Nevers first enters written history as Noviodunum, a town held by the Aedui at Roman contact. The quantities of medals and other Roman antiquities found on the site indicate the importance of the place, and in 52 BCE, Julius Caesar made Noviodunum, which he describes as in a convenient position on the banks of the Loire, a depot (B. G. vii. 55). There he had his hostages, corn, his military chest, with the money in it allowed him from home for the war, his own and his army's baggage and a great number of horses which had been bought for him in Spain and Italy. After his failure before Gergovia, the Aedui at Noviodunum massacred those who were there to look after stores, the negotiators, and the travelers who were in the place. They divided the money and the horses among themselves, carried off in boats all the corn that they could, and burned the rest or threw it into the river. Thinking they could not hold the town, they burned it. This was a great loss to Caesar; and it may seem that he was imprudent in leaving such great stores in the power of treacherous allies. But he was in straits during this year, and probably he could not have done other than he did.
Dio Cassius (xl. 38) tells the story of Caesar out of the affair of Noviodunum. He states incorrectly what Caesar did on the occasion, and he shows that he neither understood his original nor knew what he was writing about.
The city was later called Nevirnum, as the name appears in the Antonine Itinerary. In the Tabula Peutingeriana, it is corrupted into Ebrinum. In still other sources the name appears as Nebirnum.
It became the seat of a bishopric at the end of the 5th century. The county dates at least from the beginning of the 10th century. The citizens of Nevers obtained charters in 1194 and in 1231. For a short time in the 14th century the town was the seat of a university, transferred from Orléans, to which it was restored.