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Prehistoric people also settled on the sandy regions along the river Ems. Archaeological finds on the former dry arable land yield evidence of Saxon rural settlements (600 - 800 A.D.)

These settlements can be recognized by their endings on -trup (Aldrup, Pentrup). Similarly the name Greven, as Grevaon, goes back to these times, probably meaning 'ditches', pointing to a great number of oxbow-riverbeds in this area.

The historic finds seem to give hints about the Franks having fortified the ancient military and trading route from Münster (Mimigernaford) via Rheine to Emden. This took place at the beginning of the Saxon Wars (772 - 804 A.D.) They also fortified the ultimate point of the navigable Ems-river, where there was, and still is today, the farm of Schulte Aldrup (today called Schulze Höping Pellengahr). It's surrounded by a moat, and in former times used to serve as a barrier between the bifurcation of these two routes.

The final stronghold on the Ems was built by the Franks at the present site of the town centre, by joining two neighbouring hamlets. This village was called Grevaon and was administrated by a bailiff.

The village comprised eight farms of equal land size, and with equal rights to the two areas of arable land. Also included was a parish farm of double their size. The farms were situated along a trail corresponding about to the present Münsterstraße and Marktstraße.

At the same period (793 A.D.) the Martinus parish was founded by St. Liudger, who by order of Charles the Great had to organize the church influence in the western part of Westphalia.

Being situated on the ultimate Ems-port, Greven developed into a market-town by 1200 A.D., serving as a considerable strategic point against the Duke of Tecklenburg.

This was possibly the reason for a construction of a 'motte and baily' about 1200, on the river bank facing the direction towards Münster. This construction was first mentioned in 1257 as the residence of the knight Dietrich von Schonenbeke, whose ancestors had been well-renouned and powerful service-men of the bishop of Münster. He himself administrated as a duke 15 parishes around Münster, including Greven, Gimbte and Hembergen.

On the grounds of his economic and military superiority and his crimes as a robberknight he fell into disgrace with the powerfull bishop, who then demolished the castle of Schöneflieth in 1276. And in 1282 Dietrich and his son Hermann had to renounce all rights. This was the end of the authority of the knights of Schonenbeke, who are even commemorated in a tale.

One hundred years later, about 1365, the cathedral chapter of Münster had a larger castle built on the same site, this time on two islands. And from now on every canon had to swear to keep the castle in good condition.

It's purpose was to serve as a shelter for the canons as well as a protection of the Emsport and as toll-station. It's residents had considerable revenues from the surrounding possessions and those belonging to Schulte Aldrup.

During the 30-Year-War (1618 -1648) the castle lost its military importance, and from 1803 onwards completely dilapidated. In 1812 merchants of Greven sold it to the French administration only to pull it down.

Remains of the foundations still exist together with the moat, and are planned to be transformed into a part of an archaeological park.

The construction of the castle of Schöneflieth in the 13th and 14th century indicates the importance of trade and trafic on the navigable Ems up to the town of Greven. Its market was well-known even outside Westphalia for its cattle and small wares. The site of the market was north of the village on either side of the country road until 1888. After 1842 it even began to stretch into the village. Market day was on the 25th of August, and as a sign of peace during market a flag was flying to warn everybody not to break market-peace.

By the end of the 16th century merchants from Münster revived navigation on the Ems again. Used were flat boats, called 'Pünten', which helped to reinforce trade and commerce with cloth, timber and groceries.

After the middle of the 14th century names of merchants from Greven appeared in Hanseatic towns, and their impact on trade in Greven went on growing. This led to a new part of the village 'Nierodde', today 'Niederort', where craftsmen settled and warehouses were erected. Building activities also took place along Münster- and Marktstraße.

Due of the Dutch War of Liberation and the 30-Year-War Greven's market and its trading activities declined until the 18th century, when far-travelling merchants started the textile trading again.

They also took over the leading positions in the village (Gildemeister, Rottmeister), and had also administering functions, when the Prussian king became sovereign in 1802, and during the French occupation (1806 - 1813), when the 'mairie' of Greven belonged to the French Empire.

Due to English exports of textiles the local spinning and weaving industry declined and so did the prosperity of the village.

Only after the French occupation, trade began to flourish again. With the newly erected railway-line from Münster to Rheine (1856) shipping on the Ems came to its end. By 1855 considerable change was brought about by newly founded textile firms, the railway station and the construction of major roads, which allowed Greven to become an industrial village with several textile firms. These firms continued influencing the community until the 1960s.

Greven had been growing steadily since World War II. In 1850 its population was 1500, in 1900 about 4700, in 1950 10800 and in 1989 it had increased to 30000. New parts with churches and schools were built at Schmedehausen (just before 1900) and Reckenfeld since 1925.

On January 22nd 1950, Greven "the largest village in the Münsterland" received municiple rights, its coat of arms carrying a small sailing-boat (Pünte). The three, since 1894 independent communities of Greven, the village, and Greven right and left of the Ems, reunited in 1952 and in 1975 Gimbte was added, too.

Since the 1970s there have been efforts to reduce the monostructure of the town by decisively promoting other industry. Traffic links are favourable for all kinds of enterprises, as there is access to the motorway, two major federal roads, the railway, the Dortmund-Ems-Canal and the airport (FMO).

Greven being embedded in the green Münsterland, and having recently moderately been modernized, is offering good shopping facilities and a wide range of cultural activities. It's a modern and charming place.

Text: H.-D. Bez

Übersetzung: A. Bischoff