Strasbourg is the capital and largest city of the Grand Est region of France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located at the border with Germany in the historic region of Alsace, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin department. In 2016, the city proper had 279,284 inhabitants and both the Eurométropole de Strasbourg and the Arrondissement of Strasbourg had 491,409 inhabitants. Strasbourg's metropolitan area had a population of 785,839 in 2015, making it the ninth largest metro area in France and home to 13% of the Grand Est region's inhabitants; the transnational Eurodistrict Strasbourg-Ortenau had a population of 915,000 inhabitants in 2014. Strasbourg is one of the de facto capitals of the European Union, as it is the seat of several European institutions, such as the Council of Europe and the Eurocorps, as well as the European Parliament and the European Ombudsman of the European Union; the city is the seat of the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine and the International Institute of Human Rights.
Strasbourg's historic city centre, the Grande Île, was classified a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time such an honour was placed on an entire city centre. Strasbourg is immersed in Franco-German culture and although violently disputed throughout history, has been a cultural bridge between France and Germany for centuries through the University of Strasbourg the second largest in France, the coexistence of Catholic and Protestant culture, it is home to the largest Islamic place of worship in France, the Strasbourg Grand Mosque. Economically, Strasbourg is an important centre of manufacturing and engineering, as well as a hub of road and river transportation; the port of Strasbourg is the second largest on the Rhine after Germany. Before the 5th century, the city was known as Argantorati, a Celtic Gaulish name Latinized first as Argentorate, as Argentoratum; that Gaulish name is a compound of -rati, the Gaulish word for fortified enclosures, cognate to the Old Irish ráth, arganto-, the Gaulish word for silver, but any precious metal gold, suggesting either a fortified enclosure located by a river gold mining site, or hoarding gold mined in the nearby rivers.
After the 5th century, the city became known by a different name Gallicized as Strasbourg. That name is of Germanic origin and means "Town of roads"; the modern Stras- is cognate to the German Straße and English street, all of which are derived from Latin strata, while -bourg is cognate to the German Burg and English borough, all of which are derived from Proto-Germanic *burgz. Gregory of Tours was the first to mention the name change: in the tenth book of his History of the Franks written shortly after 590 he said that Egidius, Bishop of Reims, accused of plotting against King Childebert II of Austrasia in favor of his uncle King Chilperic I of Neustria, was tried by a synod of Austrasian bishops in Metz in November 590, found guilty and removed from the priesthood taken "ad Argentoratensem urbem, quam nunc Strateburgum vocant", where he was exiled. Strasbourg is situated at the eastern border of France with Germany; this border is formed by the Rhine, which forms the eastern border of the modern city, facing across the river to the German town Kehl.
The historic core of Strasbourg however lies on the Grande Île in the river Ill, which here flows parallel to, 4 kilometres from, the Rhine. The natural courses of the two rivers join some distance downstream of Strasbourg, although several artificial waterways now connect them within the city; the city lies in the Upper Rhine Plain, at between 132 metres and 151 metres above sea level, with the upland areas of the Vosges Mountains some 20 km to the west and the Black Forest 25 km to the east. This section of the Rhine valley is a major axis of north–south travel, with river traffic on the Rhine itself, major roads and railways paralleling it on both banks; the city is some 397 kilometres east of Paris. The mouth of the Rhine lies 450 kilometres to the north, or 650 kilometres as the river flows, whilst the head of navigation in Basel is some 100 kilometres to the south, or 150 kilometres by river. In spite of its position far inland, Strasbourg's climate is classified as oceanic, but a "semicontinental" climate with some degree of maritime influence in relation to the mild patterns of Western and Southern France.
The city has warm sunny summers and cool, overcast winters. Precipitation is elevated from mid-spring to the end of summer, but remains constant throughout the year, totaling 631.4 mm annually. On average, snow falls 30 days per year; the highest temperature recorded was 38.5 °C in August 2003, during the 2003 European heat wave. The lowest temperature eve
The County of Hanau-Lichtenberg was a territory in the Holy Roman Empire. It emerged between 1456–80 from a part of the County of Hanau and one half of the Barony of Lichtenberg. Following the extinction of the counts of Hanau-Lichtenberg in 1736 it went to Hesse-Darmstadt, minor parts of it to the Hesse-Cassel, its centre was in the lower Alsace, the capital first Babenhausen Buchsweiler. In 1452, after a reign of only one year, Count Reinhard III of Hanau died; the heir was Philip the Younger, only four years old. For the sake of the continuity of the dynasty, his relatives and other important decision-makers in the county agreed not to turn to the 1375 primogenitur statute of the family—one of the oldest in Germany—and to let the heir's uncle and brother of the deceased, Philip I, have the administrative district of Babenhausen from the estate of the County of Hanau as a county in his own right; this arrangement of 1458 allowed him to have a befitting marriage and offspring entitled to inherit, so increased the chances of survival of the comital house.
