Free City of Frankfurt
For almost five centuries, the German city of Frankfurt am Main was a city-state within two major Germanic states:
  • The Holy Roman Empire
    Holy Roman Empire
    The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

     as the Free Imperial City of Frankfurt (until 1806)
  • The German Confederation
    German Confederation
    The German Confederation was the loose association of Central European states created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries. It acted as a buffer between the powerful states of Austria and Prussia...

     as the Free City of Frankfurt (Freie Stadt Frankfurt) (1815–66)

Frankfurt was a major city of the Holy Roman Empire, being the seat of imperial elections since 885 and the city for imperial coronations from 1562 (previously in Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

) until 1792. Frankfurt was declared an Imperial Free City (Reichsstadt) in 1372, making the city an entity of Imperial immediacy, meaning immediately subordinate to the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 and not to a regional ruler or a local nobleman.

Due to its imperial significance, Frankfurt survived mediatisation
German Mediatisation
The German Mediatisation was the series of mediatisations and secularisations that occurred in Germany between 1795 and 1814, during the latter part of the era of the French Revolution and then the Napoleonic Era....

 in 1803. Following the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, Frankfurt fell to the rule of Napoleon I
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

, who granted the city to Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg
Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg
Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg was Archbishop-Elector of Mainz, Arch-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire, Prince of Regensburg, primate of the Confederation of the Rhine and Grand-Duke of Frankfurt.-Biography:...

; the city became known as the Principality of Frankfurt. In 1810 Dalberg merged Frankfurt with the Principality of Aschaffenburg
Principality of Aschaffenburg
The Principality of Aschaffenburg was a principality of the Holy Roman Empire and the Confederation of the Rhine from 1803–10. Its capital was Aschaffenburg....

, the County of Wetzlar, Fulda
Fulda is a city in Hesse, Germany; it is located on the river Fulda and is the administrative seat of the Fulda district .- Early Middle Ages :...

, and Hanau
Hanau is a town in the Main-Kinzig-Kreis, in Hesse, Germany. It is located 25 km east of Frankfurt am Main. Its station is a major railway junction.- Geography :...

 to form the Grand Duchy of Frankfurt
Grand Duchy of Frankfurt
The Grand Duchy of Frankfurt was a German satellite state of Napoleonic creation. It came into existence in 1810 through the combination of the former territories of the Archbishops of Mainz along with the Free Imperial City of Frankfurt itself....

. After the defeat of Napoleon and the collapse of the Confederation of the Rhine
Confederation of the Rhine
The Confederation of the Rhine was a confederation of client states of the First French Empire. It was formed initially from 16 German states by Napoleon after he defeated Austria's Francis II and Russia's Alexander I in the Battle of Austerlitz. The Treaty of Pressburg, in effect, led to the...

, Frankfurt was returned to its pre-Napoleonic form via the Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

 of 1815 and became a sovereign
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 state and a member of the German Confederation
German Confederation
The German Confederation was the loose association of Central European states created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries. It acted as a buffer between the powerful states of Austria and Prussia...


During the period of the German Confederation, Frankfurt continued to be a major city. The confederation's governing body, the Bundestag
Bundesversammlung (German Confederation)
The Federal Assembly was the only central institution of the German Confederation from 1815 until 1848, and from 1850 until 1866. The Federal Assembly had its seat in the palais Thurn und Taxis in Frankfurt...

 (officially called the Bundesversammlung, Federal Assembly) was located in the palace of Thurn und Taxis
Thurn und Taxis
The Princely House of Thurn and Taxis is a German family that was a key player in the postal services in Europe in the 16th century and is well known as owners of breweries and builders of many castles.- History :...

 in Frankfurt's city centre. During the Revolutions of 1848, the Frankfurt Parliament
Frankfurt Parliament
The Frankfurt Assembly was the first freely elected parliament for all of Germany. Session was held from May 18, 1848 to May 31, 1849 in the Paulskirche at Frankfurt am Main...

 was formed in an attempt to unite the German states in a democratic manner. It was here that Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n king, Frederick William IV
Frederick William IV of Prussia
|align=right|Upon his accession, he toned down the reactionary policies enacted by his father, easing press censorship and promising to enact a constitution at some point, but he refused to enact a popular legislative assembly, preferring to work with the aristocracy through "united committees" of...

 refused the offer of the crown of "Little Germany".

