At the dawn of the 16th century, Lorraine was a neutral, divided area. It was a buffer zone or "march" between two political entities.
The most important political act in Mediaeval history was the dividing up of the Carolingian Empire by the Treaty of Verdun in 843. The Meuse subsequently remained the border between western France and Lotharingia, then between western France and eastern France, the future Holy Roman Empire.
The weakening of the kingdoms enabled the frontier provinces (Champagne and Lorraine) to gain their freedom.
The three Bishoprics (Metz, Verdun, Toul) were powerful ecclesiastical Principalities; choice, French-speaking targets for French ambition.
Bar-le-Duc was the main town of the "Barrois mouvant" area (to the west of the River Meuse), created in 1301 by the Treaty of Bruges, where the lands around Bar (to the west of the Meuse) were vassals of the King of France. It was a fiefdom of the Kingdom of France. Bar is the second capital of the Duchy of Lorraine.
The capital of the "Barrois non mouvant" area (to the east of the River Meuse) is Saint-Mihiel. The "Barrois non mouvant" and "Clermont non mouvant" areas were under the sovereignty of the Duke of Bar.
Situated between Reims and Nancy, Bar-le-Duc is the only town in Lorraine to be designated a "Ville d'art et d'histoire" (Town of Art and history).
Although Marville really blossomed in the Renaissance, its history begins in the Middle Ages.
Ligier Richier, the greatest artist in Lorraine during the Renaissance, was born in around 1500 in Saint Mihiel, in the active and open community of elite craftsmen.