Duchy of Bouillon

The Duchy of Bouillon (French: Duché de Bouillon) was a duchy comprising Bouillon and adjacent towns and villages in present-day Belgium. It existed from the 10th century until 1795, when, after centuries as a sovereign state, it was annexed by France. It was ruled by the Dukes of Bouillon.

Duchy of Bouillon

Duché de Bouillon
1456? – 1794
Coat of arms
The Duchy of Bouillon as at 1560, shown within the Lower Rhenish–Westphalian Circle
Common languagesWalloon
Historical eraMiddle Ages
 Ardennes lords of Bouillon
by the 11th century
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)
1790230 km2 (89 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Lower Lorraine
Republic of Bouillon
Today part of 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. After the French annexation of Bouillon in 1795, the heirs of the last reigning duke, Jacques Léopold de La Tour d'Auvergne, have continued claiming the title.


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.


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 the Prince-Bishop of Liège, Otbert 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, Erard 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.

At the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, the title of "Duke of Bouillon" was restored to Charles Alain Gabriel de Rohan. The Duchy of Bouillon, however, was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, then in personal union with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, becoming part of the Kingdom of the Belgians in 1830.

However the title, territory and the debt remained a bone of contention between the bishopric and the noble houses until after the French annexation of Bouillon in 1795. It was 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 Charles I, Duke of Bourbon 1438 unmarried 1456
claimed title on accession to bishopric
30 August 1482 none
John of Hornes James of Hornes around 1450 unmarried 1484 (accession)
maintained ownership of Bouillon
1505 none
Erard 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
Robert I de La Marck Jean de La Marck 1430 15 June 1446 appointed chatelaine of Bouillon February 1487 Jeanne de Marley
Robert II de la Marck Robert I 1465 25 December 1490 claimed title of Duke, 1492 March 1536 Catherine de Croÿ
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
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
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
Charlotte de La Marck
suo jure
Henri Robert 5 November 1574 19 November 1591 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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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, since 1816

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.

Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became duke Death Wife
Charles Alain Gabriel
Henri Louis, Prince of Guéméné
18 January 1764 29 May 1781 1816
24 April 1836 Louise Aglae de Conflans d'Armentieres
Louis Victor Mériadec
Henri Louis, Prince of Guéméné
1766 24 April 1836
1841 Berthe de Rohan
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
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
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
Karl-Alain Albert Maria
Karl Anton 1934 5 October 1963 2 September 1976
2008 Ingeborg Irnberger
Albert Marie
Alain Anton 12 May 1936 2008
Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became duke Death Wife


  • Jacques Marsollier (1647-1724): Histoire du maréchal duc de Bouillon; où l'on trouve ce qui s'est passé de plus remarquable sous les regnes de François II, Charles IX, Henry III, Henry IV, la minorité & les premières années du regne de Louis XIII

See also


  1. Also Prince of Rohan.
  2. Also Prince of Guéméné.
  3. Also Duke of Montbazon.
  4. Also Count of Saint-Pol
  5. Also Prince of Rochefort.
  6. Also Prince of Montaubon.
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