By Ch. Ruijs- Janssen
Translation: Itie en Wim Luinge
studying the history of Roermond it is inevitable that you come across
the words like “The governors of Roermond”or “The
So it was high time to investigate what was really meant by these terms,
but that seemed easier said than done because this governor’s
office originates from a time from which hardly any documents remain.
Therefore we have to go back as far as the origins of the town of Roermond.
The origins of the governor’s office are very obscure. On a mound
on the river Roer, which was situated on the site which is still known
as “Buiten Op” there had probably been a parish church from
before the eleventh century.This was Saint Christopher’s church,
also called the mother church and there we have the first community
in a permanent settlement near the church.
There are three things which give us reason to assume that the church
was originally an independent church:
a) the situation of the old Saint Christopher’s church next to
the old governor’s office “Buiten Op “
b) the fact that the govenors were allowed to appoint Roermond’s
rector in the thirteenth century
c) the fact that the governors received part of the tithes.The foundation
of a proper church was a trick of the noblemen who wanted to profit
themselves from the tithes which were raised to pay the rectors.
Whether the church was older than Roermond (older than the twelfth century
) is unknown;
if it was indeed an independent church, it might have been older.The
governors are not mentioned
until the end of the twelfth century.They were then officers in the
service of the Count of Gelre;
Their function was probably the protection of the Count’s toll
site on the old Maas.
They were serfs who because of their functions, gradually ( around 1200
) obtained a noble status.
This must also have been the case with the governors of Roermond; the
members of the first governor’s family of Roermond were equites
(knights of the gentry with a lower status) and not nobiles (noblemen,
the real old nobility).The governors held the office in feud of the
Count, the later
Duke of Gelre. Thus they had a temporal function as opposed to the many
How these temporal governors obtained their rights concerning the parochial
church of St Christopher’s is not clear. But according to prominent
historians like Mr.J. Linssen and Gerard Venner it is wild speculation
– as Father Immanuel Janssen has done – to assume that the
governor of Roermond was originally an ecclesiatical governor from Frankish
times who had to protect the immunity of St. Christopher’s church.
The governors did not necessarily become more powerful during the course
of time. As the city of Roermond grew in importance their functions
often grew less important. Rather, the second governor’s family,
the Van Vlodrops , apart from acquiring the governor’s office,
obtained other property and functions, among which the hunting rights
in the Elmpt woods, the lower court of justice of Asselt, the tithes
of Graet (Graeterhof), a part of the manor of Leeuwen, the manor of
Leut and a few more.To the governor’s office belonged the Molengriend
and the Polak, which were part of Roermond’s Weerd, together with
the house of Daelenbroeck, where the governors later settled.
The hereditary governors (this title was hereditary) were very powerful
people. One of them was Willem of Vlodrop ll, hereditary governor of
Roermond from 1447 to 1493.
He was the hereditary governor of Roermond, had property in Orsbeck,
owned the castle of Elsum, was seignior of Wassenberg, bailiff of the
sheriff’s office of Montfort and hereditary marshall of Gelre.
He also took part in the Crusade of 1450.
With the arrival of the French there came an end to this age-old institution,
but the descendants of
the very last hereditary governor, the Overschie van Neerysche family,
still carry the title “hereditary governor” to this day.
As we could see, the governor’s’s office was originally
situated on Buiten Op. This mound was dug up for strategic reasons and
the church was moved to its present place in the Market Square.
The governor’s office was then relocated to the Venlo Gate in
the present Wilhelmina Square and surroundings. In connection with the
building projects over there archeological excavations are going to
take place. It is hoped that remains of the old governor’’s
offices will be found there.
Thanks to Mr Hans vd Mortel , Mr Gerard vd Garde, Mr Hans vd Griend
and Mr Frans Wetzels