History and Historiography


Local view of Old Erlenbach am Main around 1920/30 Local view of Old Erlenbach am Main around 1920/30

The settlement of this region is shrouded in history. In 1876, the first evidence of any human "footprints" was discovered. North of today's "Hermann Staudinger Gymnasium" four grave mounds dating back to 1550 B.C. were unearthed. In 1981, during construction work near the hospital, two urn-graves were unearthed dating back to 1000 B.C. Both discoveries offered no definite clues to whether or not any permanent settlements were at this location. Scholars speculate that it is more likely that migrating groups buried their deceased members at this location.


Urn-grave discoveries Urn-grave discoveries during garden works in the proximity
of the hospital dating back to 1000-800 B.C..

During the first century AC, the Roman Empire expanded as far north as the Main River. The east boundary of the realm, the "wet limes", secured with fortifications, protected the Romans from the "barbaric" Germanic tribes. When the Roman Empire disintegrated, many years passed before the native Franconian's penetrated into the valley of the Main River. The tribe started to settle this area around 531 AC. The first farms were probably established between 800 and 900 AC. Building foundations dating back to this time appeared at the river's edge near Erlenbach. During the middle of the last century, the current town was established coinciding with the construction of a railway bridge over the Main River.


The coat of arms of Erlenbach am Main The coat of arms of Erlenbach am Main

There is no historical evidence that emperor Friedrich Barbarossa bestowed the »Marktgerechtigkeit« (market rights) in the year 1183 on Erlenbach. The imperial distinction is displayed in form of a large cross that is crowned by a rooster. On one side of the crossbeam there is an upward pointing hand while on the other side there is a downward pointing sword. The upward pointing hand signifies that the inhabitants of Erlenbach enjoyed a special code of protection bestowed by the emperor and that anyone violating the rules had to expect to be put to the sword. The rooster crowning the cross rarely appeared as a symbol of the imperium. The coat of arms, newly bestowed on Erlenbach am Main in 1953, is based on two seals. Both seals were used by the local court from 1722 to 1810. Both displayed a crowned double eagle holding the imperial apple with a cross in its right claws and a sword in its left claw. Above the eagle's head floated an elector's hat and below were the letters E and B for »Erlenbach«.


The sign of the market rights The sign of the market rights

The "Marktgerechtigkeit" (Market Rights) were bestowed to Erlenbach in 1183 by the emperor "Friedrich Barbarossa". Local lore conveyed through generations replaces the documentation to this event. Market rights allowed the citizens of Erlenbach trade on certain days. The emperor conveyed the privilege to the town, because some courageous citizens saved his life in a time of trouble. The sign of the market rights is located in the oldest part of the town, near the church of St. Peter & Paul. The imperial distinction is in the form of a large cross with a rooster on top. On one side of the crossbeam is an upward pointing hand, while the other side has a downward pointing sword. The upward pointing hand signifies that the inhabitants of Erlenbach enjoyed a special code of protection bestowed by Emperor Barbarossa. While the sword on the other side promised punishment to anyone violating this privilege. The rooster is a symbol of the emporium. In the year 1236 AC, a transfer of the patronage rights to the "Cistercian" nuns at "Himmelthal" convent is documented. Very tumultuous years during the Middle Ages, with the plague and the inquisition, was the cause of most documents being lost.


With the birth of the new Bavarian national territory between 1799 and 1815 the municipalities were formed again: From over 40,000 became about 7,300.
Today there still exist approx. 2,000 municipalities. The following text informs on the bases of the current name about the constitutional development of the municipality of Erlenbach am Main.

For centuries the area of Erlenbach was under rule of the electorate at "Mainz", which found its demise at the onset of the 19th century. In the beginning of 1803, the village Erlenbach am Main became part of the principality of »Aschaffenburg/von Dalberg (Ashaffenburg/of Dalberg)« and later of the »Grand Duchy Frankfurt«. In 1814 Erlenbach was a part of Austria, before it finally ended up under the rule of the Kingdom of Bavaria.

Since the contracts of Paris in 1814 *) the village belongs to Bavaria. The office of the Erzstift Mainz became a part of the new-formed principality Aschaffenburg (Ashaffenburg) according to the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss (decision of the imperial deputation) in 1803, with which (now a department of the Grand Duchy Frankfurt) it fell finally in 1814 to the Kingdom of Bavaria.

*) In 1814, in the contracts of Paris, the Grand Duchy Würzburg as well as the principality Aschaffenburg fall to Bavaria. The area-profits had been already arranged in the contract of Ried (8th of October, 1813) between Austria and Bavaria. Bavaria assigned as compensation(a balancing service), inter-alia, Tirol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg.  The agreements met here were confirmed on the Viennese congress one more time.


In the year 1918 Erlenbach entered the industrial era. The shipyard relocated its operations across the river from Woerth to Erlenbach and the opening of the "Glanzstoff-Werke" (a chemical textile manufacturer) generated job opportunities for many. Shortly after World War II, Erlenbach was known as the "richest township in Bavaria", owing its status to a steady stream of tax revenues generated by trade and business. Erlenbach was able to build and maintain an extraordinary infrastructure. This achievement was recognized by the state authorities first in 1955 and then in 1970 by elevating Erlenbach to a city. The construction of the county hospital and the first Gymnasium (an Institute for classical and humanistic education) placed Erlenbach in a position of greater influence, going beyond a community's normal parochial needs. Together, with the neighboring cities of Obernburg and Elsenfeld, Erlenbach played a central role in planning and developing the surrounding geographic areas.

Erlenbach a.Main from its most beautiful site1
Erlenbach a.Main from its most beautiful site
     Erlenbach a.Main from its most beautiful site2
     Erlenbach a.Main from its most beautiful site3