1635-1697 1737-1766

Lorraine, 1697-1737

According to the Treaty of Rijswijk, Leopold Joseph was recognized as Duke of Lorraine (1697; formally, Duke 1690-1729)); he had the Cathedral of Nancy constructed (although Nancy did not officially become a diocesis until 1778). The fortresses of Nancy and Bitsch were razed. The wars of the 17th century had resulted in considerable population loss, from estimated 800,000 inhabitants in 1630 to c. 400,000 in 1697; the country's economy was impoverished.
Duke Leopold had been born in Innsbruck (Tyrol); his father had lived in exile for decades. When Leopold arrived in Nancy, he brought with him his ministers, foreigners, Catholic and anti-French. An administrative reform was conducted, the University of Pont-a-Mousson revived, a civil code and a penal code published (1701). The currency of Lorraine was reformed, the new currency modelled after the French. Immigration was encouraged, villages given long terms for paying down their debts. Leopold strove to establish absolute rule following the models of Versailles and Vienna.
In 1700 King Louis XIV. offered the Duchy of Milan (out of the heritahe of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty) in exchange for the Duchies of Lorraine and Bar; the land swap did not materialize, as the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714) broke out. Parts of Lorraine were occupied by the French; yet Duke Leopold maintained a neutral position and managed to stay out of the war. Still, the war was detrimental for Lorraine's economy; the taxes were raised, the Duke, desparate for revenues, even sold offices. The quality of coins was manipulated, with the result of a repeated devaluation of the currency. In 1728, Lorraine's neutrality was recognized by France by treaty. The protective tariffs French superintendent of finances Jean-Baptiste Colbert established in order to harm Dutch trade did not apply for Lorraine. From 1724 Duke Leopold implemented an ambitious road construction programme. The glass and metal industries flourished.
François I. (Duke of Lorraine 1729-1737) married Habsburg heiress Maria Theresia (1736); in 1729 he introduced a policy of austerity to reduce the state debt. already in 1731 he left Nancy, never to return to Lorraine. During the War of Polish Succession (1733-1735), French troops occupied Lorraine. Lorraine had to pay heavy contributions. In the subsequent peace treaty, France accepted the Austro-Russian candidate on the Polish throne (Augustus III.), while François III. abdicated as Duke of Lorraine, which was given to the French candidate for the Polish throne - Stanislas Leszynski. François III. became Grand Duke of Tuscany, and, shortly afterward, was also elected Holy Roman Emperor.

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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
Medals by Ferdinand de St. Urbain, from Medal Web (Benjamin Weiss Collection); mostly on events in the history of Lorraine
REFERENCE Coins of Lorraine, 1601-1700, in Krause, Mishler, Standard Catalog of World Coins : Seventeenth Century 1601-1700, 2nd ed., 2000, pp.268-270
Coins of Lorraine, 1701-1800, in : Krause, Mishler, Standard Catalog of World Coins : Eighteenth Century 1701-1800, 2nd ed., 1997, pp.233-235
Yves le Moigne, Auf dem Weg zur Eingliederung (1697-1789) (On the Road to Annexation), pp.331-380, in : Michel Parisse (ed.), Lothringen, Geschichte eines Grenzlandes (Lorraine, History of a Border Country), Saarbrücken 1984

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on January 3rd 2002, last revised on January 15th 2007

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