Rhineland

Rhineland

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Historically, the Rhinelands refers (physically speaking) to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine
West Bank (Rhine)
The West Bank was a landlocked territory and comprised the south western part of Germany and the Southern Netherlands on the west bank of the Rhine in Europe. To the east, the West Bank shared border with the Holy Roman Empire...

 in central Europe.
More recently the Rhineland (Rheinland in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

) has become the general name for areas of Germany along the middle and lower Rhine in Germany between Bingen
Bingen am Rhein
Bingen am Rhein is a town in the Mainz-Bingen district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.The settlement’s original name was Bingium, a Celtic word that may have meant “hole in the rock”, a description of the shoal behind the Mäuseturm, known as the Binger Loch. Bingen was the starting point for the...

 and the Dutch border, or between the confluence with the Neckar
Neckar
The Neckar is a long river, mainly flowing through the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, but also a short section through Hesse, in Germany. The Neckar is a major right tributary of the River Rhine...

 and Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

. To the west the area stretches to the borders with Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

; on the eastern side it only encompasses the towns and cities along the river. Except for the Saar
Saarland
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

 this area more or less corresponds with the modern use of the term.

It is a contentious issue but between the two world wars the term "Rhineland" covered the whole occupied and de-militarized zone to the west of the Rhine including the bridge-heads on the eastern banks (see map below). After the collapse of the French
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

 dominated West Bank
West Bank (Rhine)
The West Bank was a landlocked territory and comprised the south western part of Germany and the Southern Netherlands on the west bank of the Rhine in Europe. To the east, the West Bank shared border with the Holy Roman Empire...

 in the early 19th century, the German and Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 (Province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg
Province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg
The Province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1815–22. The province was largely made up of the land held by the former United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg...

) speaking regions at the middle and lower course of the Rhine were annexed to the kingdom of Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

. The Prussian administration reorganized the territory as the Rhine Province
Rhine Province
The Rhine Province , also known as Rhenish Prussia or synonymous to the Rhineland , was the westernmost province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia, within the German Reich, from 1822-1946. It was created from the provinces of the Lower Rhine and Jülich-Cleves-Berg...

 (also known as Rhenish Prussia), a term continuing in the names of the German states
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 of Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has an area of and about four million inhabitants. The capital is Mainz. English speakers also commonly refer to the state by its German name, Rheinland-Pfalz ....

 and North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

. Following the First World War of the early 20th century, the western part of Rhineland was occupied by Entente
Triple Entente
The Triple Entente was the name given to the alliance among Britain, France and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907....

 forces, then demilitarized under the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

. German forces remilitarized the territory
Remilitarization of the Rhineland
The Remilitarization of the Rhineland by the German Army took place on 7 March 1936 when German military forces entered the Rhineland. This was significant because it violated the terms of the Locarno Treaties and was the first time since the end of World War I that German troops had been in this...

 in 1936, as part of a diplomatic test of will, three years before the outbreak of the Second World War.

The southern and eastern parts are mainly hill country (Westerwald
Westerwald
The Westerwald is a low mountain range on the right bank of the River Rhine in the German federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia. It is a part of the Rhine Massif...

, Hunsrück
Hunsrück
The Hunsrück is a low mountain range in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is bounded by the river valleys of the Moselle , the Nahe , and the Rhine . The Hunsrück is continued by the Taunus mountains on the eastern side of the Rhine. In the north behind the Moselle it is continued by the Eifel...

, Bergisches Land
Bergisches Land
The Bergisches Land is a low mountain range region within the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, east of Rhine river, south of the Ruhr. The landscape is shaped by woods, meadows, rivers and creeks and contains over 20 artificial lakes...

, Taunus
Taunus
The Taunus is a low mountain range in Hesse, Germany that composes part of the Rhenish Slate Mountains. It is bounded by the river valleys of Rhine, Main and Lahn. On the opposite side of the Rhine, the mountains are continued by the Hunsrück...

 and Eifel
Eifel
The Eifel is a low mountain range in western Germany and eastern Belgium. It occupies parts of southwestern North Rhine-Westphalia, northwestern Rhineland-Palatinate and the south of the German-speaking Community of Belgium....

), cut by river valleys, principally the Rhine and Mosel
Moselle River
The Moselle is a river flowing through France, Luxembourg, and Germany. It is a left tributary of the Rhine, joining the Rhine at Koblenz. A small part of Belgium is also drained by the Mosel through the Our....

. The north takes in the Ruhr valley.

Some of the larger cities in the Rhineland include Aachen
Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

, Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

, Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

, Duisburg
Duisburg
- History :A legend recorded by Johannes Aventinus holds that Duisburg, was built by the eponymous Tuisto, mythical progenitor of Germans, ca. 2395 BC...

, Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

, Koblenz
Koblenz
Koblenz is a German city situated on both banks of the Rhine at its confluence with the Moselle, where the Deutsches Eck and its monument are situated.As Koblenz was one of the military posts established by Drusus about 8 BC, the...

, Krefeld
Krefeld
Krefeld , also known as Crefeld until 1929, is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located northwest of Düsseldorf, its centre lying just a few kilometres to the west of the River Rhine; the borough of Uerdingen is situated directly on the Rhine...

, Leverkusen
Leverkusen
Leverkusen is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany on the eastern bank of the Rhine. To the South, Leverkusen borders the city of Cologne and to the North is the state capital Düsseldorf....

, Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

.

Pre-Roman


At the earliest historical period, the territories between the Ardennes and the Rhine were occupied by the Treveri
Treveri
The Treveri or Treviri were a tribe of Gauls who inhabited the lower valley of the Moselle from around 150 BCE, at the latest, until their eventual absorption into the Franks...

, the Eburones
Eburones
The Eburones , were a Belgic people who lived in the northeast of Gaul, near the river Meuse and the modern provinces of Belgian and Dutch Limburg, in the period immediately before it was conquered by Rome. They played a major role in Julius Caesar's account of his "Gallic Wars", as the most...

 and other Celtic tribes, who, however, were all more or less modified and influenced by their Germanic neighbours. On the right bank of the Rhine, between the Main and the Lahn, were the settlements of the Mattiaci
Mattiaci
The Mattiaci were an ancient Germanic tribe. They were possibly a branch of the Chatti, their Germanic neighbors to the east. The Mattiaci were settled on border of the Roman Empire on the right side of the Rhine in the area of present-day Wiesbaden , the southern Taunus, and the Wetterau.Tacitus...

, a branch of the Germanic Chatti
Chatti
The Chatti were an ancient Germanic tribe whose homeland was near the upper Weser. They settled in central and northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony, along the upper reaches of the Weser River and in the valleys and mountains of the Eder, Fulda and Weser River regions, a district approximately...

, while farther to the north were the Usipetes and Tencteri.

Roman conquests and German re-conquests


Julius Caesar conquered the tribes on the left bank, and Augustus established numerous fortified posts on the Rhine, but the Romans never succeeded in gaining a firm footing on the right bank. As the power of the Roman empire declined the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 pushed forward along both banks of the Rhine, and by the end of the 5th century had conquered all the lands that had formerly been under Roman influence. The Germanic conquerors of the Rhenish districts were singularly little affected by the culture of the Roman provincials they subdued, and all traces of Roman civilization were submerged. By the 8th century the Frankish dominion was firmly established in western Germany and northern Gaul.

On the division of the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

 at the Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun
The Treaty of Verdun was a treaty between the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious, the son and successor of Charlemagne, which divided the Carolingian Empire into three kingdoms...

 the part of the province to the east of the river fell to East Francia, while that to the west remained with the kingdom of Lotharingia
Lotharingia
Lotharingia was a region in northwest Europe, comprising the Low Countries, the western Rhineland, the lands today on the border between France and Germany, and what is now western Switzerland. It was born of the tripartite division in 855, of the kingdom of Middle Francia, itself formed of the...

.

Holy Roman Empire


By the time of Otto I. (d. 973) both banks of the Rhine had become part of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, and the Rhenish territory was divided between the duchies of Upper Lorraine, on the Mosel, and Lower Lorraine
Lower Lorraine
The Duchy of Lower Lorraine or Lower Lotharingia , established in 959 was a stem duchy of the medieval German kingdom, which encompassed part of modern-day Belgium, the Netherlands, the northern part of the German Rhineland and a part of northern France east of the Schelde river.It was created out...

 on the Meuse.

As the central power of the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 weakened, the Rhineland split up into numerous small independent principalities, each with its separate vicissitudes and special chronicles. The old Lotharingian divisions became obsolete, and the name of Lorraine
Lorraine (région)
Lorraine is one of the 27 régions of France. The administrative region has two cities of equal importance, Metz and Nancy. Metz is considered to be the official capital since that is where the regional parliament is situated...

 became restricted to the district that still bears it.

In spite of its dismembered condition, and the sufferings it underwent at the hands of its French neighbours in various periods of warfare, the Rhenish territory prospered greatly and stood in the foremost rank of German culture and progress. Aachen was the place of coronation of the German emperors, and the ecclesiastical principalities of the Rhine bulked largely in German history.

