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Duchy of Bouillon

Duché de Bouillon
1456? – 1794
Flag of Bouillon, Duchy
Coat of arms of Bouillon, Duchy
Coat of arms
The Duchy of Bouillon as at 1560, shown within the Lower Rhenish–Westphalian Circle
The Duchy of Bouillon as at 1560, shown within the Lower Rhenish–Westphalian Circle
Capital Bouillon
Common languages Walloon
Government Dukedom
Historical era Middle Ages
• Ardennes lords of Bouillon
by the 11th century
• La Marck châtelains
from 1415 the 15th century
• First style of Duke
• Treaties of Nijmegen
• Abolition of manorial
    and feudal rights

26 May 1790
23 March or 1 May 1792
• Proclamation of the

24 April 1794
• Annexed to France
26 October 1795
(4 Brumaire, Year IV)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Lower Lorraine
Republic of Bouillon
Today part of Belgium

The Duchy of Bouillon (French: Duché de Bouillon) was a duchy comprising Bouillon and adjacent towns and villages in present-day Belgium.

The state originated in the 10th century as property of the Lords of Bouillon, owners of Bouillon Castle. Crusader Godfrey of Bouillon, later the first King of Jerusalem, sold Bouillon to the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, in 1095. The Prince-Bishops of Liège consequently became lords of Bouillon and eventually adopted the title of duke. The duchy was later claimed by members of the Houses of La Marck and La Tour d'Auvergne. From 1678, it was a sovereign duchy under French protection and ruled by La Tour. It was annexed by France in 1795.


Carte du Duché de Bouillon (1864)
Map of the Duchy

The Duchy of Bouillon was a sovereign duchy until 1795. In 1789, it had a population of 2,500. The largest town was Bouillon, situated on the Semois. It also consisted of the surrounding villages: Sugny, Corbion, Alle, Rochehaut, Ucimont, Botassart, Sensenruth, Noirefontaine, Gros-Fays, Fays-les-Veneurs, Bertrix, Carlsbourg, Paliseul, Jehonville, Opont, Anloy, Porcheresse, Gembes, Gedinne, Sart-Custinne, and Tellin.

Bouillon is located in a Walloon-speaking region.


Bouillon (Belgique); vue de la partie occidentale du château-fort (XIIIe–XIX siècles)
Bouillon Castle
Bouillon (Belgique); le vieux pont sur la Semois et le château-fort (Xe–XVIe siècles)
The Semois with Bouillon Castle in the background
History of the Low Countries
Frisii Belgae
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Gallia Belgica (55 BC – 5th c. AD)
Germania Inferior (83 – 5th c.)
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(4th–5th c.)
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(4th–5th c.)
Frisian Kingdom
(6th c.–734)
Frankish Kingdom (481–843)Carolingian Empire (800–843)
Austrasia (511–687)
Middle Francia (843–855) West

Kingdom of Lotharingia (855– 959)
Duchy of Lower Lorraine (959–)

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Bishopric of
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County of
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County of
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County of
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of Liège


Duchy of
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Burgundian Netherlands (1384–1482)
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Habsburg Netherlands (1482–1795)
(Seventeen Provinces after 1543)
Dutch Republic
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Austrian Netherlands
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R. Liège
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Batavian Republic (1795–1806)
Kingdom of Holland (1806–1810)
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associated with French First Republic (1795–1804)
part of First French Empire (1804–1815)
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Princip. of the Netherlands (1813–1815)
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Gr D. L.

Kingdom of the Netherlands (1839–)
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Kingdom of Belgium (1830–)
Gr D. of


