History of Zwolle


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Zwolle has a rich history. From Modern Devotion to the Hanseatic city and the Blue Fingers. Read on quickly and find out all about the history of Zwolle.

Modern Devotion The Modern Devotion was an important period in the history of Zwolle.

The spiritual movement stood for a renewal of Christian community life and can be seen as a reform movement within the church and society. You can see it as the "Occupy movement" of the Middle Ages. People rebelled against the big grabbing of the church and wanted to go back to the basics of the faith. Personal life sanctification and practical life wisdom were the aim. The initiators consisted of clergy and lay people. They lived in community of table and goods without taking a formal monastic vow. Several Zwolle citizens played a major role in the era of the Modern Devotion in the 15th century. From Zwolle, Windesheim and Deventer, the ideals of Geert Grote, Thomas a Kempis and Johan Cele, among others, were spread throughout Western Europe. Education was an important channel to propagate the beliefs of the Modern Devotion. That is why Johan Cele founded the very first secondary school in the world in Zwolle. From all over the world students came to Zwolle to enrich themselves with knowledge.

Did you know?

  • Johan Cele is the founder of the current education system, where the level of education is no longer determined by your background.
  • The oldest gymnasium in the world can still be seen in Zwolle
  • 'Connection' is still an important theme in Zwolle.
  • Modern Devotion has been formally recognized by the municipality of Zwolle as part of the identity of the city.

Hanzestad Zwolle In the shadow of the great church, founded in 765 by Lebuinus and Marcellinus, the trading center of Zwolle arose.

Later this became the great market. Historians disagree about the origin of the name Zwolle. It probably comes from the Latin 'Suolle'or 'Suollu', a high-lying area that stays dry during floods.

Zwolle, which received city rights in 1230 from the Utrecht Bishop Willebrand of Oldenburg, grew over time into a city of significance. This was mainly because Zwolle had a favorable location on the existing trade routes. In 1407 Zwolle joined the Cologne quarter of the German Hanseatic League. As a Hanseatic city Zwolle experienced in the 15th century its "Golden Age". Also in the church and cultural field Zwolle developed a rich history. The modern Devots have been very active here, many buildings still remind of their presence. The Hanseatic city walk is available at the Van der Velde in de Broeren Tourist Information Centre and in the museum store of the Stedelijk Museum Zwolle.

Look at www.visithanzesteden.nl for inspiration about all the Hanseatic Cities.

The story of the Blauwvingers

In the Middle Ages, the cities of Zwolle and Kampen made life as difficult as possible for each other. The Zwolle people had a nickname for the Kampen people: Kampersteuren. The curse name for the Zwolle people was "Blue Finger" because they had committed perjury towards the Duke of Gelre. Another explanation came later, when Zwolle offered the chimes, from the Grote Kerk, for sale to Kampen. The Kampen people agreed to this and came one day with a wagon full of money. They were all four-pieces and the Zwolle people got blue fingers from counting the copper coins.

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