Our story


This chapter


Valid XHTML 1.0!  tux

From Merkelbeek to Märckelbach:
A Social History with Deep Roots


Het viel eens hemels dauwe
in een cleyn maeghdeken.
Ten was noyt beter vrouwe
dat deed een kindeken,
dat van haer was gheboren,
en sy bleef maghet fijn.
O maghet uytvercoren,
lof moet U altoos sijn.
         - Guilielmus van Messaus (1589-1640)
¶ 0A

Heavenly dew once came
into a maiden small.
Never was a better woman
to receive a child,
born of her and yet
remained a maiden pure.
O chosen maiden,
forever to be praised.
¶ 0B

In progress: Aptil 2, 2008
28. Serving the Von Palants  
¶ 2

Heynrich's employer, Count Werner von Palant, had seven children that we know of. The count's second son, Reynalt (m., was, following custom in those days, from early childhood on destined to serve the Church and live a life of abstinence, supposedly. However, the family ran into a bit of a problem when, as a student in Köln, Reynalt became blessed with a daughter, Grete. And so, what is a good father to do? Max Dechamps, in his Der Ursprung des Geschlechtes Merckelbach, tells us what transpired.  ¶ 3

In the year 1463, the reverend Reynalt von Palant, provost of Kerpen, transfers his manor to Leenhart von Merckelbach and Grete ("zo dauwe in der huntzgassen," to the dew in the Huntzlane). This entry in the Köln register hints at a happenstance that is confirmed in Reynalt's last will. A marginal scribble by a person unknown clarifies that Grete is Reinald's daughter.  ¶ 4

"Zo dauwe in der huntzgasse." Dechamps did not write: "Zo dauwe" in der huntgasse. The quotation marks embraced the whole phrase, "zo dauwe in der huntzgasse." And that, I consider significant because it is one thing to write that Reynalt left an estate named "zo dauwe" that was located on the Huntzgasse; it is another thing to write that he left the estate to one whom he referred to as the "dauwe in der huntzgasse." In reply to the question whether the word "dauwe" can be used to identify a human being, the answer is a clear "yes," it can and has been used as a term of endearment, used to refer to a baby sent by Heaven as the verse above exemplifies.*  ¶ 5

And thus it is that we perceive Reynalt not only be a decent man, but a man also inclined to some subtle, irreverent wit. What comes through here, as indeed it does from many messages that reach us from medieval times, that, nothwithstanding religion and the Church pervading all of human existence, even men of holy orders could on occasion take things with some degree of levity. One may well imagine that from his student days on, Reynalt was quite familiar with such bawdy and irreverent verses like those we have come to know as the Carmina Burana, the verses found in the Benediktbeuern monastry, with lyrics a hodgepodge of low Latin and folksy German: ... in taberna quando sumus ... when we are in the tavern / we do not mind what the place may be ....  ¶ 6

Reynalt's father was Werner von Palant, lord of Frechen; his mother was Alvaradis von Engelstorp, heiress to Engelstorp, Thum, Asselborn and Maubach. Reynalt (or Reynart) himself, born sometime during the last decade of the 14th century, became in 1410 canon of the Münsterstift in Köln.* It was expected that he supported himself. In 1419 he becomes the parish priest of Bosnar; five years after that custodian of the Dom in Lüttich. In 1445 he became provost in Kerpen* and in 1460 custodian of the Münsterstift in Kö where he passed away on April 8, 1474.  ¶ 7

Going back to 1456, Reynalt's father, Werner, had prepared a will. On a 1559 copy of the document, by which the five surviving brothers settled his extensive estate's partition, the copyist Seeger von Palant wrote, according to Dechamps: "Reynolt van Palant, proist zu Kerpen, Enderstorp, it(em) 1 dochter an einen genand Lenard van Merckelbach verhylicht, da van die Merckelbach zu Hoitorp, zu Lanckler (=Langweiler) etc." Translation: Reynolt van Palant, provost for Kerpen, Enderstotp, no. 1 daughter married off to someone named Lenard van Merckelbach, there of the Merckelbach to Hoitorp, to Langweiler etc."*  ¶ 8

The archive of the counts of Palant-Culemburg in Arnhem preserved a document dated June 17, 1465, showing that Leonart had received from his father-in-law as gift an income in the form of produce. Families being families. this gave rise to a quarrel between Leonard and a cousin of Reynalt, Werner, who protested against this ongoing payout from Palant family property. The dispute was settled by Reynalt replacing the rente with a lump sum payment of 140 "overlensche rynsche gulden kurtfürstlich müntze by ryne." The parchment still carries the well-preserved seals of the parties involved. Leonard's seal sports a coat of arms with Sclangenkreuz on a background of beautiful late-gothic tracing.  ¶ 8

