Three early dukes are named in Frankish sources: Garibald I may have been appointed to the office by the Merovingian kings and married the Lombard princess Walderada when the church forbade her to King Chlothar I in 555. Their daughter, Theodelinde, became Queen of the Lombards in northern Italy and Garibald was forced to flee to her when he fell out with his Frankish overlords. Garibald's successor, Tassilo I, tried unsuccessfully to hold the eastern frontier against the expansion of Slavs and Avars around 600. Tassilo's son Garibald II seems to have achieved a balance of power between 610 and 616.
After Garibald II little is known of the Bavarians until Duke Theodo I, whose reign may have begun as early as 680. From 696 onwards he invited churchmen from the west to organize churches and strengthen Christianity in his duchy (it is unclear what Bavarian religious life consisted of before this time). His son, Theudebert, led a decisive Bavarian campaign to intervene in a succession dispute in the Lombard Kingdom in 714, and married his sister Guntrud to the Lombard King Liutprand. At Theodo's death the duchy was divided among his sons, but reunited under his grandson Hucbert.
At Hucbert's death (735 AD) the duchy passed to a distant relative named Odilo, from neighbouring Alemannia (modern southwest Germany and northern Switzerland). Odilo issued a law code for Bavaria, completed the process of church organisation in partnership with St. Boniface (739), and tried to intervene in Frankish succession disputes by fighting for the claims of the Carolingian Grifo. He was defeated near Augsburg in 743 but continued to rule until his death in 748.
Tassilo III (b. 741 - d. after 794) succeeded his father at the age of eight after an unsuccessful attempt by Grifo to rule Bavaria. He initially ruled under Frankish oversight but began to function independently from 763 onwards. He was particularly noted for founding new monasteries and for expanding eastwards, fighting Slavs in the eastern Alps and along the River Danube and colonising these lands. After 781, however, his cousin Charlemagne began to pressure Tassilo to submit and finally deposed him in 788. The deposition was not entirely legitimate; Dissenters attempted a coup against Charlemagne at Tassilo's old capital of Regensburg in 792, led by his own son Pippin the Hunchback, and the king had to drag Tassilo out of imprisonment to formally renounce his rights and titles at the Assembly of Frankfurt in 794. This is the last appearance of Tassilo in the sources and he probably died a monk. As all of his family were also forced into monasteries, this was the end of the Agilolfing dynasty.
For the next 400 years numerous families held the duchy, rarely for more than three generations. With the revolt of duke Henry the Quarrelsome in 976, Bavaria lost large territories in the south and south east. The last, and one of the most important, of these dukes was Henry the Lion of the house of Welf, founder of Munich. When Henry the Lion was deposed as Duke of Saxony and Bavaria by his cousin, Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1180, Bavaria was awarded as fief to the Wittelsbach family, which ruled from 1180 to 1918. The Electoral Palatinate was also acquired by the House of Wittelsbach in 1214.
The first of several divisions of the duchy of Bavaria occurred in 1255. With the extinction of the Hohenstaufen in 1268 also Swabian territories were acquired by the Wittelsbach dukes. Emperor Louis the Bavarian acquired Brandenburg, Tyrol, Holland and Hainaut for his House but released the Upper Palatinate for the Palatinate branch of the Wittelsbach in 1329. In 1506 with the Landshut War of Succession the other parts of Bavaria were reunited and Munich became the sole capital.
In 1623 the Bavarian duke replaced his relative, the Count Palatine of the Rhine in the early days of the Thirty Years' War and acquired the powerful prince-electoral dignity in the Holy Roman Empire, determining its Emperor thence forward, as well as special legal status under the empire's laws. Also the Upper Palatinate was reunited with Bavaria. The ambitions of the Bavarian prince electors led to several wars with Austria during the early-18th century. From 1777 onwards Bavaria and the Electoral Palatinate were governed in personal union again.
When Napoleon abolished the Holy Roman Empire, Bavaria became a kingdom in 1806, and its area reduplicated. Tyrol and Salzburg were temporarily reunited with Bavaria but finally ceded to Austria. In return the Rhenish Palatinate and Franconia were annexed to Bavaria in 1815. Between 1799 and 1817 the leading minister count Montgelas followed a strict policy of modernisation and laid the foundations of administrative structures that survived even the monarchy and are (in their core) valid until today. In 1818 a modern constitution (by the standards of the time) was passed, that established a bicameral Parliament with a House of Lords (Kammer der Reichsräte) and a House of Commons (Kammer der Abgeordneten). The constitution was valid until the collapse of the monarchy at the end of World War I.
After the rise of Prussia to prominence Bavaria managed to preserve its independence by playing off the rivalries of Prussia and Austria, but defeat in the 1866 Austro-Prussian War compelled Bavaria to accept incorporation into the Prussian-dominated German Empire in 1871. In the early-20th century Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Henrik Ibsen, and other notable artists were drawn to Bavaria, notably to the Schwabing district of Munich, later devastated by World War II.
On November 12 1918 Ludwig III signed a document, the Anif declaration, releasing both civil and military officers from their oaths; the newly-formed republican government of Socialist premier Kurt Eisner interpreted this as an abdication. Eisner was assassinated in 1919 leading to a violently suppressed Communist revolt. Extremist activity by the National Socialists also increased, notably the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, and Munich and Nuremberg became Nazi strongholds under the Third Reich. As a manufacturing center, Munich was heavily bombed during World War II and occupied by U.S. troops. The Rhenish Palatinate was detached from Bavaria in 1946 and made part of the new state Rhineland-Palatinate.
