History of Alsace / Histoire de l'Alsace

Keywords for this page:
Alsace Elsass Elsaß
Dagsburg Dabo
Eguisheim Egisheim
Ribeaupierre Rappolstein Rappoltstein Rappoltweiler
Ferrette Pfirt
Andlau Andlaw

A short résumé:

This little page contains some work and notes I have gathered together in my studies on Alsatian history. While I am thoroughly American, born and raised near Seattle, I married into Alsatian culture some 37 years ago. Seems like high time I took a look at the history of the place!

On our regular visits to my wife's home in Colmar, Upper Rhine Department of Alsace (perhaps I must call it Grande Est now), I have seen and occasionally visited the "Trois Chateaux". These are the remains of a set of three medieval castles sitting on a hilltop each within spitting distance of each other. They are visible on the skyline from my wife's home. I have always loved history, particularly in that history which has left tangible evidence in the form of many castles dotting the Vosges foothills and the fortified towns which often opposed them on the fertile plains below. Not only the towns and castles themselves but the ghosts of those who lived there, their concerns, motivations, and the broader European social currents that influenced and often inundated them.

Alsace is a wonderful place to think on history. It is one of those border states (as it were) always part of larger neighboring regions without necessarily a unique history of its own. What happened in Alsace happened in Europe and what happened in Europe happened in Alsace. As such, a look into this region's history provides insights and understanding on a larger scale. My way of arguing from the specific to the general.

A great start to understanding Alsatian history is to look into the many castles which remain ever present. These are the transition civilization existing between an early Celtic and Roman world swamped by the growth of Frankish power, and by a later Europe shaped by new cities and ideas yet retaining the legacy of feudal/aristocratic ambitions and foibles. The ruins of ideas are often as present as the castles themselves.

Through it all, I have gathered together quite a list of web-available documents (with especial thanks to Wikipedia). These I have gathered together into printable web-books as I am old and do not care to read from a computer (or kindle) screen. Some works or items are apparently unavailable online and I have had to cobble together myself. One document in particular I have had to make "all by myself" is the genealogical table for the House of Eguisheim, counts of Alsatian Nordgau. All these things are contained on this page for your viewing and edification. Any errors and gaffs are entirely my own.

kevin smith


Genealogical tables for the House of Merowig, Charlemagne, Saxe/Franconia, and Guntram ancestor of the Habsbourgs:

PDF Input notes/trees by source for early Frank Dynasties

Genealogical table for the House of Eguisheim, counts of Nordgau: Metz, and Dabo:

This is the only place on the web one will find an Eguisheim genealogical chart. I know, I have looked and did not find. So, I made one myself... I find it strange that no chart existed given the importance of this family and their connections to so many major and ruling houses in Europe. It was fun and I learned a LOT. Any errors or blunders are, of course, strictly my own.
Arbre généalogique de la Maison d'Eguisheim, Comtes de Nordgau: Metz: Dabo

PDF Input notes/trees by source for the House of Eguisheim.

A question concerning the coat of arms of Pope Leo IX, Bruno of Eguisheim.

Genealogical table for the House of Ribeaupierre:

Arbre généalogique de la Maison de Ribeaupierre d'Alsace

PDF Input notes/trees by source, with a look at the Swiss Branch Tree as well.

Genealogical table for the House of Ferrette:

Arbre généalogique de la Maison de Ferrette d'Alsace

PDF Input notes/trees by source for the House of Ferrette.

Genealogical table for the House of Andlau:

Arbre généalogique de la Maison d'Andlau d'Alsace

PDF Input notes/trees by source for the House of Andlau.

Alsace Timeline...

I have cobbled together a little spreadsheet to help me keep a bit of historical context while reading about the history of Alsace. Perhaps you may find it interesting as well:
Timeline of Alsace History from 100BC to the present

While making the above family trees I ran into many interesting heralds and shields that I have incorporated in my graphics. Heralds are a medieval equivalent to computer icons, small graphics designed within limited space to identify its subject. In my researches I have consulted many heralds, looking especially at Family Heralds from the nobility in or associated with Alsace. The following document contains the majority that I have looked at, saved, or drawn myself. Heralds add color and interest to a document.

