HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

The Hanseatic League (; gml, Hanse, , ; german: label= Modern German, Deutsche Hanse) was a
medieval In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
commercial and defensive confederation of merchant
guild A guild ( ) is an association of artisans and merchants who oversee the practice of their craft/trade in a particular area. The earliest types of guild formed as organizations of tradesmen belonging to a professional association A professio ...
s and
market town A market town is a settlement most common in Europe that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th ...
s in Central and Northern
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...
. Growing from a few North German towns in the late 12th century, the League ultimately encompassed nearly 200 settlements across seven modern-day countries; at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries, it stretched from the
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...
in the west to
Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the largest country in the world, with its internationally recognised territory covering , and encompassing one-ei ...
in the east, and from
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers appro ...
in the north to
Kraków Kraków (), or Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called voivodeships, cov ...
,
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called voivodeships, covering an area of . Poland has a population of over 38 million and is the fifth-most populo ...
in the south. The League originated from various loose associations of German traders and towns formed to advance mutual commercial interests, such as protection against
piracy Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable goods. Those who conduct acts of piracy are called pirates, v ...
and
banditry Banditry is a type of organized crime committed by outlaw An outlaw, in its original and legal meaning, is a person declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, all legal protection was withdrawn from the criminal, ...
. These arrangements gradually coalesced into the Hanseatic League, whose traders enjoyed duty-free treatment, protection, and diplomatic privileges in affiliated communities and their trade routes. Hanseatic Cities gradually developed a common legal system governing their merchants and goods, even operating their own armies for mutual defense and aid. Reduced barriers to trade resulted in mutual prosperity, which fostered economic interdependence, kinship ties between merchant families, and deeper political integration; these factors solidified the League into a cohesive political organization by the end of the 13th century. During the peak of its power, the Hanseatic League had a virtual monopoly over maritime trade in the
North North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west. ''North'' is a noun, adjective In linguistics, an adjective ( abbreviated ) is a word that generally ...
and Baltic seas. Its commercial reach extended as far as the
Kingdom of Portugal The Kingdom of Portugal ( la, Regnum Portugalliae, pt, Reino de Portugal) was a monarchy in the western Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese and Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibér ...
to the west, the
Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (, ) was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of a ...
to the north, the Republic of Novgorod to the east, and the
Republic of Venice The Republic of Venice ( vec, Repùblega de Venèsia) or Venetian Republic ( vec, Repùblega Vèneta, links=no), traditionally known as La Serenissima ( en, Most Serene Republic of Venice, italics=yes; vec, Serenìsima Repùblega de Venèsia, ...
to the south, with trading posts, factories, and mercantile "branches" established in numerous towns and cities across Europe. Hanseatic merchants were widely renowned for their access to a variety of commodities and manufactured goods, subsequently gaining privileges and protections abroad, including extraterritorial districts in foreign realms that operated almost exclusively under Hanseatic law. This collective economic influence made the League a powerful force, capable of imposing blockades and even waging war against kingdoms and principalities. Even at its zenith, the Hanseatic League was never more than a loosely aligned confederation of
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign city which serves as the center of political, economic, and cultural life over its contiguous territory. They have existed in many parts of the world since the dawn of history, including cities such as ...
s. It lacked a permanent administrative body, treasury, and standing military force; only a very small number of members enjoyed autonomy and liberties comparable to those of neighbouring free imperial cities. By the mid-16th century, these tenuous connections left the Hanseatic League vulnerable to rising competitors such as England, the Netherlands, and Russia. External pressures steadily eroded the confederation's unity, while rising local parochialism and political disputes from within frustrated the League's foundational principles of common purpose and mutuality. The League gradually unraveled as members departed or became consolidated into other realms, ultimately disintegrating in 1669. Despite its inherent structural weaknesses, the Hanseatic League managed to endure and thrive for centuries under a quasi-legislative '' diet'' that operated on deliberation and consensus. Members united on the basis of mutual interest and comity, working together to pool resources, raise levies, and amicably resolve disputes to further common goals. The League's long-lived success and unity during a period of political upheaval and fragmentation has led to it being described as the most successful trade alliance in history, while its unique governance structure has been identified as a precursor to the supranational model of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its gre ...
.


Etymology

Although some historians identify as originally meaning ''An-See'', or "on the sea", it is the
Old High German Old High German (OHG; german: Althochdeutsch (Ahd.)) is the earliest stage of the German language German ( ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language ...
word for a band or troop. This word was applied to bands of merchants traveling between the Hanseatic cities — whether by land or by sea. in
Middle Low German Middle Low German or Middle Saxon (autonym: ''Sassisch'', i.e. " Saxon", Standard High German: ', Modern Dutch: ') is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon language in the Middle Ages In the hist ...
came to mean a society of merchants or a trader guild.


History

Exploratory trading adventures, raids, and piracy occurred early throughout the Baltic Sea; the sailors of
Gotland Gotland (, ; ''Gutland'' in Gutnish), also historically spelled Gottland or Gothland (), is Sweden's largest island. It is also a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country A country is a dist ...
sailed up rivers as far away as
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=no, Великий Новгород, t=Great Newtown, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (), is the largest city and administrative centre An administrative center is a seat of region ...
. Scandinavians led international trade in the Baltic area before the Hanseatic League, establishing major trading hubs at Birka, Haithabu, and Schleswig by the 9th century CE. The later Hanseatic ports between
Mecklenburg Mecklenburg (; nds, label=Low German Low German or Low Saxon (in the language itself: , and other names; german: Plattdeutsch, ) is a West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Nethe ...
and
Königsberg Königsberg (, ) was the historic Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a German state on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is th ...
(present-day
Kaliningrad Kaliningrad ( ; rus, Калининград, p=kəlʲɪnʲɪnˈɡrat, links=y), until 1946 known as Königsberg Königsberg (, ) was the historic Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a German state on t ...
) originally formed part of the Scandinavian-led Baltic trade-system. Historians generally trace the origins of the Hanseatic League to the rebuilding of the north German town of
Lübeck Lübeck (; Low German also ), officially the Hanseatic City of Lübeck (german: Hansestadt Lübeck), is a city in Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: link=no, Norddeutschland) is a linguistic, geographic, socio-cultural and historic ...
in 1159 by the powerful
Henry the Lion Henry the Lion (german: Heinrich der Löwe; 1129/1131 – 6 August 1195) was a member of the Welf dynasty who ruled as the duke of Saxony and Bavaria Bavaria ( ; ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (german: Freistaat Bayern, link=no ), ...
, Duke of Saxony and
Bavaria Bavaria ( ; ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (german: Freistaat Bayern, link=no ), is a state in the south-east of Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the s ...
, after he had captured the area from Adolf II, Count of Schauenburg and
Holstein Holstein (; nds, label= Northern Low Saxon, Holsteen; da, Holsten; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in t ...
. More recent scholarship has deemphasized the focus on Lübeck due to its having been designed as one of several regional trading centers. German cities achieved domination of trade in the Baltic with striking speed during the 13th century, and Lübeck became a central node in the seaborne trade that linked the areas around the
North North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west. ''North'' is a noun, adjective In linguistics, an adjective ( abbreviated ) is a word that generally ...
and Baltic seas. The hegemony of Lübeck peaked during the 15th century.


