Early Modern Times

Prosperity in the villages



After the Middle Ages and the shift in power from Cuijk to Grave, the village of Cuijk witnessed a time of relative tranquillity and prosperity. In the early modern ages Cuijk was a lively village on the banks of a lively river. Throughout the ages the Maas brought Cuijk a lot of benefits as well as problems. Benefits were mainly gained from levies on ships passing by on the Maas, while the same river terrorised the village with floods and high water. Consequently, the buildings on the shore of the river were l most in danger of having their foundations flushed away. A Roman bridge, a medieval castle or an early modern house: they all suffered alike. The battle against the water acts as a red line throughout the history of Cuijk and did not leave the early modern inhabitants untroubled, who tried to control the floods with the Beerse Overlaat. This construction allowed the citizens to create regulated floods, although the farmers weren’t exactly happy with this.


The population of Cuijk and the surrounding area managed to grow steadily between 1500 and 1800. The people in this area lived mainly of farming and husbandry. The peacefulness of the sixteenth and part of the seventeenth century is mainly due to a lack of direct warfare in the area. Cuijk didn’t escape wars completely. Armies occasionally marched through the area, looting villages, livestock and levying taxes.

Mainly in the seventeenth century, wars between Spain, France and the Republic had their impact on large parts of the current Netherlands, including the Land of Cuijk. At the end of the Eighty Years’ War the Catholics had to cede their churches to the Reformed Protestants. For a long time Catholics from Cuijk and Haps used a hidden church in Oeffelt (which did not fall under the regime of the Republic).

The impact of foreign armies and the accompanying ideologies really showed during the French Revolution. The French lay siege to Venlo and Roermond, and got the order to do the same with Grave. To support this upcoming siege they drained the surrounding lands of supplies; the land of Cuijk entered a though time. Although the French didn’t actively spread their ideologies, their ideas still got a foothold in Cuijk. For the Catholics the French occupation meant the return of their churches.


A new name appeared on the maps of Cuijk during the early modern times: Fianen. A hamlet back in the days, currently the village of Vianen. The village arose on the heathlands between Cuijk and Beers and was originally named Heeswijk. The poor from Cuijk and its surroundings were granted a piece of land during the 17th century, which they could use for small scale agriculture. By reclaiming the grounds around the already existing villages, Vianen eventually arose. Expansion and recognition of the village would follow in later centuries.


Summarising the above we could state that during the early modern times Cuijk and the parishes were of modest size and experienced modest prosperity. Even though life was harsh in those centuries, an average hard-working family could live relatively well-off agriculture and husbandry.