Lotharingia [key], name given to the northern portion of the lands assigned (843) to Emperor of the West Lothair I in the first division of the Carolingian empire (see Verdun, Treaty of). It comprised, roughly, the present Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Lorraine, Alsace, and NW Germany, including Aachen and Cologne. Lothair also received Italy and Burgundy (including Provence and W Switzerland) in the division of 843. Before his death (855), Lothair subdivided his lands among his three sons. His son, King Lothair (for whom the region is named), was given Lotharingia as a kingdom, while Italy and Burgundy went to Louis II and Charles. King Lothair died in 869, and in 870 his lands were fairly evenly divided between the East Frankish and West Frankish kingdoms (i.e., Germany and France) in the Treaty of Mersen. After a period of confusion and warfare, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, whose predecessor, the German King Henry I, had gained (925) control over all Lotharingia, gave it in 953 to his brother St. Bruno, archbishop of Cologne. Bruno's difficulties with the Lotharingian nobles caused him to divide (959) the country into the duchies of Lower Lorraine, in the north, and Upper Lorraine, in the south (the name Lorraine being the modern form of Lotharingia). The ducal titles in both duchies subsequently were awarded in confusing succession to various noble houses, but their significance became nothing as the great feudal lords gained in power. In Upper Lorraine, the ducal title continued until 1766 in what became known simply as the duchy of Lorraine; this was greatly restricted in extent and did not include Alsace, Luxembourg, the bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, and the archbishopric of Trier, all of which were originally in Upper Lorraine. In Lower Lorraine, the title soon lapsed completely; chief among the fiefs that emerged here were the duchies of Brabant, Bouillon, Limburg, Jülich, Cleves, and Berg, the county of Hainaut, and the bishopric of Liège. Cologne and Aachen became free imperial cities. Thus the history of both Upper Lorraine and Lower Lorraine grew increasingly fragmented from the 11 cent. onward. From the Treaty of Verdun until the present time the territories comprised in Lotharingia, particularly Upper Lorraine, have been contested between Germany and France.
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