Approximately 800 villages were founded in Hungary by German settlers from 1711 to 1750. These German settlers came from the regions known as Baden, Württemberg, Alsace, Lorraine, the Rhineland, Westphalia, Bavaria, and Swabia, as well as from other areas. Even though they came from various regions and spoke various dialects, the Hungarians called them Swabians, and the name came to be used in reference to all Germans who settled in the Danube valley.

Although there had been German emigration to Hungary prior to 1711, the expulsion of the Turks resulted in an organized settlement program sponsored by the Habsburgs. The Habsburgs had three aims: 1) fortify the land against invasion, 2) develop farm land, and 3) further the Roman Catholic religion in Eastern Europe. They offered Catholics of the southwest German states inducements such as free agricultural land, home sites, construction materials, livestock, and exemption from taxes for several years.

The colonization came to be known as "der Grosse Schwabenzug" or the "Great Swabian Trek." The majority of the migration took place in three phases which were named after their Habsburg sponsors: