1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Limburg (Lower Lorraine)

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LIMBURG, one of the many small feudal states into which the duchy of Lower Lorraine was split up in the second half of the 11th century. The first count, Walram of Arlon, married Judith the daughter of Frederick of Luxemburg, duke of Lower Lorraine (d. 1065), who bestowed upon him a portion of his possessions lying upon both sides of the river Meuse. It received its name from the strong castle built by Count Walram on the river Vesdre, where the town of Limburg now stands. Henry, Walram’s son (d. 1119), was turbulent and ambitious. On the death of Godfrey of Bouillon (1089) he forced the emperor Henry IV. to recognize him as duke of Lower Lorraine. He was afterwards deposed and imprisoned by Count Godfrey of Louvain on whom the ducal title had been bestowed by the emperor Henry V. (1106). For three generations the possession of the ducal title was disputed between the rival houses of Limburg and Louvain. At length a reconciliation took place (1155); the name of duke of Lower Lorraine henceforth disappears, the rulers of the territory on the Meuse become dukes of Limburg, those of the larger territory to the west dukes of Brabant. With the death of Duke Walram IV. (1280) the succession passed to his daughter, Irmingardis, who was married to Reinald I., count of Guelders. Irmingardis died without issue (1282), and her cousin, Count Adolph of Berg, laid claim to the duchy. His rights were disputed by Reinald, who was in possession and was recognized by the emperor. Too weak to assert his claim by force of arms Adolph sold his rights (1283) to John, duke of Brabant (q.v.). This led to a long and desolating war for five years, at the end of which (1288), finding the power of Brabant superior to his own Reinald in his turn sold his rights to count Henry III. of Luxemburg. Henry and Reinald, supported by the archbishop of Cologne and other allies, now raised a great army. The rival forces met at Woeringen (5th of June 1288) and John, duke of Brabant (q.v.) gained a complete victory. It proved decisive, the duchies of Limburg and Brabant passing under the rule of a common sovereign. The duchy comprised during this period the bailiwicks of Hervé, Montzen, Baelen, Sprimont and Wallhorn, and the counties of Rolduc, Daelhem and Falkenberg, to which was added in 1530 the town of Maastricht. The provisions and privileges of the famous Charter of Brabant, the Joyeuse Entrée (q.v.), were from the 15th century extended to Limburg and remained in force until the French Revolution. By the treaty of Westphalia (1648) the duchy was divided into two portions, the counties of Daelhem and Falkenberg with the town of Maastricht being ceded by Spain to the United Provinces, where they formed what was known as a “Generality-Land.” At the peace of Rastatt (1714) the southern portion passed under the dominion of the Austrian Habsburgs and formed part of the Austrian Netherlands until the French conquest in 1794. During the period of French rule (1794–1814) Limburg was included in the two French departments of Ourthe and Meuse Inférieure. In 1814 the old name of Limburg was restored to one of the provinces of the newly created kingdom of the Netherlands, but the new Limburg comprised besides the ancient duchy, a piece of Gelderland and the county of Looz. At the revolution of 1830 Limburg, with the exception of Maastricht, threw in its lot with the Belgians, and during the nine years that King William refused to recognize the existence of the kingdom of Belgium the Limburgers sent representatives to the legislature at Brussels and were treated as Belgians. When in 1839 the Dutch king suddenly announced his intention of accepting the terms of the settlement proposed by the treaty of London, as drawn up by representatives of the great powers in 1831, Belgium found herself compelled to relinquish portions of Limburg and Luxemburg. The part of Limburg that lay on the right bank of the Meuse, together with the town of Maastricht and a number of communes—Weert, Haelen, Kepel, Horst, &c.—on the left bank of the river, became a sovereign duchy under the rule of the king of Holland. In exchange for the cession of the rights of the Germanic confederation over the portion of Luxemburg, which was annexed by the treaty to Belgium, the duchy of Limburg (excepting the communes of Maastricht and Venloo) was declared to belong to the Germanic confederation. This somewhat unsatisfactory condition of affairs continued until 1866, when at a conference of the great powers, held in London to consider the Luxemburg question (see Luxemburg), it was agreed that Limburg should be freed from every political tie with Germany. Limburg became henceforth an integral part of Dutch territory.

See P. S. Ernst, Histoire du Limbourg (7 vols., Liége, 1837–1852); C. J. Luzac, De Landen van Overmuze in Zonderheid 1662 (Leiden, 1888); M. J. de Poully, Histoire de Maastricht et de ses environs (1850); Diplomaticke bescheiden betreffends de Limburg-Luxemburgsche aangelegenheden 1866–1867 (The Hague, 1868); and R. Fruin, Geschied. der Staats-Instellingen in Nederland (The Hague, 1901).  (G. E.)