Duchy of Lorraine

The Duchy of Lorraine (French: Lorraine [lɔʁɛn]; German: Lothringen), originally Upper Lorraine, was a duchy now included in the larger present-day region of Lorraine in northeastern France. Its capital was Nancy.

It was founded in 959 following the division of Lotharingia into two separate duchies: Upper and Lower Lorraine, the westernmost parts of the Holy Roman Empire. The Lower duchy was quickly dismantled, while Upper Lorraine came to be known as simply the Duchy of Lorraine. The Duchy of Lorraine was coveted and briefly occupied by the Dukes of Burgundy and the Kings of France.

In 1737, the Duchy was given to Stanisław Leszczyński, the former king of Poland, who had lost his throne as a result of the War of the Polish Succession, with the understanding that it would fall to the French crown on his death. When Stanisław died on 23 February 1766, Lorraine was annexed by France and reorganized as a province.

Duchy of (Upper) Lorraine

Duché de (Haute-)Lorraine (fr)
Herzogtum (Ober-)Lothringen (de)
Flag of Lorraine
Coat of arms of Lorraine
Coat of arms
Duchy of Lorraine (blue) within the Holy Roman Empire (c. 1400)
Duchy of Lorraine (blue) within the Holy Roman Empire (c. 1400)
StatusPart of East Francia (959–962)
State of the Holy Roman Empire (962–1766)
• 959–978
Frederick I of Bar
• 1737–1766
Stanisław Leszczyński
• Lotharingia divided
• Joined
    Upper Rhenish Circle
• French invasion and occupation of the Duchy of Lorraine
• French invasion and subsequent occupation for 30 years
• French invasion during War of the Spanish Succession
• Annexed by France
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of France
Today part of Belgium



Lorraine's predecessor, Lotharingia, was an independent Carolingian kingdom under the rule of King Lothair II (855–869). Its territory had originally been a part of Middle Francia, created in 843 by the Treaty of Verdun, when the Carolingian empire was divided between the three sons of Louis the Pious. Middle Francia was allotted to Emperor Lothair I, therefore called Lotharii Regnum. On his death in 855, it was further divided into three parts, of which his son Lothair II took the northern one. His realm then comprised a larger territory stretching from the County of Burgundy in the south to the North Sea. In French, this area became known as Lorraine, while in German, it was eventually known as Lothringen. In the Alemannic language once spoken in Lorraine, the -ingen suffix signified a property; thus, in a figurative sense, "Lotharingen" can be translated as "Land belonging to Lothair".

As Lothair II had died without heirs, his territory was divided by the 870 Treaty of Meerssen between East and West Francia and finally came under East Frankish rule as a whole by the 880 Treaty of Ribemont. After the East Frankish Carolingians became extinct with the death of Louis the Child in 911, Lotharingia once again attached itself to West Francia, but was conquered by the German king Henry the Fowler in 925. Stuck in the conflict with his rival Hugh the Great, in 942 King Louis IV of France renounced all claims to Lotharingia.

Duchy of Upper Lorraine

In 953, the German king Otto I had appointed his brother Bruno the Great Duke of Lotharingia. In 959, Bruno divided the duchy into Upper and Lower Lorraine; this division became permanent following his death in 965. The Upper Duchy was further "up" the river system, that is, it was inland and to the south. Upper Lorraine was first denominated as the Duchy of the Moselle, both in charters and narrative sources, and its duke was the dux Mosellanorum. The usage of Lotharingia Superioris and Lorraine in official documents begins later, around the fifteenth century. The first duke and deputy of Bruno was Frederick I of Bar, son-in-law of Bruno's sister Hedwig of Saxony.

Lower Lorraine disintegrated into several smaller territories and only the title of a "Duke of Lothier" remained, held by Brabant. After the duchy of the Moselle came into the possession of René of Anjou, the name "Duchy of Lorraine" was adopted again, only retrospectively called "Upper Lorraine". At that time, several territories had already split off, such as the County of Luxembourg, the Electorate of Trier, the County of Bar and the "Three Bishoprics" of Verdun, Metz and Toul.

The border between the Empire and the Kingdom of France remained relatively stable throughout the Middle Ages. In 1301, Count Henry III of Bar had to receive the western part of his lands (Barrois mouvant) as a fief by King Philip IV of France. In 1475, the Burgundian duke Charles the Bold campaigned for the Duchy of Lorraine, but was finally defeated and killed at the 1477 Battle of Nancy. In the 1552 Treaty of Chambord, a number of insurgent Protestant Imperial princes around Elector Maurice of Saxony ceded the Three Bishoprics to King Henry II of France in turn for his support.