In 1866, the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 went to war with the Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 over Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

, causing the Austro-Prussian War
Austro-Prussian War
The Austro-Prussian War was a war fought in 1866 between the German Confederation under the leadership of the Austrian Empire and its German allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia with its German allies and Italy on the...

. Frankfurt, remaining loyal to the German Confederation, did not join with Prussia. Following Prussia's victory, Frankfurt was annexed by Prussia, becoming part of the newly formed province of Hesse-Nassau
Province of Hesse-Nassau
Hesse-Nassau Province was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1868-1918, then a province of the Free State of Prussia until 1944.Hesse-Nassau was created as a consequence of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 by combining the previously independent Hesse-Kassel , the Duchy of Nassau, the Free...


Development of the city

Next to the main street Zeil
The Zeil is a street in the city centre of Frankfurt, Germany. The name, which dates back to the 14th century, is derived from the German word Zeile 'row' and originally referred to a row of houses on the eastern end of the north side; the name was not extended to the entire street until...

, at the Roßmarkt, along the city ring and at the banks of the river Main
The Main is a river in Germany, with a length of the most significant right tributary of the Rhine.-Geography:...

, the wealthy population of the city had spacious houses erected by architects such as Salins de Montfort and Friedrich Rumpf. They also endowed several scientific societies, for example the Polytechnische Gesellschaft and the Physikalischen Verein. In 1819, Freiherr vom Stein founded the Gesellschaft für ältere deutsche Geschichtskunde (Monumenta Germaniae Historica). In 1825, municipal architect Johann Friedrich Christian Hess built the representative city library. At the same time, the new construction of the Senckenbergische Naturforschenden Gesellschaft was developed at the Eschenheimer Turm
Eschenheimer Turm
Eschenheimer Turm was a city gate part of the late-medieval fortifications of Frankfurt am Main and is a landmark of the city...

. This is where Eduard Rüppell started his extended research expeditions to Africa. The Städelschule, which was opened in 1829, attracted renowned artists from all over Europe, among others Bertel Thorvaldsen, Philipp Veit, Eduard von Steinle and Moritz von Schwind. Civic foundations and clubs also fostered the city's culture life, e.g. the Frankfurter Kunstverein, the Museumsgesellschaft, the Cäcilienverein and the Städtische Theater.

In 1828, city gardener Sebastian Rinz set aside land for a new main cemetery and a new Jewish cemetery, about 15 minutes from the old city walls. The old cemeteries, which dated back to the Middle Ages, the Peterskirchhof and the old Jewish cemetery were closed. Also in 1828, the company Knoblauch & Schiele, the first gasworks, started to provide private households with gas.

In 1830, the city arranged the maintenance of the churches owned by the city, the priest's salaries and the clerical school system in two endowment contracts. A lot of the older and smaller churches, especially the former monasteries, which had been secularized in 1803, decayed or were used for profane purposes. But on the other hand, the new construction of the Paulskirche, which had been in ruins since 1789, was finally completed.

The city's urban area only slowly grew beyond the area of the ramparts, which were built on the area of the old city fortifications, firstly along the old country roads. Up until 1837, the wrought-iron gates to the city were closed at nightfall. Whoever was late had to pay a fee - like in the Middle Ages - called "Sperrbatzen", which led to bloody fights ("Sperrbatzenkrawall") in 1830 and 1831.

Frankfurt as an important centre of transport and trade

During the years in which Frankfurt was a „Free City“, the traditional Frankfurt Trade Fair was of little importance. Nevertheless, Frankfurt rose to be one of the major centres for trade and finances in Europe. The most important banking house in Frankfurt belonged to the Rothschild family, who established banking and finance houses all over Europe. The only other banking house that was comparable to the Rothschild bank was the Christian-owned Bethmann bank. Both of these banks dominated the trading of bonds for different European countries.

