Zwolle, Netherlands


Zwolle is the capital of the Dutch province of Overijssel. Zwolle is located on the Zwarte Water and the Overijsselse Vecht and is connected to the IJssel via the Zwolle-IJsselkanaal. The city is located in the IJsseldelta region. The municipality has 129,213 inhabitants (1 August 2020), making it the nineteenth municipality in the Netherlands. Zwolle has an area of 111.33 kmĀ².



Middle Ages

Zwolle originated in the Middle Ages on a sand ridge between the IJssel and the Overijsselse Vecht on the river Aa. This was an elevated and habitable spot in the otherwise swampy landscape. At the time, such a place was called a 'suol'. The sand ridge is still visible due to the height differences in the city. For example, the Sassenstraat is higher than the Grote Kerkplein.

The oldest traces of habitation date from the early Stone Age. Itinerant tribes then inhabited the cover sand ridges. In some sources these tribes are also referred to as the Isala people, after the Latin name of the IJssel.

During the construction of Ittersumerbroek, a district of Zwolle-Zuid, in 1993, ground traces of two pile circles from the Bronze Age were found. These are also called the Woodhenge of Zwolle.

The oldest written record, from 1040, refers to a parish church dedicated to Saint Michael. In 1230, Zwolle received city rights from its landowner, the Utrecht bishop Wilbrand van Oldenburg, as thanks for helping to build a castle in Hardenberg. This in response to the Battle of Ane.

During the city fire of 1324, deliberately lit by robber knight Zweder van Voorst, the city almost completely went up in flames. Nine buildings, including the chapel and refectory of the Bethlehem Monastery, remained because they were built of stone. After the fire, the city was rebuilt towards the west. The map still shows a difference between the erratic street pattern in the eastern part of the inner city, which dates from before the fire, and the much more regular street pattern after the fire.

The Latin school of Zwolle, the current Gymnasium Celeanum, gained great fame under rector Johan Cele (1375-1415). Inspired by the Modern Devotion, he put new spiritual, pedagogical and social insights into practice. His educational reform would soon be imitated in schools, especially in the Netherlands and Germany. In the fifteenth century, the "Golden Age" of the city, the Modern Devotion, which was initially started by Geert Grote in Deventer, extended from Zwolle to a large part of Europe. At the beginning of this century it was Thomas a Kempis, copyist and mystic, who after his school days in Deventer went to live in a monastery on the Agnietenberg and became a well-known source of inspiration for this movement. It is believed that later Pope Adrian VI was taught at the Latin school in Zwolle around 1470.

The Golden Age of Zwolle was also due to the fact that in 1407 the city entered the Hanseatic League as a trading city, presumably for the second time. Bishop Frederik van Blankenheim put an end to the power of the guilds in the city council (1413-1416) in the Lucienacht of 1416. In 1438 Zwolle obtained staple rights from bishop Rudolf van Diepholt. The emperor of the Holy Roman Empire confirmed the city rights of Zwolle in 1448 by including the city among the cities of the German Empire. At the same time as Deventer and Kampen, Zwolle was recognized by Emperor Maximilian I in 1495 as a Free Imperial City.


Eighty Years' War and the Republic

In August 1572 Zwolle was conquered by Willem van den Bergh, a brother-in-law of William of Orange. But after the murder of Zutphen on November 16 by the Spanish troops of Don Frederik, the city surrendered voluntarily with several other cities to prevent further bloodshed.

The States of Overijssel initially did not participate in the Union of Utrecht, which was intended as a military alliance against the advancing Spanish troops. But when the stadtholder of Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel - George van Lalaing - defected to Spain on March 3, 1580, the people of Zwolle made it clear that they did not want to leave the revolt and no longer recognized the stadholder. One Lubert Ulger unleashed an uprising in Zwolle, and on June 15 he managed to defeat the Catholics and Spanish soldiers with a group of Calvinist insurgents in a street fight in Diezerstraat. After mediation by Willem van Oranje, Lalaing only got Groningen to the Spanish side, and Overijssel and Drenthe joined the Union of Utrecht.