Due to the weakening of Imperial authority during the 1618-1648 Thirty Years' War, France was able to occupy the duchy in 1634 and retained it until 1661 when Charles IV was restored. In 1670, the French invaded again, forcing Charles into exile; his nephew and heir Charles V (1643-1690) spent his life in the service of the Imperial House of Habsburg. France returned the Duchy in the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick ending the Nine Years' War and Charles' son Leopold (1679-1729), became duke and was known as 'Leopold the Good;' in the 1701-1714 War of the Spanish Succession, parts of Lorraine, including the capital Nancy, were again occupied by France, but Leopold continued to reign at the Château de Lunéville.

In 1737, after the War of the Polish Succession, an agreement between France, the Habsburgs and the Lorraine House of Vaudémont assigned the Duchy to Stanisław Leszczyński, former king of Poland. He was also father-in-law to King Louis XV of France, who lost out to a candidate backed by Russia and Austria in the War of the Polish Succession. The Lorraine duke Francis Stephen, betrothed to the Emperor's daughter Archduchess Maria Theresa, was compensated with the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, where the last Medici ruler had recently died without issue. France also promised to support Maria Theresa as heir to the Habsburg possessions under the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713. Leszczyński received Lorraine with the understanding that it would fall to the French crown on his death. The title of Duke of Lorraine was of course given to Stanisław, but also retained by Francis Stephen, and it figures prominently in the titles of his successors (as a non-claimant family name), the House of Habsburg-Lorraine. When Stanisław died on 23 February 1766, Lorraine was annexed by France and reorganized as a province by the French government.


Lotharingia divided, around 1000 AD
  Alsace, ceded to Suebia (Swabia) in 925
  Upper Lorraine after 928
  Lower Lorraine after 977

Lorraine 1618-1648

Lorraine as it was 1618-1648

Carte du duché de Lorraine

Map of the Duchy of Lorraine (1756), showing the communes according to the current administrative division.

Lorraine et anciennes provinces

Map of the Duchy of Lorraine (1756) within the modern region.

Croix de Lorraine

Cross of Lorraine, symbol of Lorraine since the 15th century

Herzogtum Lothringen wappen 1697

Coat of arms of the Duchy (1697)

Wappen Lothringen 1703

Full coat of arms of the Duchy, Siebmachers Wappenbuch, 1703[1]


Two regional languages survive in the region.

Lorraine Franconian, known as francique or platt (lorrain) in French, is a Germanic dialect spoken by a minority in the northern part of the region. This is distinct from the neighbouring Alsatian language, although the two are often confused. Neither has any form of official recognition.

Lorrain is a Romance dialect spoken by a minority in the southern part of the region.

The duchy produced a number of important painters, including Claude Lorrain, Georges de La Tour and Jean LeClerc.

Like most of France's regional languages (such as Breton, Franco-Provençal, Occitan, Alsatian, Catalan and Basque), Lorrain and Lorraine Franconian were largely replaced by French with the advent of mandatory public schooling in the 19th and 20th centuries.

See also


  1. ^ Siebmacher, Johann (1703). Erneuertes und vermehrtes Wappenbuch... Nürnberg: Adolph Johann Helmers. pp. Part I Table 6.

Further reading

  • Herrick, Linda & Wendy Uncapher. Alsace-Lorraine: The Atlantic Bridge to Germany. Janesville, WI: 2003.
  • Hughes, S. P. (2005) "Bilingualism in North-East France with specific reference to Rhenish Franconian spoken by Moselle Cross-border (or frontier) workers."[1]
  • Putnam, Ruth. Alsace and Lorraine: From Cæsar to Kaiser, 58 B.C.-1871 A.D. New York: 1915.

External links

Coordinates: 48°41′N 6°11′E / 48.69°N 6.18°E


Avalerion or alerion (also erne) is a term for a heraldic bird. Historically, it referred to the regular heraldic eagle. Later heralds used the term alerion to refer to "baby eagles" or "eaglets". To differentiate them from mature Eagles, Alerions were shown as an Eagle Displayed Inverted without a beak or claws (disarmed). To difference it from a decapitate (headless) eagle, the Alerion has a bulb-shaped head with an eye staring towards the Dexter (left-hand side) of the field. This was later simplified in modern heraldry as an abstract winged oval.