There were several significant uprisings against plans to develop a Prussian Tariff Union because they threatened to undermine Frankfurt's role as a centre of transport and trade. In 1828 the city joined Middle Germany's trade association which was against Prussian activities. However, they were not able to prevent their neighbouring city, Hessen-Darmstadt, from joining the region under which the Prussian Tax was implemented.
After the founding of Germany's Customs Union in 1834, of which Nassau also became a member, Frankfurt was the only city that was not part of Prussian Customs Union, in contrast to the surrounding area. Within a short period of time, trade in Frankfurt had been dramatically reduced. Meanwhile the trade of neighbouring cities, like Offenbach, Höchst and Bockenheim, flourished. In 1836 the free city of Frankfurt was the last one to join the German Customs Union
thumb|upright=1.2|The German Zollverein 1834–1919blue = Prussia in 1834 grey= Included region until 1866yellow= Excluded after 1866red = Borders of the German Union of 1828 pink= Relevant others until 1834...


The fortunate location of the city led to the development of Frankfurt becoming a transportation hub.
In 1832 England and Frankfurt signed a contract allowing free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

 and shipping.
For this purpose the city flag was designed using the traditional colours of Frankfurt: two red and two white stripes with the Frankfurt Eagle in the upper left corner.

From the beginning, the city had a leading role in the expansion of the German railway system. All the bankers from Frankfurt supported the initiative and the first railway shares were in great interest. Nevertheless, negotiations went slowly and the initial construction of the railway did not start until 1839.

Frankfurt becomes the federal capital

The Bundestag was headquartered in Palais Thurn and Taxis in the Großen Eschenheimer Straße starting from 5 November 1816. The member states established delegations in the city. The Zentraluntersuchungsbehörde, a central coordinating institution of the political police of the federal member states, had been based in Frankfurt since the 1830s.


Frankfurt was one of the major centres of the revolutionary movement “Vormärz
' is the time period leading up to the failed March 1848 revolution in the German Confederation. Also known as the Age of Metternich, it was a period of Austrian and Prussian police states and vast censorship in response to calls for liberalism...

” (lit: “pre-March”). The journalist Ludwig Börne
Ludwig Börne
Karl Ludwig Börne was a German political writer and satirist.-Early life:Karl Ludwig Börne was born Loeb Baruch on May 6, 1786, at Frankfurt am Main, son of Jakob Baruch, a banker. His grandfather had been a government bureaucrat.-Education:Börne and his brothers were privately tutored by Jacob...

 was born in 1786 in a street named “Judengasse” (“Jew Lane”) in the Jewish ghetto of Frankfurt. Ludwig Börne was the author of satirical writings and later became one of the prominent figures of the literary movement “Young Germany
Young Germany
Young Germany was a group of German writers which existed from about 1830 to 1850. It was essentially a youth ideology . Its main proponents were Karl Gutzkow, Heinrich Laube, Theodor Mundt and Ludolf Wienbarg; Heinrich Heine, Ludwig Börne and Georg Büchner were also considered part of the movement...

”. Because the Federal Assembly and Frankfurt’s city authorities feared for their reputation, they tried to ban political unions and to suppress the circulation of liberal publications. They were, however, not successful in their attempts to do this. Spurred on by the July Revolution of 1830
July Revolution
The French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution or in French, saw the overthrow of King Charles X of France, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, who himself, after 18 precarious years on the throne, would in turn be overthrown...

, oppositional groups in the city of Frankfurt were ablaze with a revolutionary spirit. But the step from idealistic fervour to decisive action failed completely. Made up mostly of students and Polish officers in exile, a group attempting to start a revolution in Germany, called Frankfurter Wachensturm
Frankfurter Wachensturm
The Frankfurter Wachensturm on April 3rd 1833 was a failed attempt to start a revolution in Germany.-Events:...

 because of attacks made on police stations (German Wachen), was betrayed on April 3, 1833 to the police and was brutally put down by the city's small army. The incident, while largely ineffective, did, however, have a chilling effect on the bourgeois elite of the city because as a result 2,500 Austrian and Prussian soldiers were stationed in the city, representing a direct challenge to the sovereignty of the city which, in turn, led to royal government diplomats denigrating the Free City as a "liberal cesspit".

German national consciousness grew throughout the 1840s: The sculptor Ludwig Schwanthaler created a Goethe monument in 1844 and the unveiling ceremony, for example, became a rallying point for nationalists as did a meeting of German Studies scholars
German studies
German studies is the field of humanities that researches, documents, and disseminates German language and literature in both its historic and present forms. Academic departments of German studies often include classes on German culture, German history, and German politics in addition to the...

 in Frankfurt's important and well-known City Hall
A Reference Card or "Romer" is a device for increasing the accuracy when reading a grid reference from a map. Made from transparent plastic, paper or other materials, they are also found on most baseplate compasses. Essentially, it is a specially marked-out ruler which matches the scale of the map...

