1445-1508 1608-1635

Lorraine, 1508-1608

Duke Antoine "the Good" of Lorraine-Bar 1508-1544; Duke Francis I. 1544-1545; Duke Charles III. 1545-1608 (born 1543). The situation of the two duchies was characterized by a combination of enclaves in Lorraine-Bar territory and exclaves of Lorraine-Bar territory. The largest obstacles to territorial unity were the three princebishoprics of Toul, Verdun and Metz. France pursued a policy of slowly expanding eastward, a constant threat to Lorraine-Bar.
The administrative reform of the Holy Roman Empire in 1512, which established Imperial Circles, allocated Lorraine-Bar, Toul, Metz and Verdun to the Upper Rhenish Circle. However, Lorraine's relationship to the Empire was a loose one; Duke Rene II. had chosen not to attend the ceremony where Maximilian of Habsburg had been elected Roman King; he had done homage to the Emperor only for minor fiefs, not for the Duchy of Lorraine herself. The Duchy of Lorraine, in effect, regarded herself an entity independent of the Holy Roman Empire; toward the turn from the 15th to the 16th century a man in Metz was arrested for having appealed to the Imperial High Court (Reichskammergericht) in Worms. In his testament of 1506 Rene II. decreed that succession in Lorraine should henceforward follow Salic Law.
The years from 1477 to 1514, for Lorraine, had been an era of peace and prosperity; production of her mining industry had increased, her network of roads was expanded, her textile industry flourished. Nancy grew to become the factual capital of Lorraine.

All of Bar and the larger part of Lorraine was French-speaking, the northern fringes of Lorraine were German-speaking. This became an important factor, when the German bible translation by Martin Luther was published in 1522/1523. The larger part of Lorraine-Bar was immune to a movement that threatened the hierarchy of German society - the German Peasants War (1524-1525). Duke Antoine of Lorraine lead an army into the Alsace and crushed the peasants' horde there. As protestantism was associated with political unrest, it was not tolerated in Lorraine; books imported from Switzerland and southwestern Germany had to be screened by the Apostolic Commissioner before they were permitted to be sold (as of 1523). Lorraine was briefly affected by raids by Franz von Sickingen (1522-1523); the intruders were expelled. In 1525 a first Lutheran heretic, Jean Chatelain, was burnt at the stake. Duke Antoine did not join the princely opposition which formed against Emperor Charles V.; Lorraine remained Catholic; he even dispatched troops to join in the Imperial war on the Ottomans.
In a treaty in 1542 the status of Lorraine toward the Holy Roman Empire was defined as under the protection of the Empire, but free (liber et non incorporatus; free and not incorporated).

Lorraine-Bar, as a territory bordering France, was affected by the Habsburg-Valois Wars. When the princely opposition rose against Emperor Charles V. in 1552, they allied with France and (exceeding their authority) ceded the three princebishoprics of Toul, Verdun and Metz to France. An imperial force failed to retake Metz in 1552/1553. Emperor Charles V. abdicated soon after, in 1556; the Empire gave up the aim to regain the princebishoprics. At that time, Duke Charles III. was merely ten years old.
In 1571 Charles III., by decree, imposed a standardized penal law. He strove for the establishment of a separate diocesis for Lorraine, to abolish her dependency on the bishops of Metz, Toul and Verdun; he had only partial success.
Since 1562, France was the scene of the Huguenot Wars, in which the Dukes of Guise (a sideline of the House of Lorraine, elevated to the rank of Dukes by French King François in 1527)) played a major role on the side of the Catholic League. Until 1580, Lorraine-Bar remained neutral. In 1587, Lorraine was raided by a band of German mercenaries, sent by the Calvinist Count Palatine, commanded by the Duke of Bouillon. In 1588 Lorraine-Bar joined the (French) Catholic League. Duke Charles occupied Toul and Verdun, but failed to take Metz. Peace was signed in 1595, at Folembay.
During the reign of Duke Charles III., Nancy developed from an insignificant town into a formidable residence. In 1572 a Jesuit university was founded at Pont-a-Mousson. Between 1591 and 1606, an estimated 2,000 persons accused of witchcraft were burnt at the stake. In the 1590es, capital Nancy was expanded and fortified.

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Histoire de Lorraine, from en-lorraine.com, in French
Histoire de Nancy, from en-lorraine.com, in French
Article Lorraine, from Catholic Encyclopedia
DOCUMENTS List of Dukes of Lorraine, from Kessler History Files (scroll down)
Regnal Chronologies : France, scroll down for Guise and Lorraine
REFERENCE Jean Coudert, Das Goldene Jahrhundert des Unabhängigen Lothringen (1508-1608) (The Golden Century of Independent Lorraine), pp.239-280, in : Michel Parisse (ed.), Lothringen, Geschichte eines Grenzlandes (Lorraine, History of a Border Country), Saarbrücken 1984, in German [G]
Franz Pesendorfer, Lothringen und seine Herzöge. Im Zeichen der drei Adler. (Lorraine and her Dukes. Under the sign of the three eagles), Graz : Styria 1994, in German [G]
Geoffrey Parker, The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road 1567-1659, Cambridge : UP 1972 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on November 4th 2003, last revised on January 15th 2007

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