The Middle Ages

Troubled times under the authority of the Lords

When, in the fifth century, the Romans left the limes to defend

Rome against invading peoples, Cuijk got hit hard. The Roman military village of Ceuclum depopulated and the amount of habitants of the village next to it declined greatly.

Thus begins the period that we call the Middle Ages: with a period of decline in the habitation of the area around present day Cuijk. The main support of existence, namely the Roman military village, which was provisioned by the inhabitants in the area, disappeared. Yet not everybody moved away from the area. Excavations in Linden, Haps and Cuijk have revealed that in the sixth and seventh century, during the Frankish and Carolingian times, this area was still occupied. During these excavations, a well and various shards were found. Written or painted sources of this period, however, were not found. In the tenth century the years of decline were at an end. The villages of Cuijk, Haps and Linden had an increasing population. This does not mean that there were quieter times ahead for these villages. In this period of Dutch and European history we see the emergence of various duchies, lordships and religious states. More than once these states were either at war with each other or were each other’s allies. The head of these states consisted of an influential family or person who had the power over the whole territory.

From the eleventh century onward Cuijk, too, was ruled by such a lordship. The area was called the Land of Cuijk and at the head of this land was the family Kuyc, or Lords of Kuyc. Documents show that from 1096 this family ruled over a territory that was bigger than just the area around Cuijk. The areas around Mill, Beugen and Grave also fell under the authority of the lords. The centre of their power was Cuijk. From their castle near the Maas they kept their area under control by means of the feudal system.

In the Middle Ages Cuijk was seen as the main political and long-time religious place in the Land of Cuijk. For example, since the ninth century the main church of the lordship stood in Cuijk itself. Other related churches could be found in Beers, Haps and Linden and the influence of the church extended even to Den Bosch and Blerick. This area was called the deanship of Cuijk and dozens of churches belonged to it throughout the Middle Ages. It extended over various political states and covered villages in adjacent lordships, like Ravenstein, Megen and Kessel.

 

The relationships with other Dutch lordships became tense when members of the Kuyc family interfered in a quarrel concerning Floris de Zwarte. Herman van Kuyc and his brother Godfrey were involved and, in 1133 and on the authority of the emperor, the castle of the family of Kuyc  was completely destroyed. After having lived in exile elsewhere for years, the van Kuycs returned to their territory. The old castle  could not be saved, so they constructed a new castle further down the river, in Grave. Cuijk lost more than just authority, it also lost a bit of its medieval glory. The later city Grave became the centre of power in the Land of Cuijk.

Cuijk prospered in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries by levying toll on the Maas and on the crafting of glass. However, the village also got affected by the fight between the Brabanders and Geldersen. This, in combination with the reign of Jan van Kuyc and family, made for turbulent times in the Land of Cuijk.

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