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Imperial Province of Alsace-Lorraine (Germany)

reichsland elsaß-lothringen

Last modified: 2013-03-02 by pete loeser
Keywords: reichsland | elsasz;-lothringen | alsace | lorraine | foreign office flag | eaglet | coronet | pearl | clover leaf |
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Some historical Information about early Lorraine
Frühe Lothringen

     Frankish Empire of Karl der Große (German)/Charlemagne(French) was ruled by his son Emperor Ludwig the Pious from 814 until 843. In 830 there was an insurrection against the Emperor led by his sons Pippin, Ludwig the German and Lothar. At the eve of insurrection the empire was subdivided as follows: Pippin controlled Aquitania, Ludwig the German controlled Bavaria incl. Eastern Marsh, Charles (the Bald?) controlled Alamannia, the later Swabia, and the emperor together with his son Lothar the major part including supremacy over the Patrimonium Petri.
     In 833 the emperor was removed after having taken direct control over Aquitania. He was defeated at Colmar by his sons, when he had been betrayed by his own army, but he was re-established a bit later by Ludwig and Charles in order to hinder supremacy of Lothar.
     After Pippin had died in 838, Charles gained control over Aquitania. Lothar was defeated by his brothers in the battle of Fontenoy in 841. His brothers renewed their alliance and fixed it by the oaths of Strassburg in 842 (bilingual in Old French and Old German).
     After the emperor's death in 843 the empire was divided by the Treaty of Verdun (Treaty of Wirten) into East Franconia ruled by Ludwig the German, West Franconia ruled by Charles the Bald, and between Central Franconia, better known as Lotharingia (the land of Lothar). This was an odd country having a north-south extension of 1400 km (from Frisia to Spoleto in Central Italy) but only 100km east-west extension between Besancon and Basel. It was divided in a northern partition ruled by Lothar II and a southern partition ruled by Ludwig II, after Lothar I had died in 855. After the death of Lothar II the northern partition was divided between East and West Franconia (Treaty of Meerssen 870). Then Alsace became a part of the later Duchy of Swabia.
     Lotharingia then had been much more than later Lorraine. It was stretched out over the major parts of nowadays Belgium to the west bank of Lower Rhine including Aachen. It was divided into Lower Lotharingia (Rhine and Meuse areas) and Upper Lotharingia (Moselle areas) in 959.
Source: KINDER/HILGEMANN: "dtv-Atlas zur Weltgeschichte, vol. 1", Bielefeld 1964, p.125
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 October 2009

Some historical Information about early Alsace
Frühe Elsaß

     About early Alsace I found very little information, especially about the counties of Upper and Lower Alsace. After the dissolution of the Duchy of Alamannia in the 7th century, there existed a Duchy of Alsace under the Etichons up to the middle of the 8th century. Afterwards it was split into numerous small territories.
     French King Louis XIV, making his policy of "reunion", annexed the complete Alsace area and gained Strassburg in 1681. The people of Alsace kept a privileged status of religion and customs. French tolerance caused freedom of protestant religion and prosperity during the following years.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 October 2009

The Imperial Province of Alsace-Lorraine
Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen

     At the end of Franco-Prussian war in 1871 the new established German Empire annexed wide parts of former Alsace and the minor part of former region of Lorraine, depending on the boundaries between French and German language. The major part of Lorraine with Nancy (Nanzig) remained French, it was the same with southern parts of Alsace around Belfort. Metz, a German speaking exclave surrounded by French speaking areas, became German. It had formerly been a free imperial city (Freie Reichstadt) and had a strong fortress, two strong arguments for Germany to include this area.
     What to do with the new territory? There had been existed three plans, either to make it a Prussian Province like Schleswig-Holstein, which had been annexed in 1866; or to divide it between Bavaria (Lorraine and Lower Alsace), which had control over the Rhine Palatinate, and Baden (Upper Alsace); or to give it a completely new status. So the Imperial Province of Alsace-Lorraine was created, an entity under direct control of the German government.
     As a result 200,000 French speakers became German subjects. German government made a moderate policy. In the regions having a French majority French was the language taught in public schools. In 1874 German constitution was implemented. In 1879, a vicegerent (Statthalter) was established, representing some kind of sovereign of the region. In 1911, the region gained the same rights like other German states, a free elected regional parliament was established, an own flag and an own anthem and also some measure of autonomy had been granted. Nevertheless the "being French" feeling stayed strong at least during the first sixteen years of the annexation and the French speaking people were fairly unhappy with the situation and tensions between Germany and France remained. After Germany had lost World War I in 1918, it ceded the region to France.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 October 2009

Imperial Province of Alsace-Lorraine - Coat of Arms
Kaiserliche Provinz Elsaß-Lothringen Wappen

[Elsaß-Lothringen CoA] 3:5 Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 2011

Description of coat of arms:
     A black eagle, armed and tongued red, is topped by a golden imperial crown with scarves. On its breast a shield is placed topped by a ducal crown in natural colour. The shield is divided per pale. The sinister half shows the arms of Lorraine, a golden (yellow) field divided by a red bend surmounted with three silver (white) eaglets. This is also part of the current coat of arms of Saarland (German state), it is displayed in its 3rd quarter. The dexter half is divided per fess, showing in its 1st field the arms of Upper Alsace, a golden (yellow) bend sinister in a red field flanked by two triplets of golden (yellow) coronets ordered 2:1. In the 2nd field are the arms of Lower Alsace, a silver (white) bend sinister in a red field, cotised silver (white) by a sinister bend with pearls and clover leaves. I denote the crowned shield afterwards as small coat of arms.
     The coat of arms was established by German government on 29 December 1891.
Source:Ströhl 1899; opp.p.1, chart I, top right
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 October 2009

Imperial Province of Alsace-Lorraine Flag 1891-1918
Kaiserliche Provinz Elsaß-Lothringen Flagge

[Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen flag] 2:3 Original image by Martin Grieve
CoA added by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 October 2009

Description of flag 1891- 1911
     It was a foreign office flag, a black over white over red horizontal tricolour with the imperial eagle on a white disc in its centre. The small coat of arms was added within the black stripe in the upper hoist corner.
     It is not sure, that the flag was used as described above, but it couldn't be earlier than 1891 and in 1911 the red over white horizontal bicolour was established together with autonomy.
Source: Ströhl 1899; opp.p.1, chart I, top right
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 October 2009

French Separatists Flag 1912-1918
Französische Separatisten-Flag

[Elsaß-Lothringen Separarist Flag] Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 2011

Description of Separatists flag 1912 - 1918
Supporters of the French cause used the bicolour with a yellow cross Lorraine added in the upper hoist corner.
Source: Hormann and Plaschke 2006, p.111
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 October 2009

Upper and Lower Alsace
Landgrafschaften Upper- und Lower Alsace

Detailed information about former Landgrafschaften of Upper Elsaß (U.A.) and Lower Elsaß (L.A.) is hard to find. The current flag of the region Alsace is uniting elements of both coats of arms. The yellow bend was dropped. To the white bend of L.A. the coronets of U.A. had been added. I do not know whether the original coats of arms had bends instead of bends sinister. I also do not know the original pattern of cotization and coronets. There exist images showing both as fleur de lis. Furthermore there is another pattern of Alsace, where both bendy lines are forming a kind of chevron (see Wikipedia shows a coat of arms of Lorraine with erroneous(?) golden eaglets instead of silver ones.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 October 2009

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