Erlangen was first mentioned in official records in 1002 under the name of Villa Erlangon. In 1361, the village was sold to Emperor/King Charles IV. It became part of the Czech Kingdom. Three years later, a city was built close to the village, which in 1374 was given its own mint. In 1398, the municipal rights were confirmed by King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia. In 1402, the city came into the possession of the House of Hohenzollern as part of the
Principality of Brandenburg-Kulmbach (from 1603 on Brandenburg-Bayreuth), remaining under their rule until 1806. During the four year Napoleonic occupation, Erlangen was the capital of the so-called "Low County" (Unterland) of the principality, encompassing the area until Neustadt an der Aisch and separated from the "High County" (Oberland) by a land corridor. In 1810 it became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria, together with the rest of former Brandenburg-Bayreuth.
While it was still part of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, the first French Huguenot refugees arrived in Erlangen in 1686. Margrave Christian Ernst of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, built a "new town" (Neustadt) for them. In 1706, the old town (just below the site of the annual Bergkirchweih) was almost completely destroyed by a fire, but soon rebuilt. In 1812, the old and new towns were merged into one.
In 1742, Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, founded a university for his royal seat of Bayreuth, but due to the rebelliousness of the local students, the university was transferred to Erlangen. Only later did it obtain the name of "Friedrich-Alexander-University" and become a Prussian state university. Famous students of these times were Johann Ludwig Tieck and Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder and Emmy Noether.
Already during the Bavarian
municipal reform of 1818, the city was endowed with its own administration. In 1862, the canton administration Erlangen was founded, from which later arose the administrative district of Erlangen. In 1972, this district was merged with the administrative district of
Höchstadt. Erlangen became the capital of this newly founded district Erlangen-Höchstadt. During this municipal reform, Erlangen was effectively enlarged considerably, thus in 1974 it had more than 100,000 inhabitants.