The Good, Bad and Ugly.

Like any family the van Ossenbruchs had a wide spectrum of characters. Some good, some bad and some pretty ugly in behavior.

The Good:
It was a custom in noble families to have at least one son and/or daughter enter the clergy. Girls and young women could enter a (rich) convent, where only the highest nobility was accepted, and for young men, as canons, it could be a career into courts and universities. One in particular: Gerhard v. Ossenbroich (son of Gerit and Yda van Bueren) had moved up the ranks and (in 1489) had been chosen to present a Golden Rose from Pope Innocent VIII to Duke Johan of Cleves, during a ceremonial Lent celebration. All other prelates from Xanten, Rees and Cranenburg were present also.
Under picture left: read more about the van O. canons and the institution.

In the early 1300s Knight Johan van Ossenbroic owned land next to the Bedebuer (now called Bedburg) cloister, which dates from 1130. In the 1440s his great-granddaughters Aleid and Margaretha were nuns there. After 25 years Aleid became subpriorin.
Only women (girls) from the most prominent noble families would be admitted. Aufgenommen in diese Gemeinschaft wurden nur die edelsten und vornehmsten Frauen des Landes. Ins Kloster aufgenommen werden durften wie bisher nur adelige Töchter, die ihren Adel von väterlicher und mütterlicher Seite in acht Quartieren aufschwören konnten.
Drawing is from 1749.

Several van O. girls entered convents in Kalkar, Bedeburg and Emmerich. All near the van O.'s estate. Only women (girls) from the most prominent noble families, from both sides, could be admitted.
In addition to son Gerhard (see above) father Gerit and wife Yda van Bueren's daughter Aleid also enter the clergy and became a nun in Kalkar.
Additionally, Gerit and Yda's granddaughters Margriet and Genevefa van Ossenbroeck entered the convent. Margariet became the head of the cloister (Klosteres) after 22 years, while Genevefa later left the convent and married at age 44. View the convent and read more under image on the right.

Two generations earlier, in 1424, Gottschalk von Ossenbroeck (Gerit's uncle), and his wife donated part of their orchard to the Sisters Order of the cloister at Bockum. For that the nuns must pray 100 "Our Fathers", four times a day, in memory of their parents Gerarts von Ossenbroeck and his wife Lady Maria van Nieuwehuizen, their souls and the souls of all their children. (Including us?)
Read the actual document here.
22 September 1424.

Gottschalk von Ossenbroeck, and his wife Hadwig Oese von Walhausen (Hadewich Oess von Walhusen), donated part of their orchard at the hermitage at Bockum to the Sisters Tertiarin Order of the cloister, "dar der clusen huysken opsteit an der muren" (where the recluse cottage is situated, near the wall).

In return the nuns must pray 100 "Our Fathers", four times a day "vier quatemperen, in gedencknisse Gerarts von Ossenbroeck ind synre Huysvrouwe jonfer Marien van Nuwenhausen oere selen ind alle oere kinder selen" (in memory of their parents Gerarts von Ossenbroeck and his (house)wife Lady Maria van Nuwenhausen, their souls and the souls of all their children).

Gesamtarchiv von Romberg - Urkunden, Nr. 434

One more person to mention under "Good" is Gerberge van Ossenbruch, daughter of Evert and Johanna van Brienen and sister of two nuns in Emmerich. Gerberge accompanied Anne of Cleves and her wedding party to London for the wedding with King Henry VIII. Read the full story and see all the players under the Menu button "1200-1600, History".

The Bad:
- Pregnant:
Sexual chastity was essential for both women of the nobility and the lower classes. But a double-standard existed as chastity was not expected of (young) men. Women were to remain chaste until marriage; men were permitted to "sow their wild oats". Especially in Medieval feudal times, casual affairs with female vassals were common.

However, it was a different story if the (young) woman was a noble. In 1606 Johan v. Ossenbroich (son of Johan v. O. and Margriet von Bodelberg; see below under "The Ugly") got Gertruijd Schimmelpenninck pregnant. She came from a powerful noble family in Zutphen. Maybe after a bit of pressure, Johan signed a statement, on 6 April 1606, that he will take the pregnant Gertruijd for his wife, so that she will not be denigrated by her parents and friends.
Gertrudt had two daughters, but died not long after. Then, in 1609, Johan remarried Elisabeth von Viermundt zur Bladenhorst.
N.B.: The term "sow your wild oats" came from the middle-age era in Europe, comparing pre-marital affairs to wastefully planting oats in the wild rather than on a fenced-in, well-plowed farm field.

The case above was not really all that bad, but the story below is a bit different.

- Violence:
In 1465, Lord Johan van Wisch (a notorious marauding knight: read more here) rode to the town of Deventer with some friends, including a van Ossenbrock (probably Gerid van Ossenbroeck -bastard grandson of Gerart v. Ossenbroeck, who married Maria v. Nijenhoven), who is documented doing business in Doetinchem at that time (Deventer is 25 miles from Doetinchem and 11 miles from Zutphen).
When they got close to Deventer someone warned van Ossenbrock not to enter the town, since he had been told before that he would not be allowed in. Angered, he left the gang and rode to Zutphen. On his way he met a peddler from Deventer. All citizens from Deventer were now his enemy. He jumped him, gripped his head, cut a piece off his ear, took his money and then rode to Zutphen.
The Deventer council complained in a letter to Zutphen about this and they wrote back that they had never heard about this incident before, but that van Ossenbrock was not in their city and had gone back to the Land of Cleves, where he lived and was born (dye Cleffsche landen, daer hy woenachtich ende gheborren is).

The Ugly:
In 1561 Johan van Ossenbroch, Haushofmeister zu Grevenbroich and und Gladbach (the son of Vincentius), married Margriet von Bodelberg. They lived at Haus Hain. In 1585 they hade been invited to the splendid eight-day wedding of Johann Wilhelm von Jülich-Kleve-Berg and Jacobe von Baden in the Duke's castle in Düsseldorf. Read here about Johan's arrangements.

After Johan's death Margriet became involved in witch-hunting. In one document it is reported that at one time she had 150 witches burned.
Some historians find this hard to believe, since there seem to be no other records of such a massive burning spectacle at that time.

From 1500-1782 some 25,000 alleged witches were mainly burned but also hanged, strangled, drowned or beheaded in Germany. Of course there were no witches, these were all invented crimes. But in hard times it was a good tool for local authorities to place the blame on others for famines and other problems. The witches were a wonderful scapegoat for whenever things went wrong.

Go here for more documents and references on all the above.

Documents and References

Click here Historic tale of a Ossenbroich jumping a peddler from Deventer, robbing him and cutting off part off his ear. Start reading bottom of first page.
Click here Witch-hunts in Germany. Margriet v. Ossenbroch had 150 witches burned.

 
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