History of Lorraine

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Celts, Romans, Huns, Alemanni and Franks

Mediomatrici and Leuci tribes populated Lorraine before Romans occupied the region in the first Century B.C. For several centuries Lorraine was part of the Belgian province of the Roman Empire. In the 5th Century A.D. Huns ransacked Metz, Germanic tribes of Alemanni invaded the region and took possession of large areas. From this time a boundary was established in Lorraine between a northern area with a germanic language and a southern area that will become a French-speaking region. This boundary still exists nowadays but tends to disappear. About 500, the Merovingian king Clovis subdued the region. When he died in 511, Theodoric (or Thierry), one of his four sons, became the King of Austrasia. His kingdom spread from the left bank of the river Rhine to the North Sea and encompassed Lorraine. Metz became its main city.

From Austrasia to Lotharingia

At the time of Charlemagne (742-814), Lorraine belonged to what was much like a rebuilt Roman Empire. In 843, the Treaty of Verdun established the share of Charlemagne's Empire between his three grandsons. Charles the Bald was given the western part (France), Louis was given the eastern part (Germany) and Lothar got the Midlands which spread from the North Sea to Rome. When Lothar died in 855, a new share of his possessions occurred and his son Lothar II was given a land whose boundaries were much like those of the former Kingdom of Austrasia and which was then called Lotharingia in his honour (Lotharii regnum > Lothringen). In 870, there was a new share of Lotharingia between Charles the Bald who got the western part and Louis the German who got the eastern part. Later Charles the Fat, the youngest son of Louis the German, restored the territorial unity of Charlemagne's empire.

From Lotharingia to the Duchy of Lorraine

In 959, Lotharingia was split into the two Duchies of Lower Lotharingia (northern part) and of Upper Lotharingia or Mosellane (southern part). The Duchy of Upper Lotharingia was made of a territory which was almost the same as the present Lorraine plus the region of Trier. The cities of the Three Dioceses - Metz, Toul and Verdun - were excluded from this share. The County of Bar was founded about the 10th Century to the southwest of Lotharingia, and it went to the Duke of Upper Lotharingia. In 1048 the German emperor, Henry III the Black, left the Duchy of Lorraine to Gerard of Alsace whose descendants governed the country for about four centuries. To the west of the Duchy, the County of Bar became a Dukedom in 1354. Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, invaded Lorraine in 1475. With the help of the king of France, René II, Count of Vaudémont, opposed Charles the Bold who died near Nancy in 1477. When René I died in 1480, the Duchy of Lorraine and the Duchy of Bar were merged. Metz and some lords of the German Lorraine were in favour of the Reformation, but Lutheranism and Calvinism had only a limited audience in the Duchy. Antoine, a son of René II, encouraged the Counter Reformation. In 1525, he defeated revolted peasants in Saverne. In 1552, France occupied the cities of Metz, Toul and Verdun, putting an end to the independence of the Three Dioceses. During the Thirty Years War, which began in 1618, the population of Lorraine was decimated by war and plague. At the end of this war, the Three Dioceses - Metz, Toul and Verdun - were eventually integrated into the Kingdom of France. In 1663 and 1670, the Duchy was invaded by French troops. According to the Treaty of Ryswick, drawn up in 1697, the King of France Louis XIV returned both the Duchy of Lorraine and the Duchy of Bar, but without Longwy and Dillingen, to the Duke Leopold, a son of Charles V born in Innsbruck, who came back from exile. For more than fifty years, war and foreign occupation had ravaged the region. The Duchy had lost almost half of its population, eighty villages were completely destroyed. Many emigrants from Switzerland, Burgundy, Savoy, Franche-Comté and Germany settled in Lorraine.