Philip the Elder was called now "of Hanau-Babenhausen". In the same year of 1458, Philip the Elder married Anna of Lichtenberg, one of the two daughter-heirs of Louis V of Lichtenberg. After the death of the last of the noble House of Lichtenberg, Louis' brother, James of Lichtenberg, in 1480, Philip I the Elder inherited the half of the Barony of Lichtenberg in the Lower Alsace with its capital, Buchsweiler. From this arose the branch and county of Hanau-Lichtenberg, his nephew, Philip I of Hanau and his descendants called themselves, by contrast, the "counts of Hanau-Münzenberg". The next large inheritance occurred in 1570. Count James of Zweibrücken-Bitsch and his brother, Simon V Wecker, who had died in 1540, left behind a daughter each “only”; the daughter of Count James, married Philip V of Hanau-Lichtenberg. The inheritance included the second half of the Barony of Lichtenberg, the County of Zweibrücken-Bitsch and the Barony of Ochsenstein. Parts of the County of Zweibrücken-Bitsch were a fief of the Duchy of Lorraine.
A dispute broke out after James' death between the husbands of the two cousins, Count Philip I of Leiningen-Westerburg and Count Philip V of Hanau-Lichtenberg. Whilst Philip V of Hanau-Lichtenberg was able to overpower Philip I, his immediate introduction of Lutheranism in the course of the Reformation made himself an enemy of the powerful, Roman Catholic Duchy of Lorraine under Duke Charles III, who had the suzerainty of Bitsch and withdrew the fief. In July 1572 troops of Lorraine reversed the Reformation; because Philip V could not match Lorraine's military might, he sought legal redress. Not until 1604 and 1606 the conflict was solved by a treaty between Lorraine, it involved a division and took account of the old treaties: the Barony of Bitsch went back to Lorraine and the administrative district of Lemberg, an allod of the counts of Zweibrücken, was allocated to Hanau-Lichtenberg. As a result, the Bitsche territory remained Roman Catholic, whilst the Lutheran confession was introduced into the district of Lemberg.
In 1642 the last male member of the Hanau-Münzenberg family, Count Johann Ernst, died. The next male of kin was Friedrich Casimir, Count of Hanau-Lichtenberg still a minor under the guardianship of Georg II of Fleckenstein-Dagstuhl; the relation to count Johann Ernst was quite remote and the inheritance endangered in more than one way. The inheritance happened during the final years of Thirty Years' War, the feudal overlords of Hanau-Münzenberg were enemy to Hanau and tried to hold back fiefs traditionally held by Hanau-Münzenberg. Further the county of Hanau-Münzenberg was of Reformed Confession, Friedrich Casimir and the county of Hanau-Lichtenberg were Lutheran, and to reach the capital of Hanau-Münzenberg, the town of Hanau, was a problem: Friedrich Casimir could do so only in disguise. The inheritance could be secured by a treaty of 1643 between Friedrich Casimir and Landgravine Amalie Elisabeth, née countess of Hanau-Münzenberg, daughter to Philipp II, she granted diplomatic support against the still resistend overlords.
Therefore, Friedrich Casimir granted – should the house of Hanau be without male heirs – the inheritance of Hanau-Münzenberg to the descendants of Amalie Elisabeth. That happened in 1736. For economical and political reasons Friedrich Casimir was married to Sibylle Christine of Anhalt-Dessau, the widow of Count Philipp Moritz, the ruling count in Hanau-Münzenberg until 1638, she had received Steinau Castle as her widow seat. As widow of a ruling count, she could raise substantial claims against the county; the marriage was arranged to avoid such claims and to take advantage of the fact that she was Calvinist as the majority of the population in Hanau-Münzenberg, contrary to Friedrich Casimir, a Lutheran. The disadvantage of this arrangement was that Sibylle Christine was 44 years of age at the time 20 years older than Friedrich Casimir; the marriage remained childless. In 1680 the county of Hanau-Lichtenberg came under the souvereignity of France, as a result of the politics of “reunion” by king Louis XIV of France.
