In the late 16th century, the small country of Salm appeared peaceful, but the bordering Holy Roman Empire, Germanic, embroiled in the Protestant Reformation and the neighboring countries of Lorraine and France as they sought to retain their Catholic heritage, had the small county surrounded.
Unlike their neighbors, two Counts equally shared Salm’s rule. Count Jean IX de Salm was Catholic and Count Frédéric Sauvage du Rhin et de Salm, called Rhingrave, was Protestant. This unusual situation gave Salm relative peace during the Wars of Religion which raged all around them.
Count Jean IX had no children and left his estate to his niece, Chrestienne, daughter of his brother Paul. Chrestienne married the son of the Duke of Lorraine, François de Vaudémont.
Chrestienne inherited only Jean IX’s half of Salm, which was annexed by Lorraine. The other half remained Salm and was ruled by Frédéric Sauvage, called Rhingrave.