A Conversation for Strasbourg, France and Kehl, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany

Roots of the Alsace border issue

Post 1

Researcher 170889

I believe the beginnings of the quarrel over Alsace-Lorraine and the issue to whom it 'belongs' was begun by Charlemagne's division of his empire among his three sons. One got the West (basically France) and one the East (Germany). Sadly he gave the third a strip of land right down the middle which, if I remember right included the Low Countries, Alsace-Lorraine and Burgundy, the last of which remained outside of, as powerful as, and hostile to France for many centuries. The Eastern and Western powers quarreling over this strip of land which was too ridiculous and attenuated in geography to retain independence and which had a completely senseless perimeter geographically has determined much of the history of Western Europe. The Low Countries were able to take advantage of the problem to achieve independence off and on through subsequent history and at this point that is pretty much established - although the Walloon-Flemish issue still flares up in Belgium when there are no football matches to inflame hoi polloi. And Burgundy, not having a sizable German presence to its East to contest it, was finally absorbed by France. But where the powers remained equal on each side of the strip, no one ever got enough advantage right up into the 20th century to permanently annex the inheritance of the third son whose name was, I believe Lothair and whose name is commemorated in "Lorraine". Since neither the Eastern nor the Western states had any right at all originally, and since nations tend to be greedy and troublemaking, and always want a border area to fight in which buffers the 'real' heart of the state, Lorraine and Alsace belonged to whoever won the last war between France and Germany, and anyone who believes the issue is finally settled probably also believes that the current state of the stock market will this time last forever.

Roots of the Alsace border issue

Post 2


Wow! This is great additional information. It really adds to the entry. Thanks a lot. smiley - smiley

Roots of the Alsace border issue

Post 3


I was aware of the Charlemagne aspect but didn't want to go into so much detail in the article especially as I wasn't sure of my facts. but Sam is quite right- it adds wonderfully to the whole thing.

Looking any further into the history of the region, earlier than Charlemagnes time, really defies any use of the labels 'France' and 'Germany' as they exist today. This is why I feel it is not possible for either side to claim historical ownership of the region.

Roots of the Alsace border issue

Post 4


Hello Inkwash

Firstly, great article, thanks.

Secondly, I was wondering if it would be possible to work in the excellent (and succinct!) historical background provided in the first message in this thread. The added depth would, as we all seem to agree, perfectly complement your original article.

Alternatively, might the two of you collaborate on an 'Alsace-Lorraine' entry of some kind?

Roots of the Alsace border issue

Post 5


There's now an Update HQ somewhere in H2G2...
Don't have the link for it right here, perhaps it's on the Peer Review page (accessible by the cycling fish icon above)...

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