Foundation and early development

Lübeck Lübeck (; Low German also ), officially the Hanseatic City of Lübeck (german: Hansestadt Lübeck), is a city in Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: link=no, Norddeutschland) is a linguistic, geographic, socio-cultural and historic ...
became a base for merchants from
Saxony Saxony (german: Sachsen ; Upper Saxon: ''Saggsn''; hsb, Sakska), officially the Free State of Saxony (german: Freistaat Sachsen, links=no ; Upper Saxon: ''Freischdaad Saggsn''; hsb, Swobodny stat Sakska, links=no), is a landlocked state o ...
and
Westphalia Westphalia (; german: Westfalen ; nds, Westfalen ) is a region of northwestern Germany and one of the three historic parts of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It has an area of and 7.9 million inhabitants. The territory of the regio ...
trading eastward and northward. Well before the term ''Hanse'' appeared in a document in 1267, merchants in different cities began to form guilds, or ''Hansa'', with the intention of trading with towns overseas, especially in the economically less-developed eastern Baltic. This area could supply
timber Lumber is wood that has been processed into dimensional lumber, including beams and planks or boards, a stage in the process of wood production. Lumber is mainly used for construction framing, as well as finishing (floors, wall panels, w ...
, wax,
amber Amber is fossilized tree resin that has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Much valued from antiquity to the present as a gemstone A gemstone (also called a fine gem, jewel, precious stone, or sem ...
,
resin In polymer chemistry and materials science, resin is a solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid that conforms to the shape of its contain ...
s, and furs, along with rye and
wheat Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal A cereal is any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain (botanically, a type of fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering p ...
brought down on barges from the hinterland to port markets. The towns raised their own armies, with each guild required to provide levies when needed. The Hanseatic cities came to the aid of one another, and commercial ships often had to be used to carry soldiers and their arms.
Visby Visby () is an urban area in Sweden and the seat of Gotland Municipality in Gotland County on the island of Gotland Gotland (, ; ''Gutland'' in Gutnish), also historically spelled Gottland or Gothland (), is Sweden's largest island. It ...
(on the island of Gotland) functioned as the leading centre in the Baltic before the Hansa. Sailing east, Visby merchants established a trading post at
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=no, Великий Новгород, t=Great Newtown, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (), is the largest city and administrative centre An administrative center is a seat of region ...
called ''Gutagard'' (also known as ''Gotenhof'') in 1080. Merchants from northern Germany also stayed there in the early period of the Gotlander settlement. Later, in the first half of the 13th century, they established their own trading station in Novgorod, known as , further up the river Volkhov. In 1229 the ruler of Novgorod, the Rus' prince Michael of Chernigov, granted German merchants at Novgorod certain privileges that made their position more secure. Hansa societies worked to remove restrictions on trade for their members. The earliest extant documentary mention (although without a name) of a specific German commercial federation dates from 1157 in
London London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary down to the North Sea, and has been a ma ...
. That year, the merchants of the Hansa in
Cologne Cologne ( ; german: Köln ; ksh, Kölle ) is the largest city of the German western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the fourth-most populous city of Germany with 1.1 million inhabitants in the city proper and 3.6 millio ...
convinced King Henry II of England to exempt them from all tolls in London and to allow them to trade at fairs throughout England. The "Queen of the Hansa", Lübeck, where traders were required to trans-ship goods between the North Sea and the Baltic, gained imperial privileges to become a free imperial city in 1226, as had
Hamburg (male), (female) en, Hamburger(s), Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central (CET) , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central (CEST) , utc_offset1_DST = +2 , postal ...
in 1189. In 1241 Lübeck, which had access to the Baltic and North seas' fishing grounds, formed an alliance—a precursor to the League—with Hamburg, another trading city, which controlled access to salt-trade routes from Lüneburg. The allied cities gained control over most of the salt-fish trade, especially the Scania Market; Cologne joined them in the Diet of 1260.
In 1266 King Henry III of England granted the Lübeck and Hamburg Hansa a charter for operations in England, and the Cologne Hansa joined them in 1282 to form the most powerful Hanseatic colony in
London London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary down to the North Sea, and has been a ma ...
. Much of the drive for this co-operation came from the fragmented nature of existing territorial governments, which failed to provide security for trade. Over the next 50 years, the Hansa solidified with formal agreements for confederation and co-operation covering the west and east trade routes. The principal city and linchpin remained Lübeck; with the first general diet of the Hansa held there in 1356, the Hanseatic League acquired an official structure.


