November 1, 2009

Venlo made up foundation legend to fool the church

Filed under: History,Religion by Branko Collin @ 3:48 pm

In elementary school I was taught about the founding legend of my city of birth, Venlo. The story went that the leader of a local tribe, the Bructeri, fled a lost battle with the rival Chamavi tribe towards the fertile ground on the Meuse river in 96 AD.

In remembrance of this chief, called Valuas, giant dolls of him and his wife had been carried around the city for ages, and all kinds of companies, schools and clubs had been named after him. Valuas was Venlo.

Recently though I learned it’s all a crock, and all it took was a visit to Wikipedia. There is no such legend. Instead, the story was made up in its entirety in the 18th century, because the bishop of Roermond wanted to outlaw the use of dolls depicting Goliath and his wife in processions.

With Goliath given a new, non-religious identity, the bishop could no longer object to what was basically idolatry. Today, the local ceremonial shooting club, Akkermansgilde, still carries giant dolls of Valuas and his wife Guntrud around in processions and during carnival.

(Photo of Venlo city hall by Wikimedia user Michiel1972, some rights reserved.)

Tags: , , , , ,