian Circle
Schwäbischer Reichskreis
Wappen schwabischer Reichskreis 1.jpg
Coat of arms
Locator Swabian Circle.svg
The Swabian Circle as at the beginning of the 16th century within the Holy Roman Empire
Capital Ulm
34,314 km2 (13,249 sq mi)
Circle Colonel  
Wolfgang von Montfort
Wilhelm von Eberstein
 1563, 1564-1568
Louis III
John Frederick
Legislature Circle Diet
Historical eraEarly modern period
 Peace of Westphalia
Today part of Flag of Austria.svg Austria
Flag of Germany.svg Germany
Flag of Liechtenstein.svg Liechtenstein
Flag of Switzerland.svg Switzerland

The Circle of Swabia or Swabian Circle (German : Schwäbischer Reichskreis or Schwäbischer Kreis) 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 and the Thirty Years War later in the 16th century.



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).


The circle was made up of the following states:

NameType of entityComments
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 CityReichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1276.
DEU Aulendorf COA.svg 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 MargraviateSubdivision of Baden from 1535, residence at Rastatt from 1705, fell to Baden-Durlach in 1771.
Baden-Durlach.JPG Baden-Durlach MargraviateSubdivision 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 Imperial Abbey Gained Reichsfreiheit in 1376.
Wappen Biberach.svg Biberach an der Riß Imperial CityReichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1281.
Wappen Bonndorf im Schwarzwald.png Bonndorf LordshipAcquired by St. Blaise's Abbey in 1609 to gain Reichsfreiheit.
DEU Bopfingen COA.svg Bopfingen Imperial CitySince 1241.
Sin escudo.svg Buchau Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 819 by Louis the Pious.
Wappen Bad Buchau.svg Buchau Imperial CitySince the 13th century.
Wappen Friedrichshafen.svg Buchhorn Imperial CityReichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1275.
Wappen Bistum Konstanz.svg Constance Prince-BishopricEstablished about 585, Reichsfreiheit confirmed by Frederick I Barbarossa in 1155, residence at Meersburg from 1526.
Wappen von Dinkelsbuhl.svg Dinkelsbühl Imperial CitySince 1351.
Wappen Grafschaft Eberstein.svg Eberstein County Line extinct in 1660, inherited by Württemberg.
Wappen Eglingen.png Eglingen LordshipHeld by Thurn und Taxis from 1726.
Argenbuehl Wappen.svg Eglofs LordshipHeld by the Counts of Abensberg from 1661.
Elchingen Imperial AbbeyEstablished 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 CitySince 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 CountyVarious territories, established from the bequest of Berthold V of Zähringen in 1218, Fürstenberg-Baar since 1441.
Wappen Zaehringer.png Fürstenberg-Blumberg CountySubdivision from 1559, again partitioned in 1614.
Wappen Zaehringer.png Fürstenberg-Messkirch CountySubdivision of Fürstenberg-Blumberg from 1614, raised to Principality in 1716, inherited by Fürstenberg-Fürstenberg in 1744.
Wappen Zaehringer.png Fürstenberg-Stühlingen CountySubdivision of Fürstenberg-Blumberg from 1614, again partitioned between Fürstenberg-Fürstenberg and Fürstenberg-Weitra in 1704.
Wappen Zaehringer.png Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg CountySubdivision from 1559, raised to Principality in 1664, inherited by Fürstenberg-Fürstenberg in 1716.
Wappen Reichenbach (Gengenbach).png Gengenbach Imperial AbbeyEstablished about 730 by Saint Pirmin, granted to Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg by Henry II in 1007.
DEU Gengenbach COA.svg Gengenbach Imperial CitySince 1360.
Wappen Giengen an der Brenz.svg Giengen an der Brenz Imperial CitySince 1391.
DEU Gundelfingen COA.svg Gundelfingen LordshipAcquired by Baden in 1507.
Sin escudo.svg Gutenzell AbbacyEstablished in 1237, Reichsfreiheit granted by Emperor Sigismund in 1437.
Wappen Hausen im Tal.svg Hausen LordshipTerritory around Hausen Castle, near Beuron. Acquired by Fugger in 1682 following extinction of the line of Lords; to Castell in 1735.
Sin escudo.svg Heggbach Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 1231, gained Reichsfreiheit about 1428.
Wappen Heilbronn.svg Heilbronn Imperial CityReichsfreiheit granted by Charles IV in 1371.
Wappen Heiligenberg.svg Heiligenberg CountyHeld by the Counts of Fürstenberg from 1535.
Wappen Hohenems.svg Hohenems CountyReichsfreiheit granted by Ferdinand I in 1560, acquired by Habsburg in 1765.
Wappen-geroldseck before 1636AD 20px.png Hohengeroldseck County948AD to 1634AD then to the House of Kronberg, then held by the House of Leyen from 1697, Imperial Counts from 1711, Principality of Leyen in 1806.
