July 2020 \ Cover Story \ COVER STORY
The House of Luxembourg throughout the centuries

The history of the Grand Duchy can be traced back to the year 963 ...

  • H.R.H. the Grand Duke with his son the Hereditary Grand-Duke Guillaume and his son Prince Charles born on 10 May 2020 in front of the portrait of the late Grand Duke Jean (1921-2019). © Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue

The history of the Grand Duchy can be traced back to the year 963, when Count Siegfried of the Ardennes, founder of the House of Luxembourg, acquired the rocky outcrop of the “Bock”, an area situated at the very heart of the present day capital of the country. The “castellum” called “Lucilinburhuc”, “small fortress”, was located in the vicinity of the former Roman road from Reims to Trier, a territory which was part of the western fringe of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Counts of Luxembourg succeeded in increasing their wealth rapidly through marriages, land purchase, ties of vassalage and war. In the late 13th century, Luxembourg occupied a vast area between the Meuse and the Moselle rivers and was envied for its powerful and strategic geographic position in the heart of Europe.

Following a period of regional development, the Counts of Luxembourg were in a strong position within the Holy Roman Empire. In 1308, Count Henry VII was elected King of the Romans and a papal legate crowned him Emperor of the Holy Empire in Rome in 1312. Luxembourg became one of the most influential dynasties in Europe. In the 14th century, 3 members of the Luxembourg dynasty bore the imperial crown: Henry VII, Charles IV and Sigismund. As Emperor Sigismund left no sons, his line of the House of Luxembourg extinguished on his death in 1437.

From the 15th to the 17th centuries, the than Duchy belonged to the Habsburgs and in the early 18th century, the country was given to the Austrian branch of the Habsburgs. In 1684, the French troops of King Louis XIV besieged Luxembourg and the country remained under the French until 1697 before it was returned to the Habsburg. During these 13 years, Vauban redesigned the fortifications of Luxembourg to become a reputed fortress known to be impregnable. In 1715, following the war of the Spanish Succession, the southern part of the Netherlands was included in the territory belonging to the Austrian branch of the Habsburgs. The 18th century was a period of peace and prosperity but in 1795, French revolutionary troops besieged the fortress and Luxembourg was annexed to France. Following the Napoleonic wars, the fortress was liberated in 1814.