Lorraine becomes a French province

In the beginning of the 18th C., after some new French attempts to conquest Lorraine, the Duke Leopold achieved the international recognition of the neutrality of the Duchy. His son Francis Stephen, who was married to Maria Theresa of Austria in 1736 and became Holy Roman Emperor in 1745, had to exchange the Duchy of Lorraine for the Duchy of Tuscany. In 1736 the Duchies of Lorraine and of Bar went to Stanislas Leszczynski as he abdicated the throne of Poland. Lorraine had been for a long time a coveted region and it was now surrounded by territories of the kingdom of France. In 1766, at the death of the Duke Stanislas Leszczynski, who was the father-in-law of the King of France Louis XV, Lorraine became eventually part of France. Three territories which belonged to German families became foreign enclaves : the abbey of Senones which belonged to the Princes of Salm, the County of Dabo which belonged to the Leiningen family, and Drulingen which belonged to the Counts of Nassau-Saarbrücken.

From the French Revolution to the Franco-Prussian War

In 1790, Lorraine was divided into 4 departements: Meurthe, Meuse, Moselle and Vosges. The annexation of the foreign enclaves took place in 1793. Lorraine gave many soldiers to the Napoleonic armies. In 1815, Lorraine lost Saarlouis and Saarbrücken to the benefit of Prussia. During the second half of the 19th Century, metallurgical industry took root and developed. In July 1850, the first train ran from Metz to Nancy. Due to poor grain harvest, the price of bread was on the rise and starvation that generated revolts occurred in 1816-1817. In May 1832, bakeries were ransacked in Nancy by inhabitants who protested against the cost and the poor quality of bread. Cholera came from Asia and reached Lorraine in 1832. Many people died, mainly in villages, and most particularly paupers.

Alsace-Lorraine

In 1871, as a concession after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1), France gave up the Moselle portion of Lorraine, along with Alsace, to the new unified Germany and the history of Lorraine becomes that of the Reichsland Elsass-Lothringen or Alsace-Lorraine. The Vallee de la Bruche which had been part of the Department of the Vosges was annexed to Alsace-Lorraine in 1872. Its population in 1890 was 77% Catholic, 21% Protestant and 2% Jewish. This period of Germanization continued until World War I (1914-1918), at the conclusion of which, Lorraine returned to French control.

A similar transfer occurred during the World War II conflict (1939-45) at the end of which the region was again ceded to France.

Robert Schuman (1886-1963), a renowned Lorrainer, was the founder of the European Coal and Steel Community and one of the "fathers of Europe".


Sovereigns of Austrasia and Lotharingia

Kings of Austrasia - Merovingians

  • Theodoric or Thierry I, son of Clovis (511-534)
  • Theodebert I, son of the previous (534-547)
  • Theodebald, son of the previous (547-555)
  • Clotaire I, son of Clovis (555-561)
  • Sigebert I, son of the previous (561-575), married to Brunehilde
  • Childebert, son of the previous (575-597)
  • Theodebert, son of the previous (597-612)
  • Sigebert II, nephew of the previous (613)
  • Clotaire II, cousin of the previous (613-622)
  • Dagobert, son of the previous (622-634)
  • Sigebert III, son of the previous (634-656)
  • Childeric II, cousin of the previous (663-674)
  • Dagobert II, cousin of the previous (674-679)

Mayors of the Palace (major domus)

  • Pepin II of Herstal, Duke and Prince of the Franks (685-714)
  • Charles Martel, bastard son of the previous (714-742)
  • Pepin III the Short, son of the previous (742-751)

Carolingians Kings

  • Pepin III the Short, King of the Franks (751-768)
  • Charlemagne, son of the previous (768-814)
  • Louis I the Pious, son of the previous (814-840)
  • Lothar I, son of the previous (843-855)
  • Lothar II, son of the previous (855-869)
  • Charles the Bald, uncle of the previous (869-870) (870-877 western part)
  • Louis II, son of the previous (877-879) (western part)
  • Louis the German, uncle of Lothar II (870-876) (eastern part)
  • Louis III, son of the previous (876-879) (eastern part) then (879-882) (the whole)
  • Charles III the Fat, brother of the previous (882-887)
  • Arnulf of Carinthia, nephew of the previous (887-895)
  • Zwentibold, bastard son of the previous (895-900)
  • Louis IV the Child, son of Arnulf (900-911)
  • Charles III the Simple (911-923)

