It was mentioned for the first time in the 11th century, by abbot Othejbold. Years after the invasion by the Norsemen, the municipality fell into the hands of the Lords of Heusden. Because of the marriage of Beatrix of Heusden with Zeger III (viscount of Ghent) in 1212, the seat of the viscountship of Ghent moved to Heusden. Until the end of the Ancien Régime Heusden stayed property of the viscounts of Ghent. In 1247 the Cistercian Abbey of Nieuwenbosch settled in Heusden. This cloister flourished until it was destroyed by the Iconoclasts in 1578. After this the sisters moved to Ghent. Because Heusden was a part of the belt of defence around Ghent, it was looted many times during the Middle Ages.
This rich history has resulted in a number of castles dotting the area.