|Any time you see an ethnic German's birthplace in the U.S. censuses
flipping back and forth between France and Germany, there's a strong probability
the individual was born in Alsace-Lorraine, an ethnic German enclave that
is, today, in France, but has at times been ruled by Germany. The
history of the region is complex, so for the purposes of genealogy,
it might be best to simply consider it a "country" in and of itself, without
placing it in either Germany or France. If a formal country must
be used, then its current location dictates that it be placed in France,
|Timeline of Alsace-Lorraine — greatly simplified!
||region of Alsace-Lorraine
||Thirty Years' War
||end of rule by Holy Roman Empire
||ruled by France
||Treaty of Frankfurt
||ceded to Germany
||ruled by German Empire
||Treaty of Versailles
||restored to France
||ruled by France
||ruled by Third Reich
||ruled by France
|Alsace and Lorraine are officially, today, two of the 27 Regions
of France. Alsace is comprised of two departments: Haut Rhin
(the former Upper Alsace) and Bas Rhin (the former Lower Alsace).
Lorraine is comprised of four departments: Meuse, Meurthe-et-Moselle,
Moselle and Vosges.
|Histories as given by Webster's New
Geographical Dictionary (1977, Merriam Co., Springfield, MA) — a must-have
book for any genealogist!
ALSACE [or Ger. ELSASS or ancient ALSATIA]:
|Old German and later French province, NE France, bet. Rhine river
and Vosges Mts., in modern depts. of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin [France].
|History: Ruled by Rome (see STRASBOURG); gradually
penetrated by Germanic peoples; created a Frankish duchy; part of Middle
Kingdom (see LORRAINE) assigned to Lothair I by Treaty of Verdun 843 A.D.;
belonged to Holy Roman Empire 870-1648; united to duchy of Swabia 925;
broken up into feudal principalities controlled chiefly by Bishop of Strasbourg
and Hapsburg family in 14th century; Upper Alsace given to Burgundy 1469,
but soon broke free; a center of the Peasants' Revolt of 1526; occupied
by French in Thirty Years' War [1618-1648]; linked with France by means
of Louis XIV's "Chambers of Reunion" 1680; consolidated into provinces
of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin [France] after 1789 and under Napoleon; ceded
to Germany by Treaty of Frankfurt 1871. For recent history, see ALSACE-LORRAINE.
|LORRAINE [or Ger. LOTHRINGEN or ancient LOTHARINGIA]:
|1 Medieval kingdom, originally part of Austrasia (q.v.);
by Treaty of Verdun 843 became part of realm (sometimes known as Middle
Kingdom) of Emperor Lothair I; inherited by his son Lothair II 855-869,
from whom it received name Lotharingia (Lat. Lotharii regnum); controlled
by Germany, esp. King Louis the Child, until 911.
|2 Duchy, formed by division of kingdom of Lorraine 959 into
2 duchies: Lower Lorraine, bet. Rhine and Schelde (later developing into
separate duchies of Brabant, Limburg, etc.) and Upper Lorraine, commonly
called Lorraine, region of upper Meuse and Moselle; French claim to it
relinquished by Hugh Capet 987; ruled from 11th cent. continuously by a
ducal family until its union with Hapsburgs; gradually reduced in size
as French kingdom expanded; bishoprics (Les Trois-Évêchés)
of Metz, Toul, and Verdun seized 1552 by Henry II of France; at time entirely
held by French sovereigns; ruled 1737-66 by Stanislas I Leszczynski, dethroned
king of Poland and father-in-law of Louis XV; permanently French from 1766;
its chief cities Metz and Nancy; a province in revolutionary France, divided
later into departments of Meuse, Moselle, Meurthe-et-Moselle, and Vosges;
after Franco-Prussian War 1871 ceded to Germany as part of Alsace-Lorraine
|ALSACE-LORRAINE [or Ger. ELSASS-LOTHRINGEN]:
|Frontier region bet. France, West Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland;
except for Rhine on E has had indefinite boundaries.
|History: Formed from French province of Alsace, French
department of Moselle, and some subdivisions (arrondissements) of
the former dept of Meurthe which were ceded to Germany by Treaty of Frankfurt
1871; administered in three divisions, Upper Alsace (Ger. Ober-elsass),
Lower Alsace (Unter-elsass), and Lorraine (Lothringen), under the German
Empire 1871-1918; subject to unsuccessful attempts to Germanize 1880-1910;
restored to France by Treaty of Versailles 1919. In World War II
held by Germany 1940-44; retaken by French and American armies and again
restored to France.
|STRASBOURG [or Ger. STRASSBURG or ancient ARGENTORATUM]
|Industrial and commercial city, [capital] of Bas-Rhin dept., NE
France, on the Ill river ab. 2 m. W of its confluence with the Rhine...
|History: Important from ancient times because of strategic
location; a Celtic settlement; passed to Romans; destroyed by Attila; in
late 5th cent. restored by Franks; in 842 scene of Oath of Strasbourg;
linked to Germany through homage of Duke of Lorraine to Henry I 923; attained
status of free imperial city 1262; some work done here by Gutenberg on
movable type c. 1436; occupied by French 1681 and formally ceded 1697;
under German rule 1871-1918; in World War II occupied by Germans June 1940
- Nov. 1944 and suffered considerable damage.
|AUSTRASIA [or OSTRASIA]:
|The eastern dominions of the Merovingian Franks, extending from
the Meuse river to the Bohemian Forest.
|History: Emerged as eastern part of kingdom of Franks
after division of lands which followed death of Clovis (511 A.D.); ruled
by Merovingian kings, alternately as separate kingdom and as kingdom in
conjunction with rule of Neustria (q.v.), 6th cent.; original seat
of authority of mayors of palace of house of Pepin who founded Carolingian
line of Frankish kings in 8th cent.; although recognized as territorial
division in partitions of land which were customary at ruler's death, ceased
to exist in Frankish empire as it was consolidated by Charlemagne (768-814).
|The western part of the dominions of the Franks after the conquest
by Clovis in 511, comprising then the NW part of modern France bet. the
Meuse, the Loire, and the Atlantic Ocean. See AUSTRASIA. After
912 the name was applied to Normandy.