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Franconia (Germany)

Franken, Bavaria

Last modified: 2014-03-25 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: franken | mespelbrunn castle | franconian rake |
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[Franconia, flag with coat-of-arms (Bavaria, Germany)] image by Marcus Schmöger
unofficial flag See also:


The flag of Franconia has no official status since there is no autonomous region of Franconia. Franconia covers three districts (Bezirke).Nuremberg (Nürnberg) is considered as the unofficial capital of Franconia. People from Franconia do not consider themselves as Bavarian and revendicate their own identity, symbolized by the Franconian rake. The flag is often seen during local festivities.
Pascal Vagnat, 24 Apr 2000

The three northern Bezirke [districts] of Bavaria (Mittelfranken, Oberfranken and Unterfranken) have their own history, distinct from southern Bavaria, and thus some kind of regional identity as Franken (Franconia). Many of the people there do not like the quite centralistic Bavarian government in Munich, some of them even want their own Bundesland Franken ['Federal State of Franconia'], see for example this website.
M. Schmöger, 28 Jan 2001

(editorial note: all districts mentioned above also fly red - white flags or banners and have the Franconian rake within their arms/ kms 25 Mar 2014)

"Communities are allowed exceptionally to show the white-red flag of Franconia on the day of Franconia at 1st July, on their town hall, besides the Bavarian white-blue flag", said Bavarian minister for inner affairs Günther Beckstein. "Normally it is not allowed, because the Franconian flag is not an official state flag."
Source: Newspaper Münchner Merkur.
J. Patrick Fischer, 6 Jun 2007

Since 2006 on the first Sunday after 2 July every year Franconia (the northern part of Bavaria) celebrates the "Tag der Franken" (Day of the Franconians), see Wikipedia. This is mainly to show the fact, that historically Franconia has been a late addition (1806) to Bavaria and that culturally and linguistically there are a lot of differences between the Bavarians proper (Altbayern = Old Bavarians) and the Franconians. There is a quite active and vociferous minority in Franconia that wants more rights in (perceivedly Munich-centred) Bavaria, decentralization or even their own state in the Federal Republic ("Bundesland Franken").
On 5 July 2009, there was the "Tag der Franken" of this year, celebrated in the open-air museum at Bad Windsheim, that I visited for vexillological purposes.
There were quite a number of cultural expositions and events showing aspects of Franconian culture and history. However, one major part was to show the connections between Franconian towns/municipalities and twinned towns/municipalities in foreign countries, belonging to the European Union. So every country of the European Union had some space for display, a few of them together with other countries close-by, though, e.g. the Baltic countries with Finland, or Greece with Cyprus.
The buildings and stands were richly decorated with paper flags of the respective nation. Other flags displayed were several regional or municipal flags.
And of course there were quite a number of different versions of the (unofficial) Franconian flag.
M. Schmöger, 7 Jul 2009

Flag with Coat-of-Arms (Unofficial Flag)

[image: top]

The flag depicted in this website as flag for Franconia you can see also quite frequently on other websites, e.g. this website or this website. This flag has been in use unofficially for some 10-15 years, even if in the South Bavarian media it is not frequently seen. It shows a typical pattern for a German flag: horizontally striped red over white with the arms in the center. The colours derive from the arms. The arms show the saw-tooth that has been one of the symbols of the Hochstift Würzburg (since 1410) and later on became a symbol commonly associated with the whole Franconia. As there was no political entity called Franconia in medieval times, but a lot of small territories, there had never been an actual historical coat-of-arms for Franconia. However the saw-tooth is the symbol for Franconia in the Bavarian coat-of-arms as well as in the coats-of-arms of the districts (Bezirke) Mittelfranken, Oberfranken and Unterfranken. These three districts also show flags of red-white or white-red.
M. Schmöger, 28 Jan 2001

Banner-of-Arms (Unofficial Flag)

[Franconia, banner-of-arms (Bavaria, Germany)] image by Marcus Schmöger

The flag of Franconia is a banner of the arms of the region, as they appear within the arms of Bavaria. They are nicknamed the "Franconian rake" (fränkischer Rechen). The teeth of the rake are usually horizontal. The flag has no official status since there is no autonomous region of Franconia. (...) The flag is often seen during local festivities.
Pascal Vagnat, 24 Apr 2000