, which, just before this meeting, had been decorated with images of all 52 emperors of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 created by artists such as Philipp Veit
Philipp Veit
Philipp Veit was a German Romantic painter. To Veit is due the credit of having been the first to revive the almost forgotten technique of fresco painting.- Biography :Veit was born in Berlin, Prussia...

, Alfred Rethel
Alfred Rethel
Alfred Rethel was a German history painter.-Early life and education:Rethel was born in Aachen in 1816. He showed an interest in art in his early life, and at the age of thirteen he executed a drawing which procured his admission to the academy of Düsseldorf...

 and Eduard von Steinle
Eduard Von Steinle
Eduard Von Steinle was a historical painter and member of the Nazarene movement.Steinle came successively under the influence of the painters Leopold Kupelweiser, Johann Overbeck, and Peter von Cornelius, and was thus introduced into the methods of the German painters who had formed themselves...

. An umbrella organization of Frankfurt's democratic clubs, the "Montagskränzchen" (lit: "Monday clubs"), had been meeting since the winter of 1845/46.

In the early days of March, 1848, the revolutionary spirit from France spilled over to Germany. Like everywhere else, the people of Frankfurt called for the rights of freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, constitutional equality for all citizens, amnesty for all those who had been imprisoned because of political activities and the right for every citizen to bear arms. On March 3, 1848, the senate of the city granted all rights except full emancipation of the Jews. The reformists who had met in the "Montagskränzchen" called for a reform of the city’s constitution. All citizens were to elect the members of a constituent assembly for the city. This assembly was then to work out a new constitution to replace the laws which had been made as a mere addition to the old constitution.

On March 9, 1848, a flag in the colours of black, red and gold was first hissed on the roof of the Palais Thurn und Taxis
Palais Thurn und Taxis
The Palais Thurn und Taxis in Frankfurt was built from 1731 to 1739 by Robert de Cotte commissioned by the Prince Reichserbgeneralpostmeisters Anselm Franz von Thurn und Taxis...

 in Frankfurt. On March 31, the so-called “pre-parliament” held a meeting in the Paulskirche, which had been converted from a church to a parliament building in a rush. The walls and windows of the church were decorated with flags in the colours of black, red and gold, the pulpit was covered in a cloth, and the organ was hidden by a big curtain, which featured a painting by Philipp Veit depicting Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

, holding a flag and a sword. The figure was framed on either side with laurel wreaths and patriotic verses. A table for the President was set up where the altar normally stood.

On May 18, 1848, the parliamentarians of the Frankfurt national assembly, among the first free voted German parliaments, congregated in the Paulskirche in a celebratory fashion. Friedrich Siegmund Jucho, a legal practitioner, was elected as the representative of the free city on April 28. He was once a reporter for the National Assembly and affiliated with the left-centre parliamentary group, Westendhall, and later belonged to the so-called "Erbkaiserlichen", a political group led by Heinrich von Gagern.

With the increasing resistance and tenacity of the parliamentary debates, the enthusiasm of the people of Frankfurt disappeared

The End of the Free City

After the break-up of the national assembly and the re-establishment of the Bundestag diplomacy in 1850, the democratic opposition continued to advocate their demands, despite the senate's restorative politics that were considerate of he German chieftains. Nevertheless, the city's antiquated constitution was gradually reformed. In 1853, an electoral reform entitled the residents of the rural district to vote. By withdrawing the senators from courts and legislative meetings, the 1856 judicial and administrative reform established the separation of powers. Trials were henceforth held in public and verbal hearings and the elsewhere already common jury court was established.


The Free City of Frankfurt was a state of its own. The state back then widely correlated to the borders of the city today. It spread on both riversides of the Main and remained mostly unchanged since the 15th century. The bordering states of Frankfurt were the Grand Duchy of Hesse to the South (Province of Starkenburg) and to the North (Province Upper Hesse), the Electorate Hesse (District of Hanau) to the North and East, the Landgraviate of Hesse-Homburg to the Northwest and the Duchy of Nassau to the West.

The territory of the Free City included the actual city of Frankfurt as the city district, eight villages that accounted to the rural district as well as the forest district.

