We drove into Luxembourg from the northern part of France. We got
our passports ready but, like every other European border we have crossed,
there are only buildings of what used to be and no one stopping you or checking
your car. We drove into the city of Luxembourg
and then realized we would rather stay in the wine region of Mosel. So we turned around and drove out of
the city and headed back to the south western part of the country to a city
called Remich. As we drove into the countryside we
noticed more signs for American WW II cemeteries, so it makes you wonder just
how many of these cemeteries there are in all of Europe.
We pulled into this little riverside town and started searching for a hotel,
and after half an hour of trying to find parking we decided to go for pizza. Remich is a really pretty spot and there was quite a large
tour boat on the river in front of the restaurant that loaded and unloaded
people every hour.
There was an old town called Trier across the river
on the German side that looked like it may be a better place to stay, so we got
back into our car and took off. As we drove up the Mosel River
valley, we would weave in and out of Luxembourg
The countryside was absolutely stunning and all along the river banks were huge
vineyards and little houses and the odd Hotel. I have been told that this
country is so small that you could miss it if you were not paying attention. It
is true that you could drive this whole country in half a day, but it is about
4 times the size of Andorra
so it did not seem that small to us.
Mosel River Valley, Luxembourg
The history of Luxembourg:
It begins with its founding in the year 963, when Sigefroid, County
acquired the ruins of an old Roman fort called "Castellum
Lucilinburhuc" from the monks of the Abbey of St. Maximin in Trier.
The Castellum Lucilinburhuc, located on a rocky outcrop known as the
Bock, was steadily enlarged and strengthened over the years, making it by the nineteenth
century one of the strongest fortresses in Europe.
Its formidable defences and strategic location caused
it to become known as the 'Gibraltar of the
Luxembourg remained an independent earldom of the Holy Roman Empire until 1354, when the emperor Charles IV
elevated it to the status of duchy. In 1437 the ruling family became extinct
and the castle passed briefly into Hapsburg hands, before being captured by Philip
of Burgundy in 1443. With the death of Mary of Burgundy in 1482 Luxembourg
returned to Hapsburg rule.
Luxembourg was annexed by Louis XIV of France in 1684, an action that caused alarm
neighbours and resulted in the formation of the League
of Augsburg in 1686. In the ensuing war France was forced to give up the
duchy, which was returned to the Hapsburgs by the Treaty of Ryswick
in 1697. During this period of French rule the defences
of the fortress were strengthened by the famous siege engineer Vauban. Hapsburg rule was confirmed in 1715, and Luxembourg was
integrated into the Austrian Netherlands. After the French revolution Luxembourg was reconquered
and became a departement
of the Republic in 1795, a situation formalized in 1797.
It remained under French rule until the defeat
of Napoleon in 1815, when it was elevated to the status of grand duchy and
placed under the rule of the king of the Netherlands. However, its military
value to Germany
prevented it from becoming a part of the Dutch kingdom. Instead it was made a
member of the German Confederation with Prussia responsible for defence. Luxembourg
remained a possession of the kings of the Netherlands until the death of William
III in 1890, when the grand duchy passed to the House of Nassau-Weilburg due to Salic Law.
The rebellion of Belgium against Dutch rule in 1830 had serious
consequences for Luxembourg.
The country declared independence in 1835, and this was recognized by the grand
duke three years later. By the Treaty of London in 1839 the grand duchy was cut
in two, losing more than half of its territory to the new Belgian state. The
loss of its French-speaking lands left Luxembourg as a predominantly
German nation, although French cultural influence remained strong. The loss of
Belgian markets also caused painful economic problems for the state. Recognizing
this, the grand duke integrated it into the German Zollverein in 1842. Nevertheless, Luxembourg remained an
underdeveloped agrarian country for most of the century. As a result of this
about one in five of the inhabitants emigrated to the United States
between 1841 and 1891.
The crisis of 1867 almost resulted in war
between France and Germany over the status of Luxembourg. The
issue was resolved by the second Treaty of London which guaranteed the
perpetual independence and neutrality of the state. The fortress walls were
pulled down and the Prussian garrison was withdrawn.
WWI and WWII: German occupations
Luxembourg was conquered by Germany
during World War I and remained under occupation until 1918, when it was
liberated by U.S.
and French troops. Two American divisions were based in the state in the years
following the War. At Versailles the Belgian
claim to Luxembourg
was rejected and its independence reaffirmed.
The Germans returned during World War II.
In 1940 the Wehrmacht attacked Luxembourg and
quickly defeated its small defence force. The state
was placed under military occupation until August 1942, when it was formally
incorporated into the Third Reich as part of the Gau Moselland. Luxembourgers
were declared to be German citizens and 13,000 were called up for military
This action provoked a general strike
against the occupying authorities which was violently suppressed: 21 strikers
were executed and hundreds more deported to concentration camps. 2,848 Luxembourgers eventually died fighting in the German army. U.S. forces again liberated Luxembourg in September 1944, although they were
briefly forced to withdraw during the Battle
of the Bulge. The Germans were finally expelled in January 1945. Altogether, of
a pre-war population of 293,000, 5,259 Luxembourgers
lost their lives during the hostilities.
Luxembourg ended its neutrality in 1945 by becoming a charter
member of the United Nations. It also became a member of the Benelux Customs
Union in 1948 and of NATO in 1949. In 1957, Luxembourg
became one of the six founding countries of the European
Economic Community (later the European Union) and in 1999 it
joined the euro currency area.
The present sovereign is Grand Duke Henri.
Henri's father, Grand Duke Jean, succeeded his mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte,
on November 12, 1964. Grand Duke Jean's eldest son, Prince Henri, was appointed
"Lieutenant Representant" (Hereditary Grand
Duke) on March 4, 1998.
On December 24, 1999, Prime Minister Juncker announced Grand Duke Jean's decision to abdicate
the throne on October 7, 2000, in favor of Prince Henri who assumed the title
and constitutional duties of Grand Duke.
I am writing this From Koln,
Gemany. We did drive into Trier, but did not find a place to stay, so we
just kept driving until we got to Koln.
We will stay here for a couple of day’s and then head to Frankfurt
to meet up with some friends who are coming in to