The Three Bishoprics (French: les Trois-Évêchés, French pronunciation: [le tʁwazevɛʃe]) constituted a province of pre-Revolutionary France consisting of the prince-bishoprics of Metz, Verdun, and Toul within the Lorraine region.
The dioceses were States of the Holy Roman Empire until they were seized by French King Henry II between April and June 1552. In the course of the rebellion of several Protestant Imperial princes against the Augsburg Interim issued by Emperor Charles V of Habsburg, the conquest had been legitimised ahead of time by the Treaty of Chambord on 15 January 1552, which confirmed the Catholic French king's lordship over Metz, Toul and Verdun, as well as the Bishopric of Cambrai "and other towns of the Empire that do not speak German". The leader of the rebellion, Elector Maurice of Saxony, in turn received subsidies and military assistance from the French and reached the revocation of the Interim by the Peace of Passau that led to the final religious Peace of Augsburg in 1555.
King Henry II according to his agreement with the Protestant princes had moved into the lands of the Three Bishoprics. As from the emperor's perspective, Maurice and his allies had no right to legally dispose of Imperial territory, Charles V started a campaign against the French during the Italian War of 1551–1559 in order to reconquer the occupied dioceses. The expedition ultimately failed, when the Imperial troops were defeated by the French forces under Duke Francis of Guise at the 1554 Battle of Renty. After the emperor had abdicated in 1556, his successor Ferdinand I discontinued all attempts to regain the Three Bishoprics. At the end of the Thirty Years' War, they were officially awarded to France by the 1648 Peace of Westphalia.
The Diocese of Saint-Dié, created in 1777 and sometimes called the "Fourth Bishopric of Lorraine" (« le Quatrième Évêché lorrain »), is not related historically to the Three Bisphoprics.
- (French) Trois-Évêchés on the French Wikipedia
- (French) 450th anniversary celebrations on the French Ministry of Culture's website
- (French) Biography of Henry II