The Moselle River (known as the Mosel in Germany) contains some of the best wine country in its western Valley. But it also hosts some important industrial cities, one of which was Metz, an over 3000-year old city in the Lorraine section of France. Metz became one of the principal towns of Gallia, more populated than Lutetia, rich for its wine exports and having one of the largest amphitheatres of the region (a portion of which still remains near the train yard). Since Roman times, Metz has always held a place of importance. Metz is close to Verdun, and the Ardenne, made infamous by war in the 20th century, but the area has been contested for over a thousand years. Indeed, it was only in 1658, through the treaty of Westphalia, that Metz finally became part of France, which always considered Metz its own, though the culture is a blend of german and french traditions. Aachen and Trier, also principle cities of the Franks, today remain in Germany (although close to the border). http://www.tompgalvin.com/places/fr/metz.htm (lots of Pictures here)
If you just have a day: Visit the Cathedral and the museum just up the hill (situated in the Merovingian Castle). Walk through the marketplace and visit the Roman ruins down by the river. The SCNF train station (Gare de Metz-bahnhoff) is of a German occupation era (Picture HERE). Metz is a three hour train ride from Frankfurt's downtown bahnhof or Paris (Gare d'Est) by a slow train. TGV service began to Metz from Paris in the Spring of 2007 (and a new TGV Terminal was added).
In ancient times Metz, then known as Divodurum, was the capital of the Gallic Mediomatrici. At the beginning of the Christian era, the Romans had occupied it, forming a well-fortified town at the juncture of several military roads. One of the last strongholds to surrender to the German invasions, it withstood the attacks of the Huns. Metz passed, about the end of the fifth century, through peaceful negotiations into the hands of the Franks. Theodorick of Austrasia chose it in 511 as his residence; Queen Brunhild basked in the great splendour on the town during her reign.
Although the first Christian churches for citizens of the town would have been found outside the Roman city walls of Divodurum, the existence in the fifth century of the oratory of St. Stephen within the town fully has been proved. St-Pierre-aux-Nonnains is billed as the oldest church structure in France It was built between 380 and 395AD as a Roman gymnasium and transformed into a Christian church during the 7th century (time of Map below). http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10247a.htm By that time the Frankish influence in the area of Metz was already several hundred years old and centralised Western Roman control was long gone. The Merovingian lineage began with Mérovée, chief frank with 417, followed by his son Mérovée the Younger, King of the Francs. Because of inter-marriage and different inheritance, the family played a number of leading roles in several different kingdoms.
La liste des Rois mérovingiens
(Mérovée, chef franc en 417)
précédés de leur date de règne
|428 à 447 CLODION le Chevelu (Roi des
447 à 457 MEROVEE (Mérovée le Jeune-Roi des Francs)
457 à 481 CHILDERIC 1er (Roi des Francs Saliens)
481 à 511 CLOVIS 1er (Roi des Francs)
511 à 524 CLODOMIR (Roi d'Orléans)
511 à 558 CHILDEBERT 1er (Roi de Paris)
511 à 534 THIERRY 1er (Reims et Metz)
511 à 561 CLOTHAIRE 1er le Vieux (Soissons)
534 à 548 THIBERT 1er (Metz et Austrasie)
548 à 555 THIBAUD (Metz)
558 à 561 CLOTHAIRE 1er le Vieux (Roi des Francs)
561 à 568 CARIBERT 1er (Roi de Paris)
561 à 575 SIGEBERT 1er (Metz et Austrasie)
561 à 584 CHILPERIC 1er (Soissons et Neustrie)
561 à 593 GONTRAND (Roi d'Orléans, Bourgogne)
568 à 584 CHILPERIC 1er (Roi de Paris, Soissons et Neustrie)
