Bavaria (Bayern) Historical Geography

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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

  • The Kingdom of Bavaria (German: Königreich Bayern) was a German state that succeeded the former Electorate of Bavaria in 1805 and continued to exist until 1918.
  • Most of Bavaria's present-day borders were established after 1814 with the Treaty of Paris, in which Bavaria ceded Tyrol and Vorarlberg to the Austrian Empire while receiving Aschaffenburg and Würzburg.
  • With the unification of Germany into the German Empire in 1871, the kingdom became a federal state of the new Empire and was second in size, power, and wealth only to the leading state, the Kingdom of Prussia.
  • In 1918, Bavaria became a republic, and the kingdom was thus succeeded by the current Free State of Bavaria, after the abolition of monarchy in the aftermath of World War I.
  • Bavarians foster different cultural identities: 
    • Franconia in the north, speaking East Franconian German;
    • Bavarian Swabia in the south west, speaking Swabian German; and 
    • Altbayern (so-called "Old Bavaria”), the regions forming the “historic" Bavaria, at present the districts of the Upper Palatinate, Lower and Upper Bavaria, speaking Austro-Bavarian.
  • Moreover, by the expulsion of German speakers from Eastern Europe, Bavaria has received a large population that was not traditionally Bavarian. In particular, the Sudeten Germans, expelled from neighboring Czechoslovakia, have been deemed to have become the "fourth tribe" of Bavarians.
  • Following the end of World War II, Bavaria was occupied for a while by US forces, who reestablished the state on 19 September 1945, and during the Cold War it was part of West Germany.
  • The Rhenish Palatinate was detached from Bavaria in 1946 and made part of the new state Rhineland-Palatinate. Wikipedia


Maps[edit | edit source]

Modern Bavaria (Bayern)

WV-Bavaria regions.svg.png

Kreise (Counties) of Bavaria (Bayern)

Bavaria Kreise.png

Germany was first unified as a nation in 1871. For German research prior to 1945, the Research Wiki, FamilySearch Catalog, and FamilySearch Historical Records are organized by the place names in use from 1871 to 1945. For research in that time period, use the Wiki links in the chart below:


1871 Region

History and Background

Geo-Political Differences Today
FamilySearch Catalog
(organized by 1871 Meyer's Gazetteer)
Wiki Page

Instructions for Research Before 1945

Bavaria (Bayern)

1920: current state of Bavaria, merged with Coburg
1945: Lost the Pfalz (Palatinate) to Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz).
1957: The Saar-Pfalz became part of the current state of Saarland (Map)

Bavaria: Bayern
Coburg: Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha