Deventer, Netherlands


Deventer (Low Saxon: Dèv'nter or Daeventer, in local dialect: Dèmpter) is a Dutch city in the province of Overijssel. The city is the capital of the municipality of the same name and is located on the river IJssel. In the Middle Ages Deventer was part of the Hanseatic League, an important North German trade network.

Deventer is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. The place is already mentioned in 9th-century sources of the diocese of Utrecht. A charter from 877 mentions seven farms in Daventre portu (the port of Deventer). In 952 Deventer is mentioned as a city in a deed of donation from King Otto I. After the place had acquired more and more rights and privileges in the course of time, it received the municipal land from Emperor Henry V in 1123. This is considered by historians as the moment when the inhabitants obtain city rights. The city has the oldest stone house, the oldest walking park and with the Athenaeum library also the oldest scientific library in the Netherlands.




The name Deventer is etymologically explained in different ways. First of all, it is attributed to a composition of two Old Saxon forms that arose in the 8th century or earlier. The name would then have arisen from deve-treo, which meant something like "tree next to a watercourse" or "dead tree". 'Deven' in Gothic meant the same as died, the Old English or Old Saxon name 'treo' meant tree.

In addition, it is sometimes said that Deventer owes its name to the town of Daventry in England, where the Christian missionary Lebuinus (Liafwin) is said to have come from. This cannot be right, because Daventry did not exist then. However, it is conceivable that Deventer and Daventry have the same etymological origin.

In the 10th century, the Benedictine Hucbald wrote that Deventer was named after a monk by the name of Davo, who traveled with Lebuinus. This does not seem likely either. The place Davo already existed elsewhere and in the century older text used by Hucbald as a source, nothing is said about this mention.



Given the politically predominantly left-wing population, Deventer used to be referred to as 'Moscow on the IJssel'. It is also called 'Koekstad', because of the famous Deventer biscuit. Local carnival keepers refer to the stockfish as 'Stockfish hole', after the stockfish that used to be traded there.



Remains from Roman times have been found on the current territory of the municipality of Deventer. In Roman times there was a Germanic settlement in the Colmschate district. During excavations, Roman coins from the 3rd and 4th centuries have been found, as well as a statuette of the Roman goddess Victoria.

From the 8th century, the place where Deventer now lies has been inhabited almost continuously. The IJssel played an important role for hunters, fishermen, farmers and livestock keepers who settled on the bank. The city was probably founded by the later canonized Anglo-Saxon missionary Lebuinus (Liafwin), who crossed the IJssel in 768, and founded a wooden church on the spot where the Grote or Lebuinuskerk, named after him, now stands. Deventer remained a religious center within the diocese of Utrecht and developed into the capital of the Oversticht.

Between 1000 and 1500 Deventer became a flourishing trading place, which was part of the Hanseatic League. Particularly in the 11th and 12th centuries, it formed a very important trading place together with Tiel. Deventer was also a port city. Large ships could moor at the quay. The Schipbeek used to flow out on the south side of the center and formed a natural harbor. During this period, the defensive wall against Viking attacks, which the city had already started in 882, was expanded with city walls, towers and gates. There were five large and many smaller city gates.

Deventer was an important center for religious reform, mainly because it is the birthplace of Brother Geert Grote, founder of the Modern Devotion movement that had a great influence on Thomas a Kempis and later on Desiderius Erasmus. The Latin School of Deventer, which was widely known at the time, where all three were taught, played an important role in this and had its heyday from 1483 to 1498 under the rectorate of Alexander Hegius, Rudolf Agricola's most important pupil. Until about 1500, the city was Northern Europe's most important humanistic printing center.

From the Middle Ages, the administration of Deventer not only extended to the boundaries of the city itself, but also to a wide area outside the fortress. In this so-called wigbold, rural area consisting of cattle pastures and horticulture, city law applied.

In the Eighty Years' War, Deventer was captured in 1591 after a ten-day siege by State troops under the command of Prince Maurits. The government of the city then passed into the hands of Protestants. After this reformation, the link between the Latin School and the Catholic Church was broken. In addition, with the help of a legacy, the Athenaeum Illustre was founded, which offered further study opportunities to students of the Latin School. In 1783 a liberal force was founded in Deventer with radical-liberal ideas: the people needed more influence on the administration. In 1795, the principles of freedom, equality and brotherhood were introduced throughout the Netherlands.


In the French period, on May 4, 1809, King Louis Napoleon paid a visit to Deventer. Deventer became a municipality in 1851 in the sense of the municipal law of 1848. After the introduction of the Fortress Act (1874), the Dutch cities were relieved of their obligation to maintain their fortifications and until then it was also allowed to free them directly outside the old fortress. field of fire to be built on. The first neighborhoods that arose here at the end of the 19th century were the Molenbelt and the Ossenweerd. The first industry was established on the southeast side of the old fortress, along the railway line and the old harbor and a little later also on the northwest side along the IJssel.

During the Second World War, the city had a hard time. She was bombed several times by the Allies, resulting in hundreds of civilian casualties. Of the approximately 11,000 homes, only 2,500 remained undamaged. The area around the strategically important bridges was hit by bombs in particular; the historic city center was also severely damaged. More than 400 of the more than 600 Jews in the city were murdered in 1941. Just before the moment of the actual liberation on April 10, 1945, the Twentol drama took place in the city, in which seven resistance fighters were killed. After the Second World War, a lot of work was done on the reconstruction. In addition to the bridges for road and rail transport, a lock was constructed, the Prins Bernhard lock, to promote inland shipping. Since 1951, it has connected the IJssel with the basic canal.

Because of its political relations, Deventer was called 'Moscow on the IJssel' by some in the 20th century. Until the 1970s, the population consisted to a large extent of workers who worked in the large textile, metal and other factories.

At the end of the fifties, the buildings had reached the limits of the municipality. In 1960, for further expansion, the part of the municipality of Diepenveen was annexed, which now covers the Keizerslanden, Borgele and Platvoet neighborhoods, all realized in the 1960s; all in all roughly the area up to (west of) the Zandwetering.

After a plan to expand the city across the IJssel, the so-called Double City Plan, was not considered feasible in the late 1960s, Deventer turned its gaze east again: in 1974, part of Diepenveen was again annexed. On January 1, 1999, the municipality of Diepenveen was dissolved and added to Deventer. On January 1, 2005, the same happened with the municipality of Bathmen.