The oldest written documents mentioning the town date from 1313, when King John of Luxembourg issued a deed granting the town the right to collect customs duty and toll. Nový Jičín consequently links its origins to the date this privilege was granted. No deed of foundation of the town has been preserved.
The town of Nový Jičín was probably established around 1280 on the crossroads of trade routes from Poland and Silesia to Bohemia and Hungary. The town’s regular ground plan is evidence of the fact that it originated on a so-called greenfield as the economic centre of Starý Jičín Manor. The oldest written document mentioning the town dates from 1313, when King John of Luxembourg granted the town its first privileges (toll collection). At this time the town and the whole Starý Jičín Manor belonged to the Lords of Kravař. In 1373 the Lords of Kravař granted Nový Jičín the privilege of escheat, permitted an annual market and provided the basis of the town emblem – a twisted arrow held by an armoured hand. The town was owned by the Lords of Kravař until 1434. The Lords of Žerotín were the owners of the town and the manor during the period between 1500 and 1558 and they deserve a mention in the history of the town for their conversion of the formerly Gothic fort, built at the end of the 14th century, into a comfortable Renaissance residence. It is thanks to the Lords of Žerotín that construction of a stone arcade and town houses began on the square, as the town had been built of wood until the destructive fire in 1503. Nový Jičín grew wealthy as a result of its famous drapery industry and in 1558, following the departure of the Lords of Žerotín, the town bought itself from its vassalage and became a chamber town (subject to the king). In 1620 King Frederick V, Elector Palatinate, elevated the town to a royal town. The residents of the town suffered grievously during the Thirty Year War. A year later a great battle took place not far from Nový Jičín during which the town was occupied by the protestant soldiers of Duke John George of Krnov and 500 Neapolitan soldiers were killed on the square. The great Baroque fires during 1768 and 1773 caused heavy damage to the whole town, but Nový Jičín was quickly reborn into its subsequent appearance. The town became the seat of the Regional Court; establishment of the imperial road connected it to the world and gave rise to the expansion of industry and trade. In the middle of the 19th century the Jews returned to the town and extensive textile factories were established due to which the town is called the “Town of Hats” to this day.
There are several legends about the name Nový Jičín. According to one of these the town was named after “Jitka”, the brave daughter of the owner of Starý Jičín Castle, who tried to save a small boy being attacked by a bear. She was saved from the angry, injured animal by a herder, who later became her husband. Jitka had a chapel built at the site she was saved, next to which her husband built a hunting lodge devoted to his wife, i.e. called “Jitčín”, subsequently transformed into “Jičín”. Another theory derives the name of the town from the Slavic word dik (ďik) for wild boar, which were abundant in this area. The term was gradually transformed into Dičín and then Jičín.