Commercial expansion

Lübeck's location on the Baltic provided access for trade with
Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sámi languages: /. ( ) is a subregion in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties between its constituent peoples. In English usage, ''Scandinavia'' most commonly refers to Denmark ) , son ...
and
Kievan Rus' Kievan Rusʹ, also known as Kyivan Rusʹ ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , ; Old Norse: ''Garðaríki''), was a state in Eastern Europe, Eastern and Northern Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century.John Channon & Robert Hudson, ''Penguin Hist ...
(with its sea-trade center,
Veliky Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=no, Великий Новгород, t=Great Newtown, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (), is the largest city and administrative centre of Novgorod Oblast, Russia. It is one of the ...
), putting it in direct competition with the Scandinavians who had previously controlled most of the Baltic trade-routes. A treaty with the Visby Hansa put an end to this competition: through this treaty the
Lübeck Lübeck (; Low German also ), officially the Hanseatic City of Lübeck (german: Hansestadt Lübeck), is a city in Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: link=no, Norddeutschland) is a linguistic, geographic, socio-cultural and historic ...
merchants gained access to the inland Russian port of
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=no, Великий Новгород, t=Great Newtown, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (), is the largest city and administrative centre An administrative center is a seat of region ...
, where they built a trading post or ''
Kontor A ''kontor'' () was a foreign trading post of the Hanseatic League The Hanseatic League (; gml, Hanse, , ; german: label=German language, Modern German, Deutsche Hanse) was a Middle Ages, medieval commercial and defensive confederation o ...
'' (literally: "office"). Although such alliances formed throughout the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire was a political entity in Western, Central, and Southern Europe Southern Europe is the southern region of Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of ...
, the league never became a closely managed formal organisation. Assemblies of the Hanseatic towns met irregularly in Lübeck for a ''Hansetag'' (Hanseatic Diet) from 1356 onwards, but many towns chose not to attend nor to send representatives, and decisions were not binding on individual cities. Over the period, a network of alliances grew to include a flexible roster of 70 to 170 cities. The league succeeded in establishing additional ''Kontors'' in
Bruges Bruges ( , nl, Brugge ) is the capital and largest City status in Belgium, city of the Provinces of Belgium, province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country, and the sixth-largest city of the countr ...
(
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch: ''Vlaanderen'' ) is the Flemish-speaking northern portion of Belgium Belgium, ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Northwestern Europe. The country is bordere ...
),
Bergen Bergen (), historically Bjørgvin, is a city and municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to wh ...
(Norway), and London (England). These trading posts became significant
enclave An enclave is a territory (or a small territory apart of a larger one) that is entirely surrounded by the territory of one other state or entity. Enclaves may also exist within territorial waters. ''Enclave'' is sometimes used improperly to deno ...
s. The London ''Kontor'' is first alluded to in the '' De itinere navali'', an account of crusaders from Lübeck for whom the Kontor arranged the purchase of a replacement cog in the summer of 1189. It was formally established in 1320, stood west of London Bridge near Upper Thames Street, on the site now occupied by Cannon Street station. It grew into a significant walled community with its own warehouses, weighhouse, church, offices and houses, reflecting the importance and scale of trading activity on the premises. The first reference to it as the
Steelyard The Steelyard, from the Middle Low German Middle Low German or Middle Saxon (autonym: ''Sassisch'', i.e. " Saxon", Standard High German: ', Modern Dutch: ') is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon la ...
(''der Stahlhof'') occurs in 1422. Starting with trade in coarse woollen fabrics, the Hanseatic League had the effect of bringing both commerce and industry to northern Germany.Frederick Engels "The Peasant War in Germany" contained in the ''Collected Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: Volume 10'' (International Publishers: New York, 1978) p. 400. As trade increased, newer and finer woollen and linen fabrics, and even silks, were manufactured in northern Germany. The same refinement of products out of cottage industry occurred in other fields, e.g. etching, wood carving, armour production, engraving of metals, and wood-turning. The century-long monopolization of sea navigation and trade by the Hanseatic League ensured that the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late ...
arrived in northern Germany long before it did in the rest of Europe. A legacy of the period is a regional style of architecture known the Weser Renaissance, typified by the embellished facade added to the Bremen Rathaus in 1612. In addition to the major ''Kontors'', individual Hanseatic ports had a representative merchant and warehouse. In England this happened in
Boston Boston (), officially the City of Boston, is the state capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Massachusetts ( Massachusett: ''Muhsachuweesut Massachusett_writing_systems.html" ;"title="nowiki/> məhswa ...
,
Bristol Bristol () is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. Lon ...
, Bishop's Lynn (now
King's Lynn King's Lynn, known until 1537 as Bishop's Lynn and colloquially as Lynn, is a port and market town A market town is a settlement most common in Europe that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages In the history ...
, which features the sole remaining Hanseatic warehouse in England), Hull, Ipswich,
Norwich Norwich () is a cathedral city and district of Norfolk, England, of which it is the county town. Norwich is by the River Wensum, about north-east of London London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom ...
, Yarmouth (now
Great Yarmouth Great Yarmouth (), often called Yarmouth, is a seaside resort, seaside town and unparished area in, and the main administrative centre of, the Borough of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, England; it straddles the River Yare and is located east of ...
), and
York York is a cathedral city with Roman Britain, Roman origins, sited at the confluence of the rivers River Ouse, Yorkshire, Ouse and River Foss, Foss in North Yorkshire, England. It is the historic county town of Yorkshire. The city has many hist ...
. The league primarily traded timber, furs, resin (or tar), flax, honey, wheat, and rye from the east to
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch: ''Vlaanderen'' ) is the Flemish-speaking northern portion of Belgium Belgium, ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Northwestern Europe. The country is bordere ...
and England with cloth (and, increasingly, manufactured goods) going in the other direction. Metal ore (principally copper and iron) and herring came southwards from Sweden. German colonists in the 12th and 13th centuries settled in numerous cities on and near the east Baltic coast, such as Elbing ( Elbląg), Thorn ( Toruń), Reval (
Tallinn Tallinn () is the most populous and capital city of Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of ...
),
Riga Riga (; lv, Rīga , liv, Rīgõ) is the capital and largest city of Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, ...
, and Dorpat (
Tartu Tartu is the second largest city in Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's fiv ...
), which became members of the Hanseatic League, and some of which still retain many Hansa buildings and bear the style of their Hanseatic days. Most were granted Lübeck law (''Lübisches Recht''), after the league's most prominent town. The law provided that they had to appeal in all legal matters to Lübeck's city council. The Livonian Confederation of 1435 to incorporated modern-day
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers appro ...
and parts of
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links=no, liv, Leţmō Vabāmō, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of ...
and had its own Hanseatic parliament (diet); all of its major towns became members of the Hanseatic League. The dominant language of trade was
Middle Low German Middle Low German or Middle Saxon (autonym: ''Sassisch'', i.e. " Saxon", Standard High German: ', Modern Dutch: ') is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon language in the Middle Ages In the hist ...
, a dialect with significant impact for countries involved in the trade, particularly the larger
Scandinavian languages The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Euro ...
, Estonian, and Latvian.


Zenith

The league had a fluid structure, but its members shared some characteristics; most of the Hansa cities either started as independent cities or gained independence through the collective bargaining power of the league, though such independence remained limited. The Hanseatic free cities owed allegiance directly to the Holy Roman Emperor, without any intermediate family tie of obligation to the local nobility. Another similarity involved the cities' strategic locations along trade routes. At the height of their power in the late-14th century, the merchants of the Hanseatic League succeeded in using their economic power and, sometimes, their military might—trade routes required protection and the league's ships sailed well-armed—to influence imperial policy. The league also wielded power abroad. Between 1361 and 1370 it waged war against
Denmark ) , song = ( en, "King Christian stood by the lofty mast") , song_type = National and royal anthem , image_map = EU-Denmark.svg , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of Denmark , establish ...
. Initially unsuccessful, Hanseatic towns in 1368 allied in the Confederation of Cologne, sacked
Copenhagen Copenhagen ( or .; da, København ) is the capital and most populous city of Denmark, with a proper population of around 815.000 in the last quarter of 2022; and some 1.370,000 in the urban area; and the wider Copenhagen metropolitan ar ...
and Helsingborg, and forced Valdemar IV, King of Denmark, and his son-in-law Haakon VI, King of Norway, to grant the league 15% of the profits from Danish trade in the subsequent peace treaty of Stralsund in 1370, thus gaining an effective trade and economic monopoly in Scandinavia. This favourable treaty marked the height of Hanseatic power. After the Danish-Hanseatic War and the Bombardment of Copenhagen, the Treaty of Vordingborg renewed the commercial privileges in 1435. The Hansa also waged a vigorous campaign against pirates. Between 1392 and 1440 maritime trade of the league faced danger from raids of the Victual Brothers and their descendants,
privateer A privateer is a private person or ship that engages in maritime warfare under a commission of war. Since robbery under arms was a common aspect of seaborne trade, until the early 19th century all merchant ships carried arms. A sovereign or deleg ...
s hired in 1392 by Albert of Mecklenburg, King of Sweden, against Margaret I, Queen of Denmark. In the Dutch–Hanseatic War (1438–1441), the merchants of
Amsterdam Amsterdam ( , , , lit. ''The Dam on the River Amstel'') is the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , sub ...
sought and eventually won free access to the Baltic and broke the Hanseatic monopoly. As an essential part of protecting their investment in ships and their cargoes, the League trained pilots and erected lighthouses. Most foreign cities confined the Hanseatic traders to certain trading areas and to their own trading posts. They seldom interacted with the local inhabitants, except when doing business. Many locals, merchant and noble alike, envied the power of the League and tried to diminish it. For example, in London, the local merchants exerted continuing pressure for the revocation of privileges. The refusal of the Hansa to offer reciprocal arrangements to their English counterparts exacerbated the tension. King
Edward IV of England Edward IV (28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483) was King of England The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional form of government by which a hereditary sovereign reigns as th ...
reconfirmed the league's privileges in the
Treaty of Utrecht The Peace of Utrecht was a series of peace treaties signed by the belligerents in the War of the Spanish Succession The War of the Spanish Succession was a European great power conflict that took place from 1701 to 1714. The death of ...
despite the latent hostility, in part thanks to the significant financial contribution the League made to the
Yorkist The House of York was a cadet branch In history and heraldry Heraldry is a discipline relating to the design, display and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together wi ...
side during the Wars of the Roses of 1455–1487. In 1597 Queen Elizabeth of England expelled the League from London, and the Steelyard closed the following year. Tsar
Ivan III of Russia Ivan III Vasilyevich (russian: Иван III Васильевич; 22 January 1440 – 27 October 1505), also known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince of all Rus'. Ivan served as the co-ruler and regent A reg ...
closed the Hanseatic ''Kontor'' at Novgorod in 1494. The very existence of the League and its privileges and monopolies created economic and social tensions that often crept over into rivalries between League members.