Armorial d'Alsace, a Roll of Arms for Alsace

Fun page for those who enjoy chess...

The Eguisheim family was a staunch defender of the church in Rome, contributed more than one saint, founded several monasteries, and even contributed a Pope (Léon IX). It should come as no surprise then that during the investiture controversy between the Emperor and Pope, the Eguisheim played a part. The conflict as it played out in Alsace between the Eguisheim and Hohenstaufen, clients of the emperor, is much like a classic match in chess. I have set out the elements of this idea on the following page:
An interesting chess setup centered on the Investiture Controversy and played out in Alsace

Battlefield Alsace...

In the last 150 years Alsace has been visited by three major conflicts between France and Germany. It seems to have been suficiently long since the end of the last in 1945 that the lessons are wearing off. Nationalism appears to be again on the rise. May God help us all!:
Wars fought on Alsatian soil / Les Guerres en Alsace

The following links contain reference material for mediaeval Alsace. I have compiled lists of castles, abbeys, and fortified town in Alsace along with notes as to when, kinda sorta, they were founded and by whom. It’s all very fuzzy, but still useful in sorting out who is important.

Castles of Alsace / Châteaux d'Alsace
Châteaux d'Alsace

Abbeys and Monestaries of Alsace / Abbayes d'Alsace
Abbayes d'Alsace

Fortified towns of Alsace / Villes Fortifiées d'Alsace
Villes Fortifiées d'Alsace

From the lists linked to above I have put together an interesting chart of the foundation history for Fortified Villages, Abbeys, and Castles in Alsace. It is instructive and shows fairly well that abbeys and villages were founded mostly early in Frankish Alsace while Castles and fortifications around villages were mostly later. Do note that foundation dates are nortoriously fuzzy and difficult to pin down. To make the chart I have assumed "average" dates from ranges where given. When looking at almost 1000 years of history, one need not quibble over 50 years give or take.

Find next a set of history books I cobbled together for Francs's province of Alsace. These books lead one through the human and natural history of Alsace, read'em and you will know quite a lot! Oh! and they are predominantly written in French...
The files are in bookfold format and only make sense if one prints them double-sided and folded. Note that these are formatted for letter paper. Whether they print correctly on A4 I have no idea. Give it a shot and find out!

Histoire de l’Alsace: Tome I: Haut-Rhin
Historical texts for the Upper Rhine Department. pdf format, 15.9 meg size

Histoire de l’Alsace: Tome II: Bas-Rhin
Historical texts for the Lower Rhine Department. pdf format, 13.1 meg size

Histoire de l’Alsace: Tome III: Histoire Naturelle Natural History texts for the province of Alsace. pdf format, 7.28 meg size

Histoire de l’Alsace: Tome IV: Maison d'Eguisheim Readings primarily concerned with the Family of Eguisheim. pdf format, 20.2 meg size
Tome IV contains the principle references utilized to construct the Eguisheim arbre généalogique.

Histoire de l’Alsace: Tome V: Abbayes d'Alsace Les origines du monachisme en Alsace. (René Bornert 2008: Revue d’Alsace) pdf format, 0.67 meg size

Histoire de l’Alsace: Tome VI: Maison de Ribeaupierre Readings primarily concerned with the Family of Ribeaupierre. pdf format, 10.5 meg size

Histoire de l’Alsace: Tome VII: Comté de Ferrette Readings primarily concerned with the Family of Ferrette. pdf format, 4.4 meg size

Histoire de l’Alsace: Tome VIII: Maison d'Andlau Readings primarily concerned with the Family of Andlau. pdf format, 7.1 meg size

Histoire de l’Alsace: Tome IX: Armorial d'AlsaceA roll of Alsatian arms by state, ville, and (most importantly) family. pdf format, 3.2 meg size


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