JULIERS, or JULICH, DUCHY OF. In the 9th century a certain Matfried was count of Julich (pagus Juliacensis), and towards the end of the nth century one Gerhard held this dignity. This Gerhard founded a family of hereditary counts, who held Julich as immediate vassals of the emperor, and in 1356 the county was raised to the rank of a duchy. The older and reigning branch of the family died in 1423, when Julich passed to Adolph, duke of Berg (d. 1437), who belonged to a younger branch, and who had obtained Berg by virtue of the marriage of one of his ancestors. Nearly a century later Mary (d. 1543) the heiress of these two duchies, married John, the heir of the duchy of Cleves, and in 1521 the three duchies, Jiilich, Berg and Cleves, together with the counties of Ravensberg and La Marck, were united under John's sway. John died in 1539 and was succeeded by his son William who reigned until 1592.
At the beginning of the 17th century the duchies became very prominent in European politics. The reigning duke, John William, was childless and insane, and several princes were only waiting for his demise in order to seize his lands. The most prominent of these princes were two Protestant princes, Philip Louis, count palatine of Neuburg, who was married to the duke's sister Anna, and John Sigismund, elector of Brandenburg, whose wife was the daughter of another sister. Two other sisters were married to princes of minor importance. Moreover, by virtue of an imperial promise made in 1485 and renewed in 1495, the elector of Saxony claimed the duchies of Jiilich and Berg, while the proximity of the coveted lands to the Netherlands made their fate a matter of great moment to the Dutch. When it is remembered that at this time there was a great deal of tension between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, who were fairly evenly matched in the duchies, and that the rivalry between France and the Empire was very keen, it will be seen that the situation lacked no element of discord. In March 1609 Duke John William died. Having assured themselves of the support of Henry IV. of France and of the Evangelical Union, Brandenburg and Neuburg at once occupied the duchies. To counter this stroke and to support the Saxon claim, the emperor Rudolph II. ordered some imperialist and Spanish troops to seize the disputed lands, and it was probably only the murder of Henry IV. in May 1610 and the death of the head of the Evangelical Union, the elector palatine, Frederick IV., in the following September, which prevented, or rather delayed, a great European war. About this time the emperor adjudged the duchies to Saxony, while the Dutch captured the fortress of Jiilich; but for all practical purposes victory remained with the " possessing princes," as Brandenburg and Neuburg were called, who continued to occupy and to administer the lands. These two princes had made a compact at Dortmund in 1609 to act together in defence of their rights, but proposals for a marriage alliance between the two houses broke down and differences soon arose between them. The next important step was the timely conversion of the count palatine's heir, Wolfgang William of Neuburg, to Roman Catholicism, and his marriage with a daughter of the powerful Roman Catholic prince, Duke Maximilian of Bavaria. The rupture between the possessing princes was now complete. Each invited foreign aid. Dutch troops marched to assist the elector of Brandenburg and Spanish ones came to aid the count palatine, but through the intervention of England and France peace was made and the treaty of Xanten was signed in November 1614. By this arrangement Brandenburg obtained Jiilich and Berg, the rest of the lands falling to the count palatine. In 1666 the great elector, Frederick William of Brandenburg, made with William, count palatine of Neuburg, a treaty of mutual succession to the duchies, providing that in case the male line of either house became extinct the other should inherit its lands.
The succession to the duchy of Jiilich was again a matter of interest in the earlier part of the 18th century. The family of the counts palatine of Neuburg was threatened with extinction and the emperor Charles VI. promised the succession to Jiilich to the Prussian king, Frederick William I., in return for a guarantee of the pragmatic sanction. A little later, however, he promised the same duchy to the count palatine of Sulzbach, a kinsman of the count palatine of Neuburg. Then Frederick the Great, having secured Silesia, abandoned his claim to Jiilich, which thus passed to Sulzbach when, in 1742, the family of Neuburg became extinct. From Sulzbach the duchy came to the electors palatine of the Rhine, and, when this family died out in 1799, to the elector of Bavaria, the head of the other branch of the house of Wittelsbach. In 1801 Jiilich was seized by France, and by the settlement of 1815 it came into the hands of Prussia.
Its area was just over 1600 sq. m. and its population about 400,000.
See Kuhl, Geschichte der Stadl Jiilich; M. Ritter, Sachsen und der Jiilicher Erbfolgestreit (1873), and Der Jiilicher Erbfolgekrieg, 1610 und 1611 (1877); A. Miiller, Der Julich-Klevesche Erbfolgestreit im Jahrt 1614 (1900) and H. H. Koch, Die Reformation im Herzogtum Jiilich 1883-1888).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)