History of Doesburg
The name Doesburg first appears in writing in a legal document that dates from somewhere between 1053 and 1071. In that time the region was mostly marshland and sandy ridges and sparsely populated. The name 'Doesburg' is derived directly from the local surroundings. According to language experts, 'does', 'duis' and 'doze' were words used to identify marshy land upon which bushes and trees grew. The addition of 'burg' to the word probably refers to a 'burcht' (settlement) in a marshy area.
From settlement to prosperous city
Because of its strategic and favourable location at the spot where the Oude IJssel and Gelderse IJssel rivers converge, it was not long before Doesburg became an important settlement. In 1237 Doesburg was granted a city charter and in 1343 the city expanded even further after receiving permission from the Duke of Gelre and Zutphen, Reinald II, to do so. This was deemed necessary because of the way in which the rivers restricted the city's expansion. The Ooipoortstraat and Meipoortstraat were brought within the city walls and from that moment on Doesburg had 4 city gates: The Veer- or Saltpoort, the Koepoort, the Meipoort and the Ooipoort. The city became an important administrative centre in a large area that reached as far as Emmerik. After Zutphen, Doesburg was the second largest city in the region and remained so up until the 19th century. Membership of the Hansa (in 1447) also contributed to the prosperity of Doesburg.
At the end of the 15th century, however, the city's fortunes began to decline, with one of the main reasons being the silting up of the IJssel. As a result, the decision was taken in 1552 to alter the course of the river but the work did not produce the desired results. Later, in the first years of the Eighty Year War and during the French occupation from 1672 to 1674, the city fell even further into decline.
Doesburg had fallen from its position as an important trading post to that of a small market town. The majority of the residents were now earning their living off the land. Only the city's fortifications lent it any real significance. From 1607, when Maurits established the town's position as a border post, until 1945 Doesburg had a garrison permanently stationed within its walls.
From fort to modern city
In 1701 Menno van Coehoorn drew up a plan to construct a strong defence line to the east of the city. The work started in 1702 and was finished in 1730. However, these city walls actually placed great limits on the potential for the city of Doesburg to expand (Doesburg actually remained officially a fortified town until 1923). This led to the strangulation of the town's industry, including Doesburg's first large industrial concern, the ironworks, which was established in 1893. Most of the fortifications and defence lines remain intact and are known as the High and Low Defence Lines or Batteries.
From 1925 on, some housing construction was allowed on the lines, with the first houses being built on the Molenveld. After the Second Word War, two phases of housing construction were completed on the Zuidelijk and Noordelijk Molenveld. In the 1960s a new housing estate, De Ooi, was built on the lines. After changes to the provincial borders in 1974, Beinum became part of Doesburg and the city's expansion continues to this day.