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Metz is a city in the North-East of France, capital of the Lorraine région and of the département of Moselle (57). It is located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille .


In ancient times Metz, then known as Divodurum, was the capital of the Celtic Mediomatrici , and the name of this tribe, contracted into Mettis, formed the origin of the present name. At the beginning of the Common Era, the site was already occupied by the Romans. Metz became one of the principal towns of Gallia, more populated than Lutetia, rich for its wine exports and having one of the vastest amphitheatres of the country. As the junction of several military roads, and as a well-fortified town, it soon became of great importance. One of the last Roman strongholds to surrender to the Germanic tribes, it was captured by Attila in 451, and finally passed, about the end of the fifth century, through peaceful negotiations into the hands of the Franks. Theuderic of Austrasia chose it in 511 as his residence; the reign of Queen Brunhilda reflected great splendour on the town. Though the first Christian churches were to be found outside the city, the existence in the fifth century of the oratory of St. Stephen within the city walls has been fully proved. In the beginning of the seventh century the oldest monastic establishments were those of St. Glossinde and St. Peter. Under the Carolingians the town preserved the good-will of the rulers, whose family seat was near by; Charles the Bald was crowned in the Basilica, and here Louis the Pious and his son Drogo are buried. In 843 Metz became the capital of the Kingdom of Lorraine, and several diets and councils were held there. Numerous Christian manuscripts, the product of the Metz schools of writing and painting, such as the famous "Trier Ada" manuscript and the Drogo Sacramentary for the personal use of a bishop of the royal house (Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris), are evidence of the active intellectual lives and sumptuous patronage of Carolingian Metz.

In 870 the town became part of the East Frank kingdom, and belonged (911-25) as part of Lorraine to France. The increasing influence of the bishops in the city became greater when Adalbert I (928-62) obtained a share of the privileges of the counts; until the twelfth century, therefore, the history of the town is practically identical with that of the bishops (see [1] ). In 1039 a splendid edifice was built to take the place of the old church of St. Stephen.

In the twelfth century began the efforts of the burgesses to free themselves from the domination of the bishops. In 1180 the burgesses for the first time formed themselves into a close corporation, and in 1207 the Tredecem jurati were appointed as municipal representatives, but they were still nominated directly by the bishop, who had also a controlling influence in the selection of the presiding officer of the board of aldermen, which first appears in the eleventh century. The twenty-five representatives sent by the various parishes held an independent position; in judicial matters they helped the Tredecem jurati and formed the democratic element of the system of government. The other municipal authorities were chosen by the town aristocracy, the so-called Paraiges, i. e. the five associations whose members were selected from distinguished families to protect the interests of their relatives. The other body of burgesses, called a Commune, also appears as a Paraige from the year 1297; in the individual offices it was represented by double the number of members that each of the older five Paraiges had. Making common cause, the older family unions and the Commune found it advantageous to gradually increase the powers of the city as opposed to the bishops, and also to keep the control of the municipal government fully in their hands and out of that of the powerful growing guilds, so that until the sixteenth century Metz remained a purely aristocratic organization. In 1300 the Paraiges gained the right to fill the office of head-alderman, during the fourteenth century the right to elect the Tredecem jurati, and in 1383 the right of coining. The guilds, which during the fourteenth century had attained great independence, were completely suppressed (1383), and the last revolutionary attempt of the artisans to seize control of the city government (1405) was put down with much bloodshed.

The city had often to fight for its freedom; from 1324-27 against the Dukes of Luxembourg and Lorraine, as well as against the Archbishop of Trier; in 1363 and 1365 against the band of English mercenaries under Arnold of Cervola, in the fifteenth century against France and the Dukes of Burgundy, who sought to annex Metz to their lands or at least wanted to exercise a protectorate. Nevertheless it maintained its independence, even though at great cost, and remained, outwardly at least, part of the German Empire, whose ruler, however, concerned himself very little with this important frontier stronghold. Charles IV in 1354 and 1356 held brilliant diets here, at the latter of which was promulgated the famous statute known as the "Golden Bull". The town therefore felt that it occupied an almost independent position between France and Germany, and wanted most of all to evade the obligation of imperial taxes and attendance at the diet. The estrangement between it and the German States daily became wider, and finally affairs came to such a pass that in the religious and political troubles of 1552 Metz found itself in the middle of the war between Charles V and the rebellious princes. By an agreement of the German princes, Moritz of Saxony , William of Hesse , John Albrecht of Mecklenburg , and George Frederick of Brandenburg , with Henry II of France, ratified by the French king at Chambord (15 January), Metz was formally transferred to France, the gates of the city were opened (10 April), and Henry took possession as vicarius sacri imperii et urbis protector (18 April). The Duke of Guise, commander of the garrison, restored the old fortifications and added new ones, and successfully resisted the attacks of the emperor from October to December, 1552; Metz remained French. The recognition by the empire of the surrender of Metz to France came at the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia. By the construction of the citadel (1555-62) the new government secured itself against the citizens, who were discontented with the turn of events. Important internal changes soon took place. In place of the Paraiges stood the authority of the French king, whose representative was the governor. The head-alderman, now appointed by the governor, was replaced (1640) by a Royalist Mayor. The aldermen were also appointed by the governor and henceforth drawn from the whole body of burgesses; in 1633 the judgeship passed to the Parliament. The powers of the Tredecem jurati were also restricted, in 1634 totally abolished, and replaced by the Bailliage royal.