Urban district

The urban district consisted mainly of the Altstadt or old city of the Staufer era and the Neustadt or inner city founded in the 14th century. Both were located within the city's fortification built at the beginning of the 19th century on the shore of the Main river.

It mostly consisted of the Staufer old town and the new town established in the 14th century. Both were situated within the former city's fortifications on the right waterside of the Main, which were established as ramparts at the beginning of the 19th century. Over 40000 inhabitants lived within an area of only approximately two square kilometres. This number advanced to 70000 inhabitants up until 1866. 5000 people, mostly craftsmen and bourgeois, were living in the also walled urban district Sachsenhausen on the left waterside of the Main.

The area lying within a 3–4-kilometre radius outside of the city walls was mostly used as agricultural space. Directly in front of the city were gardens and vineyards. The outskirts along the present-day Alleenring, however, were cultivated in the old-fashioned style of Flurzwang
Flurzwang is the German name for a historical system of agriculture used in various places in Europe. It was an agreement or sometimes an order from the community, among all the owners of farmland or farming plots, or by the lord of the manor, for the cultivation of individual pieces of...

, which took the basic principles of the crop rotation
Crop rotation
Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons.Crop rotation confers various benefits to the soil. A traditional element of crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen through the use of green manure in sequence with cereals...

 system, dating back to the Middle Ages. One part of the land was cultivated with spring crop, another part with winter crop, while the third part lay fallow. In between these parts lay small woodland areas and acres including the Knoblauchsfeld (garlic field) in the Nordend district, which was the source of the city's water supply. The construction of the water supply between 1827 and 1834 was one of the most important public projects of the Free City.

Forest District

Frankfurt's Forest District ranged over 22.123 morgen (4480 hectare). The City Forest, belonging to Frankfurt since 1372, was the most important part of the district. It was situated south of the river Main, stretching out over almost 40 square kilometers. The Riederwald, located south of Bornheim, as well as the exclave Hohemark in Taunus, which had been part of Niedererlenbach, Bonames, Niederursel and Dortelweil, also belonged to the forest district. While the use of forests for pig fattening became less important, the wood harvest was one of the major economic factors. On Wäldchestag, the Tuesday following Whitsun, the majority of the citizens went to the forester's house in the city forest to celebrate Frankurt's biggest folk festival.

School system

Until 1803 there had only existed one municipal school in Frankfurt, the Municipal grammar school which was founded in 1520 and which was reserved exclusively for sons of Lutheran citizens. Beside the grammar school there still existed nine “Quartierschulen” from the Middle Ages, these were private schools with municipal concession that could be bequeathed and sold. In general, every school had only one teacher. All teachers had united in a kind of guild. Since the school fees they levied were hardly enough to make a living, they often had to do additional work, e.g. the cutting of quills. As each of them had to take care of several hundred pupils, the quality of the education in the “Quartiersschulen” was expectably low. The grammar school as well had a bad reputation in the 18th century, as the curriculum was completely outdated and the discipline of the pupils often led to complaints.

Since 1728 the supervision over all schools has lied with the Lutheran Consistory, a committee established by the City Council, consisting of secular and sacred members. On the initiative of its chairmen Friedrich Maximilian Freiherrn von Günderrode and Wilhelm Friedrich Hufnagel, the dynamic senior of the Lutheran Preacher ‘s Ministry a comprehensive school reform was finally instigated in 1803.

In 1803 Hufnagel founded Frankfurt’s first junior high, the Musterschule, based upon the pedagogical concept of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi.

Catholic Church

Since the Middle Ages, the Catholics of Frankfurt had belonged to the archbishopric of Mainz
Archbishopric of Mainz
The Archbishopric of Mainz or Electorate of Mainz was an influential ecclesiastic and secular prince-bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire between 780–82 and 1802. In the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, the Archbishop of Mainz was the primas Germaniae, the substitute of the Pope north of the Alps...

. The number of members, which had declined after the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 to less than 100, increased anew over the years because of immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

. Complete legal equality was achieved simultaneously with the end of the free imperial city
Free Imperial City
In the Holy Roman Empire, a free imperial city was a city formally ruled by the emperor only — as opposed to the majority of cities in the Empire, which were governed by one of the many princes of the Empire, such as dukes or prince-bishops...