584 à 592 GONTRAND (Roi de Paris)
584 à 629 CLOTHAIRE II le Jeune (Roi de Neustrie)
586 à 612 THIBERT II (Roi d'Austrasie)
595 à 613 THIERRY II (Bourgogne, Roi de Paris et Austrasie)
592 à 595 CHILDEBERT II (Paris,
Austrasie et Bourgogne)
613 à 629 CLOTHAIRE II le Jeune (Roi des Francs)
629 à 639 DAGOBERT 1er (Roi des Francs et Austrasie)
634 à 656 ST SIGEBERT III (Roi d'Austrasie)
635 à 657 CLOVIS II (Roi de Neustrie, Paris et Bourgogne)
656 à 675 CHILDERIC II (Roi d'Austrasie)
657 à 673 CLOVIS II (Roi des Francs)
657 à 673 CLOTHAIRE III (Roi des Francs, Neustrie et Bourgogne)
673 à 675 CHILDERIC II (Roi des Francs)
673 à 691 THIERRY III (Neustrie, Roi des Francs et Bourgogne)
675 à 676 CLOVIS III (Roi d'Austrasie)
676 à 678 ST DAGOBERT II (Roi d'Austrasie)
687 à 691 THIERRY III (Roi des Francs)
691 à 695 CLOVIS IV (Roi des Francs et Austrasie)
695 à 711 CHILDEBERT III (Roi des Francs, Neustrie et Bourgogne)
711 à 715 DAGOBERT III (Roi des Francs et Neustrie)
715 à 721 CHILPERIC II (Roi des Francs et Neustrie)
716 à 719 CLOTHAIRE IV (Roi de Neustrie)
720 à 737 THIERRY IV de CHELLES (Roi des Francs)
737 à 743 (inter règne)
743 à 751 CHILDERIC III le Fainéant (Roi des Francs et Neustrie)
The year The end of the 5th Century AD was crucial to the Merovingian dynasty. At that time Clovis (the first Louis-581AD) became the first Frankish (French) king of the line to extended his kingdom in northern Gaul down into the Loire Valley. He married Eunice, a fervent Roman Catholic. He the decided to convert to Catholicism, thereby converting the Kingdom of France. This was accomplished in Reims on Christmas day 496. To Rome and the pope, this anchored the Catholic church in the West. In return Clovis was permitted to rule over the old Roman Empire without limited duration. The pact of Clovis and Catholic Rome becomes a legacy that will be passed to his Merovingian offspring. The King and his devout Queen became saints of the Church.
Clovis made Paris his capital. He pushed his sworn enemies, the Visigoths into Aquitaine. The Visigoths regrouped in Carcassonne, then Rhédæ (Rennes-le-Château), which they made their capital. But at his death in 511, his kingdom was weakened, by rivalries and chaos. The kingdom was gradually divided into 3 portions -- Metz being close to where all three kingdoms met: Neustria (Normandy), Austrasia (Loraine) and Burgogne (Burgundy). Then the rule of Merovingian family really became confused. Power was shared between the sovereignty of a king and the authority of the palace mayors, who governed regions. The result -- excessive rivalry and confrontation.
By 639AD, the dominance of Merovingians had weakened considerably, and the mayors of the palace took over. This was a time of considerable influence of Metz and its Mayor. see http://www.rennes-le-chateau-archive.com/index.htm?id=eglise_st_sulpice_son_histoire.htm (en peu histoire). Charlemagne would end the confusion with his new Holy Roman Empire and dynasty, centered in Aix-le-Chapelle. After his death, in 843 Metz became the capital of the Kingdom of Lotharingia but with a contested title.
Metz's location was often viewed as strategic, so it saw a goodly share of wars. For example, moving forward 900 years, the Defense of Metz would play a crucial part in keeping France Catholic; and, it would set up a power base for its chief architect (le grand de Guise who was resisting Protestant Charles the Quint) and his family, whose traditional seat of power was the Champagne region and Reims. The siege of Metz is described in detail in Ambroise Paré's "Journey in Diverse Places" (written around 1580). In addition, read more about the period of German Occupation of Metz at our January 18th entry for 1871. By 1944 it was heavily fortified region and experienced a third time of German invasion and counter attack.
