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The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, more commonly known as Luxembourg, is a landlocked nation situated in western Europe, surrounded by Belgium, Germany, and France. The capital is Luxembourg City. The national culture is a combination of French and German. There are three official languages: Luxembourgish, French, and German. The motto of Luxembourg is "Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn," which is Luxembourgish for "We want to remain what we are." The country is a representative democracy with a constitutional monarch.

While the modern independent country of Luxembourg was not created until the nineteenth century, its national identity began to emerge in 963, when it became an independent duchy after Siegfried, Count of Ardennes, was in the market for a property and traded several tracts of his land with the monks of the Abbey of St. Maximin in Trier for a small but strategically located fortress called the Castle of Lucilinburhuc. It was situated on a rocky outcrop known as "the Bock" and over the years, the Bock and its defenses were constantly reinforced. It would be attacked and then rebuilt countless times after the Habsburgs, Prussians, French, and Spanish tried to gain possession of this strategic fortification.

Soon enough a town developed around the fortress. Because of the edifice and its location, the tiny town was lusted after by the leaders of many countries. Siegfried had many successors, each of whom acquired the land by treaties, marriages, inheritances, and conquests. The first person to take title of Count of Luxembourg was a direct descendant named Conrad. A procession of members of the Luxembourg dynasty was to follow, including King of Germany and King of Bohemia Charles IV who made the county a duchy, his son Wenceslas who was the King of Bohemia as well as King of Germany, and Sigismund the Holy Roman emperor as well as the King of Hungary and the King of Bohemia. Sigusmund was the last emperor of the House of Luxembourg. The duchess of Luxembourg Elizabeth of Görlitz, who was Sigismund's niece, had to cede the Duchy of Luxembourg to Philip III, Duke of Burgundy in 1443. Ownership went to the Spanish Habsburgs in 1477.

The signing of the Treaty of Pyrenees marked the end of the Franco-Spanish War of 1648-59, the war which was the de facto second episode of the Thirty Years' War with Spain and France. In the more than 300 years which followed the treaty, the Brandenburg Electors -- which was made up of the archbishops of Trier, Cologne, and Mainz, as well as the count palatine of the Rhine, the margrave of Brandenburg, the duke of Saxony, and the king of Bohemia -- and later the kings of Prussia continually claimed the right to the patrimony of Luxembourg based on the claim that they were heirs-general the disputed dukes of Luxembourg, William of Thuringia and his wife Anna of Bohemia. These claims did attain a small amount of success in 1813 when some of the districts in Luxembourg were united with Prussia.

Philip III of Spain, the possessor of Luxembourg, willed it along with the other Low Countries to his daughter Isabella Clara Eugenia and her husband Albert VII, Archduke of Austria in 1598. The end of the Spanish Habsburgs' reign in Luxembourg happened with the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, Charles IV, called Charles the Bewitched, who died childless in November of 1700.

Control went back and forth between the various royal houses, primarily the House of Luxembourg, the House of Luxembourg-Namur, the House of Habsburg, and the House of Bourbon. Spain, France, Prussia, Austria, and the Netherlands all had a hand in ruling Luxembourg at one time (or more) or another.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they were granted or won independence from the French Empire twice, the Netherlands, and the German Reich.

Imperial German soldiers violated the neutrality of Luxembourg in August of 1914, at the very the beginning of World War I, when they occupied the country. They remained an occupying force until the end of the war in 1918. The occupation was illegal because Luxembourg was neutral. The ruler of Luxembourg at the time, Grand Duchess Marie Adélaïde, had done virtually nothing to try to rid the country of the illegal occupiers. She did issue a formal protest but that's where it ended. She decided not to resist, choosing instead to maintain the country's neutrality. During the war, she developed very close friendship with the occupiers and even went so far as to host Kiser Wilhelm II at the palace. She became very unpopular with her countrymen. In 1919. she abdicated, and her sister Charlotte took her place. A few months after the abdication, Luxembourgish voted overwhelmingly in favor of keeping Charlotte as grand duchess and against establishing a republic.

 

 

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