's Hertogenbosch ("the Duke's forest"), or Den Bosch, was founded around 1200 by duke Henry I of Brabant on some forested dunes in the middle of a marsh. The reason for that was to protect his interests against encroachment from Gelre and Holland and the city hence was conceived as a fortress.
It was nevertheless destroyed by Gelre and Holland in a joint expedition only a few years later, but was - as usually with cities - soon rebuilt. In the late 14th century a much larger wall than the original was erected to protect the by then much bigger settlement.
The wars of the Reformation changed the course of the city's history. During the Eighty Years' War (the Dutch independence war) the city teamed up with the Habsburg authorities and thwarted a Calvinist "coup". It was besieged several times by Prince Maurice of Orange, stadtholder of most of the Dutch Republic, who wanted to bring the city under the rule of the "rebel" United Provinces, but the city was successfully defended.
In the years before the renewed fighting after 1618 the fortifications were greatly expanded and the surrounding marshes made a siege of the conventional type impossible. The fortress, deemed impregnable, was thus nicknamed the Marsh Dragon.
Frederik Hendrik of Orange however was not impressed by that dragon. In 1629 he diverted the rivers Dommel and Aa, leaving the city without water, created a polder by constructing a forty-kilometre dyke and then pumped out the water with mills. After a siege of three months the city had to surrender and the area became part of the Republic. Where it has remained since then, albeit that the Republic since has become a monarchy ...
Whatever, let's start our visit to 's Hertogenbosch with some flowers in the former marsh, the Bossche Broek.