Partitions of Luxembourg: History of the Luxembourg border

Luxembourg's current territory covers 2,586 square kilometers. This modern map is significantly smaller than the historic Duchy of Luxembourg that ruled the region from 1354 to 1795. The reduced size and the title Grand Duchy are the results of the three partitions of Luxembourg.

First Partition: 1659

The Treaty of the Pyrenees marked the conclusion of the Franco-Spanish War of 1635-59. At that time, the Spanish Habsburgs controlled the Duchy of Luxembourg, and King Philip IV of Spain and Portugal was the nominal Duke of Luxembourg. As a result of this treaty, Luxembourg was partitioned for the first time. Spain surrendered the Luxembourgish fortresses of Montmédy, Stenay, and Thionville to France under the Treaty of the Pyrenees. This resulted in a loss of approximately 1,060 square kilometers or 10% of the Duchy’s territory.

Second Partition: 1815

In 1795, the French revolutionary forces abolished the ancient Duchy of Luxembourg and integrated its territories into France. After the defeat of the French Empire under Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna met to discuss the fate of Luxembourg. The Congress decided that the former Duchy would become a Grand Duchy ruled by King William of the United Netherlands and assigned the northern and eastern parts of the former Duchy, including towns like Saint-Vith and Bitburg, to Prussia. Consequently, Luxembourg lost approximately 24% of its land, around 2,280 square kilometers, that previously constituted the Duchy.

Third Partition: 1839

The Belgian Revolution, which occurred in 1830, resulted in the establishment of an independent Belgium under the reign of King Leopold. The treaty of London assigned 4,730 square kilometers, or 65% of the territory of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, to Belgium. This area includes several French-speaking towns in the region, such as Bastogne, Neufchateau, Durbuy, and Arlon, of the contemporary Belgian province of Luxembourg.

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