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Title: Bavarians  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Bavarian language, Swabians, Demographics of Germany, Ethnic groups in Europe, German tribes
Collection: Christianization, German Tribes, Germanic Peoples, People from Bavaria
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The Oktoberfest in Munich, the most widely-known festival of Bavarian culture, held since 1810 (2006 photograph).

Bavarians (Bavarian: Boarn, Standard German: Bayern) are an ethnographic group of Germans of the Bavaria region, a state within Germany. The group's dialect or speech is known as the Bavarian language, native to Altbayern ("Old Bavaria"), roughly the territory of the Electorate of Bavaria in the 17th century.

Like the neighboring Swabians and Austrians, Bavarians are traditionally Catholic. In much of Altbayern, membership in the Catholic church remains above 70%,[1] and the center-right Christian Social Union in Bavaria (successor of the Bavarian People's Party of 1919–1933) has traditionally been the strongest party in the Landtag,[2] and also the party of all Ministers-President of Bavaria since 1946, with the single exception of Wilhelm Hoegner, 1954–1957.


  • Areal and dialectal subdivision 1
  • History 2
    • Origins 2.1
    • Holy Roman Empire 2.2
    • Modern history 2.3
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Areal and dialectal subdivision

Bavarian (Austro-Bavarian) speaking areas.

There is no ethno-linguistic distinction between Bavarians and Austrians. The territory of Bavaria has changed significantly over German history;[3] in the 19th century the Kingdom of Bavaria acquired substantial territories of Franconia and Swabia, while having to return territories to Austria who had become Bavarian only a few years earlier. Thus, only three of the seven administrative regions of the state of Bavaria are culturally Bavarian: Upper Bavaria (Oberbayern), Lower Bavaria (Niederbayern) and the Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz), to the exclusion of Bavarian Franconia (historically inhabited by Franks) and Bavarian Swabia (inhabited by Swabians).

The Bavarian language is divided into three main dialects:


Caricature of four "Munich types" (Münchner Charakterköpfe): Highlander (Der Wastl aus dem Oberland "Wastl from the Oberland"), clerk (Gerichtsschreiber "court secretary"), shirker (Invalid in Friedenszeiten "peacetime-invalid"), petty bourgeois (Münchner Hausvater "Munich pater familias"), Julius Adam, Die Gartenlaube (1875).


Bavarii or Baiuvarii was the term for the population of the Bohemian Forest area (which had been the territory of the Boii during antiquity) from the 6th century; the name is Latinized from a possible self-designation *Baio-warioz, as it were "men of Bohemia", where "Bohemia" (boio-hemum) in origin refers to the "home of the Boii".

Bavarian ethnogenesis would have taken place during the 6th to 7th century, alongside Christianization. Among the groups contributing to the emerging Bavarian people were various Germanic groups, especially "Elbe Germanic", residual Roman troops from the Rhine-Danube frontier, mixed Roman - barbarian foederati from Pannonia,[4] as well as Slavs and Avars, who particularly settled the Upper Palatinate as well as around Regensburg itself (distr. Großprüfening)[5][6][7][8] Formerly part of Roman Raetia, Bavaria was part of the Ostrogothic kingdom until 536, when it passed to Francia. Neighboring the emerging Bavarian people in the 6th to 7th centuries were the Alamanni to the west (with the Lech River as boundary, which remains a dialectal division today), the Franks to the north-west, Slavs and Avars to the north-east, and Goths and Langobards to the east and south (later displaced by Slavs and Magyars).

Much like was the case in neighboring Alemannia, Bavaria was nominally Christian by virtue of being ruled by Christian dukes from the 6th century, but Christianization of its population was a gradual process lasting throughout the 7th century and into the 8th; Saint Corbinian was sent by Pope Gregory II to minister to duke Grimoald and work towards the evangelization of Bavaria; he became the first bishop of Freising. A Diocese of Laureacum (Lorch) had been in existence since the 4th century, in the 8th century moved to Passau, which became a bridge-head for the Christianization of Austria and Hungary. The Bishopric of Regensburg was founded in 739 by Boniface. The Lex Baiuvariorum was a codex of Germanic law, comprising 23 articles of traditional law recorded in the 740s. Bavaria within the Carolingian Empire was bordering on Swabia in the west, Thuringia in the north, Lombardy in the south and Slavic Carinthia in the east.