Among the cities of Lorraine, Metz held a prominent position during the French possession for two reasons: In the first place it became one of the most important fortresses through the work of Vauban (1674) and Cormontaigne (1730); secondly, it became the capital of the temporal province of the three bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, which France had seized (1552) and, by the Peace of Westphalia, retained. In 1633 there was created for this "Province des trois évêchés" (also called "Généralité des trois évêchés" or "Intendance de Metz") a supreme court of justice and court of administration, the Metz Parliament. In 1681 the Chambre Royale, the notorious Assembly chamber, whose business it was to decide what fiefs belonged to the three bishoprics which Louis XIV claimed for France, was made a part of this Parliament, which lasted, after a temporary dissolution (1771-75), until the final settlement by the National Assembly in 1789, whereupon the division of the land into departments and districts followed. Metz became the capital of the Department of Moselle, created in 1790. The revolution brought great calamities upon the city. In the campaigns of 1814 and 1815 the allied armies twice besieged the city, but were unable to take it. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 Metz was the headquarters and rendezvous of the third French Army Corps under Bazaine. Through the operations of the German army, Bazaine, after the battles of Colombey, Mars-la-Tour, and Gravelotte (14-18 August) was besieged in Metz. The German army of investment was commanded by Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia ; as the few sorties of the garrison were unable to break the German lines, Metz was forced to surrender (27 October), with the result that 6000 French officers and 170,000 men were taken prisoners.

By the Treaty of Frankfurt of 1871, Metz became a German city, and was made a most important garrison and a strong fortress. Despite the departure of many inhabitants who fled to France to avoid living under German rule, Metz nonetheless expanded and transformed during the period of German rule. The fortifications on the south and east were levelled in 1898, securing space for growth and development. Some large neo-Romanesque buildings typical of the German empire appeared in the city.

Following the armistice with Germany ending the First World War, the French army entered Metz in November 1918 to great cheering from the population, which had always remained attached to France, and the city was returned to France at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

Metz was again annexed by Germany between 1940 and 1944 during the Second World War, and was liberated in November 1944 by the French and American armies.

During the past 900 years , the town of Metz has been a special town , in terms of being the home of many Famous Jewish Rabbis . SInce , 1100 AD famous rabbis like Rabbeinu Gershom and Rashi lived in Metz . More recently in the period between 17th and 19th centuries , all of the famous European rabbis either lived or served as Rabbi in the community in METZ , these include Reb Yehonosson Eibeshitz , the "Sha'ages Arye" , the "Pnei Yehoshua" , Rabbi Yaakov Reischer known as "the Shvus Yaakov " , Rabbi Yaakov Emden and others .....

The town of Metz fell into german hands during the Nazi occupation of france in 1940 until 1944, when it was unsafe for jews to be found anywhere in Nazi occupied Europe . The Jewish leaders in metz, in fear that the nazis would desecrate the ancient jewish cemetary in "Avenue de Blida, Metz" , they mixed up the famous rabbis headstones . Thankfully the Nazis left the jewish cemetary almost in tact, and after the second world war , the Gravestone below was erected , in the place where the famous 6 Rabbis where known to be buried . ( please see for photos of the ancient Jewish Cemetary and maps of Metz ) .

After the second world war , the Town council - Marie , renamed a street where the synagague is today , to "Rue du Rabbin E Bloch" , named after the Rabbi of Metz who was deported to the death camps and murdered by the nazis in Germany . The French people of Metz have always been exceedingly kind and helpful to the jewish community .

In the cemetary there is a holocaust memorial which contains ashes from the auschwitz death-camp (in a metal vault) in memory of the jewish community that was completely wiped out during the second world war from METZ . (see for photos of the memorial )

Nowadays, the military importance of Metz has decreased, and the city has diversified its economic base. Expansion has continued in the recent decades despite the economic crisis that besets the rest of Lorraine.


Metz was the birthplace of:

It is represented in la Ligue Nationale, the French premier football division by F.C. Metz.

Photos of Metz The Official Town Council Tourist website with excellent photos at and the famous Jewish Cemetary at

See also

This article incorporates text from the public domain Catholic Encyclopedia.

Last updated: 02-05-2005 21:17:47
Last updated: 02-19-2005 10:29:06