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The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg


One of the smallest countries in the world, Luxembourg is also the world's only grand duchy. Less than half a million people live in this tiny, prosperous nation, which is landlocked and bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. The national language is Luxembourgian (a German dialect), but French and German are also officially used.

Grand Duke
Grand Duke Henri of
Luxembourg
Photo Source: Service
photographique du
Premier ministre

Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy; the grand duke is the head of state, but he swears to observe the country's laws and has little political power.

In the early Middle Ages, Luxembourg belonged to the Frankish kingdoms of Austrasia and Lotharingia, and became part of the Holy Roman Empire. In 963, Count Siegfried of Ardennes acquired the remains of an old Roman fortress in the area called Lucilinburhuc ("small castle") from which Luxembourg takes its name. A hundred years later, Siegfried's descendant Conrad became the first count of Luxembourg.

One of Luxembourg's greatest rulers, Countess Ermesinde (or Ermesinda), reigned for over 50 years, from 1196 to 1247. Luxembourg had fallen into chaos during the rule of her father, Henry IV, but Ermesinde regained lost territories and reorganizing the government. Her great-grandson Henry VII became both king of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor. The later emperors Charles IV, Wenceslas, and Sigismund were also from the House of Luxembourg. Little wonder, then, that in the 14th century Luxembourg was elevated from a county (earldom) to a duchy.

Around 1443, the ruling duchess, Elizabeth of Görlitz, sold Luxembourg to Duke Philip III of Burgundy. Philip's granddaughter Mary of Burgundy eventually inherited Luxembourg along with the other Low Countries (or Benelux countries), Belgium and the Netherlands. Mary's marriage to future Holy Roman emperor Maximilian I put the Low Countries under the control of the Habsburg dynasty. As the Spanish Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium remained in Habsburg hands until the 17th century, when the territory was briefly conquered by France. It soon returned to the control of the Spanish Habsburgs; then, in 1713, it was given to the Austrian Habsburgs and became the Austrian Netherlands.

France conquered the Austrian Netherlands in 1795, and for the next 20 years Luxembourg was France's "Department of Forests." In 1815, after the overthrow of Napoleon I, the Congress of Vienna granted Luxembourg independence as a grand duchy and gave it to King William I of the Netherlands. After a rebellion against King William in the 1830s, part of the duchy became a province of Belgium.

William I's grandson, Grand Duke William III, came close to selling what was left of Luxembourg to Napoleon III, but changed his mind.

The House of Nassau

William III died in 1890 and his daughter Wilhelmina became queen of the Netherlands. Luxembourg, however, was under Salic law, which forbids female succession, so a German duke, Adolf of Nassau, became Luxembourg's new grand duke.

But Adolf's son and successor, William IV, had only daughters, so Salic Law was finally scrapped, and after William IV's death in 1912 his daughter Marie-Adélaïde inherited the throne.

During the First World War, Germany occupied Luxembourg, and many people believed Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde was too friendly toward the invaders. In 1919 she was forced to abdicate in favor of her sister Charlotte.

Germany invaded Luxembourg again in 1940, but Grand Duchess Charlotte did not repeat her sister's mistake. Instead of staying in Luxembourg, she fled with her family and the government. A government-in-exile was established in London. Charlotte eventually settled in Canada, where she stayed until the end of the Second World War. The grand duchess returned to Luxembourg in 1945 and was warmly welcomed by her people.

In 1964 Charlotte abdicated in favor of her eldest son, Jean. She spent the rest of her life in retirement, dying in 1985 at the age of 89. Jean and his wife, Princess Joséphine Charlotte of Belgium, had five children: Marie-Astrid, Henri, Jean, Margaretha, and Guillaume. Grand Duke Jean reigned until September 2000, when he abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Henri, who still reigns today. Josephine-Charlotte died in 2005.

Grand Duke Henri and his wife, Maria Teresa, also have five children: Guillaume, born in 1981; Félix, born in 1984; Louis, born in 1986; Alexandra, born in 1991; and Sebastien, born in 1992. Prince Guillaume, the heir to the throne, married Stéphanie de Lannoy in 2012.