Since World War II, Bavaria has been rehabilitated into a prosperous industrial hub. A massive reconstruction effort restored much of Munich's historic core, and the city hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics. More recently, former state minister-president Edmund Stoiber was the CDU/CSU candidate for chancellor in the 2002 federal election which he lost, and native son Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
Bavaria shares international borders with Austria and the Czech Republic as well as with Switzerland (across Lake Constance). Neighbouring states within Germany are Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Thuringia and Saxony. Two major rivers flow through the state, the Danube (Donau) and the Main, and the upper Rhine forms part of the southwest border of the state. The Bavarian Alps define the border with Austria, and within the range is the highest peak in Germany, the Zugspitze.
Bavaria has a multi-party system where the two main parties are the conservative Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), which has dominated politics since 1957, and won every election since then, and the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). A minor green party, Alliance '90/The Greens is represented in the parliament as well, although Germany's liberal party, the Free Democratic Party has no representation. Together, SPD and the Greens form the opposition.
Bavaria has a unicameral Landtag, or state parliament, elected by universal suffrage. Until December 1999, there was also a Senat, or Senate, whose members were chosen by social and economic groups in Bavaria, but following a referendum in 1998, this institution was abolished. The head of government is the Minister-President.
In 1995 Bavaria introduced direct democracy on the local level in a referendum. This was initiated bottom-up by an association called Mehr Demokratie (More Democracy). This is a grass-roots organization which campaigns for the right to citizen-initiated referendums. In 1997 the Bavarian Supreme Court aggravated the regulations considerably (e.g. by introducing a turn-out quorum). Nevertheless, Bavaria has the most advanced regulations on local direct democracy in Germany. This has led to a spirited citizens’ participation in communal and municipal affairs – 835 referenda took place from 1995 through 2005.
In the 2003 elections the CSU won more than two thirds of the seats in Landtag - something no party had ever achieved in post-war German history. In the 2008 elections the CSU lost its absolute majority in the Landtag for the first time in 46 years.
Bavaria has long had one of the largest and healthiest economies of any region in Germany, or Europe for that matter. Its GDP in 2007 exceeded 434 billion Euros This makes Bavaria itself one of the largest economies in Europe and the 17th largest in the world. Some large companies headquarted in Bavaria include BMW, Audi, Siemens, Allianz, Infineon, the European Aerospace and Defence Company, Puma AG and Adidas AG.
Due to their long independence (until 1871), Bavarians have always maintained a strong national identity. Some features of the Bavarian culture and mentality are remarkably distinct from the rest of Germany. A prevalent perception among other Germans is that Bavarians see Bavaria as the most important part of Germany. A German play on words lambasts the Bavarian sense of superiority. Its name in German, "Freistaat Bayern" means simply "the free state of Bavaria." However, many Germans sarcastically refer to Bavaria as "Frei statt Bayern" which literally means "Free instead of Bavaria," implying that Bavarians view themselves as a separate country, or at least culturally superior to the rest of Germany. Noteworthy differences (especially in rural areas, less significant in the major cities) can be found with respect to:
Meanwhile, Lutheranism has a significant presence in large parts of Franconia. Religion remains important to many in the region, as expressed by the typical Bavarian, Austrian and Swabian greeting: "Grüß Gott!" (Greet God!). The current pope, Benedict XVI (Joseph Alois Ratzinger), was born in Marktl am Inn in Upper Bavaria and was Archbishop of Munich and Freising.
Three German dialects are spoken in Bavaria: Austro-Bavarian in Old Bavaria (South East and East), Swabian German (an Alemannic German dialect) in the Bavarian part of Swabia (South West) and East Franconian German in Franconia (North).
Bavarians are very proud of their marked dialects, and most of them speak with their Bavarian, Franconian or Swabian accent. As with traditions in general, cultivation of dialect and regional accent is considered a strengthening of regional identity.
In the United States, particularly among German Americans, Bavarian culture is viewed somewhat nostalgically, with several "Bavarian villages", most notably Leavenworth, Washington and Frankenmuth, Michigan. Since 1962, the town has been styled with a Bavarian theme; it is also home to "one of the world's largest collections of nutcrackers" and an Oktoberfest celebration it claims is among the most attended in the world outside of Munich.
Bavaria is divided into 7 administrative regions called Regierungsbezirke (singular Regierungsbezirk).
These administrative regions consist of 71 administrative districts (called Landkreise, singular Landkreis) and 25 independent cities (kreisfreie Städte, singular kreisfreie Stadt).
In 44 of the 71 administrative districts, there are a total of 215 unincorporated areas (as of January 1, 2005, called gemeindefreie Gebiete, singular gemeindefreies Gebiet), not belonging to any municipality, all uninhabited, mostly forested areas, but also four lakes (Chiemsee-without islands, Starnberger See-without island Roseninsel, Ammersee, which are the three largest lakes of Bavaria, and Waginger See).
The iconic, opening scenes of the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein film musical The Sound of Music were shot in the Bavarian Alps.
Modern coat of arms was designed by Eduard Ege in 1946, following heraldic traditions.
|Arms of the Bavarian electorate 1753:|
|Arms of the Kingdom of Bavaria 1807:|
|Arms of the Kingdom of Bavaria 1835:|
as a fellow-Bavarian; some of those falling under this untechnical definition express pride in being Bavarian. However, state legislation regulating citizenship procedures has never been enacted, the constitution itself provides that all Germans enjoy the same rights as Bavarian citizens, and no office issues certificates concerning a "Bavarian" citizenship. Thus, the notion of citizenship rather bears a folkloristic, but not really political meaning.
However, many of those born in Bavaria clearly divide between born Bavarians and people that only moved to Bavaria. The nickname for all those who came to Bavaria is Zugroaste (Zugereiste = those who have moved here).
Many people in the northern part of Bavaria see themselves as Franconians and do therefore not like to be called Bavarians. They have a separate dialect and don't wear traditional Bavarian clothing.
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