Lorraine (Ger. Lothringen), an old province of N. E. France, formerly bounded N. by Belgium, Luxemburg, and Rhenish Prussia, N. E. by Rhenish Bavaria, E. by Alsace, S. by Franche-Comte, and S. W. and W. by Champagne, thus comprising the territory now constituting the departments of Meuse, Meurthe-et-Moselle, and Vosges, besides various districts now ceded to Germany. Its principal rivers are the Meuse, Moselle, Meurthe, Saone, and Ornain; the principal products are iron, salt, and other minerals, timber, grain, wine, and cattle. The inhabitants are mostly of German race, but only in a small part, between the Vosges and Metz, has the German language maintained itself; this part is therefore called German Lorraine. The province was formerly divided into the duchy of Lorraine, comprising Lorraine proper, German Lorraine, and the territory of Vosges, with Nancy, Saargemund, and Epinal as capitals; the duchy of Bar, the capital of which was Bar-le-Duc; and the "three bishoprics," Metz, Toul, and Verdun. - Under the Roman emperors, the country formed a part of the province of Belgica Prima. It was conquered by Clovis, and on the division of the Frankish kingdom under his sons belonged to Austrasia. When the empire of Charlemagne had been repeatedly divided among his descendants, the division or kingdom of Lothaire, son of the emperor Lothaire I., received the name of Lothars Ryk in Low German, or Lothari Regnum in Latin, whence sprang the names Lotharingia in mediaeval Latin, Lorraine in French, and Lothrin-gen in German. His possessions, however, by far exceeded the limits of modern Lorraine, extending from the Moselle to the North sea.
After his death in 869, Lorraine was divided between France and Germany, but subsequently the whole of it was attached to the latter empire. In the 10th century it was given by Otho the Great to his brother Bruno of Cologne, and was subsequently divided into Lower and Upper Lorraine. The former in later times received the name of Brabant, and eventually became a province of the dukes of Burgundy. The latter retained its name, and was conferred about the middle of the 11th century by the emperor Henry III. upon Gerard of Alsace, the founder of a long dynasty of dukes, who with some interruption ruled Lorraine down to 1737, and some of whom greatly distinguished themselves in the wars of France and the empire. Collateral branches of the family were the Guises, Anmales, Elbceufs, Harcourts, and others distinguished in the history of France. During the reigns of Francis I., Henry II., Louis XIII., Louis XIV., and Louis XV., Lorraine was a principal object of contention between the empire and its western rival.
The three bishoprics were secured to France by the peace of Westphalia (1648). Finally, by the peace which terminated the war of Polish succession, the ex-king of Poland, Stanislas Leszczynski, father-in-law of Louis XV., received Lorraine and Bar, which were to be annexed after his death to France; the duke of Lorraine, Francis Stephen, the future husband of Maria Theresa of Hapsburg and emperor, receiving in exchange the reversion of the grand duchy of Tuscany, in which as in Austria he became the founder of the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine. Stanislas died in 1766, when Lorraine became fully annexed to France. In 1815 a small district was ceded to Prussia and incorporated with the province of the Rhine. By the peace of Frankfort, May 10, 1871, France ceded the whole of German Lorraine and the city of Metz with the adjacent district to the German empire. The ceded territory now constitutes one of the three administrative districts into which the Reichsland of Alsace-Lorraine is divided. It has an area of 2,400 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 490,308, of whom about 170,000 speak French. (See Alsace-Lorraine.)