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A corpse road from De Laak to Echt



From the hamlet "De Laak", in the municipality of Ohé en Laak, in the Dutch province Limburg, a corpse road ran to the church at Echt. At the edge of the River Maas, at Laak, stood an isolated house, where Mother Magdalena, founder of a congregation of the Franciscan nuns of Heijthuijsen was born. There the Maas dyke bends towards Echt, and it is at this bend that the "lijkweg" (corpse road) started. This road also served as a church road, for it was also known as "misweg" (mis = mass in church).

The village Echt has been inhabited at least since Roman times, situated near a main Roman road; Aachen-Heerlen-Tudderen-Melick-Xanten. The Frankish ruler Pippin of Herstal (AD 687-714) bestowed the inhabitants of Echt with the "Echterbos " (bos = wood), and the name "Konigsbosch", as also the "Pepinusbrug" (bridge), near Pey, at the road from Echt to the Konigsbosch, as also the name of a nearby farm "Pepinushof", are reminders of this Frankish court-mayor.

In the later Middle Ages, Echt became a fief of the Duchy Gelder, with a castle built about 1400, which was destroyed in a war between Gelder and Emperor Maximilian. the gothic St Landricus church at Echt dates from the 15th century, though the choir was built during the 14th century, the church was greatly reworked in 1873.

Old topographic maps show that a subsidiary of the river Maas, the "Oude Maas" was crossed by a footbridge at a fordable place, which was presumably used by carts or wagons, heading from Ohé en Laak to Echt. At Laak, there is marked a St Anna chapel, and nearby is the site of "Walborgh", or Walburg, ruined during World War II. Count Herman Hendrik van Bergh, Lord of Stevensweert, built the castle in 1632, prior to his abduction of Josine Walburgis, Countess von Löwenstein Rochefort Wertheim, princess-abbess of Thorn (Dutch Limburg). Following which Count Löwenstein got his daughter back by force of arms and locked her inside a monastery for four years. Eventually, Josine was reunited with Herman and the castle, of course was named after her.

John Palmer


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