An example is the arms of the Duchy of Lorraine (Or, on a Bend Gules, 3 Alerions Abaisé Argent). It supposedly had been inspired by the assumed arms of crusader Geoffrey de Bouillon, who supposedly killed three white eaglets with a bow and arrow when out hunting. It is far more likely to be Canting arms that are a pun based on Lorraine / Erne. (alerion is a partial anagram of Lorraine).

Medieval bestiaries use alerion for a mythological bird described as somewhat larger than an eagle of which only a single pair was said to live at any time. A pair of eggs was laid every 60 years; after hatching, the parents drowned themselves. The term avalerion is used on the Hereford Map near the Hydaspes and the Indus, possibly based on a description by Pliny.The word's ultimate origin is unclear, possibly adapted from the German Adler or Adelar ("eagle"). It is found in 12th-century French as alérion and in medieval Latin as alariōnem (a large eagle-like bird).


Barrois is a pays (a French territorial division roughly equivalent to a county) in eastern France. In the Middle Ages it was part of the Duchy of Bar, then bordering the Duchy of Lorraine. Today Barrois is a pays of the present-day region of Lorraine.

Battle of Bulgnéville

The Battle of Bulgnéville was fought on 2 July 1431. The battle was fought between two cousins, René I d'Anjou and Antoine de Vaudémont, over partition of the Duchy of Lorraine after the death of Duke Charles II. Although René was defeated and captured, the result was reversed by diplomatic means in the years following.

Church of Saint-François-des-Cordeliers

The Church of Saint-François-des-Cordeliers (French: Église des Cordeliers de Nancy) is a Roman Catholic church located in Nancy, France, capital city of Lorraine.

Count of Vaudémont

The title Count of Vaudémont was granted to Gérard 1st of Vaudémont in 1070, after he supported the succession of his brother, Theodoric II, Duke of Lorraine to the Duchy of Lorraine. Counts of Vaudémont served as vassals of the Dukes of Lorraine. After 1473 the title was held by the Duke of Lorraine and was bestowed on younger sons of the Duke. It was later restyled "Prince of Vaudémont".

Daemonolatreiae libri tres

Daemonolatreiae libri tres is a 1595 work by Nicholas Rémy. It was edited by Montague Summers and translated as Demonolatry in 1929.

Along with the Malleus Maleficarum, it is generally considered one of the most important early works on demons and witches. The book was drawn from the capital trials of roughly 900 persons who were tried and put to death in a fifteen year span in the Duchy of Lorraine for the crime of witchcraft."

The Daemonolatreiae contains citations from a great many authors, ancient and modern, including Johann Weyer, who is cited as an authority as if there were no differences between his position and that of Rémy. More importantly, however, the book is also based on cases from the archives, but Rémy seems never to have returned the cases that he used, so it is impossible to check his account of any particular case against the original records.

Duchy of Bar

The County of Bar was a principality of the Holy Roman Empire encompassing the pays de Barrois and centred on the city of Bar-le-Duc. It was held by the House of Montbéliard from the 11th century. Part of the county, the so-called Barrois mouvant, became a fief of the Kingdom of France in 1301 and was elevated to the Duchy of Bar in 1354. The Barrois non-mouvant remained a part of the Empire. From 1480, it was united to the imperial Duchy of Lorraine.

Both imperial Bar and Lorraine were ceded to France in 1735, which then ceded Bar to the deposed king of Poland, Stanislaus Leszczynski. According to the Treaty of Vienna (1738), the duchy would pass to the French crown upon Stanislaus' death, which occurred in 1766.

Frederick I, Duke of Upper Lorraine

Frederick I (c. 912 – 18 May 978) was the count of Bar and duke of Upper Lorraine. He was a son of Wigeric, count of Bidgau, also count palatine of Lorraine, and Cunigunda, and thus a sixth generation descendant of Charlemagne.

In 954, he married Beatrice, daughter of Hugh the Great, count of Paris, and Hedwige of Saxony. He received in dowry the revenues of the abbey of Saint-Denis in Lorraine. To stop incursions from the duchy of Champagne, Frederick constructed a castle over the Ornain river in 960, and later occupied confiscated lands of Saint-Mihiel. He exchanged fiefs with the bishop of Toul. Thus, he created his own feudal domain, the county of Bar. So he became the founder of the House of Bar or the House of Ardennes-Bar, a cadet branch of the House of Ardennes.

