FRANCO'NIA (Ger. Franken). This name was first applied to those districts on both. sides of the Maine which were originally peopled by colonies of Franks, under Thierry, the eldest son of Clovis, who inherited the Germanic possessions of his father on the death of the latter in 511. Under the Merovingian and Carlovingian dynasties, this province acquired a certain degree of preponderance in the state, and enjoyed the priv ilege of electing the king of the Germans within its own territories, and crowning the sovereign by the hands of its archbishop (Mayence), who was primate of the empire. In 911,Conrad, the count or duke of F., for there is some doubt which of these titles was at that time borne by the ruler of the province, was raised to the throne; and a century later, after the ducal dignity had been recognized iu F., the choice of the electors again fell upon the Franconian house, which, by its direct and collateral branches, gave kings and emperors to Germany from 1024, when Conrad II. began his reign, till 1250, when the indirect line of the Hohenstauffen family became extinct. During its connection with the crown, F. increased in extent and importance, while its great spiritual princi palities of Nfayence, Spires, Worms, and Wurzburg acquired both wealth and political influence. In the course of the following 200 years, the province underwent various. modifications, and was subdivided into numerous territories, as those of the Rhenish county-palatine, Nassau, Katzenellnbogen, Hainan, the landgravate of Hesse, etc., the name of F. was limited to the eastern portions of the ancient duchy, which included. Wurzburg, Fulda, Bamberg, Nurnberg, Hohenlohe, etc. In 1512, Maximilian- I. re-os tablished the circle of F., which then embraced the sees of Bamberg, Wttrzburg-,
Baireuth, and Anspach, and several counties and cities. With the dissolution' of the empire, the name of F. disappeared from among the political divisions of Ger many; but since 1837, it has been revived in the kingdom of Bavaria (q.v.), where those portions of the ancient Franconian province, which in modern times have been known as the circles of the upper Maine, Rezat, and lower Maine, are now designated upper, middle, and lower Franconia. Upper F. includes the n.e. portion of Bavaria. It is watered by numerous rivers, as the Maine, Raab, Saale, etc., and is intersected by the Fichtelgebirge and by the hilly ranges of the BShmer-, Franken-, and Steiger-Wald. The valleys produce good crops and fruit, and the district is rich in minerals. '71, 540,963; capital, Baireuth. Middle F., which abuts upon WUrtemberg, is inter. sected by branches of the Franconian Jura chain, but, has few rivers of importance besides the Regnitz and Altrahhl, which are edn:iectecl by the great Ludwig canal. It.
produces good wine, but is principally celebrated for its hop-gardens. Anspach and Nurnberg are the principal towns. Pop. 583,417. Lower F., with Aschaffenburg, which occupies the n.w. part of Bavaria, is the richest and best cultivated of the Fran conian circles, and is celebrated for the excellence of its wines, the Steiner and Leister. The district is noted for its mineral springs at Kissingen, Brtickenau, Orb, and Wip feld. Pop, '71, 586,122; capital, Wiirzburg. Small portions of F. were ceded to Prussia. in 1866. The pop. of the three Franconias in 1875 was 1,758,048.