 (German: Freie Reichsstadt) and the Edict of Toleration
Edict of Toleration
An edict of toleration is a declaration made by a government or ruler and states that members of a given religion will not be persecuted for engaging in their religious practices and traditions...

, 1806.
Soon after the constitution of the free imperial city
Free Imperial City
In the Holy Roman Empire, a free imperial city was a city formally ruled by the emperor only — as opposed to the majority of cities in the Empire, which were governed by one of the many princes of the Empire, such as dukes or prince-bishops...

 of Frankfurt the relations to Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

 were detached. In 1821 the Catholic Frankfurters became parishioners of the new Diocese of Limburg
Roman Catholic Diocese of Limburg
The Diocese of Limburg is a diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany.It was erected in 1821 from the Diocese of Trier and is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Cologne. The Holy Cross Church in Bornheim, Frankfurt am Main, is a part of the diocese...


Constitution of the Church

During the time in which the Lutheran consistory had carried out the regiment of the Church, all Christian denominations were to be treated equally according to an 1806 revision of the constitution of the church. The supplementing file to the Constitution of 1816 said in article 35: Each Christian congregation and every other congregation, even though they have a right to be protected by the State, are subject to the supervision of the State and must not form a separate State within the State.

This supervision was arranged by the Senate, which re-established the previously existing Lutheran consistory. According to Article 36, it was made up of two Lutheran senators, the chief pastor (titled senior), two Lutheran pastors and a jurist Consistory. With the exception of marital issues, which were taken over by the municipal court, the jurisdiction of the church continued to abide by the rules set forth in 1728. Article 37 left it up to the Reformed Church to establish a Consistory as well; this was then realized by ordinance of the Senate on 8 February 1820. The negotiations on this endowment dragged on for quite some time, and as a consequence, the two endowment documents were not issued until 1830.

Unlike German area states Frankfurt had no parochial system
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

 territorially assigning parishioners to a particular church, but all Lutherans of Frankfurt formed a city-wide community with one presbytery (Gemeindevorstand, comprising 36 elders), elected by the enfranchised parishioners, however the voter turnout was always lower than 3% of the electorate. Only Frankfurt's five rural Lutheran congregations in Bonames, Bornheim, Hausen
Hausen (Frankfurt am Main)
Hausen is a district or Stadtteil of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is part of the Ortsbezirk Mitte-West....

, Niederrad, Niederursel and Oberrad
Oberrad (Frankfurt am Main)
Oberrad is a district or Stadtteil of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is part of the Ortsbezirk Süd.To the north of the district lies the River Main. Beyond it, the Eastern Harbor of Frankfurt in the Ostend borough. To the northeast, Oberrad is bordered by Offenbach's Kaiserlei district, to the...

 formed separate parishes. 1820 there were six Lutheran churches within the city proper with 12 pastors for about 28,000 Lutherans. Since 1833 the executive board and the presbytery collaborated in appointing new pastors, forming permanent mixed bodies for this and other purposes since 1835.

On 5 February 1857 a new law separated religion and state, thus the Lutheran consistory did not include senators of the city government any more. Already in 1851 the civil marriage had made a religious wedding a mere option, chosen by about half the couples. The city was newly divided into six parishes, each assigned to one of the six Lutheran churches, the rural congregations were also included. The new church constitution remained untouched by the Prussian annexing power in 1866, however, the church became supervised by the Prussian ministry of cult and education, ending the separation of religion and state again. Since 1882 the consistorial president was appointed by the Prussian government. Despite the growing population in the 19th c. the Lutheran church built the first additional church, Luther Church in Nordend, in 1892 only.

In 1899 the Lutheran and the Reformed churches of Frankfurt merged into a united administration called Konsistorialbezirk Frankfurt am Main (i.e. consistorial district of Frankfurt upon Main), with each congregation maintaining its preferred separate confession. The two consistories merged into one, now called royal consistory. Starting in 1906 church tax
Church tax
A church tax is a tax imposed on members of some religious congregations in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, some parts of Switzerland and several other countries.- Germany :About 70% of church revenues come from church tax...

 was levied from the church members. More congregations were founded since 1901 constructing their church buildings in the subsequent years. With the Weimar Constitution
Weimar constitution
The Constitution of the German Reich , usually known as the Weimar Constitution was the constitution that governed Germany during the Weimar Republic...

 religion and state were finally separated again on a nationwide scope. So the consistorial district convened a church assembly in 1921 which passed the new church constitution on 13 December 1923, assuming independence of the consistorial district and transforming it into Evangelische Landeskirche Frankfurt am Main (i.e. Protestant State Church
In Germany and Switzerland, a Landeskirche is the church of a region. They originated as the national churches of the independent states, States of Germany or Cantons of Switzerland , that later unified to form modern Germany or modern Switzerland , respectively.-Origins in the Holy Roman...

 of Frankfurt upon Main).