About half the way from Troyes to Metz (going northeast) is Bar-le-Duc. A small town south of Verdun. In 1916 a small supply road and railroad between Verdun on the Meuse (Lorraine) and Bar-le-Duc was all that kept the French line supplied. Today, although much of the route is paved over, it is still known by the name Voie Sacrée or more simply La Route Pictured is one of the original markers along the dedicated road, marked with milestones capped with the helmet of the poilu (the slang term for the French infantryman). It remains a National Road maintained by the French as a military monument. http://www.worldwar1.com/france/vsacree.htm During the height of its use, this gravel-bed two-lane road saw a truck stream by every 14 seconds. The city hall in the village of Souilly, on the Voie Sacrée, served as headquarters to Generals Philippe Pétain and Robert Nivelle during the Battle of Verdun. Verdun is about 40 miles west of the Metz city-centre and about 25 air-miles north of Bar-de-Duc (although the winding route during the war was much longer-45 miles). At Verdun even the pretense of rationality failed. The slaughter was so hideous, that near the railway station, Rodin's statue shows a winged Victory as neither calm nor triumphant, but demented by rage and horror. Her legs are tangled in a dead soldier and she shrieks for survival. http://www.france-for-visitors.com/north/verdun/index.html
The map shows some of the places we mention frequently throughout our Website in this region.
Nearby to Metz, close to the border with Belgium is Longwy (Département Meurthe-et-Moselle). Longwy has historically been an industrial center of the Lorraine iron mining district, although steel production is now closed. The town also is well-known for its expensive, artistic glazed pottery. Longwy began in the historical record as a fortified Roman camp. Not unexpectedly, Longwy's political fate has matched Metz. It initially belonged to Lotharingia. After the division of that kingdom, the town became part of Upper Lorraine, and ultimately the Duchy of Bar. Longwy was ceded to the Duke Wenceslaus I of Luxembourg in 1368, but was returned to Bar ten years later. The Duchy of Bar was then annexed into the Duchy of Lorraine in 1480. From 1648-1660 Longwy was part of the Kingdom of France, returning to the Duchy of Lorraine afterwards. It was made part of France again in 1670, a situation which was finalized in the Treaties of Nijmegen in 1678. Vauban fortified the town during the reign of King Louis XIV of France (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the "Fortifications of Vauban" group).
A Parish Church of Saint Dagobert dates from 652, founded in Longwy upon Mont-Saint-Martin by the Duke named Martin. It was the chapel next to the dungeon of the Old Castle. Don't expect to see anything standing of a church built by contested fortifications. The site saw the devastation of Longwy and the church in 1633 by the Swedes, in 1634 by the plague, in 1635 by the Poles and in 1636 by the French. The church remained abandoned until 1650. Longwy only had 50 inhabitants between 1654 and 1655. Although restoration took place, in 1670, a new siege by the French and devastation of Longwy and this church took place. The 1683 restoration, saw the church built at within the fortress, at the expense of King Louis XIV of France (1683 is the date of laying and blessing of the first stone). It continued to be blown up and burned well into the 20th Century. It received only slight damage in 1940. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longwy
In the other direction from Metz is Nancy (archaic German: Nanzig; Luxembourgish: Nanzeg). A small fortified town named Nanciacum (Nancy) was built by Gerard, Duke of Lorraine by 1050, but people had been attracted to the area for many centuries because of available iron ore and a ford there on the River Meurthe. Today a large city in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in northeastern France, it was formerly the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine. With the death of Duke Stanislas in 1766, the duchy became a French province of the same name and Nancy remained its capital. As unrest surfaced within the French armed forces during the French Revolution, a full-scale mutiny took place in Nancy in late-summer 1790. A few loyal units lay siege to the town and shot or imprisoned the mutineers. In 1871, Nancy remained French when Prussia annexed Alsace-Lorraine. The flow of refugees reaching Nancy doubled its population in three decades. Nancy was freed from Nazi Germany by the U.S. Third Army in September 1944, during the Lorraine Campaign of World War II.
The Place Stanislas (named after the King of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Duke of Lorraine), Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance were added to the World Heritage Sites list by the UNESCO in 1983. The city still possesses many Art Nouveau buildings, from its period as a leader in arts at the turn of the 19th into the 20th Century. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Émile_Gallé The cathedral of Nancy dates from the 18th century. Nancy's guided "bus" system is known as the tramway on tires. http://www.ot-nancy.fr/uk/centre_historique/index.php The city is also known for its fine Art Nouveau glass, in particular that by the Daum workshop founded in 1875 by Jean Daum (1825-1885). His sons grew the business and reputation for artistic style. Today it remains, the only producer of art-glass in France produced from a paste of crushed verre packed into a refractory mould and then fused in a kiln. The city maintains a collection in its fortress museum. Expect to spend a pretty penny.