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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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