Sin escudo.svg Hohenhöwen LordshipEstablished in 1415, with Stühlingen acquired by Pappenheim in 1582, to Fürstenberg-Stühlingen in 1639.
Wappen Hechingen.svg Hohenzollern CountyCounty of Zollern established in the 11th century, partitioned in 1576.
Hohenzollern-arms.JPG Hohenzollern-Hechingen CountySubdivision of Hohenzollern from 1576, raised to principality in 1623.
Wappen Hechingen.svg Hohenzollern-Haigerloch CountyFormer Lordship of Haigerloch, subdivision of Hohenzollern from 1576, inherited by Hohenzollen-Sigmaringen in 1767.
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.JPG Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen CountySubdivision of Hohenzollern from 1576, raised to principality in 1623.
Reichsabtei Irsee coat of arms.svg Irsee Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 1186, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1694.
Wappen Isny.svg Isny Imperial CityFrom 1365.
Wappen Justingen.png Justingen LordshipTerritory around Justingen Castle near Schelklingen, acquired by Württemberg in 1751.
Wappen Markt Kaisheim.png Kaisheim Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 1133, Imperial abbey since 1346.
Wappen Kaufbeuren.svg Kaufbeuren Imperial CityReichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1286.
Fuerststift Kempten coat of arms.png Kempten Prince-AbbeyEstablished in 752, Reichsfreiheit granted by Henry IV in 1062.
DEU Kempten (Allgau) COA.svg Kempten Imperial CityReichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1289.
Wappen Kinzigtal.png Kinzigtal LordshipTerritory around Wolfach, held by Fürstenberg since 1291.
DEU Klettgau COA.svg Klettgau LandgraviateHeld by the Counts of Sulz since 1410, acquired by the House of Schwarzenberg in 1698.
COA family de von Konigsegg.svg Königsegg LordshipTerritory around Guggenhausen, acquired the Imperial county of Rothenfels in 1565, Freiherren from 1621, partitioned in 1622.
COA family de von Konigsegg.svg Königsegg-Aulendorf LordshipSubdivision of Königsegg from 1622, Imperial county from 1629.
Grafschaft Koenigsegg-Rothenfels coat of arms.svg Königsegg-Rothenfels LordshipSubdivision of Königsegg from 1622, Imperial county from 1629.
DEU Leutkirch im Allgau COA.svg Leutkirch Imperial CityReichsfreiheit 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).
Sin escudo.svg Lindau Imperial AbbeyEstablished about 822, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1466.
Wappen Lindau (Bodensee).png Lindau Imperial CityReichsfreiheit 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 Imperial AbbeyEstablished about 776, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1500.
Wappen Memmingen.svg Memmingen Imperial CityReichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1286.
DEU Messkirch COA.svg Meßkirch LordshipHeld by the Counts of Zimmern since 1354, fell to the House of Helfenstein in 1594, Fürstenberg-Messkirch from 1627.
Wappen Mindelheim.png Mindelheim LordshipHeld 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.
Sin escudo.svg Neresheim Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 1095, Reichsfreiheit contested by the House of Oettingen-Wallerstein, confirmed by the Reichskammergericht in 1764.
Wappen Noerdlingen.svg Nördlingen Imperial CityReichsfreiheit granted by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in 1215.
Wappen Ochsenhausen.svg Ochsenhausen Imperial AbbeyEstablished about 1090, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1495.
0193 Oettingen evetezett alapon pajzs es harantkereszt.svg Oettingen CountyPartitioned in 1522.
0193 Oettingen evetezett alapon pajzs es harantkereszt.svg Oettingen-Oettingen CountySubdivision of Oettingen from 1522, raised to principality in 1674, extinct in 1731.
0193 Oettingen evetezett alapon pajzs es harantkereszt.svg Oettingen-Wallerstein CountySubdivision of Oettingen from 1522, raised to principality in 1774.
0193 Oettingen evetezett alapon pajzs es harantkereszt.svg Oettingen-Spielberg CountySubdivision of Oettingen-Wallerberg from 1623, raised to principality in 1734.
DEU Offenburg COA.svg Offenburg Imperial CityReichsfreiheit granted by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in 1240.
Wappen Kloster Petershausen.svg Petershausen Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 983 by Saint Gebhard of Constance, Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.
Wappen Pfullendorf.svg Pfullendorf Imperial CityReichsfreiheit granted by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in 1220.
Wappen Ravensburg.svg Ravensburg Imperial CityReichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1278.
Wappen Stadt Reutlingen.svg Reutlingen Imperial CityFrom about 1240.
