Ravenstein, Netherlands


Ravenstein (dialect: Ravvestèìjn) is a fortified town on the Maas, in the municipality of Oss, in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant. In 2020 the city will have more than 3,070 inhabitants. Until 2003, Ravenstein together with eleven surrounding villages formed an independent municipality with approximately 8,500 inhabitants. The historic town of Ravenstein only covered a small area, approximately 30 ha. The location on the Maas was especially important.



Ravenstein was founded in 1360 by Walraven van Valkenburg, fiefdom of the Duke of Brabant, who then had a castle built on the banks of the Maas, after having levied a toll from his castle in Herpen on the traffic on the river for years. In 1364, the duke unsuccessfully tried to end this practice by besieging the castle.

The town of Ravenstein was created near the castle, which already received city rights in 1380 from Reinout van Valkenburg, a half-brother of Walraven. In 1397, the lord of Ravenstein was defeated and taken prisoner at the battle of Kleverhamm (Kreis Kleve). The city subsequently became Kleve's possession. In 1399 the Peace of Ravenstein was concluded between Brabant and Gelre.

In 1509 the city was fortified with ramparts and bastions according to the Italian system (partly excavated in 1988 and 2012). Emperor Charles V had it demolished as early as 1543, with the exception of the city gates, two of which have been preserved. After Johan Willem van Kleef and Jülich died childless in 1609, various pretenders claimed his territory, the Jülich-Cleves question. Brandenburg enlisted the help of the States of Holland, who occupied the city in 1621, in implementation of the Xanten Agreement (1614).

State troops remained billeted in the city for a long time, even after the area was officially assigned to Brandenburg in 1624. The Protestants demolished one of the two churches and used the other church themselves. The Catholic Church was banned. The city was once again fortified with fortifications.

In 1630 Ravenstein passed to a new owner, this time the Catholic house of Palatinate-Neuburg. The State garrison temporarily left the city, only to return in 1635. A special garrison church was built in 1641. Ravenstein, however, remained outside the Republic and freedom of religion returned. The Land of Ravenstein thus became a haven for monastic orders who had fled the Republic, while Catholics from across the border attended mass in churches on Ravenstein's territory. With the arrival of the French in 1672, the State garrison withdrew. The fortifications were then demolished.

In 1735, the Sint-Luciakerk was built in Ravenstein, the only Dutch baroque-style church outside the province of Limburg. The parish of Ravenstein is split off from that of Neerlangel. The first mention of a parish church in Ravenstein was made in 1538. After a city fire, a new church was built by the Jesuits in 1606. After the construction of the Church of Saint Lucy, this church became redundant and thus a Latin school was founded by the Jesuits on the site of the old church in 1752. The school was funded from the proceeds of the Ravensteinse Loterij and was called Gymnasium Aloysianum. This originally served as a minor seminary and existed until 1878. The building gradually came into use as a town hall, but in 1905 it was demolished and replaced by a town hall, designed by H.J. Caners. In 1977 the building was replaced by a municipal office and the adjoining 18th-century notary house was used as a town hall.

In 1794, the French occupation ended the autonomy of the Land of Ravenstein. In 1800 Ravenstein and the associated land were sold to the Batavian Republic. Ravenstein and Megen temporarily became a separate vicariate in the Roman church. In 1814 Ravenstein joined the then established Kingdom of the Netherlands. Under Dutch rule, the castle was demolished down to the foundations in 1818. Only the Kasteelsepoort remained as part of it.