The Hanseatic League
(Officially so named only after 1285)

<>1157:London Gildhall established by GERMAN MERCHANTS of COLOGNE (Köln) [*1901:Keutgen,Friedrich|_Urkunden zur Stadtischen Verfassungsgeschichte, no. 431 | *1907:Thatcher,Oliver J |_ A Source Book...]
*--Cologne carried on extensive commercial dealings with London. These were more important to Cologne than its relations with the rural German feudal economy that surrounded Cologne, more important than its webbing of relationship with regional aristocrats and princes
*--The Cologne gildhall established at this time can be thought of as the beginning of the "international" or "transnational" trade network later called the Hanseatic League
*--The English king decreed that these foreign commercial representatives should be treated as if they were subjects of the English king

Henry [II], by the grace of God, etc., ... to his justiciars, sheriffs, and all his officials in England, greeting. I command you to guard, maintain, and protect all the men and citizens of Cologne as if they were my own subjects and friends, and all their goods, merchandise, and possessions. You shall not permit them to suffer any loss or damage in their house in London, which is called their gildhall, or in their goods, or merchandise, or anything else that belongs to them, because they are faithful to me, and they are in my ward and protection. They shall have complete protection, and they shall pay only their customary tolls, and you shall not exact new tolls from them. . . .

<>1200s: Teutonic and Livonian Knights had an influence on events [SAC]

<>1230c:German cities HAMBURG AND LŰBECK form league [Keutgen, no. 427 | Thatcher]
*--By the 1230s, north Germany had no great feudal prince. Numerous principalities enjoying an expanding sovereignty. Under these conditions, cities grew in independence from feudal lords, but also formed up their own associations with one another. The Hanseatic league was the most important consequence of this process
*--The text of the agreement =

To their honorable and beloved friends, the advocate, aldermen, and other citizens of Lübeck, the advocate, aldermen, and the commune of Hamburg, greeting, etc.

We wish you to know that we desire by all means to preserve the mutual love and friendship which have hitherto existed between you and us. We desire that we shall have the same law, so that whenever your citizens come into our city, bringing goods that are unencumbered [that is, about which there is no dispute or suit pending], they may possess and enjoy them in peace and security, in the same way as our citizens. ...

<>1241:German cities LŰBECK AND HAMBURG AGREEMENT FOR MUTUAL PROTECTION [Keutgen, no. 428 | Thatcher] The association was for mutual protection against robbers. The association also sought to protect merchants of the one city when they went to the other

The advocate, council and commune of Lübeck. We have made the following agreement with our dear friends, the citizens of Hamburg

1. If robbers or other depredators attack citizens of either city anywhere from the mouth of the Trave river to Hamburg, or anywhere on the Elbe river, the two cities shall bear the expenses equally in destroying and extirpating them.

2. If anyone who lives outside the city, kills, wounds, beats, or mishandles, without cause, a citizen of either city, the two cities shall bear the expenses equally in punishing the offender. We furthermore agree to share the expenses equally in punishing those who injure their citizens in the neighborhood of their city and those who injure our citizens in the neighborhood of our city.

3. If any of their citizens are injured near our city [Lübeck], they shall ask our officials to punish the offender, and if any of our citizens are injured near their city [Hamburg], they shall ask their officials to punish the offender.
*--Other cities joined. The league grew until it was able to conduct a foreign policy, carry on war, and dictate in political matters to the whole north, in relative independence from rural feudal authority

<>1259:LUBECK, ROSTOCK, AND WISMAR PROSCRIBE PIRATES [Keutgen, no. 429 | Thatcher]

To all the faithful subjects of Christ. . . . The communes of Lübeck, Rostock, and Wismar [...] Since most, merchants are not protected on the sea from pirates and robbers, we have, in a common council, decreed, and by this writing declare, that all who rob merchants in churches, in cemeteries, or on the water or on the land, shall be outlawed and proscribed by all cities and merchants. No matter where these robbers go with their booty, whatever city or land receives them shall be held equally guilty with them, and proscribed by all the cities and merchants. ...

<>1260:1264:Northern urban league decrees [Keutgen, no. 430 a | Thatcher]

We wish to inform you of the action taken in support of all merchants who are governed by the law of Lübeck.
  1. Each city shall, to the best of her ability, keep the sea clear of pirates, so that merchants may freely carry on their business by sea
  2. Whoever is expelled from one city because of a crime shall not be received in another.
  3. If a citizen is seized [by pirates, robbers, or bandits] he shall not be ransomed, but his sword-belt and knife shall be sent to him [as a threat to his captors].
  4. Any merchant ransoming him shall lose all his possessions in all the cities which have the law of Lübeck.
  5. Whoever is proscribed in one city for robbery or theft shall be proscribed in all.
  6. If a [rural feudal] lord besieges a city, no one shall aid him in any way to the detriment of the besieged city, unless the besieger is his lord.
  7. If there is a war in the country, no city shall on that account injure a citizen from the other cities, either in his person or goods, but shall give him protection
  8. If any man marries a woman in one city, and another woman from some other city comes and proves that he is her lawful husband, he shall be beheaded.
  9. If a citizen gives his daughter or niece in marriage to a man [from another city], and another man comes and says that she is his lawful wife, but cannot prove it, he shall be beheaded.

