CLEVES (Ger. Cleve or Kleve), a town of Germany in the kingdom of Prussia, formerly the capital of the duchy of its own name, 46 m. N.W. of Düsseldorf, 12 m. E. of Nijmwegen, on the main Cologne-Amsterdam railway. Pop. (1900) 14,678. The town is neatly built in the Dutch style, lying on three small hills in a fertile district near the frontier of Holland, about 2 m. from the Rhine, with which it is connected by a canal (the Spoykanal). The old castle of Schwanenburg (formerly the residence of the dukes of Cleves), has a massive tower (Schwanenturm) 180 ft. high. With it is associated the legend of the "Knights of the Swan," immortalized in Wagner's Lohengrin. The building has been restored in modern times to serve as a court of justice and a prison. The collegiate church (Stiftskirche) dates from about 1340, and contains a number of fine ducal monuments. Another church is the Annexkirche, formerly a convent of the Minorites; this dates from the middle of the 15th century. The chief manufactures are boots and shoes, tobacco and machinery; there is also some trade in cattle. To the south and west of the city a large district is laid out as a park, where there is a statue to the memory of John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen (1604-1679), who governed Cleves from 1650 to 1679, and in the western part there are mineral wells with a pump room and bathing establishment. Owing to the beautiful woods which surround it and its medicinal waters Cleves has become a favourite summer resort.
The town was the seat of the counts of Cleves as early as the 11th century, but it did not receive municipal rights until 1242. The duchy of Cleves, which lay on both banks of the Rhine and had an area of about 850 sq. m., belonged before the year 1000 to a certain Rutger, whose family became extinct in 1368. It then passed to the counts of La Marck and was made a duchy in 1417, being united with the neighbouring duchies of Jülich and Berg in 1521. The Reformation was introduced here in 1533, but it was not accepted by all the inhabitants. The death without direct heirs of Duke John William in 1609 led to serious complications in which almost all the states of Europe were concerned; however, by the treaty of Xanten in 1614, Cleves passed to the elector of Brandenburg, being afterwards incorporated with the electorate by the great elector, Frederick William. The French held Cleves from 1757 to 1762 and in 1795 the part of the duchy on the left bank of the Rhine was ceded to France; the remaining portion suffered a similar fate in 1805. After the conclusion of peace in 1815 it was restored to Prussia, except some small portions which were given to the kingdom of Holland.
See Char, Geschichte des Herzogtums Kleve (Cleves, 1845); Velsen, Die Stadt Kleve (Cleves, 1846); R. Scholten, Die Stadt Kleve (Cleves, 1879-1881). For Anne of Cleves see that article.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)