Friedrich Casimir died childless in 1685. His inheritance was divided between his two male nephews, count Philipp Reinhard, who inherited Hanau-Münzenberg and count Johann Reinhard III, who inherited Hanau-Lichtenberg. Both were sons of Friedrich Casimir's younger brother count Johann Reinhard II; when in 1712 count Johann Reinhard II died count Johann Reinhard III inherited the county of Hanau-Münzenberg and for a last time
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Third French Republic, the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. Lasting from 19 July 1870 to 28 January 1871, the conflict was caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification and French fears of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded; some historians argue that the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck deliberately provoked the French into declaring war on Prussia in order to draw the independent southern German states—Baden, Württemberg and Hesse-Darmstadt—into an alliance with the North German Confederation dominated by Prussia, while others contend that Bismarck did not plan anything and exploited the circumstances as they unfolded. None, dispute the fact that Bismarck must have recognized the potential for new German alliances, given the situation as a whole.
On 16 July 1870, the French parliament voted to declare war on Prussia and hostilities began three days when French forces invaded German territory. The German coalition mobilised its troops much more than the French and invaded northeastern France; the German forces were superior in numbers, had better training and leadership and made more effective use of modern technology railroads and artillery. A series of swift Prussian and German victories in eastern France, culminating in the Siege of Metz and the Battle of Sedan, saw French Emperor Napoleon III captured and the army of the Second Empire decisively defeated. A Government of National Defence declared the Third French Republic in Paris on 4 September and continued the war for another five months. Following the Siege of Paris, the capital fell on 28 January 1871, a revolutionary uprising called the Paris Commune seized power in the city and held it for two months, until it was bloodily suppressed by the regular French army at the end of May 1871.
The German states proclaimed their union as the German Empire under the Prussian king Wilhelm I uniting Germany as a nation-state. The Treaty of Frankfurt of 10 May 1871 gave Germany most of Alsace and some parts of Lorraine, which became the Imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine; the German conquest of France and the unification of Germany upset the European balance of power that had existed since the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Otto von Bismarck maintained great authority in international affairs for two decades. French determination to regain Alsace-Lorraine and fear of another Franco-German war, along with British apprehension about the balance of power, became factors in the causes of World War I; the causes of the Franco-Prussian War are rooted in the events surrounding the unification of Germany. In the aftermath of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Prussia had annexed numerous territories and formed the North German Confederation; this new power destabilized the European balance of power established by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars.
Napoleon III the emperor of France, demanded compensations in Belgium and on the left bank of the Rhine to secure France's strategic position, which the Prussian chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, flatly refused. Prussia turned its attention towards the south of Germany, where it sought to incorporate the southern German kingdoms, Bavaria, Württemberg and Hesse-Darmstadt, into a unified Prussia-dominated Germany. France was opposed to any further alliance of German states, which would have strengthened the Prussian military. In Prussia, some officials considered a war against France both inevitable and necessary to arouse German nationalism in those states that would allow the unification of a great German empire; this aim was epitomized by Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck's statement: "I did not doubt that a Franco-German war must take place before the construction of a United Germany could be realised." Bismarck knew that France should be the aggressor in the conflict to bring the southern German states to side with Prussia, hence giving Germans numerical superiority.
He was convinced that France would not find any allies in her war against Germany for the simple reason that "France, the victor, would be a danger to everybody – Prussia to nobody," and he added, "That is our strong point." Many Germans viewed the French as the traditional destabilizer of Europe, sought to weaken France to prevent further breaches of the peace. The immediate cause of the war resided in the candidacy of Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, a Prussian prince, to the throne of Spain. France feared encirclement by an alliance between Spain; the Hohenzollern prince's candidacy was withdrawn under French diplomatic pressure, but Otto von Bismarck goaded the French into declaring war by releasing an altered summary of the Ems Dispatch, a telegram sent by William I rejecting French demands that Prussia never again support a Hohenzollern candidacy. Bismarck's summary, as mistranslated by the French press Havas, made it sound as if the king had treated the French envoy in a demeaning fashion, which inflamed public opinion in France.