The duchy of Lorraine was at that time governed by the archbishop of Cologne, Bruno, who was called the archduke on account of his dual title. In 959, Bruno, in concert with his brother, the Emperor Otto I, divided the duchy, appointing as margraves: Godfrey in Lower Lorraine and Frederick in Upper Lorraine. After Bruno's death in 977, Frederick and Godfrey styled themselves dukes.

As duke, Frederick oversaw the reform of Saint-Dié and Moyenmoutier.

Georges de La Tour

Georges de La Tour (March 13, 1593 – January 30, 1652) was a French Baroque painter, who spent most of his working life in the Duchy of Lorraine, which was temporarily absorbed into France between 1641 and 1648. He painted mostly religious chiaroscuro scenes lit by candlelight.

Jean LeClerc (painter)

Jean LeClerc (1587/88 – buried 20 October 1633) was a 17th-century painter from the Duchy of Lorraine. His style was Baroque, or more specifically "tenebrist". Only six authenticated paintings remain of Leclerc’s work, but numerous etchings and engravings have survived.

Leclerc was born and died at Nancy. He studied with the Venetian master Carlo Saraceni. Le Clerc is known for his mastery of nocturnal light effects, and the luminosity of his scenes.

La Mothe-en-Bassigny

A citadel of the Duchy of Lorraine, La Mothe-en-Bassigny was meant to fight back the French invaders. It was destroyed in 1645 and is now a ruin.

It is situated near Neufchâteau, between the villages of Outremécourt and Soulaucourt-sur-Mouzon (Haute-Marne).


Lorraine (French pronunciation: ​[lɔʁɛn]; Lorrain: Louréne; Lorraine Franconian: Lottringe; German: Lothringen ; Luxembourgish: Loutrengen) is a cultural and historical region in north-eastern France, now located in the administrative region of Grand Est. Lorraine's name stems from the medieval kingdom of Lotharingia, which in turn was named for either Emperor Lothair I or King Lothair II. It later was ruled as the Duchy of Lorraine before the Kingdom of France annexed it in 1766.

From 1982 until January 2016, Lorraine was an administrative region of France. In 2016, under a reorganization, it became part of the new region Grand Est. As a region in modern France, Lorraine consisted of the four departments Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle and Vosges (of an historical point of view the Haute-Marne departement is located in the region), containing 2,337 communes. Metz is the regional prefecture. The largest metropolitan area of Lorraine is Nancy, which had developed for centuries as the seat of the duchy.

Lorraine borders Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Its inhabitants are called "Lorrains" in French and number about 2,356,000.

Marguerite IV d'Harcourt

Marguerite IV d'Haraucourt, (15??–1568), was a German-Roman monarch as Princess Abbess of the Imperial Remiremont Abbey in France. She was abbess twice: a first term 1520-28, and a second in 1544-68.

She was elected in 1520, but was deposed in 1528. In 1544, she became abbess for a second term. During her reign, Remiremont was forced to submit to the sovereignty of the Duchy of Lorraine.

Nancy, France

Nancy (, also UK: , US: , French: [nɑ̃si]; outdated German: Nanzig) is the capital of the north-eastern French department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, and formerly the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine, and then the French province of the same name. The metropolitan area of Nancy had a population of 434,565 inhabitants at the 2011 census, making it the 20th largest urban area in France. The population of the city of Nancy proper was 104,321 in 2014.The motto of the city is Non inultus premor, Latin for "I'm not touched with impunity"—a reference to the thistle, which is a symbol of Lorraine.

Place Stanislas, a large square built between March 1752 and November 1755 by Stanislaus I of Poland to link the medieval old town of Nancy and the new town built under Charles III in the 17th century, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first place in France and in the top four in the world.

Nicholas I, Duke of Lorraine

Nicholas of Anjou (July 1448 – 27 July 1473) was the son of John II, Duke of Lorraine and Marie de Bourbon.

Nicholas was born and died in Nancy. He succeeded his father in 1470 as Duke of Lorraine, and assumed the titles of Marquis of Pont-à-Mousson, Duke of Calabria, and Prince of Girona, as heir apparent of Bar, Naples, and Aragon respectively.

He was engaged to Anne of France, Viscountess of Thouars, and used her title, but he did not marry her and had only one illegitimate daughter, Marguerite, wife of John IV of Chabannes, Count of Dammartin (d. 1503).

Some said he had been poisoned by agents of King Louis XI of France.

On his death the Duchy of Lorraine went to his aunt Yolande.

