The town of Kleve is divided into what is called the ” top town” and the “bottom town” We jokingly wondered if you were to meant to start life at the bottom and work your way up during life ?
(No, I read on the Wiki website that the city grew in medieval times from four seperate parts, stating with the castle, and that is why there are “top”and “bottom” town labels now.)
The name Kleve probably derives from the German word “Kliff” (Cliff), referring to the promontory upon which the Schwanenburg was constructed. However, the city’s coat of arms displays three ”Klee” (clovers) which is comparable to the pronunciation of Kleve in the Low Rhenish dialect and in Dutch, “Kleef“.
This part of Germany has been throughout various centuries, part of the Netherlands, and consequently the local dialect is derived more from Dutch than German.
Interestingly, Kleve was spelled with a “C” throughout its history until spelling reforms introduced in the 1930s required that the name be spelled with a “K”.
As of 2008, the CDU announced ambitions to return the name to its original spelling.
Kleve’s most famous native is Anne of Cleves (1515-1557), daughter of John III, Duke of Cleves and (briefly) wife of Henry VIII of England.
The local line of the Dukedom became extinct in the male line in 1609, leading to a succession crisis in the duchies. After the Thirty Years War, in 1648, the succession dispute was finally resolved with Cleves passing to the elector of Brandenburg, thus becoming an exclave of the territory of Prussia.
During the Thirty Years War Kleve was under the control of the Dutch Republic, which in 1647 had given Johann Moritz von Nassau-Siegen administrative control over the city. He approved a renovation of the Schwanenburg in the baroque style and commissioned the construction of extensive gardens that greatly influenced European landscape design of the 17th century.
Significant amounts of his original plan for Kleve were put into effect and have been maintained to the present, a particularly well-loved example of which is the Forstgarten.
The mineral waters of Kleve and the wooded parkland surrounding it made it a fashionable spa in the 19th century. At this time, Kleve was named “Bad Cleve” (Baths of Cleves).