Left bank of the Rhine

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The departments on the left bank of the Rhine in 1812
France within the borders of 1812

As Left Bank of the Rhine which is generally orographic left of the Rhine adjacent area designated.

In particular, this designation ( French Rive gauche du Rhin ) is used for the area in western Germany that was conquered and annexed by France in the First Coalition War . Since the attempt to create a Cisrhenan republic failed, the areas on the left bank of the Rhine were reorganized into départements based on the French model . After the Allied victory over Napoleon in 1814, these areas were provisionally administered by the Central Administrative Department. The Bavarian Rhine District (Rheinpfalz) and the Hessian province of Rheinhessen were formed from part of the territory in 1816 , the areas to the north of it came to Prussia and initially belonged to the two provinces of Jülich-Kleve-Berg and the Grand Duchy of Lower Rhine , from which the Rhine Province emerged in 1822 . The areas on the left bank of the Rhine to the south, which had fallen to France in the 17th and 18th centuries, only came under German administration again in 1871 as the Reichsland Alsace-Lorraine .

Administrative structure

In the late autumn of 1794, French revolutionary troops occupied the left bank of the Rhine. In May 1796 the area was divided into two general directorates. The General Directorate to Koblenz was responsible for the countries between the Meuse and Moselle , including the Electorate Trier on both banks of the Moselle, that to Aachen for the countries between the Rhine and Meuse. The annexation was prepared in the Peace of Campo Formio (1797) and recognized under international law in the Peace of Lunéville (1801).

In 1798 the administration of the area was reorganized according to the French model; four departments were formed. The board of directors commissioned the Alsatian Franz-Josef (François-Joseph) Rudler with this task and appointed him "General Government Commissioner of all conquered countries between the Meuse and Rhine and the Rhine and Moselle". Rudler was previously a judge at the Court of Cassation in Paris. Its division into four departments remained until the end of the French era and partly beyond:

An area in the southern Palatinate was the

The organization of the courts was adapted to the administrative structures. See court organization of the Left Bank of the Rhine .

Political changes

In addition to the centralization of administration based on the French model, the other laws applicable in France were also introduced. This included the abolition of all corporate privileges, the establishment of civil equality , the establishment of a new court system and the introduction of the civil code . The spiritual property was secularized . Associated with this was a fundamental reallocation of the entire property and financial situation. The legal basis for this expropriation was a French ordinance, the consular decision of June 9, 1802 ("Arreté des Consuls"). The bourgeoisie benefited primarily from this .

Education policy was less successful. Instead of reforming the universities, the French administration relied on the establishment of specialized technical schools.

Criticism came from circles influenced by the church, but also from former German Jacobins during Napoleon's time . While some complained about secularization, others criticized the suppression of freedom. An example of one of these critics is the former monk Franz Theodor Biergans . After turning away from monastic life in the Schwarzenbroich monastery (near Düren ), he acted as a Jacobin in Cologne, where he clearly criticized the church and feudal lords as a supporter of the French revolutionary ideals.

Dissatisfaction with compulsory military service was widespread throughout the population.


The Civil Code continued to apply on the left bank of the Rhine long after the Wars of Liberation until the Civil Code (BGB) came into force on January 1, 1900. For reasons of demarcation from France, however, it was referred to as " Rhenish law ".

Linguistic relics of the French era

During the French era , many French words flowed into everyday language, such as uncle and aunt , cousin and cousin , Plümo (feather bed) , Filou , Monnie (money), Drottewaar (sidewalk) or malaad (from French malade = sick). In Koblenz, the term Schängel (from the French first name Jean ) originated ; this is how the children of German mothers ( occupation children) descended from the French were called (partly derogatory ). Words from the administrative language have also survived - at least in some parts of the Palatinate - including Bolles (prison, from French police) and Hissje or Hussje for bailiffs (from huissier = bailiff).

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Recueil des réglemens et arrêtés émanés du Commissaire du Gouvernement dans les Quatre Nouveaux Départemens de la Rive Gauche du Rhin ( Google Books ).
  2. ^ Regional Association Rhineland: Portal Rhenish History - 1794 to 1815.
  3. ^ Paul Fabianek: Consequences of secularization for the monasteries in the Rhineland - Using the example of the monasteries Schwarzenbroich and Kornelimünster. Verlag BoD, 2012, ISBN 978-3-8482-1795-3 , page 12 and annex (regulation “Arrêté portant suppression des ordres monastiques et congrégations régulières dans les départemens de la Sarre, de la Roër, de Thin-et-Moselle et du Mont-Tonnerre ").
  4. ^ Paul Fabianek, Consequences of secularization for the monasteries in the Rhineland - Using the example of the monasteries Schwarzenbroich and Kornelimünster, 2012, Verlag BoD, ISBN 978-3-8482-1795-3 , pages 17-20.
  5. ^ Max Braubach: From the French Revolution to the Congress of Vienna. Munich, 1974 p. 88 f.
  6. Verena Peters: The "Germanic" Code civil. On the perception of the civil code in the discussions of the German public. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2018, pp. 60, 69.
  7. Reiner Schulze (ed.): Rhenish law and European legal history. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1998.
  8. ^ The Rhineland under the French (1794–1813) , website in the portal wir-rheinlaender.lvr.de , accessed on July 1, 2020