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Located at the junction of the canalized Drentsche Aa and Hunze Rivers, in 1040 German king and later Emperor Heinrich II granted the town permission to mint coins and levy taxes for St. Maartenskerk in Utrecht. When the bishop's authority waned by the mid-13th century, it developed into an important commercial center and provided ships for Crusades in 12th century. It was a Hanseatic city from 1282. Survived Spanish sieges and a siege by the troops of the Bishop of Münster.
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