Theodoric I, Count of Montbéliard

Theodoric I (French: Thierry) (ca. 1045 – 2 January 1105) was a Count of Montbéliard, Count of Bar and lord of Mousson (as Theodoric II) and Count of Verdun. He was the son of Louis, Count of Montbéliard, and Sophie, Countess of Bar and Lady of Mousson.

After his father's death, he claimed the estate of the Duchy of Lorraine, which his father had already claimed. The claim was dismissed by Emperor Henry IV, confirming the duchy to Theodoric the Valiant. In retaliation, he ravaged the diocese of Metz, but he was defeated by Adalbéron III, bishop of Metz, and the Duke of Lorraine Theodoric the Valiant. Reconciled with the Church, he founded an abbey in 1074 in Haguenau and rebuilt the church at Montbéliard in 1080. He did not participate at the Council of Clermont in 1095, or the Crusades, but rather sent his son Louis in the Crusades. In 1100, the Bishop of Verdun gave the county to Thierry for life, but the relationship between the spiritual and temporal powers was turbulent.

In 1065 Theodoric married Ermentrude of Burgundy (1055–1105), daughter of William I, Count of Burgundy, and Stephanie. They had the following issue:

Theodoric II (1081–1163), Count of Montbéliard

Louis, who became a crusader, returned in 1102 and was assassinated in 1103

Frederick I († 1160), Count of Ferrette and Altkirch

Reginald I (1090–1150), Count of Bar and lord of Mousson

Stephen (†1162), bishop of Metz

William, who died before 1105

Hugh, cited in 1105, probably religious, because he did not share his father's possessions

Gunthilde (†1131), abbess of Biblisheim

Agnes, married in 1104 (†1136)

Treaty of Vienna (1738)

The Treaty of Vienna or Peace of Vienna was signed on 18 November 1738. It was one of the last international treaties written in Latin (together with the Treaty of Belgrade signed the following year). It ended the War of the Polish Succession. By the terms of the treaty, Stanisław Leszczyński renounced his claim on the Polish throne and recognized Augustus III, Duke of Saxony. As compensation he received instead the Duchy of Lorraine and Bar, which was to pass to France upon his death. He died in 1766. Francis Stephen, who was the Duke of Lorraine, was indemnified with the vacant throne of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the last Medici having died in 1737. France also agreed to the Pragmatic Sanction in the Treaty of Vienna. In another provision of the treaty, the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily were ceded by Austria to Duke Charles of Parma and Piacenza, the younger son of King Philip V of Spain. Charles, in turn, had to cede Parma to Austria, and to give up his claims to the throne of Tuscany in favor of Francis Stephen.


The Trechirgau was a mediaeval administrative district, a gau. It belonged to the Duchy of Lorraine. Its exact extent is only roughly known and it lay in the triangle formed by Enkirch, Koblenz and Oberwesel.

War of the Polish Succession

The War of the Polish Succession (1733–35) was a major European war sparked by a Polish civil war over the succession to Augustus II, which the other European powers widened in pursuit of their own national interests. France and Spain, the two Bourbon powers, attempted to check the power of the Austrian Habsburgs in western Europe, as did the Kingdom of Prussia, whilst Saxony and Russia mobilized to support the eventual Polish victor. The slight amount of fighting in Poland resulted in the accession of Augustus III, who in addition to Russia and Saxony, was politically supported by the Habsburgs.

The war's major military campaigns occurred outside Poland. The Bourbons, supported by Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia, moved against isolated Habsburg territories. In the Rhineland, France successfully took the Duchy of Lorraine, and in Italy, Spain regained control over the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily (lost in the War of the Spanish Succession), while territorial gains in northern Italy were limited despite bloody campaigning. Great Britain's unwillingness to support Habsburg Austria demonstrated major cracks in the Anglo-Austrian Alliance and may have contributed to Austria's military failures.

Although a preliminary peace was reached in 1735, the war was formally ended with the Treaty of Vienna (1738), in which Augustus III was confirmed as king of Poland and his opponent Stanisław I (who had received virtually no foreign military support) was awarded the Duchy of Lorraine. Francis Stephen, the duke of Lorraine, was given the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in compensation for the loss of Lorraine. The Duchy of Parma went to Austria whereas Charles of Parma took the crowns of Naples and Sicily, resulting in territorial gains for the Bourbons. Poland also gave up claims to Livonia and direct control over the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia, which, although remaining a Polish fief, was not integrated into Poland proper, and came under strong Russian influence.

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