This section is from "The American Cyclopaedia", by George Ripley And Charles A. Dana. Also available from Amazon: The New American Cyclopędia. 16 volumes complete..
Franconia (Ger. Franken, or Frankenland, land of the Franks), an old duchy and afterward a circle of the German empire. In the 5th century it formed a part of the Thuringian kingdom, on its dismemberment fell to the Franks, and on the breaking up of the Carlo-vingian empire to Germany. In the latter empire it rose to foremost importance, and five Franconian dukes were elected emperors (Conrad I. and II., Henry III., IV., and V.). It then embraced extensive lands, chiefly between the Rhine and the Bohemian mountains, but subsequently was weakened by divisions, was broken up into small territories, and disappeared as a duchy. In 1512 Maximilian I. erected a part of it into a circle of the empire, including the ecclesiastical dominions of Wurz-burg, Bamberg, and Eichstadt, the principalities of Baireuth and Anspach, and the imperial cities of Nuremberg, Schweinfurt, Rothenburg, Weissenburg, and Windsheim. During and after the Napoleonic wars it was partitioned among Wurtemberg, Baden, Hesse-Cassel, Saxony, and Bavaria, the last named state receiving the largest portion, and still retaining the name in the three circles of Upper, Middle, and Lower Franconia.-Upper Franconia (Ger. Ober-franken) nearly corresponds with the former circle of Upper Main, and lies in the N. E. part of the kingdom, bordering on Bohemia and Saxony; area, 2,702 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 540,963. It is a mountain region, occupied in the east by a portion of the Fichtelgebirge, and rich in gypsum, marble, gold, silver, lead, and iron.
Agriculture and cattle raising are carried on with success. Capital, Baireuth.-Middle Franconia (Ger. Mittelfranken) comprises that portion of territory anciently known as the circle of Rezat, and includes the former mar-graviate of Anspach, the bishopric of Eichstadt, and part of Baireuth; area, 2,918 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 583,417. It touches Wurtemberg on the west. It is intersected by branches of the Franeonian Jura, and a small portion of the mountainous district is too rough for tillage, but three fourths of the circle is in a high state of cultivation, producing the grape, tobacco, pasturage, and hops. There are few minerals, but important manufactures are carried on in most of the towns. Capital, Nuremberg.-Lower Feanconia (Ger. Unterfranken), nearly identical with the former circle of Lower Main, comprises the old bishopric of Wurzburg and part of that of Fulda, with several smaller territories; area, 3,342 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 586,122. It is bounded N. E. by the Saxe duchies, E. by Upper and Middle Franconia, S. by Wurtemberg and Baden, W. by Darmstadt, and N. W. by Prussia. The N. part is traversed by the Rhon mountains, and the S. W. by the Spessart. There are several extensive forests, but the plains and river bottoms are well cultivated, producing grain, potatoes, hops, and the grape.