Bavarians - History and Cultural Relations



Bavaria has been populated by Neanderthals, Cro-Magnons, and a number of Mesolithic and Neolithic peoples including the Bandkeramik, Urnfield, Hallstatt, and the Celtic La Tène cultures, the last group being defeated by the Romans in 15 B.C. After the fall of Rome, Bavaria was settled by the Alemanni, the Franks, the Thuringians, and the Baiuvarii, or Bavarians, who settled in the south between A.D. 500 and 800. Bavaria was converted to Christianity in the seventh and eighth centuries, and it was ruled by the Agilofings and then the Franks until Duke Otto of Wittelsbach received the Territory from the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa) in 1180. The Wittelsbach family ruled until 1918. After centuries of political upheaval, Bavaria was united in 1500, with Munich as its capital. During the Protestant Reformation Bavaria chose Roman Catholicism. By 1638, the end of the Thirty Years' War, the invasion of Swedish and French troops and widespread outbreaks of the bubonic plague had devastated Bavaria. Bavaria sided with Napoleon in 1800, secularized church lands, and annexed Franconia and Swabia in 1803, becoming a kingdom on 1 January 1806. Shortly thereafter, the government established its first constitution, consolidated political power, and instituted much-needed reforms. Munich became a major European cultural center, attaining a population of 600,000 by 1910. The Wittelsbach rulers were generally popular with their subjects; the most Unusual, "Mad" King Ludwig II, was deposed in 1886 in part Because he almost bankrupted the state to construct several palaces, now popular tourist attractions. Bavaria reluctantly joined the German Empire in 1871, but it managed to retain its own railway and postal services. After World War I, a short-lived socialist revolution was followed by a growing trend toward fascism. Bavaria was occupied by the United States after World War II, drew up a new constitution on 2 December 1946, and officially became a state of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1948.

Originally settled by Bavarians, Franks, and Swabians, more than 2,000,000 East European refugees fled to Bavaria after World War II, increasing the population by 28 percent. Foreign workers migrated to Bavaria during the postwar period of economic expansion, 318,936 of whom (28 percent Turks and 24 percent Yugoslavs) still resided in Bavaria in 1977. While the East European refugees were eventually assimilated, foreign workers seldom were. One recent development has been the formation and success of the neofascist Republican party, an aggressive opponent of foreign workers.


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