Luxembourg News

This is an archive of past news. For the most current royal news, visit the Royalty.nu News page.

September 21, 2014

September 20, 2014

September 19, 2014

September 13, 2014

July 12, 2014


Luxembourg's Grand Duke Henri, Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa, Prince Felix holding
baby Amalia, Princess Claire and her parents, Hartmut and Gabriele Lademacher
Photo by Didier Baverel/Getty Images


July 8, 2014

June 30, 2014

June 26, 2014

June 25, 2014

June 23, 2014


Grand Duchess Maria Teresa and Grand Duke Henri (front row)
Princess Stéphanie and Prince Guillaume (back row)


June 22, 2014


Princess Stephanie and Prince Guillaume on June 22


June 20, 2014

June 17, 2014



June 15, 2014

June 12, 2014

May 29, 2014

May 28, 2014

May 27, 2014

May 26, 2014

May 19, 2014

May 16, 2014

May 12, 2014

May 11, 2014

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April 9, 2014

March 28, 2014

March 19, 2014

March 12, 2014

March 1, 2014

February 28, 2014

February 10, 2014

February 3, 2014

February 1, 2014

January 29, 2014

January 25, 2014

January 20, 2014

January 14, 2014

December 24, 2013

December 21, 2013

December 20, 2013

December 19, 2013

December 16, 2013

December 6, 2013

December 5, 2013

December 4, 2013

December 2, 2013

December 1, 2013

November 27, 2013

November 22, 2013

November 21, 2013

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November 19, 2013

November 18, 2013

November 15, 2013

November 11, 2013

November 3, 2013

November 1, 2013

October 26, 2013

October 24, 2013

October 7, 2013


Books About Luxembourg

Unless otherwise noted, these books are for sale at Amazon.com. Your purchase through these links will result in a commission for the owner of the Royalty.nu site.

Book categories: History, Travel, Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Franks, Carolingians, Holy Roman Empire, Habsburgs, Europe

History of Luxembourg

Essays on Politics, Language and Society in Luxembourg edited by Gerald Newton. A collection of essays on life in Luxembourg since the 19th century. The volume is multilingual, in order to make it accessible to readers unfamiliar with French and German. A summary of the articles appearing in these languages is given at the end of the book.

A History of the Low Countries by Paul Arblaster. The history of the Benelux area (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) from Roman frontier provinces to the year 2011.

Historical Dictionary of Luxembourg by Harry C. Barteau. Over 350 entries on prominent people, places, events, and institutions in Luxembourg history. Includes a chronology, maps, and a list of rulers.

Books About Charles IV of Luxemburg
More Books About Luxembourg

Luxembourg Travel Guides

Lonely Planet Belgium & Luxembourg by Leeann Logan and Geert Cole. Includes historical information and detailed maps.

Frommer's Belgium, Holland & Luxembourg by George McDonald. Reveals the best attractions, local experiences, and restaurants.

Documentaries

These documentaries are formatted for North American audiences.

Globe Trekker: Belgium and Luxembourg. A look at two European countries small in stature but large in attractions.

Low Countries: Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg. A 1997 travel documentary hosted by Rick Steves. (On video only.)

Other DVDs About European Royalty
More Videos & DVDs About Royalty


Related Topics

World Royal History
World Royal News
World Royalty Books

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More Information

Cour Grande-Ducal de Luxembourg (official site)
Le Gouvernement (official site)
A Century's History in One Dynasty (official site)
The Royals of Luxembourg
Grand-Ducal Family Tree
Luxembourg Grand Ducal Family
Luxembourg Sovereigns
The Grand Ducal Family
The Grand Dukes of Luxembourg
Hello: The Luxembourg Royal Family
The Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg
The Tragedy of Marie Adelaide
The World at War - Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Luxembourg in a Nutshell
CIA World Factbook - Luxembourg
Columbia Encyclopedia - Luxembourg
Columbia Encyclopedia - Netherlands, Austrian and Spanish
Frommer's - Luxembourg in Depth: History
Lonely Planet - Luxembourg History
The Benelux Royals Message Board



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