French historians François Roth and Pierre Milza argue that Napoleon III was pressured by a bellicose press and public opinion and thus sought war in response to France's diplomatic failures to obtain any territorial gains following the Austro-Prussian War. Napoleon III believed. Many in his court, such as Empress Eugénie wanted a
Haguenau is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department of France, of which it is a sub-prefecture. It is second in size in the Bas-Rhin only to some 30 km to the south. To the north of the town, the Forest of Haguenau is the largest undivided forest in France. Haguenau was founded by German dukes and has swapped back and forth several times between Germany and France over the centuries, with its spelling altering between "Hagenau" and "Haguenau" by the turn. After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, Haguenau was ceded to the new German Empire, it was part of the German Empire for 48 years from 1871 to 1918, when at the end of World War I it was returned to France. This transfer was ratified in 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles. Haguenau is a growing town, its population having increased from 22,644 inhabitants in 1968 to 34,891 inhabitants in 2006. Haguenau's metropolitan area has grown from 43,904 inhabitants in 1968 to 64,562 inhabitants in 2006. Haguenau dates from the beginning of the 12th century, when Duke Frederick II the One-Eyed of Swabia erected a hunting lodge on an island in the Moder River.
The medieval King and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa fortified the settlement and gave it town rights, important for further development, in 1154. On the site of the hunting lodge he founded an imperial palace he regarded as his favourite residence. In this palace were preserved the "Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire", i.e. the jewelled imperial crown, imperial orb, sword of Charlemagne. Richard of Cornwall, King of the Romans, made it an imperial city in 1257. Subsequently, through Rudolph I of Germany Haguenau became the seat of the Landvogt of Hagenau, the German imperial advocate in Lower Alsace. In the 14th century, it housed the executive council of the Decapole, a defensive and offensive association of ten Alsatian towns against external aggression, economic expansion and related political instability. In the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Alsace was ceded to France, which had invaded and looted the region in the past. In 1673 King Louis XIV had the fortifications as well as the remains of the king's palace razed in order to extinguish German traditions.
Haguenau was recaptured by German troops in 1675, but was taken again by the French two years when it was nearly destroyed by fire set by looting French troops. In 1793 Prussians and Austrians had occupied Lower Alsace from the Lauter to Moder to support the Royalists and before the year's end were driven back over the border by the French Revolutionary Army, causing the “great flight”. In 1871, Haguenau was ceded to the German Empire upon its victory in the Franco-Prussian War; the Haguenau Airport was built in 1916 by the German military to train fighter and bomber pilots to fight in the First World War. Hagenau was part of the independent Republic of Alsace-Lorraine after World War I, before being returned to France in 1919. In the Second World War, Germany retook the town in 1940. In November 1944 the area surrounding Haguenau was under the control of the 256th Volksgrenadier Division under the command of General Gerhard Franz. On 1 December 1944, the 314th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Division, XV Corps, 7th U.
S. Army, moved into the area near Haguenau, on 7 December the regiment was given the assignment to take it and the town forest just north that included German ammunition dumps; the attack began at 0645, 9 December, sometime during the night of 10 December and the early morning of 11 December the Germans withdrew under the cover of darkness leaving the town proper under American control. Before they withdrew, the Germans demolished bridges, useful buildings, the town park. However, as experienced by Haguenau throughout its history, the Germans came back and retook the town in late January. Most of the inhabitants fled with the assistance of the U. S. Army; the Americans launched an immediate counterattack to retake the town. The 313th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Division was relieved by the 101st Airborne Division on 5 February 1945; the 36th Infantry Division would relieve the 101st on 23 February 1945. On March 15 the Allied Operation Undertone, a combined effort of the U. S. Seventh and French 1st Armies of the U.
S. Sixth Army Group was launched to drive the Germans back along a 75 km line from Saarbrücken to Haguenau; the last German soldier was not cleared out of the town until March 19, 1945, after house-to-house fighting. Much of the town had been destroyed despite the Allied reluctance to use artillery to clear out the Germans. Technical Sergeant Morris E. Crain, Company E, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for providing covering fire for his men on 13 March 1945; the town has a well balanced economy. Centuries of troubled history in the buffer lands between France and Germany have given Haguenau a rich historical and cultural heritage which supports a lively tourist trade. There is a thriving light manufacturing sector centred on the industrial zone to the west of the town. Here the presence nearby of significant retail developments testifies to Haguenau's importance as a regional commercial centre; the recent extension of the ring road has improved access to the commercial and industrial zones and reduced the traffic congestion which used to be a frequent challenge for vehicle drivers using the road which follows the line of the old town walls on the western side of town.
