The 2,000-Year Game of Tug-of-War

Alsace is a unique little region in that it is perfectly suited for agriculture of the type that yields alcoholic beverages. The climate is ideal for growing grapes (particularly white grapes like Riesling), hops and a variety of fermentable fruit crops. Thus Alsace has been a center of beer, wine and schnapps-making for centuries. No wonder the various powers of Europe have fought bitterly over it for 2,000 years.

It all began with the Romans, who, recognizing how promising the area was for grape-growing, wrested it from Celts and the Gauls in the first century BC. The Franks then took it from the Romans when the Roman Empire fell in about the Fifth Century. That is, until the Magyars and Vikings overran it in the Tenth. That nonsense was put to a stop when the Holy Roman Empire took it in 962. They held it until 1674 when the Kingdom of France was formed as a result of the Franco-Dutch War. The German Empire then took it 1871. France took it back in 1919. Germany re-took it in 1940 and held it until he end of World War II, at which point it enjoyed about fifteen minutes of political independence before France re-re-took it in 1945.

Since then Alsace has been officially French, though you can bet money the Germans still aren’t happy about it. In fact they’re the last people I’d want with their eyes on my real estate. Who can say what the ultimate destiny of Alsace actually is…

UPDATE: Mexico Bob Chimes in (again) with this piece of historical trivia:

You failed to mention Muscatel which is one of the original grapes used by the Romans for making wine and the Alsace Muscatel is very famous.

I stand, again, corrected. Or rather added-to. Mexico Bob, I thank you.

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