This law shall be binding for a year, and after that the cities shall inform each other by letter of what decisions they make.

<>1265:Northern urban league decrees [Keutgen, no. 430 b | Thatcher]

We ought to hold a meeting [of all cities in the league] once a year to legislate about the affairs of the cities.

If pirates appear on the sea, all the cities must contribute their share to the work of destroying them.

<>1270:Novgorod came into alliance with the northern urban league [SAC LOOP on Hanse]

<>1282:London office of Germanic traveling merchants first used the word "Hansa" [association or group] to describe themselves

<>1338:German trading city Magdeburg| THE SCHOEFFEN OF MAGDEBURG ANSWERED NINE QUESTIONS ABOUT URBAN ADMINISTRATION [Altmann und Bernheim, no. 172 | Thatcher]

Glossary of officials involved in Hanse urban life
["city" and "citizen" mentioned but not defined] =

Alderman = Member of the urban governing council [council not described]
Burggrave = Commander of the castle or fortress, representative of royal or regional feudal lord's authority
Burgomaster = Mayor, head of urban administration [administration not described]
Guest = Visitor to the city, usually implies a merchant from another town
Schoeffen = Judges of the urban court [court not described]
Schultheiss = Representative of feudal authority in legal matters (CF=Burggrave)
  1. May aldermen be deposed? To the honorable aldermen of Culm, we the Schoeffen of Magdeburg, your obedient servants [send greeting]. You have asked us in your letter whether aldermen may choose other aldermen, and whether they may choose from among themselves burgomasters and Schoeffen without the consent of the burggrave. And also whether the burggrave may depose some of the aldermen and appoint others in their place. We answer, that the aldermen may choose other aldermen for a year, and one or two burgomasters from their own number also for a year. But the burggrave has no right to depose aldermen and put others in their place.
  2. Who shall choose other Schoeffen? The Schoeffen shall elect other Schoeffen, and those elected shall remain Schoeffen as long as they live. The aldermen have no right to elect Schoeffen. The burggrave shall confirm the Schoeffen who are elected.
  3. May the aldermen make laws? You have also asked us whether the aldermen with the consent of their citizens may make laws among themselves and fix the penalties for offences against them, without the consent of the burggrave, and whether the aldermen have the right to collect such penalties and retain them, or shall the burggrave and the Schultheiss have a share in them. And you have also asked if a man breaks the laws and refuses to pay the fine, how it is to be collected from him. We answer, that the aldermen may make laws and fix their penalties provided these laws do not conflict with the laws of the city. And they may do this without the consent of the burggrave. And they have the right to demand the payment of fines, and they may keep them for the benefit of the city; the burggrave and the Schultheiss shall have no part in them.
  4. What if a man refuses to pay a fine? If a man refuses to pay a fine but admits that he owes it, the aldermen may seize and imprison him until he pays it. If he says he does not owe the fine, he shall prove it by taking an oath by the saints.
  5. About false measures. You have further asked whether the aldermen have jurisdiction over weights and measures, false measures, and the sale of provisions, and if a man refuses to pay a fine how it shall be collected. We answer, that aldermen have jurisdiction over the said things, and that if a man refuses to pay his fine, they may seize and imprison him until he pays it, as is written above.
  6. About damage done to a forest. You asked us if a man cuts wood in a forest, how he shall pay the damage. We answer, if a man cuts down trees in another's forest, or cuts his grass, or fishes in his streams, he shall pay for the damage and a fine besides.
  7. How far shall a guest live from the city? You also asked us how far a man must live from the [law] court if he wishes to have the right of a guest [in legal proceedings before the law court]. We answer, if a guest is accused before the court, if he swears by the saints that he lives more than twelve miles from the court, he shall have his trial at once. If a guest enters suit against a citizen in the same court, the citizen shall answer in court that same day if the guest demands it.
  8. About attaching the property of a guest. You further asked us how you should proceed, if a man attaches the property of a guest from a far country, so that justice may be done to both. We answer, if a man attaches the property of a guest who lives so far away that you cannot get hold of him, the attachment is not to be put into execution until the guest is informed of it. If the guest does not then appear to defend his property, the attached property may be taken.
  9. About taxes. You further asked us, if the citizens have [feudal landed] property outside of the territory of the city which they hold from some lord and from which they receive an income, are they bound to pay the tax which may be assessed on property outside the city, just the same as they do on their ordinary property? We answer that, according to the law and practice of our city, every man must pay taxes on his property outside as well as inside the city, no matter where it is, and he must take an oath to its value and pay a tax accordingly.

<>1358:Germanic trade center Lübeck hosted the second Hansetag and the formation of the League

<>1367:1380s; Hanseatic League at its apex [ID]

<>1380:1500; Rise of Mediterranean markets [ID]

<>1500:1503; Events spelled the doom of the Hanseatic League [ID]