The Duchy of Bouillon's origins are unclear. The first reference to Bouillon Castle comes in 988 and by the 11th century, Bouillon was a freehold held by the House of Ardennes, who styled themselves Lords of Bouillon. On the death of Godfrey III, Duke of Lower Lorraine in 1069, Bouillon passed to his nephew, Godfrey of Bouillon. In 1095, Godfrey of Bouillon sold Bouillon to Otbert, the Prince-Bishop of Liège, in order to finance his participation in the First Crusade. Godfrey later became first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The Prince-Bishop of Liège granted the châtellenie of Bouillon to the House of La Marck in 1415. In 1456, Louis de Bourbon, Bishop of Liège became the first individual to style himself "Duke of Bouillon". In 1482, the then Châtelain of Bouillon, William de La Marck, ordered the assassination of Louis in a plot to install his son, Jean de la Marck, as Prince-Bishop. This plot proved unsuccessful: John of Hornes was elected as successor of Louis de Bourbon as Prince-Bishop of Liège. John then fought a war with William that ended with the Treaty of Tongeren, signed May 21, 1484, with the de la Marck family relinquishing its claim on Liège, though they retained Bouillon Castle as a pledge for a loan of 30,000 livres and for their support for the Prince-Bishop against the emperor Maximilian I. In 1492 Robert II de la Marck began calling himself "Duke of Bouillon", but in 1521, Érard de La Marck, Prince-Bishop of Liège (and Robert's brother), with the backing of the troops of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, managed to regain Bouillon for the Prince-Bishopric.

On becoming chatelain in 1536 Robert Fleuranges III de La Marck also styled himself "Duke of Bouillon" and his successor Robert IV maintained the right to this title. During the Italian War of 1551–1559, Bouillon was occupied by the forces of Henry II of France to keep them free from Habsburg influence, but Henry confirmed Robert IV as Duke of Bouillon.

From 1560 to 1642, the Dukes of Bouillon were also the rulers of the independent Principality of Sedan.

With the death of Charlotte de La Marck in 1594, the duchy and the title passed to her husband Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne and thereafter became the possession of the House of La Tour d'Auvergne. France again invaded Bouillon in 1676 during the Franco-Dutch War, but Godefroy Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne retained the title. From this point on, although the Duchy of Bouillon was officially still a part of the Holy Roman Empire, it was in actuality a French protectorate. This state of affairs was confirmed by the 1678 Treaties of Nijmegen.

In the wake of the French Revolution, the French Revolutionary Army invaded the Duchy of Bouillon in 1794, creating the short-lived Republic of Bouillon. In 1795, Bouillon was annexed to France. The last duke, Jacques Léopold de La Tour d'Auvergne, died in 1802 without any children (which was the extinction of the La Tour d'Auvergne family).

In 1815 the Congress of Vienna established an arbitral commission to determine the "Duke of Bouillon" and decided in favor of Charles Alain Gabriel de Rohan (the last duke's closest relative on his paternal side) over Philippe d'Auvergne (a postulated relative, who had been adopted and declared an heir by Jacques' father, Godefroy de La Tour d'Auvergne, when he was the duke). Meanwhile the Duchy of Bouillon was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, then in personal union with the Kingdom of the Netherlands (later becoming part of the Kingdom of the Belgians in 1830). The title, territory and the debt of Bouillon remained a bone of contention between the bishopric and the noble houses before and after the French annexation of Bouillon in 1795. Court rulings about claimants were not resolved until 1825.

List of Dukes of Bouillon

Prince Bishops of Liege 1456–?

Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became duke Death Spouse
Louis de Bourbon(Couleurs).jpg Louis de Bourbon Charles I, Duke of Bourbon 1438 unmarried 1456
claimed title on accession to bishopric
30 August 1482 none
Wappen Bistum Lüttich.png John of Hornes James of Hornes around 1450 unmarried 1484 (accession)
maintained ownership of Bouillon
1505 none
J.C. Vermeyen Erard de la Marck. Prince-bishop of Liège.jpg Érard de La Marck Robert I de la Marck 31 May 1472 unmarried 1505 (accession)
maintained ownership of Bouillon
1538 none

House of La Marck, ?–1588

Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became duke Death Spouse
Armoiries de la Marck-Sedan.svg Robert I de La Marck Jean de La Marck 1430 15 June 1446 appointed chatelaine of Bouillon February 1487 Jeanne de Marley
Armoiries de la Marck-Sedan.svg Robert II de la Marck Robert I 1465 25 December 1490 claimed title of Duke, 1492 March 1536 Catherine de Croÿ
Fleuranges.jpg Robert Fleuranges de La Marck Robert II 1491 1 April 1510 claimed title of Duke, 1536 21 December 1537 Guillemette of Saarbrücken, Countess of Braine
RobertIVdeLaMarck1570.jpg Robert IV de La Marck Robert Fleuranges 5 January 1512 1 March 1539 confirmed in title by Henry II of France 15 February 1556 Françoise de Brézé, Countess of Maulevrier
Armoiries de la Marck-Sedan.svg Henri Robert de La Marck Robert IV 7 February 1540 7 Feb 1558 15 February 1556
father's death
2 December 1574 Françoise de Bourbon
CharlottedelaMarck1570.jpg Charlotte de La Marck
suo jure
Henri Robert 5 November 1574 19 May 1594 2 December 1574
father's death
15 May 1594 Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne
Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became duke Death Spouse

