and Lorraine (German: Elsass and Lothringen) are two historic
provinces in eastern France. Part of the Holy Roman Empire until
1648, Alsace was added to France by the Treaty of Rijswijck in 1697.
Lorraine was part of the kingdom of LOTHARINGIA, which was divided
(959) into the duchies of Lower and Upper Lorraine. The latter, which
became modern Lorraine, was an independent but much-fought-over duchy
until 1766. Between 1871
and 1918, Alsace (the departments of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin) and the
eastern part of Lorraine (now the department of Moselle) were annexed
to Germany as a result of France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War.
From 1919 to 1940 the area belonged to France. Controversies over
state-run versus religious schools and attempts to suppress German
newspapers contributed to an ultimately unsuccessful movement for
home rule in 1920. From 1940 to 1945 the area was again controlled by
Germany; it was returned to France in 1945. Lorraine's departments of
Meuse, Meurthe-et-Moselle, and Vosges remained French.
western Lorraine is composed of clay vales separated by the
north-south-trending limestone ridges of the Cotes de Meuse and Cotes
de Moselle. The heavy soils of the vales support mixed
farming--dairying, oats, and wheat. The ridges
are barriers to communication and invasion. METZ, NANCY, VERDUN,
Thionville, and Toul are route centers and fortress cities defending
gaps in the ridges. The battle for Verdun was one of the bloodiest of
World War I. Nancy (1990 pop., 102,410), the traditional capital and
university center of Lorraine, is located on the Rhine-Marne canal,
which follows the routeway from Paris to Strasbourg.
The Lorraine iron
ore fields, about 110 km (70 mi) long and 20 km (12 mi) wide, run
from Nancy northward to the primary iron and steel district around
Longwy, Thionville, and Metz. The French part of the Saar coalfield
lies 64 km (40 mi) to the east. It contains substantial French
reserves in easily mechanized, thick seams.
Lorraine rises gradually to the summits of the Vosges. This sandstone
massif has a granite core exposed in the south, where elevations
exceed 1,200 m (3,937 ft). The political and linguistic divide
between French-speaking Lorraine and German-speaking Alsace runs
along its crest. At the foot of the steep eastern slope of the Vosges
is a famous vineyard region. An adjoining belt of fertile loess soils
produces cereals, fruit, tobacco, and vegetables. It also produces
hops for Alsatian and German breweries.
pop., 255,937), a major port on the Rhine, is the traditional capital
of Alsace. Its industries include oil refining, brewing, printing,
food processing, and metallurgy. Famous for its university and its
pate, Strasbourg is headquarters of the Council of Europe. The
Rhine-Rhone canal connects Strasbourg with Mulhouse, the Burgundy
Gate, and Lyon. Mulhouse, with a chemical industry based on local
potash deposits, and Colmar are textile-industry centers of Alsace
and eastern Lorraine. Regional temperatures average 0.6 degrees C (33
degrees F) in January and 19 degrees C (66 degrees F) in July. Annual
rainfall ranges from 510 to 1,020 mm (20 to 40 in).
Timothy J. Rickard
Source: The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia,
Release #8, ©1996.
Bibliography: Kahn, Bonnie M., My
Father Spoke French: Nationalism and Legitimacy in Alsace, 1871-1914
(1990); Laengy, Anne, Alsace: Historical and Picturesque (1989);
Silverman, Dan P., Reluctant Union: Alsace-Lorraine and Imperial
Germany, 1871-1918 (1972).