Rise of rival powers

The economic crises of the late 15th century did not spare the Hansa. Nevertheless, its eventual rivals emerged in the form of the territorial states, whether new or revived, and not just in the west: Ivan III, Grand Prince of Moscow, ended the entrepreneurial independence of Hansa's Novgorod ''Kontor'' in 1478—it closed completely and finally in 1494. New vehicles of credit were imported from Italy, where double-entry book-keeping was popularly formalized in 1494, and outpaced the Hansa economy, in which
silver coin Silver coins are considered the oldest mass-produced form of coin A coin is a small, flat (usually depending on the country or value), round piece of metal A metal (from Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") i ...
s changed hands rather than bills of exchange. In the 15th century, tensions between the Prussian region and the "Wendish" cities (Lübeck and its eastern neighbours) increased. Lübeck was dependent on its role as centre of the Hansa, being on the shore of the sea without a major river. It was on the entrance of the land route to Hamburg, but this land route could be bypassed by sea travel around Denmark and through the Kattegat. Prussia's main interest, on the other hand, was the export of bulk products like grain and timber, which were very important for England, the Low Countries, and, later on, also for Spain and Italy. In 1454, the year of the marriage of Elisabeth of Austria to King-Grand Duke Casimir IV Jagiellon of Poland-Lithuania, the towns of the Prussian Confederation rose up against the dominance of the Teutonic Order and asked Casimir IV for help. Gdańsk (Danzig), Thorn and Elbing became part of the Kingdom of Poland, (from 1466 to 1569 referred to as Royal Prussia, region of Poland) by the Second Peace of Thorn. Poland in turn was heavily supported by the Holy Roman Empire through family connections and by military assistance under the
Habsburg The House of Habsburg (), alternatively spelled Hapsburg in Englishgerman: Haus Habsburg, ; es, Casa de Habsburgo; hu, Habsburg család, it, Casa di Asburgo, nl, Huis van Habsburg, pl, dom Habsburgów, pt, Casa de Habsburgo, la, Domus Hab ...
s.
Kraków Kraków (), or Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called voivodeships, cov ...
, then the capital of Poland, had a loose association with the Hansa. The lack of customs borders on the River
Vistula The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, ) is the longest river in Poland and the ninth-longest river in Europe, at in length. The drainage basin A drainage basin is an area of land where all flowing surface water converges to a single point, such ...
after 1466 helped to gradually increase Polish grain exports, transported to the sea down the Vistula, from per year, in the late 15th century, to over in the 17th century. The Hansa-dominated maritime
grain trade The grain trade refers to the local and international trade in cereals and other food grains such as wheat, barley, maize, and rice. Grain is an important trade item because it is easily stored and transported with limited spoilage, unlike ...
made Poland one of the main areas of its activity, helping Danzig to become the Hansa's largest city. The member cities took responsibility for their own protection. In 1567, a Hanseatic League agreement reconfirmed previous obligations and rights of league members, such as common protection and defense against enemies. The Prussian Quartier cities of Thorn, Elbing,
Königsberg Königsberg (, ) was the historic Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a German state on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is th ...
and Riga and Dorpat also signed. When pressed by the King of Poland–Lithuania, Danzig remained neutral and would not allow ships running for Poland into its territory. They had to anchor somewhere else, such as at Pautzke (Puck). A major economic advantage for the Hansa was its control of the shipbuilding market, mainly in Lübeck and in Danzig. The Hansa sold ships everywhere in Europe, including
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe. It is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, s ...
. They drove out the Dutch, because Holland wanted to favour
Bruges Bruges ( , nl, Brugge ) is the capital and largest City status in Belgium, city of the Provinces of Belgium, province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country, and the sixth-largest city of the countr ...
as a huge staple market at the end of a trade route. When the Dutch started to become competitors of the Hansa in shipbuilding, the Hansa tried to stop the flow of shipbuilding technology from Hanseatic towns to Holland. Danzig, a trading partner of
Amsterdam Amsterdam ( , , , lit. ''The Dam on the River Amstel'') is the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , sub ...
, attempted to forestall the decision. Dutch ships sailed to Danzig to take grain from the city directly, to the dismay of Lübeck. Hollanders also circumvented the Hanseatic towns by trading directly with north German princes in non-Hanseatic towns. Dutch freight costs were much lower than those of the Hansa, and the Hansa were excluded as middlemen. When Bruges, Antwerp and Holland all became part of the Duchy of Burgundy they actively tried to take over the monopoly of trade from the Hansa, and the staples market from Bruges was transferred to Amsterdam. The Dutch merchants aggressively challenged the Hansa and met with much success. Hanseatic cities in Prussia, Livonia, supported the Dutch against the core cities of the Hansa in northern Germany. After several naval wars between Burgundy and the Hanseatic fleets, Amsterdam gained the position of leading port for Polish and Baltic grain from the late 15th century onwards. The Dutch regarded Amsterdam's grain trade as the ('' Moedernegotie'').
Nuremberg Nuremberg ( ; german: link=no, Nürnberg ; in the local East Franconian dialect: ''Nämberch'' ) is the second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants ...
in Franconia developed an overland route to sell formerly Hansa-monopolised products from
Frankfurt Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian: , "Frank Frank or Franks may refer to: People * Frank (given name) * Frank (surname) * Franks (surname) * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples w ...
via Nuremberg and
Leipzig Leipzig ( , ; Upper Saxon: ) is the most populous city in the German state of Saxony. Leipzig's population of 605,407 inhabitants (1.1 million in the larger urban zone) as of 2021 places the city as Germany's eighth most populous, a ...
to Poland and Russia, trading Flemish cloth and French wine in exchange for grain and furs from the east. The Hansa profited from the Nuremberg trade by allowing Nurembergers to settle in Hanseatic towns, which the Franconians exploited by taking over trade with Sweden as well. The Nuremberger merchant Albrecht Moldenhauer was influential in developing the trade with Sweden and Norway, and his sons Wolf Moldenhauer and Burghard Moldenhauer established themselves in Bergen and Stockholm, becoming leaders of the local Hanseatic activities.


