Nièvre is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790 with Nevers as its capital. It was formed from part of the old province of Nivernais and its name was written at first as Nyèvre.
It was divided in nine districts: Nevers, Saint-Pierre-le-Moutier, Decize, Moulins-Engilbert, Château-Chinon, Corbigny, Clamecy, Cosne and La Charité.
In 1800, with the creation of the arrondissements in France, the nine districts were changed into four arrondissements: Nevers, Château-Chinon, Clamecy and Cosne.
On 10 September 1926, the arrondissement of Cosne was eliminated but in 1943 it became again an arrondissement of the department.