Rhine Province, Ger. Rheinprovinz, former province of Prussia, W Germany. The province was also known as Rhenish Prussia and as the Rhineland. The northern section of the former province (which contained part of the industrial Ruhr district) is now included in the state of North Rhine–Westphalia, and the southern section (with its famous wine districts along the Moselle and Rhine rivers) is in Rhineland-Palatinate. The province bordered in the W on the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg and in the S on France. Koblenz (the former capital), Cologne, Düsseldorf, Aachen, and Wuppertal were among the chief cities. The region is traversed by the Rhine, Moselle, and Wupper rivers and by the lower course of the Ruhr. The Rhenish Slate Mts. are in the south. After the breakup (11th cent.) of the duchy of Lower Lorraine (see Lotharingia), of which the area was a part, the region split into more than 100 ecclesiastic and secular fiefs; Aachen and Cologne became free imperial cities. Chief among the territorial princes were the archbishops of Cologne and Trier and the dukes of Cleves, who also absorbed the duchies of Jülich and Berg. In 1614, Jülich and Berg passed to the dukes palatine of Neuburg (later electors palatine), while Cleves went to the electors of Brandenburg (later kings of Prussia). As a result of the French Revolutionary Wars, France annexed the entire territory W of the Rhine, while the territory E of the Rhine was constituted (1803) the duchy (after 1806, grand duchy) of Berg. The award of the entire territory to Prussia at the Congress of Vienna (1814–15) represented the greatest Prussian territorial gain since the partitions of Poland (see Poland, partitions of). At first divided into two provinces, the entire region was constituted the Rhine Province in 1824. One of the strongholds of Roman Catholicism in Germany, the province played an important part in the Kulturkampf later in the century. Under the Treaty of Versailles (1919), the border territories of Eupen and of Malmedy and Moresnet were ceded to Belgium, and the southernmost corner of the province was included in the Saar Territory. These were recovered by Germany after 1935, but the status quo as of 1920 (with minor modifications) was restored in 1945 after World War II and prior to the formation of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.