End of the Hansa

At the start of the 16th century, the Hanseatic League found itself in a weaker position than it had known for many years. In the Swedish War of Liberation 1521-1523 the Hanseatic League was successful in opposition in an economic conflict it had over the trade, mining and metal industry in
Bergslagen Bergslagen is a historical, cultural, and linguistic region located north of Lake Mälaren in northern Svealand, Sweden Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the ...
(the main mining area of Sweden in the 16th century) with Jakob Fugger (early extremely rich industrialist in the mining and metal industry on the continent) and his unfriendly business take-over attempt. Fugger allied with his financially dependent pope Leo X,
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (22 March 1459 – 12 January 1519) was King of the Romans from 1486 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1508 until his death. He was never crowned by the pope, as the journey to Rome was blocked by the Venetians. He proclaimed himself E ...
and Christian II of Denmark/Norway. Both sides made huge costly investments in support of larger amounts of expensive hired mercenaries to win the war. The Hanseatic League fully restored its power in Gustav Vasa's
Sweden Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's formal name is the Kingdom of SwedenUNGEGN World Geographical Names, Sweden./ref> is a Nordic country located on ...
and Frederick I's
Denmark ) , song = ( en, "King Christian stood by the lofty mast") , song_type = National and royal anthem , image_map = EU-Denmark.svg , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of Denmark , establish ...
, 1523 after the war. However, the Hanseatic League ended up on the wrong side in 1536 after Christian III's victory in the Count's Feud in
Scania Scania, also known by its native name of Skåne (, ), is the southernmost of the historical provinces (''landskap'') of Sweden Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states t ...
and
Denmark ) , song = ( en, "King Christian stood by the lofty mast") , song_type = National and royal anthem , image_map = EU-Denmark.svg , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of Denmark , establish ...
. With Sweden as his ally, money was gone, and the Hanseatic League's influence in the
Nordic countries The Nordic countries (also known as the Nordics or ''Norden''; lit. 'the North') are a geographical and cultural region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic. It includes the sovereign state A sovereign state or sovereign country ...
was over. After that the Hanseatic League was only seen as an unwanted competitor by Denmark-Norway and Sweden. Later in the 16th century, Denmark-Norway took control of much of the Baltic Sea. Sweden had regained control over its own trade, the ''Kontor'' in Novgorod had closed, and the ''Kontor'' in
Bruges Bruges ( , nl, Brugge ) is the capital and largest City status in Belgium, city of the Provinces of Belgium, province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country, and the sixth-largest city of the countr ...
had become effectively moribund. The individual cities making up the league had also started to put self-interest before their common Hanseatic interests. Finally, the political authority of the German princes had started to grow, constraining the independence of the merchants and Hanseatic towns. The league attempted to deal with some of these issues: it created the post of
Syndic Syndic ( Late Latin: '; Greek: ' – one who helps in a court of justice, an advocate, representative) is a term applied in certain countries to an officer of government with varying powers, and secondly to a representative or delegate of a univer ...
in 1556 and elected Heinrich Sudermann as a permanent official with legal training, who worked to protect and extend the diplomatic agreements of the member towns. In 1557 and 1579 revised agreements spelled out the duties of towns and some progress was made. The Bruges ''Kontor'' moved to
Antwerp Antwerp (; nl, Antwerpen ; french: Anvers ; es, Amberes) is the largest city in Belgium by area at and the capital of Antwerp Province in the Flemish Region. With a population of 520,504,
and the Hansa attempted to pioneer new routes. However the league proved unable to prevent the growing mercantile competition, and so a long decline commenced. The Antwerp ''Kontor'' closed in 1593, followed by the London ''Kontor'' in 1598. The Bergen ''Kontor'' continued until 1754; of all the ''Kontore'', only its buildings, the ''
Bryggen Bryggen (''the dock''), also known as Tyskebryggen (, ''the German dock''), is a series of Hanseatic heritage commercial buildings lining up the eastern side of the Vågen harbour in the city of Bergen, Norway Norway, officially the ...
'', survive. The gigantic warship '' Adler von Lübeck'' was constructed for military use against
Sweden Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's formal name is the Kingdom of SwedenUNGEGN World Geographical Names, Sweden./ref> is a Nordic country located on ...
during the
Northern Seven Years' War The Northern Seven Years' War (also known as the ''Nordic Seven Years' War'', the ''First Northern War'' or the ''Seven Years War in Scandinavia'') was fought between the Kingdom of Sweden and a coalition of Denmark–Norway, Lübeck, and Po ...
(1563–70) but was never put to military use, epitomizing the vain attempts of Lübeck to uphold its long-privileged commercial position in a changing economic and political climate. By the late 17th century, the league had imploded and could no longer deal with its own internal struggles. The social and political changes that accompanied the Protestant Reformation included the rise of Dutch and English merchants and the pressure of the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire, * ; is an archaic version. The definite article forms and were synonymous * and el, Оθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, Othōmanikē Avtokratoria, label=none * info page on book at Martin Luther University ...
upon the Holy Roman Empire and its trade routes. In 1666, the Hanseatic
Steelyard The Steelyard, from the Middle Low German Middle Low German or Middle Saxon (autonym: ''Sassisch'', i.e. " Saxon", Standard High German: ', Modern Dutch: ') is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon la ...
in London was burned down by the Great Fire of London. The Kontor-manager sent a letter to Lübeck appealing for immediate financial assistance for a reconstruction. Hamburg, Bremen, and Lübeck called for a Hanseatic Day in 1669. Only a few cities participated and those who came were very reluctant to contribute financially to the reconstruction. It was the last formal meeting. Nonetheless, the Hanseatic Republics were able to jointly perform some diplomacy, such as a joint delegation to the United States in 1827, led by Vincent Rumpff; later the U.S. established a consulate to the ''Hanseatic and Free Cities'' from 1857 to 1862. Britain maintained diplomats to the ''Hanseatic Cities'' until the unification of Germany in 1871. Hamburg, Bremen, and Lübeck remained as the only members until the League's demise in 1862, on the eve of the 1867 founding of the North German Confederation and the 1871 founding of the
German Empire The German Empire (), Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditar ...
under Kaiser Wilhelm I. Until
German reunification German reunification (german: link=no, Deutsche Wiedervereinigung) was the process of re-establishing Germany as a united and fully sovereign state, which took place between 2 May 1989 and 15 March 1991. The day of 3 October 1990 when the Ge ...
, these three cities were the only ones that retained the words "Hanseatic City" in their official German names. Since 1990, 24 other German cities have adopted this title. After the disbandment of the Hanseatic League, the still significant trading cities of Hamburg and Bremen would be admitted to the German Customs Union (Zollverein) in 1888.


Organization

The members of the Hanseatic League were Low German merchants, whose towns were, with the exception of Dinant, where these merchants held citizenship. Not all towns with Low German merchant communities were members of the league (e.g., Emden, Memel (today Klaipėda), Viborg (today
Vyborg Vyborg (; rus, Вы́борг, links=1, r=Výborg, p=ˈvɨbərk; fi, Viipuri ; sv, Viborg ; german: Wiborg ) is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than cities, though the crit ...
) and Narva never joined). However, Hanseatic merchants could also come from settlements without German town law—the premise for league membership was birth to German parents, subjection to German law, and a commercial education. The league served to advance and defend the common interests of its heterogeneous members: commercial ambitions such as enhancement of trade, and political ambitions such as ensuring maximum independence from the noble territorial rulers.The Hanseatic League was by no means a monolithic organization or a 'state within a state' but rather a complex and loose-jointed confederation of protagonists pursuing their own interests, which coincided in a shared program of economic domination in the Baltic region. Decisions and actions of the Hanseatic League were the consequence of a consensus-based procedure. If an issue arose, the league's members were invited to participate in a central meeting, the ''Tagfahrt'' ("meeting ride", sometimes also referred to as ''Hansetag'', since 1358). The member communities then chose envoys (''Ratssendeboten'') to represent their local consensus on the issue at the ''Tagfahrt''. Not every community sent an envoy; delegates were often entitled to represent a set of communities. Consensus-building on local and ''Tagfahrt'' levels followed the Low Saxon tradition of ''Einung'', where consensus was defined as absence of protest: after a discussion, the proposals which gained sufficient support were dictated aloud to the scribe and passed as binding ''Rezess'' if the attendees did not object; those favouring alternative proposals unlikely to get sufficient support were obliged to remain silent during this procedure. If consensus could not be established on a certain issue, it was found instead in the appointment of a number of league members who were then empowered to work out a compromise. The Hanseatic ''Kontore'', which operated like an early
stock exchange A stock exchange, securities exchange, or bourse is an exchange where stockbrokers and traders can buy and sell securities, such as shares In financial markets, a share is a unit of equity ownership in the capital stock of a corpora ...
, each had their own treasury, court and seal. Like the guilds, the ''Kontore'' were led by ''Ältermänner'' ("eldermen", or English aldermen). The Stalhof ''Kontor'', as a special case, had a Hanseatic and an English ''Ältermann''. In 1347 the ''Kontor'' of Brussels modified its statute to ensure an equal representation of the league's members. To that end, member communities from different regions were pooled into three circles (''Drittel'' ("third art): the Wendish and Saxon Drittel, the
Westphalia Westphalia (; german: Westfalen ; nds, Westfalen ) is a region of northwestern Germany and one of the three historic parts of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It has an area of and 7.9 million inhabitants. The territory of the regio ...
n and Prussian Drittel as well as the Gothlandian, Livonian and Swedish Drittel). The merchants from their respective ''Drittel'' would then each choose two ''Ältermänner'' and six members of the Eighteen Men's Council (''Achtzehnmännerrat'') to administer the ''Kontor'' for a set period of time. In 1356, during a Hanseatic meeting in preparation of the first ''Tagfahrt'', the league confirmed this statute. The league in general gradually adopted and institutionalized the division into ''Drittel'' (see table). The ''Tagfahrt'' or ''Hansetag'' was the only central institution of the Hanseatic League. However, with the division into ''Drittel'' (= ''Thirds''), the members of the respective subdivisions frequently held a ''Dritteltage'' ("''Drittel'' meeting") to work out common positions which could then be presented at a ''Tagfahrt''. On a more local level, league members also met, and while such regional meetings were never formalized into a Hanseatic institution, they gradually gained importance in the process of preparing and implementing ''Tagfahrt'' decisions.


Quarters

From 1554, the division into ''Drittel'' was modified to reduce the circles' heterogeneity, to enhance the collaboration of the members on a local level and thus to make the league's decision-making process more efficient. The number of circles rose to four, so they were called ''Quartiere'' (quarters): This division was however not adopted by the ''Kontore'', who, for their purposes (like ''Ältermänner'' elections), grouped the league members in different ways (e.g., the division adopted by the Stahlhof in London in 1554 grouped the league members into ''Dritteln'', whereby Lübeck merchants represented the Wendish, Pomeranian Saxon and several Westphalian towns, Cologne merchants represented the Cleves, Mark, Berg and Dutch towns, while Danzig merchants represented the Prussian and Livonian towns).


Lists of former Hansa cities

The names of the Quarters have been abbreviated in the following table: * Wendish: Wendish and Pomeranian (or just Wendish) Quarter * Saxon: Saxon, Thuringian and Brandenburg (or just Saxon) Quarter * Baltic: Prussian, Livonian and Swedish (or East Baltic) Quarter * Westphalian: Rhine-Westphalian and Netherlands (including Flanders) (or Rhineland) Quarter ''Kontor'': The ''
Kontor A ''kontor'' () was a foreign trading post of the Hanseatic League The Hanseatic League (; gml, Hanse, , ; german: label=German language, Modern German, Deutsche Hanse) was a Middle Ages, medieval commercial and defensive confederation o ...
e'' were foreign trading posts of the League, not cities that were Hanseatic members, and are set apart in a separate table below. The remaining column headings are as follows: * "City" is the name, with any variants. * "Territory" indicates the jurisdiction to which the city was subject at the time of the League. * "Now" indicates the modern nation-state in which the city is located. * "From" and "Until" record the dates at which the city joined and/or left the league.


Hansa Proper

}) for some years for having supported
England England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the Europ ...
;
Dortmund Dortmund (; Westphalian nds, Düörpm ; la, Tremonia) is the third-largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia (german: Nordrhein-Westfalen, ; li, Noordrien-Wesfale ; nds, Noordrhien-Westfalen; ksh, Noodrhing-Wäßß ...
was made capital of the Circle. Cologne also was called "Electorate of Cologne" (German: Kurfürstentum Köln or Kurköln). In June 1669 the last Hanseday was held in the town of Lübeck by the last remaining Hanse members, amongst others Cologne. , , - valign="top" , Westphalian , , , , , , style="font-size: 90%;" , After
Cologne Cologne ( ; german: Köln ; ksh, Kölle ) is the largest city of the German western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the fourth-most populous city of Germany with 1.1 million inhabitants in the city proper and 3.6 millio ...
was excluded after the Anglo-Hanseatic War (1470–74), Dortmund was made capital of the Rhine-Westphalian and Netherlands Circle. , , - valign="top" , Westphalian , , , , , , style="font-size: 90%;" , , , - valign="top" , Westphalian , , , , , , style="font-size: 90%;" , , , - valign="top" , Westphalian , , , , , , , , - valign="top" , Westphalian , , , , , , style="font-size: 90%;" , , , - valign="top" , Westphalian , , , , 12th century , , style="font-size: 90%;" , , , - valign="top" , Westphalian , , , , , , style="font-size: 90%;" , The city was a part of the Electorate of Cologne until acquiring its freedom in 1444–49, after which it aligned with the Duchy of Cleves. ,


''Kontore''

(Foreign trading posts of the League)


Ports with Hansa trading posts

*
Berwick-upon-Tweed Berwick-upon-Tweed (), sometimes known as Berwick-on-Tweed or simply Berwick, is a town and civil parish in Northumberland, England, south of the Anglo-Scottish border, and the northernmost town in England. The 2011 United Kingdom census ...
*
Bristol Bristol () is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. Lon ...
*
Boston Boston (), officially the City of Boston, is the state capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Massachusetts ( Massachusett: ''Muhsachuweesut Massachusett_writing_systems.html" ;"title="nowiki/> məhswa ...
* Damme * Leith * Hull * Newcastle *
Great Yarmouth Great Yarmouth (), often called Yarmouth, is a seaside resort, seaside town and unparished area in, and the main administrative centre of, the Borough of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, England; it straddles the River Yare and is located east of ...
*
King's Lynn King's Lynn, known until 1537 as Bishop's Lynn and colloquially as Lynn, is a port and market town A market town is a settlement most common in Europe that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages In the history ...
*
York York is a cathedral city with Roman Britain, Roman origins, sited at the confluence of the rivers River Ouse, Yorkshire, Ouse and River Foss, Foss in North Yorkshire, England. It is the historic county town of Yorkshire. The city has many hist ...