After the incorporation of more suburbs into the city boundary also eight united Protestant
United and uniting churches
United and uniting churches are churches formed from the merger or other form of union of two or more different Protestant denominations.Perhaps the oldest example of a united church is found in Germany, where the Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of Lutheran, United and Reformed...

 congregations of the Hesse-Casselian Protestant church body belonged to the city, but not to the Frankfurt regional church. In 1928 the Hesse-Casselian Protestant church body ceded these eight congregations and their parishes to the Frankfurt regional church body, which thus then comprised 19 Lutheran and eight united parishes, 2 Reformed congregations (German Reformed, Huguenot) and one Lutheran deaconesses congregation. On 12 September 1933 the majority of the synod of the Frankfurt regional church voted for a merger with the regional church bodies of former Nassau
Nassau (state)
Nassau was a German state within the Holy Roman Empire and later in the German Confederation. Its ruling dynasty, now extinct in male line, was the House of Nassau.-Origins:...

 and the regional church in the People's State of Hesse in order to form Evangelische Landeskirche in Hesse-Nassau (Protestant State Church in Hesse-Nassau). However, the usurpation of leading positions by Nazi-submissive clergy made the opponents of Nazism in the regional church doubt the legal validity of the merger. So the three church bodies reconstituted separately after the Second World War and their freely elected synods voted in the merger on 30 September 1947, establishing today's Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau.

Reformed Church

In 1820 about 2,000 members of the two congregations, the German Reformed Church and the French Reformed Church, joined together to form a separate Protestant Reformed Consistory. After the Amendment Acts to the Constitution had been passed the Churches were forced to fund all costs of their religious cult as according to the treaties without competing with the city-aerarii. Consequently, they had no share in the endowment of 1830. In 1899 the Reformed and the Lutheran churches of Frankfurt merged into a united administration, with each congregation maintaining its chosen confession. The two consistories were merged too.

Foreign Relations

The Free City of Frankfurt had diplomatic relationships with numerous European states as well as with the United States of America.
The states of Baden, Bavaria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Hanover, Hesse-Darmstadt, Hesse-Kassel, Naussau, Austria, Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden and Norway, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the USA and Wurttemberg each had embassies and consulates in Frankfurt. The following states had a common delegation:
  • Hohenzollern, Liechtenstein, Waldeck, Reuß, Schaumburg-Lippe and Lippe,
  • Mecklenburg,
  • Oldenburg, Anhalt and Schwarzburg, along with
  • the ducal and grand-ducal Saxon dynasties.


The military in the Free City of Frankfurt of which the city placed 579 men to the federal contingent, consisted of a 700-strong line battalion under the command of a lieutenant colonel. The line military consisted of mercenaries from Southern Germany. Its six companies stayed in their barracks and guard rooms when Frankfurt was occupied on July 16, 1866. In the evening, the main guard passed on the line battalion to the Prussian Army with full military honors. Ten days later, on July 26, 1866, the battalion was dissolved after a last muster and the soldiers were released from duty. Depending on their term of service they received a gratuity between 50 and 250 guilders. Many of them let themselves be recruited by the French Foreign Legion afterwards.


The most important currency in Frankfurt was the Guilder
Guilder is the English translation of the Dutch gulden — from Old Dutch for 'golden'. The guilder originated as a gold coin but has been a common name for a silver or base metal coin for some centuries...

 . It was a face-value coin whose mint price was defined as 24 guilders per Mark of silver since the Munich coin treaty of 1837. Therefore, one guilder contained 9.545oz of pure silver. The coins minted in Frankfurt featured the Eagle of Frankfurt on the one side and the label 1 Gulden (1 guilder) with the year, surrounded by oak, on the other side. There were special issues, e.g. for Goethe's 100th birthday in 1849. On the edge of the coin, the text city's motto “Stark im Recht” was engraved.