During Parma's nine years, Zwolle was the only city not recaptured by the Spaniards. During Maurits van Oranje's Ten Years, the city was a military base from which Overijssel and Gelderland could be recaptured. In the Republic of the Netherlands, Overijssel had no real capital, the states consisted of representatives from Deventer, Kampen, Zwolle and the Overijsselse Knighthood. The meetings took place alternately in one of the three cities.


French era and the 19th century

It was not until the French era that Zwolle received the status of capital, first of the Department of the Oude IJssel, then of the Department of Overijssel and, after the annexation by the First French Empire, of the Department of Monden van de IJssel or Bouches-de-l ' Yssel. After the departure of the French, Zwolle became the capital of the province of Overijssel.

On July 7, 1837, the last Zwolle death sentence was carried out on the Grote Markt by executioner Hendrikus Esman (executioner for Overijssel 1827-1845). Albert Wetterman from Wijhe was sentenced to this sentence because of the murder of his wife Gerritdina Lankhorst.

Around 1870 the population of the city increased sharply. The cause was mainly due to the acquisition of a railway station (1876). The Company for the Exploitation of the State Railways also opened a Central Workshop for the maintenance of the trains in 1870. Soon 600 people were employed here. A new district was developed outside the city, Assendorp. Here, social housing was first applied in Zwolle. The first houses were built between Weezenland and Bartjensstraat. The Association for the Promotion of Factory and Trade Industry built 20 houses, for which one guilder rent per week had to be paid. Such a house consisted of a long corridor, two rooms and a poop barrel outside. The tenants of the VFH department were later given the opportunity to buy a house, these were the houses in the Enkstraat, next to the Van Raalte timber trade. In 1878, 25 new houses were built on the Bartjensstraat, these were for the workers of the vinegar factory Heerkens Schaepman & Co. which was founded in 1807 on the spot where the Isala clinics (location Weezenlanden) later stood.

Connecting to the railways, a city horse tram was operated from 1885 by the Zwolsche Tramwegmaatschappij (ZTM) on Cape track. In addition to a city line, it also operated a tram line to Katerveer. The city tram was discontinued in 1919. Also on cape track there is from 1914 the local tram line Zwolle - Blokzijl with steam trams operation. This tram line was discontinued in 1934. Also on cape track, the regional tram network of the Dedemsvaartsche Stoomtramweg-Maatschappij gets a terminus in Zwolle near the Brink in 1895. There it was possible to switch to the horse tram. After the Second World War, the regional tram network was discontinued.

On May 28, 1932, the Zuiderzee was cut off from the North Sea, so that Zwolle is no longer directly connected to the oceans.



In Zwolle, the road bridge and the railway bridge over the IJssel were blown up on May 10, 1940. This also eliminated the telephone connection with the Northern Netherlands, which ran via these bridges. One of the three civil registry offices for Germans was established in Zwolle. Zwolle also got one of the 57 employment offices set up by the Germans.

Zwolle was given a so-called 'Jewish Council', founded by order of the Germans. During the Second World War, 495 Jewish residents of Zwolle were taken away by the occupying forces and killed in concentration camps. A Jewish couple took their own lives with the Germans on their doorstep, and two Jews were killed by the resistance in Hattem. People were also shot at various places in the city who resisted the occupier in any way.

Various monuments in the city remind of this, such as the Monument on Meppelerstraatweg and Monument on the Berkum shooting range. In the Ter Pelkwijk Park is the War Memorial Zwolle that should keep the memory awake of all people from Zwolle who died in World War II as a result of acts of war. Zwolle was liberated by Canadians on April 14, 1945. Leo Major (1921-2008) was one of the first allied soldiers to enter the city and was almost independently responsible for the withdrawal of the Germans, and is therefore called "the liberator of Zwolle".