Reynalt's only sister, Margaretha von Palant was married with Johann von Wittem, drossard of Valkenburg, a man we met earlier as one of the character witnesses for Leonard's father, Heynrich, in his proceedings against Tilman. After becoming a widow in 1443, Margarethe began to use a seal with the inscription "SIGILLUM MARGARITE PALANT DOMINE DE WITTHAM," seal of Margarete Palant, lady of Wittem and assumed the role of guardian for her under-age children; in other words, she not only carried on as a mother, but also managed property that lawfully belonged to her children. Furthermore, she took in Grete Palant's sons, presumably, as Max Dechamps surmizes, for her brother Reynald's sake. The previous paragraph seems to indicate that Reynalt's nephew, Werner von Palant, did not consider Leonard Merckelbach as really "one of the family" and I am inclined to suspect that Margaretha tried to potect Reynalt's grandchildren against this bias. Unfortunately, at this point of the story, Dechamps' account becomes blurred....  ¶ 10

Under the heading Eymond von Merckelbach, Dechamps's story consists of three paragraphs that are unrelated to one another. The first paragraph tells us what I just reported on. The second paragraph tells us that the "Zinsbuche" (financial record?) of Eysz, a subsidiary fief of the manor Wittem contains this entry made in the year 1451: "Thionys, Werner and Johann von Merckelbach have promised to pay the jonker (young nobleman) Gerard van Goyr twelve goldguilders for St. Jacobsday." And further that Thionys later acquires the fief Hottendorf in Jülich where also the Goirs hold property, and furthermore that we know of two marriages between the Goir and Merckelbach families during the next century. It is in the third paragraph, finally, that Eymond is the main actor. It says that in all likelyhood Eymond enters the service of Margaretha von Palant and of her son Friedrich, and that, if such is te case, Eymond became the progenitor of a long line of stewards for the Von Palants.  ¶ 11

Lack of clarity leads to divergent interpretations. Figures 1 - 3 present significantly different genealogies for the offspring of Leonard and Grete. The above paragraph did not clearly state that Eymond, Thionys, Werner and Johann von Merckelbach, all four, were sons of Leonard and Grete, but there is the statement that Margaretha von Palant took in a number of their sons. Hence, it is not unreasonable to surmize that indeed they were, as reflected by Fig. 2. And it is particularly reasonable to read into the previous paragraph that Eymond indeed was a son of Leonard and Grete and the progenitor of a line of people in the service of the Von Palants, see Fig. 4.

Leonart-1 et al.
Figure 1. Line diagram of the immediate descendants of Leonart von Merckelbach and Grete von Palant that corresponds to the beginning of the family tree shown in the section
Trunk. The Vanblaer version* counts also the here greyed-out Edmund (Eymond, Egmund), said to be born ca. 1440, among Johann's brothers. This does not make sense in the light of Dechamps's finding that Eymond is the progenitor of a long line of stewards for the Von Palants. The scenarios presented in Figs. 2 and 4 look more reasonable.  ¶ 11

Back to Eymont's offspring, here follows what Max Dechamps tells us about these people. First Johann. He is presented to us as a Rentmeister (an accountant) of Wittem who in 1486 signs the annual financial report for Castle Maubach and Engelsdorf. Johann's brother, Reinhard, as well as Reinhard's son and grandson, all three of them, also enter the service of the Von Pallants.  ¶ 15

A 1521 document names Heynrich von Merckelbach as the Schöffe of Sittard.



Temper of the times  ¶ 22

..  ¶ 22A


Source. A dictionary by the brothers Grimm explains that "des himels dauwe" is the Holy Ghost.  *  fn1

A canon is a priest who is a member of a cathedral chapter. Stift is a religious institution; Münster is a church associated with a monastry.  *  fn2

One might assume from the context that as a provost he was chief dignitary of a cathedral or collegiate church, but, more genrally, a provost is a superintendent.  *  fn3

Any corrections to my translation are most welcome, as indeed is any comment that may help improve the Merckelbach story.  *  fn4

Vanblaer version.  *  fn5

The space below serves to put any hyperlinked targets at the top of the window


Above space serves to put hyperlinked targets at the top of the window
Page format: November 15, 2011
Story edit:
Webpages stor:
XHTML verify: