Coevorden, Netherlands


Coevorden is a city and municipality in the south-southeast of the province of Drenthe in the Netherlands. The municipality has 35,303 inhabitants (1 August 2020, source: CBS) and has an area of 300 km² (of which 2.81 km² is water). The city itself had 15,565 inhabitants on January 1, 2020.




On November 26, 944, Emperor Otto I the Great donated "the right of forest" (the right to hunt) in the Pagus Thriente to Bishop Balderik of Utrecht. This brought the region under the rule of the Utrecht diocese.

The first mention of the place name is found in 1036, in the name of Fredericus van Coevorden. The first written mention (on a charter) of Coevoorde dates from 1148. The name indicates (like for example Oxford and Ochsenfurt) a place where farmers let their cows pass through a river via a ford (cow ford). The name Bosporus means the same but has a mythological origin.


Viscounts of Coevorden

In 1141 Bishop Hartbert van Bierum, his brother Ludolf van Bierum, invested with the hereditary dignity of viscount van Coevorden. This gives Hartbert a loyal vassal, perhaps even a stooge who runs the area. After Hartbert died in 1150, the bond between the diocese of Utrecht and the Stadt and Heerlickheyt Coevorden quickly weakened.

Ludolf was succeeded by his sons Volker van Coevorden and Rudolf I van Coevorden. They behaved like independent gentlemen. In 1182 this led to a siege of the motte by Bishop Baudouin of Holland, in which the city was largely destroyed. As the new lord of the castle, Count Otto van Bentheim was appointed by the bishop. The Lords of Coevorden and Count Otto would dispute each other for many years to come. War was waged again between 1186 and 1192, during which Rudolf I van Coevorden was taken hostage. Volker meanwhile managed to conquer the castle containing Otto's family. With that, the lords were strong enough to claim power. Rudolf I van Coevorden was recognized as viscount of Coevorden. Volker settled in Ansen and was the father of Rudolf II van Coevorden, who would become viscount of Coevorden.


Battle of Ane

Coevorden was strategically on the route from Groningen to Münster, making the city a prosperous fortified city. The bishop of Utrecht, Otto van Lippe, consecrated in 1215, decided to strengthen the diocese's claims to the area, not least to secure or increase its income from the area. Otto, however, met great opposition, because the farmers supported their lord Rudolf II van Coevorden. This resulted in the battle of Ane, in which Otto lost his life and the Drenthe farmers under the command of Rudolf II van Coevorden achieved a resounding victory.

After the death of Otto van Lippe, Wilbrand van Oldenburg was consecrated bishop, and Wilbrand also went to war against the rebellious Drents, enlisting the help of the Frisians. But this battle, the Frisian-Drenthe war, was also won by the Drents. In a later battle, at Peize, the Drenten were eventually defeated, and Viscount Rudolf II van Coevorden was lured to Hardenberg Castle under false pretenses. He was captured, tortured, and murdered on July 25, 1230.

It was seldom a piece of cake between the bishops and the innkeepers, and the question is whether this had anything to do with the relocation in 1258 of the Sancta Maria de Campe or Mariënklooster of Coevorden to a sand ridge in a place where the center of Assen lies.


Late Middle Ages

In 1288 a grandson of Rudolf came back to power, and the castleship of the van Coevordens was restored. Reinoud van Coevorden was the son of Eufemia, the daughter of Rudolf II, and of Hendrik van Borculo. Reinoud became the ancestor of a series of strong lords of Coevorden, a dynasty that would last until 1402. The area of ​​power extended to Borculo, Diepenheim, Lage (Germany) and Selwerd. They acquired currency rights and controlled the judiciary in Drenthe.

It was not until the end of the 14th century that bishop Frederik of Utrecht put an end to the struggles by abolishing the heredity of the castleship of Coevorden. Frederik made good use of the unrest among the inhabitants of the area, Reinoud did not make himself popular with illegal taxes and other crimes. In 1395 Frederik went to war against the lord of Drenthe, but unlike the battle of Ane, Reinoud could not count on the support of the farmers. Frederik was recognized by the notables of Coevorden as lord, and so Reinoud was left alone in the battle. On April 4, 1402, he relinquished all his rights, and the Van Coevordens withdrew to their possessions in Twente and the Achterhoek. Coevorden received city rights on December 31, 1407.



