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   Luxembourg History

Luxembourg History The written history of "Luxembourg" starts in the year 963, when Sigefroid, Count of the Ardennes, and founder of the Luxembourg dynasty, had a castle built on the territory of the present-day Capital of Luxembourg. This castle was the origin of the establishment of a town, which for nine centuries was to develop into a formidable fortress, known as "Gibraltar of the North". The inhabitants of Luxembourg-city were granted civil liberties as early as 1244 by Countess Ermesinde. The 14th century saw four members of the first House of Luxembourg (Henri VII, Charles IV, Wenceslas and Sigismond) become Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. Others became kings of Bohemia and of Hungary. Emperor Charles IV elevated the County of Luxembourg to the rank of Duchy in 1354.

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After a long period of foreign sovereignty (Burgundian / Spanish / French / Austrian / Revolutionary French) Luxembourg regained its national independence in 1815. The Congress of Vienna settled the destiny of the country, by raising it to the rank of Grand Duchy, and by giving it as personal property to the King of the Netherlands (William I of Orange-Nassau).

This personal union between Luxembourg and the Netherlands lasted until 1890. During this period the political independence and autonomy were strenghtened, and the democratic institutions were developed. The 11th of May 1867 is one of the most important dates in national history. The Treaty of London reaffirmed Luxembourg's territorial integrity, and the political autonomy which had already been granted by the Treaty of London of 1839. Furthermore, Luxembourg was declared perpetually neutral, and the great powers agreed to guarantee and to protect the neutrality of the Grand Duchy.

Since 1890, when the Crown of the Grand Duchy passed to the elder branch of the House of Nassau (N.-Weilburg), Luxembourg has had its own dynasty. His Royal Highness Grand Duke Jean is the present monarch. , succeeded His mother on the throne in November 1964, when she abdicated. His mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte, Duchess of Nassau, Princess of Bourbon Parma, died in 1985. Grand Duke Jean and his wife Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte, the sister of the King of the Belgians, have five children Henri, Jean, Guillaume, Marie-Astrid, and Margaretha. His Higness Grand Duke Henri is "Lieutenant Representant" since March 1998.

In the Second World War, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was invaded on May 10, 1940; the southern border area saw fierce fighting and the population suffered badly. Nazi-occupation turned the next four years into a continuous nightmare. The liberation of Luxembourg by American troops especially the men of the 5th US Armored Division ("Victory Division") and other elements of the First Army started on September 9, 1944. The Germans dug in at the Siegfried line and the Americans controlled Luxembourg.

On December 16, 1944 Hitler launched the desparate attack through the Ardennes. The German divisions made their way across the mountainous northern part of Luxembourg trying to reach the port of Antwerp in Belgium. The heroic resistance of the American forces turned this into one of History’s greatest battles: THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE. The defenders of the Luxembourg territory were the men of the 4th and 28th US Infantry Divisions and of the 9th US Armored Division. General Patton’s Third Army was rushed to the front.

Northern Luxembourg suffered twice in the Battle of the Bulge: first during the attack of the Germans and again during the retreating combats which ended on February 12, 1945.

Important Sites for visitors: American Military Cemetery in HAMM outside Luxembourg-City where General George S. Patton is buried with 5076 soldiers of the Third Army. Major Museums in Diekirch, Clervaux, Wiltz and Ettelbruck.The latter dubbed "Patton Town" by its citizens, has a museum devoted to General George S. Patton in addition to a larger than-life-size statue of the General, a Patton tank and a towering obelisk. Monuments are found throughout the country honoring Luxembourg’s American liberators.

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