Duchy of Lorraine

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Duchy of Lorraine at the time of the Thirty Years War

The Duchy of Lorraine emerged from the Lotharii Regnum, formed in 843 ( Latin for empire of Lothar , also Lotharingia ). In 959 Lotharingia was divided into the duchies of Upper Lorraine and Lower Lorraine . While Lower Lorraine split into different territories between 1210 and 1360, only the Duchy of Bar split off from Upper Lorraine . A large part of Upper Lorraine remained - as the Duchy of Lorraine - a territory within the Holy Roman Empire.

The area of ​​the Duchy of Lorraine in the northeast of present-day France partially corresponds to the former Lorraine region . The most widely used language (and also the language of the duke) was French , with the northeastern part speaking German . In the 16th century, Duke Anton the Good largely prevented the Reformation and the then Lorraine areas remained Roman Catholic . The history of the duchy ended in 1766 with the annexation by France.


Celtic, Roman and Merovingian epochs

The oldest known map of Lorraine (1508, here an illustration of a reprint)

The first traces of settlement can be traced back to the Stone Age . In Celtic times, the area was settled by the Treveri and Mediomatrics tribes , who after the Roman conquest by Caesar, as in the rest of Gaul, merged into a Gallo-Roman mixed culture. In Roman times, Lorraine was part of the province of Gallia Belgica . In the Franconian conquest under the Merovingians , Lorraine belonged to the Rhine-Franconian and Alemannic sphere of influence. The border to Clovis' original sphere of influence ran relatively precisely in a north-south direction along the Meuse . Through the unification of the Franks under Clovis and the division of the empire that began after his death, Metz became the capital of the Merovingian sub-empire Austrasia ("Eastern Empire"). It was only with the empire of Charlemagne that the East and West Franconian regions and peoples became unified again, so that Lorraine suddenly moved into the center of the empire.

Origin of Lotharingia

After the death of Emperor Ludwig the Pious in 840, the Franconian Empire was divided among his sons in the Treaty of Verdun in 843 . The Middle Kingdom fell to Lothar I together with the dignity of Emperor and was called Lotharii Regnum , "Empire of Lothar". It stretched from the "lower lands", today's Netherlands and Belgium and Luxembourg via Burgundy to the imperial city of Rome in Italy . The sons of Lothar split up his empire again in 855 in the Prüm partition : Ludwig , the oldest, received the Italian territories and the imperial crown, Charles , the youngest, Provence and Burgundy, Lothar II, on the other hand, the part between the Meuse and the Rhine , the North Sea coast and Besançon . After him this area was named Lotharingien .

Empire of Lothar after the Treaty of Verdun 843

In addition to today's Lorraine, the Carolingian Lotharingia also included the Saarland , Luxembourg , Trier and the areas on the lower reaches of the Moselle, Wallonia , the Lower Rhine with Aachen , Cologne and Duisburg as well as the south of the Netherlands in the area of Maastricht , Eindhoven and Breda . After the death of Lothar II, Lotharingia was initially divided between Eastern and Western France in the Treaty of Mersen in 870 . The eastern part with Utrecht , Cologne, Strasbourg and the imperial city of Aachen was considerably richer than the western part. After the death of the East Franconian King Ludwig the German in 876, his West Franconian half-brother, King Charles the Bald , tried to conquer this eastern half of Lotharingia. In the battle of Andernach he was defeated by his nephew Ludwig III. , a son of Ludwig the German.

Charles the Bald died in 877, two years later his son Ludwig the Stammler too, so that Ludwig III. in the Treaty of Ribemont in 880 succeeded in winning the western part of Lotharingia for eastern Franconia. Between 900 and 911, under Ludwig the Child , however, his central authority disintegrated, so that tribal duchies were formed. Lotharingien also belonged to them, which after the Carolingian extinction in eastern France in 911 rejoined western France. After King Henry I restored central power in Eastern Franconia, Duke Giselbert von Lorraine also submitted to him in 925 . Heinrich incorporated the Duchy of Lorraine alongside Franconia, Swabia, Saxony and Bavaria as the fifth tribal duchy in Eastern Franconia and thus restored the territorial conditions of the year 880. The Carolingians from western France tried several times, most recently in 940, to regain Lorraine, but in 942 Ludwig IV finally had to renounce the duchy.

Duchy of Lorraine after 959 with Upper and Lower Lorraine
Duchy of Lorraine around 1400
Duchy of Lorraine (1756); the colors and municipal boundaries reflect the current administrative structure and affiliation to departments or federal states

Division into Upper and Lower Lorraine

In 959 the duchy was divided into two new ones: the southern Upper Lorraine and the northern Lower Lorraine . The border ran from the mouth of the Vinxtbach in the Rhine in a westerly direction through the Eifel to the region around Bouillon . After Otto the Great's death , King Lothar of France attempted to appropriate Lorraine and in 978 attacked Otto II in Aachen. In 980 the latter undertook a retaliatory campaign until shortly before Paris, whereupon France stopped attempting to conquer for the time being.Probably in the 12th century the border between Upper and Lower Lorraine was changed: Luxembourg and the Kurtrierischen areas with Prüm and Koblenz fell to Lower Lorraine. In the course of the development of independent territories within the Holy Roman Empire , Lower Lorraine split up between 1210 and 1360 into the duchies of Luxembourg, Limburg, Jülich and Brabant as well as countless other domains. The Duchy of Bar split off from Upper Lorraine, but a large part of the country remained a political unit as the Duchy of Lorraine. Its capital was Nancy . Metz , Toul and Verdun became free imperial cities ; the bishops of Metz , Toul and Verdun also acquired smaller imperial territories.

