The Duffelt page 3


The Duffelt page 4


ow a large Frankish empire came into being: the Merovingian Empire, stretching from Paris to here in the Netherlands and the Lower Rhine territory (so the Duffelt as well) was part of it. The king of the Franks, Clovis, converted to Christianity in 500 and had himself baptized in Reims. This had been of great importance to us. In the centuries to come christianization and the policy of conquest of the Frankish rulers went hand in hand. Our region on the Lower Rhine where the Hattuarian Franks lived became for the Merovingian rulers a border region, from where they attacked the Saxons. For centuries the Lower Rhine remained in the tension area between the Merovingian (later Carolingian) Empire and the peaceful Saxons and Frisians. But by the end of the 7th century Pippin (687-714) defeated the Frisians near Dorestad (actually Wijk bij Duurstede). Now the Anglo-Saxon missionaries could practice their work in Friesland under the protection of the Franks. St. Willibrordus worked from his see in Utrecht from 719 on in the northern Frankish regions so even in the Lower Rhine. (Duffelt)
(In 721 e.g. one Eberwin, count of the Betuwe, wills away properties in the Duffelt to a church in Rinderen (Duffelt). He also gives this church, of which St. Willibrordus himself was the custor or parish priest, according to old documents, a small church in Millingen. (Hetter). Later these properties appeared to be in the possession of the abbey of Echternach (Luxembourg), during Willibrordus’ life or shortly after his death).

These contacts with the Utrecht bishopric were the beginning of an age-long bond between the Lower Rhine and Utrecht. The frontier of the Cologne bishopric corresponded with the old frontier of Hattuaria between Emmerik and Cleve.


Etween 800 and 1050 Northwest Europe was infested by invading and looting Vikings, who sailed up the Rhine and repeatedly showed up in our regions and undoubtedly caused in the Duffelt much misery. Notorious is the attack of Dorestad (actual Wijk bij Duurstede) during the reign of Louis the Pious (814 –840). He held a diet of the Realm in Nijmegen in 837 and tried to organize a resistance against these attacks, but he was unsuccessful, for in the years 839/840 the Vikings even crossed the Rhine as far  as Cologne. This went on during the 9th century and in 863 Dorestad was looted again and Xanten completely destroyed and these Vikings even wintered in winter-quarters on an island in the Rhine near Xanten. Twenty years later they wintered in Duisburg. In 880 Birten near Xanten was burnt down and they fortified the Palts in Nijmegen. Fortunately Duke Hendrik of the East-Franks succeeded in defeating the Vikings near Doesburg on the IJssel. For some decades Dorestad remained in the hands of the Vikings, but after 960 nothing is heard anymore about them. 


he meanwhile powerful Frankish empire- the empire of Charlemagne- now stretched all over Europe and covered the greater part of the former West-Roman Empire. After his death this realm was divided into three parts; the western part fell to Charles the Bald, the eastern part to Louis the German and the narrow and long middle part- from the Mediterranean as far as Friesland- the Central Franconia- to Lothair. The Duffelt belonged to this part. (The Verdun treaty of 843)


t the death of Lothair in 855, the territory on the Lower Rhine that belonged to the Carolingian Middle Empire, became under Lothair II part of Lotharingen, which stretched from the Jura (actual partly in France and Switzerland) to the North Sea. (For this Middle Empire was divided into two halves, a northern and southern part). 15 years later, at the death of Lothair II, this empire was again divided between his two uncles (the treaty of Meersen 870); east of the river Meuse everything changed hands with the possessor of eastern Franconia, the above mentioned Louis the German, so also the Lower Rhine with the Duffelt. (As the other –lower- part of Middle Francia on that occasion went over to Western Francia- Charles the Bald- Middle Francia disappeared completely from the maps) 


nother 55 years later, in 925, a German king, Henry the Fowler ( 919-936), made use of the prevailing confusion in the Loharian territories to incorporate the whole of Nether-Lotharingia  in the East Empire. (By the way this also happened to the Dutch provinces with the exception of the regions west of the Scheldt (actual Flemish Belgium)  
Not until 1648, at the peace treaty of Munster (Westphalia), which he concluded the 80-years’ war, our northern provinces became independent of the German emperor, which he only admitted in 1728! The southern Dutch provinces formally remained part of the German Empire. In fact however, this meant a feudal government. The emperor gave the territory in feud to vassals, who gave it in subfief to others. So in this empire there were princedoms, dukedoms, counties and manors.
(The Frankish Empire was divided into “ gouwen” – districts. Originally the territory of a Germanic tribe.)
The common people had only to do with their lord, who did justice upon them, collected taxes and protected them. For a great part the Duffelt first belonged to the Duke of Gelre and later to the Duke of Kleve


n 936 the son of Henry the Fowler, Otto I, had himself crowned emperor in Aix-la-Chapelle (today Achen) and immediately tried to break the power of his dukes and instead of it to clothe the bishops with temporal power. That was much more stable in connection with successions and the resultant disorder.  In 939 he defeated near Birten (Xanten) the army of Eberhard van Franken. Later on Otto made his brother Bruno bishop of Cologne and even granted him the title of Duke of Lotharingia. The possession of Lotharingia was mainly of importance because of the great number of properties in the area between Meuse and Rhine of which the “ Reichswald” (State forest) is a remainder. 


n the 12th century the archbishopric is the real power in Rhineland. The climax is about 1200. Gradually however some opposition grew in the form of temporal counties, which came to birth outside the territory of the archbishopric, which was mainly situated in the region of old Roman cities and settlements, a narrow strip of land west of the Rhine, so in our region.
One of these counties, which tried to expand at the cost of the archbishopric and the neighboring counties (amongst which Gelre), was mentioned Cleve, after a stronghold of the same name on a steep hill not far from the Rhine.


he history of the Duffelt is mainly connected with the one of “ Graafschap”(County) later Dukedom Cleve of which this region was a part. Only a small part, near Nijmegen- amongst others Ooij and Erlecom- remained part of Gelre. 

Kleve: about 1000 AD a great struggle for power arose in the Hatwarian district and the Lower Rhine region, in which Wichman van Vreden and the archbishop Heribert van Keulen got involved. On the diet of realm, which Henry II held in 1020 in Nijmegen, he tried to put an end to this struggle. Not before Adela died in Cologne and Balderik in Zyfflich, in a monastery founded by him, this struggle was over. To fill up this vacuum of power, the emperor sent two brothers of unknown birth to the Lower Rhine: Gerard and Rutger Flamens.