Reichsabtei Roggenburg coat of arms.png Roggenburg Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 1126, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1482.
Wappen Rot an der Rot.svg Rot an der Rot Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 1126, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1376.
Grafschaft Koenigsegg-Rothenfels coat of arms.svg Rothenfels CountyTerritory around Immenstadt held by the Counts of Montfort since 1332, acquired by Königsegg in 1565.
Sin escudo.svg Rottenmünster Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 1224, Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in 1237.
Wappen Rottweil.svg Rottweil Imperial CityReichsfreiheit granted by Sigismund of Luxembourg in 1434, associate of the Swiss Confederacy 1519–1689.
Salem Baden Wappen.svg Salem Imperial abbeyEstablished about 1134, Reichsfreiheit granted by Conrad III of Hohenstaufen in 1142.
Wappen Bad Schussenried.svg Schussenried Imperial AbbeyEstablished by Rot an der Rot Abbey in 1183, gained Reichsfreiheit about 1440.
Schwabisch Gmund Wappen.svg Schwäbisch Gmünd Imperial CitySince about 1250.
Wappen Schwaebisch Hall.svg Schwäbisch Hall Imperial CitySince 1280.
Wappen Sickingen.svg Sickingen LordshipTerritory in the Kraichgau, held by the successors of Imperial Knight Franz von Sickingen, Freiherren from 1606, Imperial counts from 1790.
Sin escudo.svg Söflingen Imperial AbbeyEstablished about 1258 by the Counts of Dillingen, gained Reichsfreiheit against Ulm in 1773.
Wappen Isny.svg St George in Isny Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 1096, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1781.
DEU Oberstadion COA.svg Stadion CountyReached Reichfreiheit in 1705 by purchasing the Lordship of Thannhausen (not to be confused with Tannhausen), split into Stadion-Thannhausen and Stadion-Warthausen in 1741.
Stadtwappen Staufen im Breisgau.svg Staufen LordshipHeld 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 LandgraviateHeld 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 LordshipHeld by the Counts of Monfort, fell to Further Austria in 1780.
Sin escudo.svg Thannhausen LordshipReichsfrei territory around Tannhausen (not to be confused with Thannhausen).
Wappen Tengen-alt.png Thengen CountyRear 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.
DEU Uberlingen COA.svg Überlingen Imperial CityReichsfreiheit confirmed about 1400.
Coat of arms of Ulm.svg Ulm Imperial CityGained Reichsfreiheit in the 12th century.
DEU Ursberg COA.svg Ursberg Imperial AbbeyEstablished about 1128, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1143.
Wappen Nuziders.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 ArchstewardshipTerritory around Trauchburg castle near Isny, held by Waldburg since 1306, Imperial county from 1628, extinct in 1772.
Wappen Nuziders.svg Waldburg-Scheer ArchstewardshipFormer 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 ArchstewardshipTerritory 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 ArchstewardshipSubdivision of Waldburg-Wolfegg-Zeil from 1589, Imperial county from 1628, again partitioned in 1667, extinct in 1798.
Wappen Waldburg.svg Waldburg-Waldsee ArchstewardshipSubdivision of Waldburg-Wolfegg from 1667, inherited Waldburg-Wolfegg in 1798, raised to principality in 1803.
Wappen Waldburg.svg Waldburg-Zeil ArchstewardshipSubdivision 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 ArchstewardshipSubdivision of Waldburg-Zeil from 1674, raised to principality in 1803.
Wappen Wangen im Allgau.svg Wangen Imperial CityReichsfreiheit granted by Rudolph of Habsburg in 1286.
Coat of Arms of Weil der Stadt.svg Weil Imperial CitySince about 1275.
DEU Weingarten (Wurttemberg) COA.svg Weingarten Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 1056 by Duke Welf I of Bavaria, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1274.
Eschach Ravensburg Wappen.png Weißenau Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 1145, gained Reichsfreiheit about 1257.
Reichsstift Wettenhausen coat of arms.png Wettenhausen Prince-Provostry Established in 1130.
Wappen Wiesensteig.svg Wiesensteig LordshipHeld by the House of Helfenstein, partitioned between Fürstenberg and the Duchy of Bavaria in 1627.
Wappen Bad Wimpfen.svg Wimpfen Imperial CitySince about 1300.
Wuerttemberg Arms.svg Württemberg DuchyCounty of Wirtemberg established in the 12th century, raised to duchy in 1495 by Maximilian I.
DEU Zell am Harmersbach COA.svg Zell am Harmersbach Imperial CitySince the 14th century.
Wappen Grafen von Achalm.svg Zwiefalten Imperial AbbeyEstablished in 1089, gained Reichsfreiheit from Württemberg in 1750.

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