County of Luxemburg

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County of Luxembourg
Grofschaft Lëtzebuerg (lb)
Grafschaft Luxemburg (de)
Comté de Luxembourg (fr)
State of the Holy Roman Empire
part of the Burgundian Netherlands (1443–1482)
part of the Habsburg Netherlands (1482–1794)
Blason Lorraine.svg
1059–1353 Coat of arms counts of Luxembourg.png
Flag Coat of arms
County of Luxembourg in 1350
Capital Luxembourg
Languages Luxembourgish, German, French
Religion Catholic Church
Government Feudal monarchy
Historical era Middle Ages
 -  Raised to County 1059
 -  Count Siegfried
    first mentioned
963
 -  Acquired by
    Luxembourg dynasty
1214
 -  Held by the
    Dukes of Burgundy

1443
 -  Occupied by France 1794
 -  Raised to duchy 1353
 -  Grand Duchy
     re-established

1815
Coat of arms of the dukes of Luxembourg

The County of Luxembourg was an historic region of Luxembourg and part of the Roman Province of Germania Inferior. After the invasion of Germanic tribes from the East, Luxembourg became part of the Francian Empire, and later, Middle Francia. The City of Luxembourg began as a castle, built in 963 by Siegfried of Luxembourg of the Ardennes-Verdun dynasty, whose brothers became early Dukes of Lorraine. By 1060 the fortress had been extended and had become a county. The House of Luxembourg, a cadet branch of the Dukes of Limburg, became one of the most important political forces of the 14th century, contending with the House of Habsburg for supremacy in Central Europe.[1]

History[edit]

Pre 963[edit]

Pre 10th-century settlements shown within today's Luxembourg City, with the church of Saint-Saveur (built 987), today's Saint-Michel – .

Modern historians believe that the etymology of the word Luxembourg is a derivation of the word Letze, meaning fortification,[citation needed] which might have referred to either the remains of a Roman watchtower or to a primitive refuge of the Early Middle Ages.

The first known reference to the territory was by Julius Caesar in his Commentaries on the Gallic War.[2]

County (963–1353)[edit]

In 963 Count Siegfried of the House of Ardennes bought land belonging to Wikerus, abbot of Saint Maximin, Trier. This land was centered on a ruined fort, supposedly Roman, called Lucilinburhuc, the name usually translated from the Latin as "little castle". In the following years Siegfried built a new castle on the site of the ruins, on a rock later called "Bock Fiels." The castle dominated a stretch of the old Roman road linking Reims, Arlon and Trier that provided prospects for trade and taxation. Although the history of Luxembourg began with the castle's construction, it seems that Siegfried and his immediate successors did not make the castle their primary residence. Henry III was the first count known to have established his permanent residence there, as, in a 1089 document, he is referred to as "comes Henricus de Lutzeleburg" – this also makes him the first documented Count of Luxembourg.

During the following years a small town and market grew around the new castle. Its first inhabitants were probably servants of Count Siegfried and clergy of Saint Michael's church. The settlement soon received additional protection by the construction of a first and partial city wall and moat. In addition to the small town near "Bock Fiels" and the Roman road, a further settlement was established in the Alzette Valley, today the Grund quarter of Luxembourg. By 1083 this lower town contained two churches, and two bridges over the Alzette and Petruss rivers. Its inhabitants' occupations included fishing, baking, and milling. The same year, the Benedictine abbey of Altmünster was founded on the hill behind the castle by Conrad I, Count of Luxembourg.

The town became the centre of a state of strategic value to France, Germany, and the Low Countries. Luxembourg's fortifications were steadily enlarged and strengthened over the years by successive owners, which made it one of the strongest fortresses in Europe. Through its formidable defences it became known as the Gibraltar of the North.

The House of Luxembourg provided several Holy Roman Emperors, Kings of Bohemia, and Archbishops of Trier and Mainz. From the Early Middle Ages to the Renaissance, authors attributed different names to Luxembourg, such as Lucilinburhuc, Lutzburg, Lützelburg, Luccelemburc, Lichtburg.

Post 1353[edit]

The Partitions of Luxembourg have greatly reduced its territory over the years.

The Duchy of Luxembourg was formed when the counties of Luxembourg, Durbuy, Laroche and Vianden (a vassal county since 31 July 1264), the Marquisat of Arlon and the districts of Thionville, Bitburg and Marville were combined. Luxembourg had remained an independent fief of the Holy Roman Empire until 1353 when emperor Charles IV elevated it to the status of a duchy for his brother Wenceslaus.

The Duchy passed to the Dukes of Burgundy of the House of Valois, and then to the Habsburg Archduke of Austria. It was integrated into the Burgundian Imperial Circle of the Holy Roman Empire, by Charles V in the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549.

During the French Revolutionary Wars Luxembourg was annexed to the department of Forêts. Following agreement at the 1815 Congress of Vienna the duchy became a Grand Duchy under the rule of, but not part of, William I's Netherlands, after which it joined the German Confederation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Francia Media: Lorraine & Burgundy". Friesian.com. 1914-08-06. Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  2. ^ "Luxembourg". Catholic Encyclopaedia. 1913. Retrieved 2006-07-30. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Ermesinde et l'affranchissement de la ville de Luxembourg; Etudes sur la femme, le pouvoir et la ville au XIIIe siècle, sous la direction de Michel Margue, Publications du Musée d'Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, Publications du CLUDEM tome 7, Luxembourg 1994
  • Tatsachen aus der Geschichte des Luxemburger Landes, Dr. P. J. Müller, Luxemburg 1963, Verlag "de Frendeskres", Imprimerie Bourg-Bourger
  • Vivre au Moyen Age: Luxembourg, Metz et Trèves; Etudes sur l'histoire et l'archéologie urbaines, sous la direction du Musée d'Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, Publications Scientifiques du Musée d'Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, tome 2, Luxembourg 1998