Holy Roman Empire

The Duchy of Bavaria was a stem duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, established in the 10th century, derived from an earlier duchy ruled by the Frankish Agilolfings during the 6th to 8th centuries.

The Margraviate of Austria was formed an eastern march to the Duchy of Bavaria in 976, and became a duchy in its own right, the Duchy of Austria, in 1156, in the 13th century falling under the dominion of the House of Habsburg. In the 14th and 15th centuries, upper and lower Bavaria were repeatedly subdivided. Four Duchies (or "partial duchies", Teilherzogtümer) existed after the division of 1392: Lower Bavaria-Straubing, lower Bavaria-Landshut, Bavaria-Ingolstadt and Bavaria-Munich.

Munich, now the capital and cultural center of Bavaria, was founded in the high medieval period, and was the capital of the "partial duchy" of Bavaria-Munich 1392–1503. In 1503, Bavaria was re-united by Duke Albrecht IV of Bavaria-Munich (although the formerly Bavarian offices Kufstein, Kitzbühel and Rattenberg in Tirol were lost in 1504) and established Munich as the capital of all of Bavaria in 1506. In 1623, Bavaria was elevated to Electorate (Kurfürstentum).

Modern history

Kingdom of Bavaria within the German Confederation 1816, including the Rhenish Palatinate

The Kingdom of Bavaria was established at the Peace of Pressburg (1805), in the wake of the French victory at Austerlitz. The kingdom's territory fluctuated greatly over the following years, eventually fixed at the Treaty of Paris (1814), which established most of what remain the borders of the modern state. The kingdom in 1837 was divided into eight administrative regions (Regierungsbezirke), Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, Franconia, Swabia, Upper Palatinate and Palatinate. Ludwig I of Bavaria changed his royal titles to Ludwig, King of Bavaria, Duke of Franconia, Duke in Swabia and Count Palatinate of the Rhine.

As of 1818, the total population of the kingdom was at 3.7 million, rising to 4.4 million by 1840 and to 6.2 million by 1900, reaching 6.5 million in 1910. Modern Bavaria has 12.5 million inhabitants (as of 2012);[9] the population of Altbayern or Bavaria proper is at 6.7 million.[10]

See also


  1. ^ 2011 data
  2. ^ in 10 of 17 elections 1946–2013 receiving the absolute majority of the popular vote, and in all but one receiving the largest fraction of the popular vote, with the sole exception of the 1950 election (beaten by the Social Democrats 28.0% to 27.4%).
  3. ^ the current borders of the state of Bavaria date to 1955 (incorporation of Lindau); apart from Lindau, Bavaria had been defined after World War II with the incorporation of formerly Thuringian Ostheim vor der Rhön and the loss of Electorate Palatinate. Apart from these changes, Bavaria corresponds to territory of the kingdom of Bavaria within the German Confederation as defined in 1816.
  4. ^ Hunnic' modified skulls: physical appearance, identity and the transformative nature of migrations. In Essays in Burial Archaeologyin Honour of Heinrich Härke. S Hakenbeck 2009
  5. ^ Die Slawen. In Die Bajuwaren. Von Severin bis Tassilo 488-788. Von Vlasta Tvornik. Pg 118-128
  6. ^ Zum archäologischen Forschungsstand in und um Regensburg. Silvia Codreanu-Windauer. Pg 637-38; in Die Anfänge Bayerns Von Raetien und Noricum zur Frühmittelalterlichen Baiovaria herausgegeben. Ed Hubert Fehr und Irmtraut Heitmeier 2012.
  7. ^ Perspektiven der Archaeologie .... Tobias Gartner. Pg 125-28; in Ökonomie und Politik: Facetten europäischer Geschichte im Imperium Romanum.
  8. ^ Zur Fruhen Slawishen Siedlungen der Oberpfalz. Andreas Booz, Pg 123; in Kontinuitäten und Diskontinuitäten: von der Keltenzeit bis zu den Bajuwaren. 2010
  9. ^ area 70,549 km², not identical with the territory of the kingdom of Bavaria, which had an area of 75,865 km² in 1900.
  10. ^ 2012 data: Upper Bavaria 4.4 million, Lower Bavaria 1.2 million, Upper Palatinate 1.1 million.
  • James Minahan. One Europe, Many Nations: A Historical Dictionary of European National Groups. Greenwood Publishing Group, Ltd., 2000, 104-105.
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