Oisterwijk (pronunciation: Oosterwijk) is a village in North Brabant and the capital of the municipality of Oisterwijk. In 2020 the town of Oisterwijk had 19,955 inhabitants.
Oisterwijk is located between Tilburg and Boxtel. Nearby centers are Moergestel, Oirschot, Haaren, Berkel-Enschot, Udenhout.
In the municipality of Oisterwijk, Oisterwijks is spoken, a subdialect belonging to Central North Brabant, which in turn is part of the Brabant dialect. Oisterwijks differs considerably from Tilburgs, with which it is sometimes incorrectly identified.
The name Oisterwijk means a district to the east of East Tilburg, which is derived from the Latin vicus, which means market or trading place. East Tilburg meant the settlement around the church on Kerkplein in today's Oisterwijk; this explanation is therefore related to the fact that the historic core of Oisterwijk is an amalgamation of the village of East Tilburg around the church and the town of Oisterwijk around De Lind. Incidentally, West Tilburg meant today's Tilburg.
The oldest mention of the area around Oisterwijk is in the Liber aureus from 1191, which contains the text of a deed that is said to date from May 21, 709, but which no longer exists. This states that Saint Willibrordus would have been given a domain in Alphen and that the deed would have been drawn up in Tilburg (actum publice Tilliburgis).
Later, two parishes were created in this area: West Tilburg and East Tilburg. The latter was dedicated to Saint Peter. The parish of Enschot was still located between these two parishes, while chapels were founded in Berkel en Helvoirt, and later also in Udenhout. The Lord of Tilburg had a moth castle called Ter Borch, which probably lay at the confluence of the Voorste Stroom and the Achterste Stroom. In the vicinity of this was also the Watermill Ter Borch which already existed in 1300 and was demolished in 1924.
Oisterwijk received market rights from Duke Hendrik I of Brabant in 1212 and was founded on the territory of the East Tilburg parish. This also explains the name 'Oisterwijk'. The foundation of Oisterwijk and four other freedoms (oppida libera que de novo feceramus) took place in order to expand the Duke's sphere of influence and resulted from an agreement with Mr. van Breda. The local lords were gradually forced to recognize the duke as their feudal lord. In 1230 the duke granted the new village liberty rights. These included, among other things, market duties and exemptions from certain taxes, but not the right to wall the city and also no freedom of tolls on the Rhine. Gradually the significance of the settlement of Oisterwijk increased at the expense of that of the East Tilburg parish and 'Oisterwijk' became the only designation used for the whole of the old village of East Tilburg around the church and Oisterwijk around De Lind. The settlement opted for the right of 's-Hertogenbosch and became the capital of the Kwartier van Oisterwijk, one of the four quarters of the Meierij van' s-Hertogenbosch. In 1231, the patronage of St. Peter's Church passed into the hands of St. Geertrui Abbey in Leuven. In 1259 there was first mention of an alderman's bank.
By the end of the 14th century, Oisterwijk already had its current main structure, consisting of a broad, square-like street of almost a kilometer long, called the Plaatse, which emerged from the old market town that was granted city rights in 1212. Road junctions lay on both sides. In the east were roads to Oirschot, Boxtel, 's-Hertogenbosch, Haaren and Heusden. From the west were roads to Moergestel, Tilburg and Heukelom.
In the late Middle Ages and the following centuries, the city was known for its cloth industry and beer breweries and partly because of this occasionally suffered from enemy attacks, including from the 16th-century Gelderland general Maarten van Rossum. During the Eighty Years' War, Oisterwijk was also frequently engaged in combat operations.
There was already talk of a church in 1192 and 1214, and a pastor was mentioned in 1230. The St. Peter's Church stood almost in the same place as the current one. In the vicinity was a beguinage and a nunnery called Catharinenberg. The original Catharinenberg was founded around 1440 and the sisters followed the Third Rule of Saint Francis. The sisters lived in Oisterwijk until 1731, after which they moved to Baarle-Hertog. The Gothic church, which had twenty altars and a high tower, was destroyed on June 11, 1587, during a raid by State troops commanded by Philip of Hohenlohe-Neuenstein. Restoration followed in the years 1608-1616, which was recalled by an inscription bar. In 1648, however, the church passed into the hands of the Reformed. A few decades later, the Catholics moved into a barn church on the Schijf. In 1722 the parish Berkel-Udenhout split from Oisterwijk and in 1851 Berkel and Udenhout both became independent parishes.
Meanwhile, at the end of the 18th century, the Catholics got
their church back, which, however, was badly neglected. A Napoleon's
church was built for the Reformed in 1810. The Catholics demolished
the transept of their church in 1823 and in 1895 the church was
demolished and replaced with a new one which was consecrated in
1897. In the intervening years it was held in a wooden emergency
church. The beam with inscription eventually ended up in the
retirement home "Ter Perre". It took until 1928 before a second
parish was established in Oisterwijk. On May 27, 1998, a fierce fire
occurred in the tower of St. Peter's Church during repair work. The
spire collapsed and parts landed on the roof with a chandelier
crashing into the pews. The damage was repaired afterwards.
In 1844 Franciscan sisters founded a new monastery from the Nazareth Monastery in Oirschot on the site of the former Catharinenberg. In the 1930s, a monastery complex with schools and a chapel was built on the current Schoolstraat. After the sisters left in the early 21st century, the various parts were used differently, including a music school. The Jewish community was created after Jews came to live in Oisterwijk in the early 18th century. A Jewish cemetery was opened in 1748 and a synagogue was inaugurated in 1758. Initially, the deceased from Tilburg were also buried here, but there they founded their own municipality and the Oisterwijk municipality was completely absorbed in it in 1908. Most of the Jews moved to this neighboring town.
A railway station was built in 1865. The economic history of Oisterwijk is told below.
In 2012 Oisterwijk celebrated that it was 800 years ago that they received city rights. Various festivities took place.