10 largest cities in France




Ribeauvillé (Rappoltsweiler in German, Rappschwihr in Alsatian) is a French commune located in the Haut-Rhin department, in the Grand Est region. This town is located in the historical and cultural region of Alsace. Its inhabitants are called the Ribeauvillois and the Ribeauvilloises. It had the status of sub-prefecture until January 1, 2015, when the arrondissement joined that of Colmar to form the arrondissement of Colmar-Ribeauvillé.



In a document dating from 1084, Emperor Henry IV of Franconia donated land called Rapoldestein to the Bishop of Basel. In 1178, the bishop restructured his episcopal county with the agreement of the count of Ferrette. The bishop of Basel receives in exchange the land of Ribeauvillé or Ribeaupierre, with the related princely rights and the duties of protection of the Christian populations. Around 1185, he ceded it to one of his vassals, soldier and squire, Lord Eguenolf d'Urslingen or Egeloff d'Urselingen, from a Swabian house formerly established in Wurtemberg.

It would be wrong to improperly confuse the small town of Ribeauvillé at the entrance to Strengbach with the seigneurial and count dynasty. It exists, with its vineyard or artisan, bourgeois, noble or worker houses, well before the erection of the summit castle which became the “prince's castle”, before the construction of the parish church and the cellar of the lords of Ribeaupierre. As the Vosges lands, sometimes Lorraine, administered by the Ribeaupierre, were predominantly Roman-speaking, Ribeauvillé, a merchant town, benefits from a vast mountain hinterland envied by other towns in the Alsatian piedmont.

Once enlarged, it is a fortified city marked by its four gates, giving rise to four districts. The "promenade de Herrengarten" is a stigma of the presence of an autonomous seigneurial administration, which paradoxically has never been so strong and arrogant as under the first French presence in Alsace.

The first masters and lords of Ribeaupierre before 1185 already had important links with the house of Lorraine, heir to Gérard d'Alsace and the house of Dabo-Egisheim. They exercised various delegated tasks of surveillance of roads and protection of stubble and forests, mines and quarries under the ducal authority and that of the Empire. This is why the second house of Ribeaupierre appeared as soon as it was installed on the mountain bans, for example in Orbey and in Hohnack, even across the mountain in the upper valley of the Meurthe in Plainfaing or Fraize, in Saulcy, ensuring the continuity of its function. from the first house. Straddling two spaces, a large number of lords or sons of lords of Ribeaupierre only reveals themselves as mountain war masters, often resentful of higher authority and as heavily indebted, even rebellious as the terrible Anselm or Bruno. Sometimes, to feed their troops with loyal combatants, these warlords plunder or plunder their town of Ribeauvillé.

Before modern times, the seigneury of Hohnack belonging to the former Austria was assimilated to the bailiwick of Orbey. This seigneury, centered on the castle of Hohenack then on the town of Orbey, also includes the villages and hamlets of Lapoutriche, Grand Trait, Fréland, Labaroche, Le Bonhomme, Les Hautes-Huttes, Les Basses-Huttes, Hachimette, La Cirouche and Ribeaugoutte. It was granted in 1500 by Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg to Lords Smasmann and Bruno de Ribeaupierre.

At the same time, the Empire fiefdom of the Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines valley was conspicuously structured in two halves of bailiwick, that is to say a bailiwick half to the Duke of Lorraine left bank and half to the Ribeaupierre and the Habsburg emperors on the right bank. The counts of Ribeaupierre are reduced to a statute of great ministerial of the Empire, and, to save their small territorial principality, these bureaucrats intendants and captains of war must associate with the Emperor, and restrict themselves to finding interests only in Alsace. There are also the lands of Heiteren, Wihr and Guémar, Zellenberg and Bergheim, apart from Ribeauvillé and Thannenkirch.

The house of the Counts of Ribeaupierre becomes, not without difficulty, Protestant, first Lutheran then Calvinist, while keeping functions in the Holy Empire.

After the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648, the council of anterior Austria was dismantled, and its Alsatian lordships passed into fiefdom to the crown of France. Once recognized, the royal house of France more than ever amicably consolidated the Ribeaupierre in their principality, both mountainous and extended from Piedmont to the Alsatian plain. Under the name of County of Ribeaupierre, it asserted itself until the French Revolution.


Louis XIV, master of Alsace, very respectful of the rights of the Alsatian or German princes, confers the county on the prince of Birkenfeld. On the death of the latter prince, the Ducal House of Deux-Ponts collects the inheritance, which then passes to the Palatine and Electoral House of Bavaria.

After a cotton manufacture, an important spinning mill was established in 1860. The link with mountain communities, the source of its former prosperity, withered away, in the absence of a technically possible railroad to the mountains or efficient roads. On the contrary, for two decades the city has suffered from competition from other Alsatian cities.

A little before 1880, the city which keeps its old cachet has only 5,784 inhabitants. 1 km down the valley, at the end of a path lined with poplars, the ruins of Notre-Dame-de-Tusenbach remain, a former place of pilgrimage.