During a short stay in Bavaria, I saw the flag of Franconia in the town of Solnhofen (together with municipal and Bavarian state flags). All three flags were hoisted vertically, the Franconia regional flag being Bahrain-like, red over white, with three white triangles.
Jan Zrzavy, 11 June 2000

Another unofficial flag for Franconia can be seen at this website. This seems to be a banner-of-arms, however rotated 90 degrees. This would certainly be used as vertical flag as well as horizontal flag.
M. Schmöger, 28 Jan 2001

Hanging (Unofficial) Flag

[Franconia hanging flag] image by M. Schmöger, 12 Jul 2002

In the Süddeutsche Zeitung of 8 July 2002 (p. 47) there was a photo of a meeting of the Frankenbund (Franconians' Association) showing a variant of the (unofficial) Franconian flag as a "Banner" (hanging flag).
Marcus Schmöger, 12 Jul 2002

Banner, spotted 2011

[Franconia banner spotted 2011] 5:2 image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 4 Mar 2011

The ratio is approx 5:2. It is a red - yellow vertical bicolour. A Franconian rake in a yellow round shield is shifted to the top.
Source: I spotted this flag in Würzburg on the banks of river Main on 19 February 2011.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 4 Mar 2011

A Flag Quarrel

In the beginning of 2008, the minister for inner affairs of Bavaria, Joachim Hermann, decided to flag all public buildings everyday with the flags of Bavaria, Germany and (if there is a third pole) European Union.

Two flags are raised on the imperial castle of Nürnberg, the German black-red-gold and the Bavarian white-blue. But Nürnberg is the biggest city of Franconia. The Franconians are a German tribe, which is living in northern Bavaria and is underlining its difference from the Bavarian tribe. In 19th century Franconia became part of the Bavaria.
The SPD in the city council of Nürnberg asked to raise the Franconian red-white-flag..The president of the Franconian Union, Joachim Kalb, called the current situation as "circumstances like in colonial times".
The Minister explained, there is no free pole for the Franconian flag on the castle. The Edict request the other flags. Anyhow, the minister of finance is responsible for the flags on the castle.
The mayor of Nürnberg is now thinking about raising the Franconian flag on a tower, which is belonging to the city.
Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28 Aug 2008.
J. Patrick Fischer, 9 Nov 2008

Mespelbrunn Castle

[Mespelbrunn Castle flag] image by Marcus Schmöger, 6 Feb 2009

I recently came across a photograph of a rather mysterious flag [1], hanging at the famous water castle Mespelbrunn in Franconia [2]. I first thought that it might be a municipal flag, as it shows the general pattern of Bavarian municipal flag: two stripes, with arms, hanging flag. However, neither the county nor the municipal flag are similar.
The photograph itself was not clear enough to make out the details of the arms; the stripes looked like yellow and blue.
Then I searched on the internet for images of the castle, with the flag. I found quite a number of photographs [3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10], and from these I could identify the arms as the one of the family owning the castle (Grafen von Ingelheim genannt Echter von und zu Mespelbrunn), quartering the coats-of-arms of Ingelheim (Sable, a cross chequy of Or and Gules) and Echter (Azure, a bend Argent charged with three annulets Azure). The flag stripes are actually yellow-black, most probably derived from two of the colours in the Ingelheim arms.
I made a crude drawing of the flag, using the arms on the castle website [11].
A few general remarks:
1. My experience with this shows that one has to be very careful in assessing the colours of a flag from a photograph. The photograph in the newspaper (and several photos on the internet) showed the darker stripe clearly as blue, whereas in fact it is black.
2. There are really many photographs of the castle, but usually they show either a general view of the castle or some internal detail. None of the photographers (at at least) really cared for the flag and took a good picture of the flag. We may conclude that flags go largely unrecognized and they are photographed only by chance.
3. It is not uncommon, that castles, especially those still in private ownership, do fly flags. However, these are usually distinguishable as private/family flag, either by being banners-of-arms or by some other remarkable feature. This flag, however, clearly evoked the association "municipal flag".
[1] Süddeutsche Zeitung 22 January 2009, p. 42
Marcus Schmöger, 6 Feb 2009

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