By the Banks of the
The Lower Rhine
region of Germany spreads out on both
sides of the great
river, where it flows downhill from the Middle
Rhine wine country and fans out into a broad delta of sloughs
and backwaters at or near sea level.
indistinct. Some would say the Lower Rhine covers everything from Bonn
to Hoek van Holland. Others define it much more narrowly, perhaps from
Düsseldorf to the Dutch border.
modern education, High German is standard throughout the country. In
earlier times, though, and still for many people today, the regions had
distinct dialects. There are cultural as well as linguistic differences
to the south of Düsseldorf. For instance, inheritance in that
region would traditionally be divided more or less equally among the
children. North of that
city the eldest son would inherit everything.
Some of the
Lower Rhine towns and cities, such as Xanten
date back two millenia to the Roman colonial period. Others, such as Kleve
are "only" in the 800-year-old range. For centuries, though, the Duchy
(often referred to as "Cleves" by English speakers) was
administered as an independent country. Today Kleve is still one of the
region’s more prominent cities. In the intervening centuries,
borders were more fluid and ownership changed. While the Niederrhein,
or Lower Rhine, might stop at the current Dutch border in the minds of
many, in fact there has been an historically close relationship between
Nijmegen (called Nimwegen by Germans) and Kleve (called Kleef by the
Dutch). It continues today as
in medieval times.