Other cities with a Hansa community

*
Aberdeen Aberdeen (; sco, Aiberdeen ; gd, Obar Dheathain ; la, Aberdonia) is a city in North East Scotland Scotland (, ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commo ...
* Åbo ( Turku) * Arnhem * Avaldsnes * Bolsward *
Bordeaux Bordeaux ( , ; Gascon oc, Bordèu ; eu, Bordele; it, Bordò; es, Burdeos) is a port city on the river Garonne in the Gironde department, Southwestern France. It is the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, as well as the prefect ...
* Brae * Doesburg * Elburg * Fellin (
Viljandi Viljandi (, german: Fellin, sv, Fellin) is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of ...
) * Goldingen ( Kuldīga) *
Göttingen Göttingen (, , ; nds, Chöttingen) is a university city in Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (') in northwestern Germany. It is the second-largest state by la ...
* Grindavík * Grundarfjörður * Gunnister * Haapsalu * Hafnarfjörður *
Hamelin Hamelin ( ; german: Hameln ) is a town on the river Weser in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Hamelin-Pyrmont and has a population of roughly 57,000. Hamelin is best known for the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. ...
*
Hanover Hanover (; german: Hannover ; nds, Hannober) is the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (') in northwestern German ...
* Harderwijk * Harlingen * Haroldswick * Hasselt * Hattem * Herford * Hildesheim * Hindeloopen (Hylpen) * Kalmar * Kokenhusen ( Koknese) * Krambatangi * Kumbaravogur * Kulm ( Chełmno) * Leghorn * Lemgo * Lemsal ( Limbaži) * Lippe *
Lisbon Lisbon (; pt, Lisboa ) is the capital and largest city of Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a Sovereign state, country whose mainland is located on the Iberian Peninsula ...
* Lunna Wick *
Messina Messina (, also , ) is a harbour city and the capital of the Italian Metropolitan City of Messina. It is the third largest city on the island of Sicily Sicily ( it, Sicilia , ) is the list of islands in the Mediterranean, largest island i ...
*
Minden Minden () is a middle-sized town in the very north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe af ...
*
Naples Naples (; it, Napoli ; nap, Napule ), from grc, Νεάπολις, Neápolis, lit=new city. is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest city of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Repub ...
*
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: or ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in France, with a popul ...
* Narva * Nijmegen * Nordhausen * Nyborg * Nyköping * Oldenzaal * Ommen *
Paderborn Paderborn (; Westphalian: ''Patterbuorn'', also ''Paterboärn'') is a city in eastern North Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia (german: Nordrhein-Westfalen, ; li, Noordrien-Wesfale ; nds, Noordrhien-Westfalen; ksh, Noodrhing-Wäß ...
* Pernau ( Pärnu) *
Roermond Roermond (; li, Remunj or ) is a city, municipality, and diocese In church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of the Roman Empi ...
* Roop (
Straupe Straupe (german: Groß-Roop) is a village in Straupe Parish, Cēsis Municipality in the Vidzeme Vidzeme (; Old Latvian orthography: ''Widda-semme'', liv, Vidūmō) is one of the Historical Latvian Lands. The capital of Latvia Lat ...
) * Scalloway *
Smolensk Smolensk ( rus, Смоленск, p=smɐˈlʲensk, a=smolensk_ru.ogg) is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (19 ...
* Stargard * Stavoren (Starum) * Tórshavn *
Trondheim Trondheim ( , , ; sma, Tråante), historically Kaupangen, Nidaros and Trondhjem (), is a city and municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisd ...
*
Tver Tver ( rus, Тверь, p=tvʲerʲ) is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclope ...
* Uelzen * Venlo *
Vilnius Vilnius ( , ; see also #Etymology and other names, other names) is the capital and List of cities in Lithuania#Cities, largest city of Lithuania, with a population of 592,389 (according to the state register) or 625,107 (according to the munic ...
* Walk ( Valka) * Weißenstein (
Paide Paide is a town in Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with ...
) * Wenden ( Cēsis) * Wesel * Wesenberg ( Rakvere) * Windau ( Ventspils) * Wolmar ( Valmiera) * Zutphen *
Zwolle Zwolle () is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: ...


Legacy Hanseatic connections

Despite its collapse, several cities still maintained the link to the Hanseatic League. Dutch cities including Groningen,
Deventer Deventer (; Sallands: ) is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd e ...
, Kampen, Zutphen and
Zwolle Zwolle () is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: ...
, and a number of German cities including Bremen, Buxtehude,
Demmin Demmin () is a town in the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte district, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany. It was the capital of the former district of Demmin. Geography Demmin lies on the West Pomeranian plain at the confluence of the river ...
,
Greifswald Greifswald (), officially the University and Hanseatic City of Greifswald (german: Universitäts- und Hansestadt Greifswald, Low German: ''Griepswoold'') is the fourth-largest city in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania after Rost ...
,
Hamburg (male), (female) en, Hamburger(s), Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central (CET) , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central (CEST) , utc_offset1_DST = +2 , postal ...
,
Lübeck Lübeck (; Low German also ), officially the Hanseatic City of Lübeck (german: Hansestadt Lübeck), is a city in Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: link=no, Norddeutschland) is a linguistic, geographic, socio-cultural and historic ...
, Lüneburg,
Rostock Rostock (), officially the Hanseatic and University City of Rostock (german: link=no, Hanse- und Universitätsstadt Rostock), is the largest city in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and lies in the Mecklenburgian part of the stat ...
, Stade,
Stralsund Stralsund (; Swedish: ''Strålsund''), officially the Hanseatic City of Stralsund ( German: ''Hansestadt Stralsund''), is the fifth-largest city in the northeastern German federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Mecklenburg-Vorpommern ...
, Uelzen and
Wismar Wismar (; Low German Low German or Low Saxon (in the language itself: , and other names; german: Plattdeutsch, ) is a West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Netherlands ) , ...
still call themselves ''Hanse'' cities (their car license plates are prefixed ''H'', e.g. –''HB''– for "Hansestadt Bremen"). Hamburg and Bremen continue to style themselves officially as "free Hanseatic cities", with Lübeck named "Hanseatic City" (Rostock's football team is named F.C. Hansa Rostock in memory of the city's trading past). For Lübeck in particular, this anachronistic tie to a glorious past remained especially important in the 20th century. In 1937, the
Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-right politics, far-right political party in Germany active between 1920 and 1945 that crea ...
removed this privilege through the Greater Hamburg Act possibly because the ''Senat'' of Lübeck did not permit
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 until Death of Adolf Hitler, his death in 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the le ...
to speak in Lübeck during his 1932 election campaign. He held the speech in Bad Schwartau, a small village on the outskirts of Lübeck. Subsequently, he referred to Lübeck as "the small city close to Bad Schwartau." After the EU enlargement to the East in May 2004 there were some experts who wrote about the resurrection of the Baltic Hansa. The legacy of the Hansa is remembered today in several names: the German airline
Lufthansa Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengesellschaft, AG (), commonly shortened to Lufthansa, is the flag carrier of Germany. When combined with its subsidiaries, it is the second-List of largest airlines in Europe, largest airline in Europe in terms of passe ...
(lit. "Air Hansa"); F.C. Hansa Rostock; Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen,
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...
; Hanze oil production platform, Netherlands; the Hansa Brewery in Bergen and the Hanse Sail in Rostock; DDG Hansa, which was a major German shipping company from 1881 until its bankruptcy and takeover by Hapag-Lloyd in 1980; Hansabank in Estonia, which has been rebranded into Swedbank; and Hansa-Park, one of the biggest theme parks in Germany. There are two museums in Europe dedicated specifically to the history of the Hanseatic League: the European Hansemuseum in Lübeck and the Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene in Bergen.