Sovereigns from 925 to 959

  • Giselbert, Duke of Lotharingia (925-936)
  • Otto, Duke of Lotharingia, son of Henry I of Germany (936-938)
  • Conrad the Red, Duke of Lotharingia
  • Brunon, archbishop of Cologne, archduke of Lotharingia

Dukes of Lorraine

House of Bar

  • Frederic I (959-978)
  • Thierry I (978-1027)
  • Frederic II (1027-1033)

House of Verdun

  • Gozelon (1033-1044)
  • Godefroy the Bearded, son of the previous (1044-1047)

House of Alsace

  • Adalbert (1047-1048)
  • Gerard of Alsace, nephew of the previous (1048-1070)
  • Thierry II, son of the previous (1070-1115)
  • Simon I, son of the previous (1115-1139)
  • Mathieu I, son of the previous (1139-1176)
  • Simon II, son of the previous (1176-1205)
  • Ferry II, nephew of the previous (1205-1213)
  • Thiebaut I, son of the previous (1213-1220)
  • Mathieu II, brother of the previous (1220-1251)
  • Ferry III, son of the previous (1251-1303)
  • Thiebaut II, son of the previous (1303-1312)
  • Ferry IV, son of the previous (1312-1329)
  • Raoul, son of the previous (1329-1346)
  • Jean I, son of the previous (1346-1390)
  • Charles II, son of the previous (1390-1431)
  • Isabelle, daughter of the previous, married to René of Anjou

House of Anjou-Lorraine

  • René I of Anjou (1431-1453)
  • Jean II, son of the previous (1453-1470)
  • Nicolas, son of the previous (1470-1473)
  • Yolande, daughter of René of Anjou (1473), widow of Ferry II, Count of Vaudémont
  • House of Lorraine-Vaudémont
  • René II Count of Vaudémont, son of the previous (1473-1508)
  • Antoine, son of the previous (1508-1544)
  • Francis I, son of the previous (1544-1545)
  • Charles III, son of the previous (1545-1608)
  • Henry II, son of the previous (1608-1624)
  • Nicole, daughter of the previous (1624-1625), married to her first cousin Charles IV
  • Francis II, brother of Henry II (1625)
  • Charles IV, son of the previous (1625-1675)
  • Nicolas Francis, brother of the previous (for a short time in 1634)
  • Charles V, son of the previous (1675-1690)
  • Leopold, son of the previous (1690-1729)
  • Francis III, son of the previous (1729-1737)

Nominal Duke of Lorraine

  • Stanislas Leszczinski, former King of Poland (1737-1766)

Counts and Dukes of Bar

  • Frederic I (959-978), married to Beatrix, sister of Hugues Capet
  • Thierry I, son of the previous (978-1027)
  • Frederic II, son of the previous (1027-1033)
  • Sophie, daughter of the previous (1033-1092)
  • Thierry II, son of the previous (1092-1105)
  • Renaut I, son of the previous (1105-1150)
  • Renaut II, son of the previous (1150-1170)
  • Henry I, son of the previous (1170-1189)
  • Thiebaut I, brother of the previous (1189-1214)
  • Henry II, son of the previous (1214-1239)
  • Thiebaut II, son of the previous (1239-1291)
  • Henry III, son of the previous (1291-1302)
  • Edward I, son of the previous (1302-1337)
  • Henry IV, son of the previous (1337-1344)
  • Edward II, son of the previous (1344-1352)
  • Robert, brother of the previous (1352-1411)
  • Edward III, son of the previous (1411-1415)
  • Louis, brother of the previous (1415-1419)
  • René of Anjou, great-nephew of the previous (1419-1480), married to Isabelle, daughter of Charles II, Duke of Lorraine
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