Journal Article

From Regime Change to <i>Réunion</i>: Louis XIV’s Quest for Legitimacy in Lorraine, 1670–97

Philip McCluskey

in The English Historical Review

Volume CXXVI, issue 523, pages 1386-1407
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online December 2011 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI:
From Regime Change to Réunion: Louis XIV’s Quest for Legitimacy in Lorraine, 1670–97

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France’s occupation of the duchy of Lorraine (1670-97) was long seen as the classic example of the Sun King’s ruthless expansionism, as he sought to extend the frontiers of his kingdom without regard to the rights of territorial princes who found themselves in his way. In particular, the réunions of the early 1680s, by which the French government attempted to unilaterally annex Lorraine and other occupied territories, were decried as pernicious legal trickery. More recently, historians have become more conscious of similar proceedings elsewhere in Europe, suggesting that the French were trying to resolve what was a standard problem at this time: that the right of conquest did not form a sufficient basis for political legitimacy in occupied territory. Recent studies have also stressed that Louis XIV’s foreign policy may have been far more reactive than has hitherto been appreciated. This article therefore investigates how far the course of the French occupation of Lorraine was determined not only by the objectives of the occupier, but also by the attitudes of the occupied population, and international reactions to the occupation. It finds that the French government deployed a series of initiatives designed to facilitate the permanent annexation of the territory, yet each of these proved to be ultimately unsatisfactory. In part, this can be attributed to the status of military occupation in international relations at this time: recognised, if not yet clearly elaborated.

Journal Article.  11507 words. 

Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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