Rare Passport Grand Duchy of Berg 1811

Following his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz (1805), Emperor Napoleon created the Grand Duchy of Berg (German: Großherzogtum Berg), sometimes known as the Grand Duchy of Berg and Cleves, on lands straddling the Rhine between the French Empire and the German Kingdom of Westphalia. Here is a rare passport from this short-lived Grand Duchy. Passport grand duchy berg

Issued to a merchant with the name Buchholz, age 27. Passport number 12.

The two duchies of Jülich and Berg, which had both been ruled in personal union by the Wittelsbach dukes of Palatinate-Neuburg since 1614, had been divided once more as a result of France’s annexation of the Duchy of Jülich (French: Juliers) during the French Revolutionary Wars in 1794. In 1803, the Bavarian elector Maximilian Joseph, the heir of Palatinate-Neuburg, divided the remaining Duchy of Berg from his other Bavarian lands and appointed his cousin William of Palatinate-Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld-Gelnhausen as administrator, bringing it under the control of a younger branch of the Wittelsbach family. Passport grand duchy berg

In 1806, as part of the restructuring of Germany brought on by the fall of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, Maximilian I Joseph, then king of Bavaria, traded the Principality of Ansbach for the cession of Berg to Napoleon. The French emperor gave Berg, which included parts of the ancient Prussian Duchy of Cleves east of the Rhine, to his brother-in-law Joachim Murat on March 15, 1806. The red lion of Berg and the Cleves arms were united in Murat’s armor. Murat’s roles as Grand Admiral and Marshal of the Empire brought the anchor and the batons to the gathering. He also had the authority to use the imperial eagle because he married Napoleon’s sister. Murat became a grand duke and a member of the Confederation of the Rhine on July 12, 1806. The County of Mark, the Prince-Bishopric of Münster, the Imperial Metropolis of Dortmund, and numerous smaller holdings of the Lower Rhenish-Westphalian Circle were annexed, further enlarging his lands. Passport grand duchy berg

passport grand duchy berg
Visa on the back from Nov 1811

When Murat finally departed the Grand Duchy in 1808 to assume his new throne as King of Naples, he retained the title of Grand Duke. Napoleon initially exercised direct control over Berg in a Personal Union. Prince Napoleon Louis Bonaparte (1804–1831), the eldest child of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland, and Napoleon’s young nephew, was named Grand Duke of Berg in 1809; French administrators working under Pierre Louis Roederer managed the region in his honor. Grand Duke Napoleon Louis also exercised personal administration over the Kingdom of Holland for nine days in July 1810. However, this was short-lived as French forces invaded the Kingdom and annexed it to France. Passport grand duchy berg

Since its founding, the state has seen continuous economic collapse, primarily attributable to Napoleon’s disastrous Continental System, which sparked many riots and revolts. The Battle of Leipzig in 1813 saw the French forces retreat, ending the Grand Duchy’s brief existence. The old Grand Duchy was then governed by Prussia, which formally integrated the region by the Final Act of the 1815 Congress of Vienna. The eastern regions of Münster and Mark were combined into the Province of Westphalia, and Berg was added to Jülich-Cleves-Berg. The region is now a part of contemporary Germany.

A fantastic document of German (passport) history.

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