View Full Version : The Hanseatic League

Saturday, July 1st, 2006, 07:19 PM

The Hanseatic League (Dutch: de Hanze, Estonian: hansa, German: die Hanse, Polish: Hanza, Swedish: Hansan) comprised an alliance of trading guilds that established and maintained a trade monopoly over the Baltic Sea and most of Northern Europe for a time in the later Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, between the 13th and 17th centuries.

Historians generally trace the origins of the League to the foundation of the town of Lübeck, established in 1158/1159 after the capture of the area from the Count of Schauenburg and Holstein by Henry the Lion, the Duke of Saxony. Exploratory trading adventures, raids and piracy had occurred earlier throughout the Baltic — the sailors of Gotland sailed up rivers as far away as Novgorod, for example — but the scale of international economy in the Baltic area remained insignificant before the growth of the Hanseatic League. German cities achieved domination of trade in the Baltic with striking speed over the next century, and Lübeck became a central node in all the sea-borne trade that linked the areas around the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The 15th century saw the climax of Lübeck's hegemony. (Visby, one of the midwives of the Hanseatic league in 1358, declined to become a member. Visby dominated trade in the Baltic before the Hanseatic league, and with its monopolistic ideology, suppressed the Gotlandic free-trade competition.)

More information:
- Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanseatic_League)
- Hanse.org (http://www.hanse.org/en/the_hansa/)

Thursday, July 6th, 2006, 09:46 PM
It's wonderful to think about how recently the various Germanic peoples worked together in economic union.

There is a computer game by Ascaron, a German company, called Patrician or Patrizier in which you play at being a trader in the Hanseatic League. It can be a good educational tool for young folks, I think, to introduce them to the Hanseatic League.