Modern versions of the Hanseatic League


"City League The Hanse"

In 1980, former Hanseatic League members established a "new Hanse" in
Zwolle Zwolle () is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: ...
. This league is open to all former Hanseatic League members and cities that share a Hanseatic Heritage. In 2012 the New Hanseatic league had 187 members. This includes twelve Russian cities, most notably
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=no, Великий Новгород, t=Great Newtown, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (), is the largest city and administrative centre An administrative center is a seat of region ...
, which was a major Russian trade partner of the Hansa in the Middle Ages. The "new Hanse" fosters and develops business links, tourism and cultural exchange. The headquarters of the New Hansa is in
Lübeck Lübeck (; Low German also ), officially the Hanseatic City of Lübeck (german: Hansestadt Lübeck), is a city in Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: link=no, Norddeutschland) is a linguistic, geographic, socio-cultural and historic ...
, Germany. The current President of the Hanseatic League of New Time is Jan Lindenau, Mayor of Lübeck. Each year one of the member cities of the New Hansa hosts the Hanseatic Days of New Time international festival. In 2006,
King's Lynn King's Lynn, known until 1537 as Bishop's Lynn and colloquially as Lynn, is a port and market town A market town is a settlement most common in Europe that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages In the history ...
became the first English member of the newly formed new Hanseatic League. It was joined by Hull in 2012 and
Boston Boston (), officially the City of Boston, is the state capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Massachusetts ( Massachusett: ''Muhsachuweesut Massachusett_writing_systems.html" ;"title="nowiki/> məhswa ...
in 2016.


New Hanseatic League

The '' New Hanseatic League'' was established in February 2018 by finance ministers from
Denmark ) , song = ( en, "King Christian stood by the lofty mast") , song_type = National and royal anthem , image_map = EU-Denmark.svg , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of Denmark , establish ...
,
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers appro ...
,
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Exper ...
,
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
,
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links=no, liv, Leţmō Vabāmō, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of ...
,
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no ), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of three Baltic states and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Lithuania ...
, the
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...
and
Sweden Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's formal name is the Kingdom of SwedenUNGEGN World Geographical Names, Sweden./ref> is a Nordic country located on ...
through the signing of a foundational document which set out the countries' "shared views and values in the discussion on the architecture of the
EMU The emu () (''Dromaius novaehollandiae'') is the second-tallest living bird after its ratite relative the ostrich. It is endemic to Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprisi ...
".


Historical maps

File:First.Crusade.Map.jpg, Europe in 1097 File:Europe in 1430.PNG, Europe in 1430 File:Europe in 1470.png, Europe in 1470 File:Carta Marina.jpeg, '' Carta marina'' of the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximately 20% of Earth's surface and about 29% of its water surface area. It is kno ...
region (1539)


In popular culture

* In the '' Patrician'' series of trading simulation video games, the player assumes the role of a merchant in any of several cities of the Hanseatic League. * In the '' Saga of Seven Suns'' series of space opera novels by American writer Kevin J. Anderson, the human race has colonized multiple planets in the Spiral Arm, most of which are governed by the powerful Terran Hanseatic League (Hansa). * '' Hansa Teutonica'' is a German board game designed by Andreas Steding and published by Argentum Verlag in 2009. * In the '' Metro franchise'' of post-apocalyptic novels and video games, a trading alliance of stations called The Commonwealth of the Stations of the Ring Line is also known as the Hanseatic League, usually shortened to Hansa or Hanza.


See also

* Baltic maritime trade (c. 1400–1800) * Bay Fleet * Brick Gothic * Company of Merchant Adventurers of London * Hanseatic Cross * Hanseatic Days of New Time * Hanseatic flags * Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene * Hanseatic Trade Center * History of Bremen (City) *
Lufthansa Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengesellschaft, AG (), commonly shortened to Lufthansa, is the flag carrier of Germany. When combined with its subsidiaries, it is the second-List of largest airlines in Europe, largest airline in Europe in terms of passe ...
* Maritime republics * New Hanseatic League * Peasants' Republic * Schiffskinder * Thalassocracy


References


Further reading

* * * * * Halliday, Stephen. "The First Common Market?" ''History Today'' 59 (2009): 31–37. * Harreld, Donald J. ''A companion to the Hanseatic League'' (Brill, 2015). * * * * * * * * Wubs-Mrozewicz, Justyna, and Jenks, Stuart eds. '' The Hanse in Medieval and Early Modern Europe'' (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2013) *


Historiography

* Cowan, Alexander. "Hanseatic League: Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guide" (Oxford University Press, 2010
online
* Harrison, Gordon. "The Hanseatic League in Historical Interpretation." ''The Historian'' 33 (1971): 385–97. . * Szepesi, Istvan. "Reflecting the Nation: The Historiography of Hanseatic Institutions." ''Waterloo Historical Review'' 7 (2015)
online


External links


29th International Hansa Days in Novgorod

30th International Hansa Days 2010 in Parnu-Estonia

Chronology of the Hanseatic League

Hanseatic Cities in the Netherlands

Hanseatic League Historical Re-enactors

Hanseatic Towns Network
* Hanseatic League related sources in the German Wikisource
Colchester: a Hanseatic port
nbsp;– Gresham
The Lost Port of Sutton: Maritime trade
{{Authority control Northern Europe Former monopolies Trade monopolies Early Modern Holy Roman Empire Former confederations Early Modern history of Germany Early Modern Netherlands Economy of the Holy Roman Empire Economic history of the Netherlands History of international trade *Hanseatic League International trade organizations Baltic Sea Brandenburg-Prussia Gotland Guilds Northern Renaissance History of Prussia 1862 disestablishments in Europe 14th century in Europe 15th century in Europe 16th century in Europe Medieval Germany