House of La Tour d'Auvergne, 1588–1802

Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became duke Ceased to be duke Death Spouse
Henridelatour.jpg Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne François de La Tour d'Auvergne 28 September 1555 19 November 1591 15 May 1594
first wife's death
25 March 1623 Charlotte de La Marck
15 April 1595 Elisabeth of Nassau
Frederic-MauricedeLaTourdAuvergneNanteuil.jpg Frédéric Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne Henri 22 October 1605 2 January 1634 25 March 1623
father's death
9 August 1652 Eleonora Catharina Febronis van den Bergh
GodefroyMauricedeLaTour dAuvergneNanteuil.jpg Godefroy Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne Frédéric Maurice 21 June 1636 19 April 1662 9 August 1652
father's death
26 July 1721 Marie Anne Mancini
Emmanuel Théodose de La Tour d'Auvergne (1668–1730) while duc d'Albret.jpg Emmanuel Théodose de La Tour d'Auvergne Godefroy Maurice 1668 1 February 1696 26 July 1721
father's death
17 April 1730 Marie Armande Victoire de La Trémoille
4 January 1718 Louise Françoise Angélique Le Tellier
21 March 1725 Louise Henriette Françoise de Lorraine
Armoiries de la Tour d'Auvergne-Turenne.svg Charles Godefroy de La Tour d'Auvergne Emmanuel Théodose 16 July 1706 2 April 1724 17 April 1730
father's death
24 October 1771 Maria Karolina Sobieska
Colson - Portrait du Duc de Bouillon.jpg Godefroy de La Tour d'Auvergne Charles Godefroy 26 January 1728 27 November 1743 24 October 1771
father's death
3 December 1792 Louise de Lorraine
14 May 1789 Marie Françoise Henriette de Banastre
Drouais, François-Hubert - The Children of the Duc de Bouillon - 1756.jpg Jacques Léopold de La Tour d'Auvergne Godefroy 15 January 1746 17 July 1766 3 December 1792
father's death
Bouillon absorbed into the French First Republic
7 February 1802 Hedwig of Hesse-Rotenburg
Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became duke Ceased to be duke Death Spouse

House of Rohan, 1816–1975

In 1816, the Congress of Vienna restored the title of "Duke of Bouillon", giving it to Charles Alain Gabriel de Rohan, grandson of Marie Louise de La Tour d'Auvergne, who was the daughter of the former duke Charles Godefroy de La Tour d'Auvergne. In 1918 Austria became a republic so the ducal titles did not more existed.

Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became duke Death Wife
Alexander Clarot - Charles Alain de Rohan.jpg Charles Alain Gabriel
Henri Louis, Prince of Guéméné
18 January 1764 29 May 1781 1816
24 April 1836 Louise Aglae de Conflans d'Armentieres
František Tkadlík - Victor Rohan.jpg Louis Victor Mériadec
Henri Louis, Prince of Guéméné
1766 24 April 1836
1841 Berthe de Rohan
Camille de Rohan-Rochefort-Guéméné.jpg Camille Philippe Joseph Idesbald
Charles-Louis-Gaspard de Rohan-Rochefort
Adopted by Louis Victor Mériadec
19 December 1801 28 May 1826 1846
13 September 1892 Adelheid zu Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg
Ateliér Heinrich Eckert Praha - Alain de Rohan sedící v křesle.jpg Alain Benjamin Arthur
Arthur de Rohan (1826–1885), son of Camille Philippe 8 January 1853 10 October 1885 13 September 1892
24 February 1914 Johanna of Auersperg
Ateliér C.G. Springer Liberec - Alain de Rohan.jpg Alain Anton Joseph Adolf Ignaz Maria
Alain Benjamin Arthur 26 Jul 1893 29 September 1921 24 February 1914
17 March 1975 Margarethe von Schönburg-Hartenstein
Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became duke Death Wife

See also

  • Duchess of Bouillon
  • Prince of Sedan
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