In spite of the extensive destruction Haguenau suffered during the
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
The Moder is a 93-kilometre long river in northeastern France. The name of the river comes from Matrae—the Gallic river goddess, its source of the Moder is in the commune of Zittersheim. It joins the Rhine near the Iffezheim Lock, in Germany; the four primary tributaries of the Moder are the Zinsel du Nord River, Zorn River, Rothbach Stream, Soultzbach Stream. The river passes through the following communes: This article is based on the equivalent article from the French Wikipedia, consulted on 24 June 2015. Http://www.geoportail.fr The Moder at the Sandre database
Departments of France
In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government below the national level, between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, five are overseas departments, which are classified as regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; each department is administered by an elected body called a departmental council. From 1800 to April 2015, these were called general councils; each council has a president. Their main areas of responsibility include the management of a number of social and welfare allowances, of junior high school buildings and technical staff, local roads and school and rural buses, a contribution to municipal infrastructures. Local services of the state administration are traditionally organised at departmental level, where the prefect represents the government; the departments were created in 1790 as a rational replacement of Ancien Régime provinces with a view to strengthen national unity.
All of them were named after physical geographical features, rather than after historical or cultural territories which could have their own loyalties. The division of France into departments was a project identified with the French revolutionary leader the Abbé Sieyès, although it had been discussed and written about by many politicians and thinkers; the earliest known suggestion of it is from 1764 in the writings of d'Argenson. They have inspired similar divisions in some of them former French colonies. Most French departments are assigned a two-digit number, the "Official Geographical Code", allocated by the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques. Overseas departments have a three-digit number; the number is used, for example, in the postal code, was until used for all vehicle registration plates. While residents use the numbers to refer to their own department or a neighbouring one, more distant departments are referred to by their names, as few people know the numbers of all the departments.
For example, inhabitants of Loiret might refer to their department as "the 45". In 2014, President François Hollande proposed to abolish departmental councils by 2020, which would have maintained the departments as administrative divisions, to transfer their powers to other levels of governance; this reform project has since been abandoned. The first French territorial departments were proposed in 1665 by Marc-René d'Argenson to serve as administrative areas purely for the Ponts et Chaussées infrastructure administration. Before the French Revolution, France gained territory through the annexation of a mosaic of independent entities. By the close of the Ancien Régime, it was organised into provinces. During the period of the Revolution, these were dissolved in order to weaken old loyalties; the modern departments, as all-purpose units of the government, were created on 4 March 1790 by the National Constituent Assembly to replace the provinces with what the Assembly deemed a more rational structure.
Their boundaries served two purposes: Boundaries were chosen to break up France's historical regions in an attempt to erase cultural differences and build a more homogeneous nation. Boundaries were set so that every settlement in the country was within a day's ride of the capital of a department; this was a security measure, intended to keep the entire national territory under close control. This measure was directly inspired by the Great Terror, during which the government had lost control of many rural areas far from any centre of government; the old nomenclature was avoided in naming the new departments. Most were named after other physical features. Paris was in the department of Seine. Savoy became the department of Mont-Blanc; the number of departments 83, had been increased to 130 by 1809 with the territorial gains of the Republic and of the First French Empire. Following Napoleon's defeats in 1814–1815, the Congress of Vienna returned France to its pre-war size and the number of departments was reduced to 86.
In 1860, France acquired the County of Nice and Savoy, which led to the creation of three new departments. Two were added from the new Savoyard territory, while the department of Alpes-Maritimes was created from Nice and a portion of the Var department; the 89 departments were given numbers based on the alphabetical order of their names. The department of Bas-Rhin and parts of Meurthe, Moselle and Haut-Rhin were ceded to the German Empire in 1871, following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. A small part of Haut-Rhin became known as the Territoire de Belfort; when France regained the ceded departments after World War I, the Territoire de Belfort was not re-integrated into Haut-Rhin. In 1922, it became France's 90th department; the Lorraine departments were not changed back to their original boundaries, a new Moselle department was created in the regaine