Glued to the east bank of the River IJssel, Deventer, some 30km from Zwolle, is an intriguing and – in tourist terms – rather neglected town, whose origins can be traced back to the missionary work of the eighth-century Saxon monk, Lebuinus. An influential centre of medieval learning, it was here in the late fourteenth century that Gerrit Groot founded the Brotherhood of the Common Life, a semi-monastic collective that espoused tolerance and humanism within a philosophy known as Moderne Devotie (“modern devotion”). This progressive creed attracted some of the great minds of the time, and Thomas à Kempis and Erasmus both studied here. Today, Deventer makes for a pleasant stop, with a handful of fine old buildings and a good bar and restaurant scene.

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