Coat of arms of the duchy (1697)

In 1380 half of the Duchy of Bar was reunited with the Duchy of Lorraine. Between 1430 and 1473, the Dukes of Burgundy acquired most of Lower Lorraine , namely the County of Hainaut , the Duchy of Brabant , the Duchy of Limburg , Luxembourg , the County of Holland , the Province of Zeeland and the Duchy of Geldern . In 1477 these formed the Burgundian legacy of the Habsburgs . With this dynasty they later fell to Spain, and then partly to the Netherlands. While these territories gradually alienated the Roman-German Empire, the rest of Lower Lorraine - the Lower Rhine, Aachen and Kurtrier - was retained. The name Niederlothringen fell out of use, however, and the designation "Duchy of Lorraine" was now limited to the Upper Lorraine areas. When Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy also conquered this duchy in 1475, the Swiss Confederation declared war on him and defeated him in the Battle of Nancy in 1477 . This restored the independence of Lorraine within the empire. Duke Anton the Good , who had previously prevented the Reformation from spreading to Lorraine, loosened Lorraine's ties to the empire in the Treaty of Nuremberg in 1542 .

Growing influence of France

In 1552 Moritz von Sachsen sold the imperial vicariate over the three imperial cities of Metz, Toul and Verdun with a majority French-speaking population to France for 70,000 gold crowns a month in a plot against Emperor Charles V : “It is also considered to be good that the Königl. Majesty to France immediately the cities that belonged to the empire from time immemorial and are not the German language, namely Cambrai, Toul, Metz and Verdun, without delay, occupy and retain them as vicar of the empire. "( Treaty of Chambord ) . The French King Henry II occupied Lorraine and Christina of Denmark , a niece of Charles V, who for her underage son Charles III. ruled in the sense of the Habsburgs. The war between the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and France over these three cities lasted until 1556, when the Roman-German King and later Emperor Ferdinand I stopped the war. The cities remained under French rule, but were initially de jure (until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648) imperial territories . The episcopal territories ( Trois-Évêchés ) also fell to France. Charles III was married in 1559 to Claudia von Valois , the daughter of Heinrich II.

In the course of the Fronde , Lorraine was occupied in September 1633 at the behest of Richelieu . In the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 it was not taken into account and it was not until the Peace of Vincennes in 1661 that the withdrawal of the French was determined. Strategically important places remained with France, which received a land connection from Verdun and one from Toul to Alsace, whereby Lorraine was split into three unconnected territories.

When Duke Franz Stephan of Lorraine intended to marry Maria Theresa , who, according to her father's wishes, would become heir to the throne of Austria ( pragmatic sanction ), France protested, fearing that Austria's power on the Rhine would regain its strength . Thereupon Franz Stephan exchanged his land for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in the Treaty of Vienna in 1735, which ended the War of the Polish Succession . He married Maria Theresa in 1737 and became Roman-German Emperor in 1745 as Franz I. Stanislaus I. Leszczyński , King of Poland-Lithuania , was awarded Lorraine for life; after his death on February 23, 1766, it fell to France as agreed (ruled from 1715 to 1774 by Louis XV. ).

See also


  • Rüdiger E. Barth: The Duke in Lorraine in the 10th century . Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1990, ISBN 3-7995-4128-4 .
  • Hans-Walter Herrmann u. Reinhard Schneider (Ed.): Lotharingia, A European core landscape around the year 1000, publications by the Commission for Saarland State History and Folk Research, 26, Saarbrücken 1995.
  • Hans-Walter Herrmann: "Lothringen" in: Neue Deutsche Biographie 15 (1987), pp. 234-238 online version
  • Eugen Hugo Theodor Huhn: History of Lorraine , 1879 online version
  • Walther Kienast : The title of duke in France and Germany (9th to 12th century) . Munich 1968.
  • Walter Mohr: History of the Duchy of Greater Lorraine (900-1048). Saarbrücken 1974.
  • Walter Mohr: History of the Duchy of Lorraine, Part 1–4, Saarbrücken, Trier 1974–1986.
  • Heinz Thomas : Between Regnum and Imperium. The principalities of Bar and Lorraine at the time of Emperor Charles IV. Ludwig Röhrscheid Verlag, Bonn 1973.
  • Matthias Werner : The Duke of Lorraine in Salian times. In: Stefan Weinfurter (ed.): The Salians and the Empire. Vol. 1: Salians, nobility and imperial constitution. Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1991, pp. 367-473.

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