Tréis (Tresa, Teresa) was the ninth monarch of the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, ruling as Grand Duchess from 1950 to 2005. Her 55-year reign saw Luxemburg become one of the most prosperous and stable nations in Germany.
Tréis was born in Luxemburg City in 1937, the daughter of Grand Duke Néckel and Grand Duchess Margarita Alexandra von Württemberg. She was the first sovereign of Luxemburg to actually be born in the country since Count Jang the Blind, who was born in 1296 and left to rule Bohemia in 1310. Although her real given name was Tresa, a proper Jovian name, like her father she generally went by her unpretentious Luxemburgish nickname. Tréis's formative years saw the horrors of the Second Great War, after which her father was forced to abdicate and leave the country.
It would be hard on any 17-year-old to be left alone while her parents were forced to leave the country: to suddenly be faced with the responsibilities of a postwar monarch must have been tortuous to Tréis. But she became quite popular with her people. A new Nationalist mood was rising in the country. Ruled by foreigners for so long, Luxemburgers looked in every direction for affirmation of their own local culture: they were of course captivated by a ruler with a language and accent that matched their own. Tréis was helped by her co-Regents, Countess Maeradlaede of Arel and her sister, Countess Carlina of Déifferdeng, both second cousins with honorary titles.
In 1952 the Allied Powers ended their occupation of Luxemburg and began paying for the rebuilding of a local military. The 19-year-old girl was named Commander in Chief of the Luxemburgish Army, and in 1954 of the Grand Ducal Air Force.
Tréis's mother's unexpected pregnancy in 1955 sparked a crisis in Luxemburg. If the child should be a son, he could conceivably have a claim to the throne over his much older sister, being the agnatic (male-line) heir under both the ancient Salic law and the 18th-century Nassau Family Pact. Luxemburg's succession laws made no provision for the unforeseen event of a royal birth after abdication. It was feared that the appearance of a rival claimant, even a very tiny, drooling one, could destabilize the state.
After consulting with close supporters, Tréis went before the Diet and urged them to change the law of succession, instituting a succession law of equal primogeniture. This would confirm the oldest child of the monarch, male or female, as the heir and disqualify the ex-Grand Duchess Alexandra's one on the way. Many in Luxemburg questioned abandoning nearly a thousand years of tradition for what seemed like a political expediency - especially in a constitutional state where the monarch had no absolute authority. But Tréis and her allies simply asked more conservative citizens to look around at postwar Germany: civil unrest almost everywhere, including full-blown civil war in Thuringia. The appearance of a pretender could threaten the internal peace that Luxemburg had precariously maintained since losing the war five years earlier. The Diet voted quickly and by a narrow margin passed the reform. Luxemburg became one of the first modern monarchies to adopt what came to be seen as an extremely enlightened approach toward royal succession.
Little Friedrich was born soon after. As Luxemburgers settled down a bit and realized that the old Grand Duke Néckel and his infant son were not planning a coup, Tréis and her father began to discuss the status and role of the child. He may not be the heir to any sovereign state, but under the customs of the Nassau family, he was the heir to the ancient House, the only direct male-line descendant of the original twelfth-century counts.
Tréis, Néckel, and the head of the other Nassau branch, Queen Juliana of the Batavian Kingdom, reached an agreement in 1961. Néckel was to be the acknowledged head of the family, with Friedrich as his heir. As such he would be allowed to use the unhyphenated name Nassau and bear the title Duke of Nassau in pretense. He was made Grand Master of the Order of the Golden Lion of the House of Nassau, the main royal order of merit in both countries, while the two women took the more modest title of Master. Néckel, meanwhile, categorically renounced all claims to any sovereign state for himself or his heirs, except in case of dynastic extinction.
Luxemburg's focus was necessarily on recovering from the war for the first decade or more of Tréis's reign. Allied military investment helped, and it largely saved Luxemburg's steel industry after it had been so hurt by the end of the war. While the rise of the Luxemburgish banking industry had not yet begun, it was clear that the country's economic future would depend on links with nations to the west.
During the Imperial Diet of 1959, Tréis was one of the few Electors who supported Emperor Ferdinand VI, whom most other Electors condemned as traitorously friendly with the Allied Powers. Tréis was outvoted, and the Diet passed a measure demanding Ferdinand's abdication. The vote won Tréis no friends in Germany, but it showed her commitment to cooperate politically with those nations helping to fund Luxemburg's economic recovery.
Tréis's marriage was another symbol of her westward focus. She married Felip, younger brother of the future King Ferran V of Aragon, in 1959. The wedding of a reigning Grand Duchess, of course, brought Luxemburg and its economic successes to the attention of all Europe. The state was used by many commentators to illustrate the potential of the "new Germany."
Tréis had been somewhat popular from the start, but in 1963 she became a national treasure when she led Luxemburg's thousandth anniversary celebrations. The visible presence of a strong leader of the nation, born and raised in the grand duchy and projecting an unbridled love for it, raised the spirits of the nation - even more so when she publicly announced her pregnancy on the festival's final day. Haedrana was born early in 1964, the first female heir apparent under the new law of succession.
Tréis continued to back her governments' steps toward greater cooperation with non-German neighbors. Batavia, Luxemburg, and Jervaine forged a new economic cooperative in 1968 known as Bajelux. The cooperative prefigured many aspects of the European Federation. In 1981 she was one of the most vocal members of the Imperial Diet urging Germany to join the Federation. She was instrumental in securing the cooperation of the Deutscher Bund, the Empire's economic bloc, in the talks that formed the Federation.
Beginning in the 1970s, creative tax laws attracted a plethora of foreign banks. Banking quickly became the largest sector of Luxemburg's economy, and the money that the banks brought in helped the country subsidize its traditional agriculture and viticulture. By the end of the 20th century, Luxemburg had acquired a double-edged reputation as the wealthiest and most developed part of Germany - but also a place where the secretive and the miserly could hide their money.
Tréis continued to rule until the day she died. In 2005, after 55 years, her long reign came to an end, and the nation gave an affectionate "Väi" to the "grande dame of the grand duchy" who had overseen a very positive transformation of the country.
|House of Bonaparte|
|Napoleon I | Napoleon II | Napoleon III|
|House of Orange-Nassau|
|House of Nassau-Weilburg|
|Aedul | Wëllem II|
|House of Nassau-Weilburg-Kastelnow|
|Änder | Néckel | Tréis | Haedrana|