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Lorraine (German: Lothringen) is a historical area in present-day northeast France. It is currently a région of France. The area is famous as the birthplace of Joan of Arc, and the place where Quiche Lorraine orginated. Some of the main cities are Metz, Nancy and Verdun.
Lorraine was originally an independent kingdom. It was created in 843, when the Carolingian empire was divided between the three sons of Louis the Pious. Named after the new ruler, Holy Roman Emperor Lothar, the area and other territories controlled by Lothar became known as Lotharingia. In France, this became known as Lorraine, while in Germany, it was eventually known as Lothringen. See Duchy of Lorraine for dynastic details.
With the loss of the imperial title and the waning of Carolingian influence, the kingdom lost territories and came under the rule of a duke, thereby reducing the former kingdom to a duchy. Between 1733 and 1766 it was ruled (generally seen as wisely ruled) by Stanislaus I of Poland. In 1766 Lorraine became part of France, and it was reorganized by the French government.
Lorraine, along with Alsace, has long been contested territory between France and Germany. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the area was predominantly populated by Germans, who opposed efforts to have the French language and customs imposed upon them, a process which Stanislaus I effectively ended during his reign but which continued afterwards. A part of Lorraine, along with Alsace, was reunited with Germany after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 causing a number of French people to emigrate into France, and Lorraine remained a part of Germany until the end of World War I, when Germany had to cede it to France. Under Bismarck's German Empire Alsace-Lorraine had (unlike other German territories) virtually no autonomy and was ruled by a governor appointed by the Imperial Chancellor and use of the French language was discouraged.
The re-establishment of German rule was reversed following the German surrender in 1918. Policies of forbidding the use of German and requiring that of French were then begun. The region was annexed by Germany in 1940 during World War II. Lorraine was combined with the Saarland, and Alsace with Baden. The occupation, while putting a halt to the perceived anti-Germanic oppression, subjected the region to the Nazi dictatorship, which was loathed by the majority of the people, including the ethnic Germans. The war-torn area was given again to France in November 1944 after a victorious campaign by General Patton and his army. Because of all the fighting in the area, Lorraine is home to the largest American cemetery in France.
Most of Lorraine is widely considered 'French', hence Bismarck only annexed about a third of today's Lorraine to the German Empire following the Franco-Prussian War. The disputed third, known as Moselle, had a culture not easily classifiable as either French or German possessing both French and German dialects. Like much of the Balkans and Eastern Europe much of Lorraine was a patchwork of ethnicities and dialects, sometimes not even mutually comprehensible with either French or German.
Despite the French government 'single language' policy, the local German dialect still survives, called Frankish. This is a different German dialect from the neighbouring Alsatian language, with which it is often confused. Both dialects are called Alsacien in French, and neither have any form of official recognition.
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