The Guilder was subdivided into 60 Kreuzer
The Kreuzer, in English usually kreutzer, was a silver coin and unit of currency existing in the southern German states prior to the unification of Germany, and in Austria.-Early history:...

s. There were secondary coins worth one, three or six kreuzers as well as silver coins worth 12, 24 or 20 Kreuzers. The Batzen
The batzen was a coin produced by Bern, Switzerland, from the 15th century until the mid-19th century. The batzen is named for the bear depicted on the batzen of Bern....

 was worth four kreuzers.
Starting in 1857, vereinsthaler
The Vereinsthaler was a standard silver coin used in most German states and the Austrian Empire in the years prior to German unification.- Introduction :...

s were minted with a mint price of 14 thalers per mark of silver. Thus, two thalers were equal to  ½ guilders. On the obverse, these coins featured the Francofurtia, an allegorical female figure designed by the sculptor August von Nordheim. Her model was supposed to be the actress Fanny Janauschek
Fanny Janauschek
Fanny Janauschek aka Madame Fanny Janauschek was a 19th century character actress born in Prague . She came to America in 1867 and first performed at the Academy of Music, New York City, on October 9, 1867 managed by Max Maretzek. She spoke no English, only German and often worked with all...

, on the one side. On the reverse, they showed the circular writing “Ein Vereinstaler - XXX ein Pfund fein”. There were special issues of the thaler as well.

Due to the lack of a market basket
Market basket
The term market basket or commodity bundle refers to a fixed list of items used specifically to track the progress of inflation in an economy or specific market....

, determining the exact buying power of the guilder is not possible. The pure silver value of the guilder would be about 3.65 euros. A comparison of buying powers based on data provided by the Hamburger Staatsarchiv and the Federal Statistical Office of Germany
Federal Statistical Office of Germany
The Federal Statistical Office of Germany is a federal authority of Germany. It is a part of the Federal Ministry of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Germany....

 yielded a buying power of 16.50 euros in 1666.

Measurement units

The following units of measurement were common in the Free City of Frankfurt:
Frankfurter unit subdivisions metric unit
1 Werkschuh (Foot) 12 (inches) = 144 (lines
Line (length)
The line is a unit of measurement, one line being equal to of an English inch. It was defined as one-quarter of a barleycorn, which defined the inch even before 1066. The French ligne was simarly defined as of the pouce...

0,2846 meters
1 ell
An ell , is a unit of measurement, approximating the length of a man's arm.Several national forms existed, with different lengths, includingthe Scottish ell ,the Flemish ell ,the French ell...

0,5623 meters
1 Außenstädtische Feldrute (outer city field rod) 12,5 feet 3,5576 meters
1 Außenstädtische Waldrute (outer city forrest rod) 4,511 meters
1 Feldmorgen (field morgen
A morgen was a unit of measurement of land in Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and the Dutch colonies, including South Africa and Taiwan. The size of a morgen varies from 1/2 to 2½ acres, which equals approximately 0.2 to 1 ha...

160 square field rods 2025 square meters
1 Waldmorgen (forrest morgen) 160 square forrest rods 3256 square meters
1 Hube 30 field morgens 60.750 square meters
1 Ohm 20 Viertel (quarters) = 80 Maß = 90 Schenkmaß = 320 Schoppen 143,43 liters
1 Malter 4 Simmer = 8 Mesten = 16 Sechter = 256 Mäßchen (Diminutive of Maß) 114,73 liters
1 heavy pound
(trader's pound, en gros)
1/100 hundredweight
The hundredweight or centum weight is a unit of mass defined in terms of the pound . The definition used in Britain differs from that used in North America. The two are distinguished by the terms long hundredweight and short hundredweight:* The long hundredweight is defined as 112 lb, which...

505,34 gramms
1 leichtes Pfund
(grocer's pound, en detail)
2 marks = 16 ounces = 32 lots =
128 Quentchen = 256 Pfennig (pennies)
467,94 gramms
1 hundredweight 100 heavy pounds = 108 light pounds 50,534 kilogramms


The Free City of Frankfurt and its suburban areas have displayed a steep population increase since the 1840s. This however, does not apply to the rural areas which have not been subject to considerable change.
City Area
Suburban Communities
Rural Communities
Total Territory
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