Prussian influence



A Prussian king first set foot on the Rhine in 1609 by the occupation of the Duchy of Cleves
Duchy of Cleves
The Duchy of Cleves was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. It was situated in the northern Rhineland on both sides of the Lower Rhine, around its capital Cleves and the town of Wesel, bordering the lands of the Prince-Bishopric of Münster in the east and the Duchy of Brabant in the west...

 and about a century later Upper Guelders
Prussian Guelders
Prussian Guelders or Prussian Gelderland was the part of the Duchy of Guelders ruled by the Kingdom of Prussia from 1713. Its capital was Geldern....

 and Moers
Moers
Moers is a German city on the left bank of the Rhine. Moers belongs to the district of Wesel...

 also became Prussian. At the peace of Basel in 1795 the whole of the left bank of the Rhine was resigned to France which occupied the area before and established colonial government. In 1806 the Rhenish princes all joined the Confederation of the Rhine. The congress of Vienna assigned the whole of the lower Rhenish districts to Prussia, which had the tact to leave them in undisturbed possession of the liberal institutions they had become accustomed to under the republican rule of the French.

French Rhineland Occupation


In 1920, under massive French pressure, the Saar
Saar (League of Nations)
The Territory of the Saar Basin , also referred as the Saar or Saargebiet, was a region of Germany that was occupied and governed by Britain and France from 1920 to 1935 under a League of Nations mandate, with the occupation originally being under the auspices of the Treaty of Versailles...

 was separated from the Rhine Province and administered by the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 until a plebiscite in 1935, when the region was returned to the German Reich. At the same time, in 1920, the districts of Eupen
Eupen
Eupen is a municipality in the Belgian province of Liège, from the German border , from the Dutch border and from the "High Fens" nature reserve...

 and Malmedy
Malmedy
Malmedy is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region, Province of Liège. It belongs to the French Community of Belgium, within which it is French-speaking with facilities for German-speakers. On January 1, 2006 Malmedy had a total population of 11,829...

 were transferred to Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 (see German-Speaking Community of Belgium
German-speaking Community of Belgium
The German-speaking Community of Belgium is one of the three federal communities of Belgium. Covering an area of 854 km² within the province of Liège in Wallonia, it includes nine of the eleven municipalities of the so-called East Cantons...

). Shortly after, France completely occupied the Rhineland
Occupation of the Rhineland
The Occupation of the Rhineland took place following the armistice and brought the fighting of World War I to a close on 11 November 1918. The occupying armies consisted of American, Belgian, British and French forces...

, strictly controlling all important industrial areas, executing workers that peacefully refused to work.

Post 1946


In 1946, the Rhineland was divided into the newly-founded states of Hesse
Hesse
Hesse or Hessia is both a cultural region of Germany and the name of an individual German state.* The cultural region of Hesse includes both the State of Hesse and the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state...

, North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

 and Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has an area of and about four million inhabitants. The capital is Mainz. English speakers also commonly refer to the state by its German name, Rheinland-Pfalz ....

. North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the prime German industrial areas, containing significant mineral deposits, (coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

, lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

, lignite
Lignite
Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, or Rosebud coal by Northern Pacific Railroad,is a soft brown fuel with characteristics that put it somewhere between coal and peat...

, magnesium
Magnesium
Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12, and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole...

, oil
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 and uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

) and water transport. In Rhineland-Palatinate agriculture is more important, including the vineyards in the Ahr
Ahr (wine region)
Ahr is a wine region for quality wine in Germany, and is located in the valley of the river Ahr, a tributary of Rhine, and is situated in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate. With only of vines as of 2008, it is one of smaller of Germany's 13 regions...

, Mittelrhein
Mittelrhein (wine region)
Mittelrhein is a region for quality wine in Germany, and is located along a 120 km stretch of river Rhine in the touristic portions of the Rhine region known as Middle Rhine. On the left bank of Rhine, vineyards begin immediately downstream of the Nahe River estuary and last until Koblenz...

 and Mosel regions.

See also

  • Rhine
  • Cologne/Bonn Region
    Cologne/Bonn Region
    The Cologne/Bonn Region , also known as Cologne/Bonn Metropolitan Region is a metropolitan area in North Rhine-Westfalia, Germany, covering the cities of Cologne, Bonn and Leverkusen, as well as the districts of Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis, Oberbergischer Kreis, Rhein-Erft-Kreis and Rhein-Sieg-Kreis...

  • Lower Rhine region
    Lower Rhine region (Germany)
    The Lower Rhine region or Niederrhein is a region around the Lower Rhine section of the river Rhine in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany between approximately Neuss and Düsseldorf in the South and the Dutch border around Emmerich in the North...