Despite its small size – 2,586 km2 and home to 576,000 inhabitants – the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a sovereign state with a rich history. Nestled between France, Belgium and Germany in the heart of Europe, it has been involved in the great European developments.
The turbulent past of the Grand Duchy is a true mirror of European history. During the Middle Ages, its princes wore the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. In Early Modern Times, its fortress was a major bone of contention in the battle between the great powers.
Before achieving independence in the 19th century, Luxembourg belonged successively to the Counts and Dukes of Luxembourg, the Dukes of Burgundy, the Kings of Spain, the Kings of France, the Emperors of Austria and Kings of the Netherlands. During the 20th century, this wealthy and dynamic country acted as a catalyst in the unification of Europe.
Everything You Need to Know about the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Click below for a downloadable publication by the Luxembourg Government that gives an overview of every aspect of this country in the heart of Europe.
Key dates in the history of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
|Creation of the Holy Roman Empire by Otto I
|Count Siegfried acquires the small fort Lucilinburhuc through an exchange act with the abbey of St Maximin in Trier, and makes it the seat of his county.
|Henry VII, Count of Luxembourg, is elected King of Germany. He is crowned Emperor in Rome in 1312.
|Marriage of John the Blind to Elisabeth, heiress to the Kingdom of Bohemia. The Counts of Luxembourg become Kings of Bohemia.
|Start of the Hundred Years War
|Emperor Charles IV elevates the County of Luxembourg to the rank of Duchy and cedes it to his half-brother Wenceslas I.
|With the definitive acquisition of the County of Chiny, the possessions of the Dukes of Luxembourg reach their greatest extent (10,000km2)
|Wenceslas II mortgages the Duchy of Luxembourg to his cousin Jobst of Moravia.
|Death of Sigismond, last Emperor of the House of Luxembourg
|The Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, conquers the town of Luxembourg. The Duchy of Luxembourg falls under the rule of the Netherlands. This marks the beginning of four centuries of foreign domination.
|Abdication of Charles V in favour of his son Philip II. The Netherlands and the Duchy of Luxembourg pass into the hands of the Spanish Habsburgs.
|Under the Treaty of the Pyrenees, Spain cedes the southern part of the Duchy of Luxembourg, including the town of Thionville, to France.
|Start of the personal reign of Louis XIV
|After a siege directed by Vauban, the troops of Louis XIV take the city and fortress of Luxembourg. Important fortification works are carried out.
|Under the Treaty of Ryswick, Louis XIV is obliged to return the Duchy of Luxembourg to Spain.
|War of the Spanish Succession
|Following the War of the Spanish Succession, the provinces of the Netherlands are assigned to Charles VI of Austria. Luxembourg falls under Austrian control.
|After a siege of over seven months by French Revolutionary troops, the fortress surrenders. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg becomes the ‘Département des Forêts’.
|Uprisings in the country against the introduction of general military service and the anti-religious policy of the Directory (‘Klëppelkrich’ – cudgel war).
|Introduction of the Napoleonic Code throughout the country, at the time the French Republic’s Département des Forêts
|Congress of Vienna. Creation of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg assigned in personal union to William I, King of the Netherlands. Territorial division: the Luxembourg territories of the Eifel and the other side of the Moselle, the Sûre and the Our are allocated to Prussia. As a member of the German Confederation, Luxembourg becomes a federal fortress and home to a Prussian garrison.
|Start of the Belgian Revolution
|Treaty of London. Luxembourg is split in two, its western part going to Belgium, while its eastern part continues to make up the Grand Duchy. Luxembourg acquires its current geographical form (2,586km2).
|Luxembourg joins the Zollverein, establishing economic union with Prussia which was to last until 1918. Discovery of mineral deposits in the south of the country.
|Luxembourg acquires a constitution guaranteeing the freedoms and fundamental rights of its citizens.
|Treaty of London. The Grand Duchy obtains the status of a perpetually neutral and disarmed state. The Prussian garrison leaves the fortress, which is dismantled.
|The apostolic vicariate is elevated to the rank of bishopric of Luxembourg by Pope Pius IX. Establishment of the first steelworks in the mining area.
|Creation of the German Empire (Second Reich)
|Birth of Robert Schuman, the ‘father of Europe’, in Luxembourg City.
|Accession to the throne of Grand Duke Adolphe of Nassau-Weilburg. Luxembourg obtains its own dynasty.
|Birth of three parties — socialist, liberal, and Christian-social — which will determine political life in the 20th century.
|Creation of ARBED, which was to become the leading iron- and steel-making group in the Grand Duchy.
|Accession to the throne of Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde, the first sovereign to be born in the Grand Duchy since John the Blind
|First World War
|On 2 August 1914, German troops invade the Grand Duchy, violating the neutrality granted by the Treaty of London.
|Abdication of Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde in favour of her sister, Charlotte. Introduction of universal suffrage.Double referendum: 80% of the Luxembourg people vote in favour of maintaining the dynasty, and 73% in favour of an economic union with France.
|France having refused the Luxembourg offer, Luxembourg enters into negotiations with Belgium.
|The Grand Duchy signs the convention instituting the Belgo-Luxembourg Economic Union (BLEU) with Belgium and adopts the Belgian franc as their common currency.
|Referendum on the ‘Muzzle Law’
|Second World War
|On 10 May 1940, neutral Luxembourg is invaded by the German army. Grand Duchess Charlotte and the Government go into exile.
|On 10 September 1944, Luxembourg City is liberated by the Americans.
|The Battle of the Bulge devastates the north and east of the country following the counter-offensive of the Germans.
|Ratification of the Benelux Convention, instituting a customs union between Belgium, the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
|Having abandoned its neutrality (1948), Luxembourg joins NATO.
|Luxembourg is one of the founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), forerunner of the European Union.
|The city of Luxembourg is appointed the provisional seat of the first European community.
|Alongside Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and France, Luxembourg signs the Treaties of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
|Issue of the first eurobonds listed in Luxembourg. The rise of the euro markets triggers the growth of the financial centre during the 1960s.
|Abdication of Grand Duchess Charlotte in favour of her eldest son, Jean
|First oil crisis. The ensuing crisis hits the Luxembourg economy head-on.
|Closure of the country’s last iron ore mine
|Lëtzebuergesch becomes the national language.
|Pope John Paul II, on a visit to the Grand Duchy, elevates it to the rank of archbishopric.
|Charlemagne Prize awarded to the people of Luxembourg in recognition of its commitment to the European cause.
|Collapse of the Berlin Wall
|The European summit in Edinburgh confirms Luxembourg City as the seat of the Community institutions alongside Brussels and Strasbourg.
|Definitive shut-down of the last blast furnace in the Grand Duchy. Steel production is henceforth limited to electric arc furnaces.
|Abdication of Grand Duke Jean in favour of his son, Henri.
|The euro enters into circulation and replaces the Luxembourg franc.
|Golden Lion for best pavilion at the Venice Biennale awarded to Chinese-Luxembourgish artist Su-Mei Tse
|National referendum in favour of the draft Constitution for Europe
|After 1995, Luxembourg City becomes European Capital of Culture for the second time, this time in association with the Greater Region.
|Luxembourg wins its first Oscar in 2014 for the animated film Mr Hublot (Zeilt Productions)
|The Grand Duchy celebrates 175 years of independence.