At the beginning of the 16th century, both the Chapel of Hulsvoort and the Nieuwe Kerk in Coevorden were destroyed. The city fell into the hands of Rudolf van Munster in 1518, but in 1522 the city was recaptured by the Geldersen, under the command of Johan van Selbach. Selbach then controlled all eastern areas, including Overijssel and Drenthe up to the Groningen seacoast. Until 1536 (the end of Karel van Gelre's reign) he would remain castor of Coevorden and drost of Drenthe.

Selbach was responsible for strengthening the fortifications, but also for sufficient tax collection for Gelres duke. The latter was not easy for him, not only because Drenthe was not a rich province, but also because the Drenten did not like to conform to Gelderland's authority. In a letter from 1536 Selbach therefore invokes force majeure, because of the poverty of "your royal grace under the land of Drente".

In the same year 1536 Selbach was forced to hand over the castle and fortress to Georg Schenck van Tautenburgh, army commander in the region of Emperor Charles V.


Spanish siege and rebuilding of the city

Coevorden was besieged by the Spaniards in the period from 1581 to 1592. This period began with the Eleven Day Siege in September 1581 led by George of Lalaing, the Count of Rennenberg. Coevorden was one of the few fortified cities in the northern provinces that had not participated in the betrayal of Rennenberg. When Maurice of Orange managed to expel the Spaniards in 1592, the city was largely burned down by the Spaniards. Under the leadership of Francisco Verdugo, the last Spanish governor of the northern provinces, the Spaniards tried to recapture the city in 1594, but Prince Maurice's army prevented that.

Coevorden had to be completely rebuilt. The historical buildings and fortifications that still exist, the street structure and the star-shaped city moat therefore largely date from the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century. The fortifications were designed by Menno van Coehoorn.



On June 30, 1672 Coevorden was captured by Bernard van Galen, the bishop of Münster. On December 30, 1672, the fortified town was relieved within an hour by Carl von Rabenhaupt, with the help of a map made by the fleeing local schoolmaster Mijndert van der Thijnen, and a rush bridge construction over the frozen water of the city moat. However, the bishop did not give up, and under the leadership of Bommen Berend, Coevorden was again besieged in 1673. At the beginning of October 1673 the bishop tried to dam the Vecht near Gramsbergen and to flood Coevorden. Due to a violent storm and a breakthrough in the dam, 1,400 Munster soldiers drowned. The Coevorden people were rescued just in time.


Period of decline

Population growth came to a halt in the 18th century. In that period Coevorden was a transit point for peat skippers, who transported their cargo from the German and East Drenthe areas to the west of the Netherlands. This function of the inner harbor of Coevorden ceased to exist when the peat was excavated. As a relatively large city, Coevorden still had an important regional function, which, however, was gradually taken over by Emmen.

Historical facts of this period are the iron cake riot and the foundation of the Jewish Community in Coevorden.


French rule

In 1795 Coevorden was taken by the French, a period that would last until 1814. The French army was received as a liberation army, the patriots had built up sufficient support and the loyalty to Orange was not too great. The Coevorder magistrate had appointed patriot Berend Slingenberg as secretary, but this did not prevent the magistrate from being deposed. Slingenberg became secretary of the Révolutionaire Committee, and was appointed Maire (mayor) in 1811.

After Napoleon's abdication, the French left the city in a desolate state on May 3, 1814. 43 houses, 20 barns and 2 mills were destroyed in a fire, with a total damage of 76,000 guilders.


After the second World War

Even after the war, Emmen continued to grow into the most important city in the region, and various companies and institutions moved from Coevorden to Emmen. It was not until the 1980s and 1990s that Coevorden regained its position on the map, with the arrival of the animal feed company IAMS and the construction of a NATO depot. That depot is now in use by the Dutch army.


With the Europark, construction of which started in the mid-1990s and which is partly being built on German territory, Coevorden wants to give a new impulse to industry and business in the region. With this park the aim is to become an important link in the transport of goods between the western Netherlands and the east and north of Europe.

In 1998, as part of the municipal reorganization in Drenthe, the territory of the municipality was expanded with the former municipalities of Dalen, Oosterhesselen, Sleen and Zweeloo.