Town in eastern France, strategically important because the Belfort Gap provides a through-route between the Vosges and the Jura Mountains.
It was part of the County of Ferrette (Pfirt) in southern Alsace which passed to the Habsburgs through an heiress in 1324 and to France by Treaty in 1648. Cardinal Mazarin held the County of Belfort and was succeeded by his niece, Hortense Mancini, and her husband, later the Duc Mazarin. It subsequently passed through heiresses to three different families, the last of them, in 1781, the Prince of Monaco’s. The revolutionaries confiscated the County and it was included in the Department of the Haut-Rhin.
During the Franco-Prussian War 1870-1, Belfort withstood a three-month siege, and consequently remained in France when the rest of Alsace was ceded to the new German Empire. It did not, however, merge with another department but the small district that included the town was treated as if it were a department. The TERRITOIRE DE BELFORT still survives, having remained separate in 1918, when Haut-Rhin returned to France.