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Updated: Mar 6

French Germany? France is French and Germany is German, as a general rule, so how could you have French Germany?

Well, borders can be fluid things. Around 800 A.D., Charlemagne’s empire knew no Franco-German border, and the succeeding Holy Roman Empire included substantial French, Italian and Slavic territory. People tended to have local identities, or identified with their lord and his domain; nationalism did not become a powerful force until Napoleon’s time.

These borders may have flowed back and forth over your ancestors too- here’s what happened.

In the mid-1600’s, when the Thirty Years War tore Central Europe apart, the French throne was able to start nibbling away at the borderlands, annexing little lordships here and there- rulers did not much care whether the locals spoke French or German, as long as they paid tax. By the French Revolution, 1789, Alsace-Lorraine had already largely been incorporated into the Kingdom of France.

By 1794, monarchic governments had invaded revolutionary France and been beaten back; France then occupi