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By Donald Harreld

The Companion to the Hanseatic League discusses the significance of the Hanseatic League for the social and financial historical past of pre-modern northern Europe. proven already as early because the 12th century, the cities that shaped the Hanseatic League created a massive community of trade in the course of the Baltic and North Sea quarter. From Russia within the east, to England and France within the west, the towns of the Hanseatic League created an enormous northern maritime alternate community. the purpose of this quantity is to provide a "state" of the sector English-language quantity through probably the most revered Hanse students. participants are Mike Burkhardt, Ulf Christian Ewert, Rolf Hammel-Kiesow, Donald J. Harreld, Carsten Jahnke, Michael North, Jurgen Sarnowsky and Stephan Selzer.

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Only in the mid-thirteenth century did a joint venture between merchant groups of the Empire develop. In the Empire, the trade in Flemish cloth was still in Flemish, especially Ghentish, hands throughout the first half of the thirteenth century. The presence of Flemish cloth is noted in the Baltic as early as the twelfth century as cloth from Ypres available at Novgorod in 1153. Whether or not Flemish merchants had personally gone as far a Novgorod in the twelfth century is uncertain, but their arrival was a documented occurrence in the late thirteenth century.

Meanwhile, German merchants in Visby on Gotland settled and formed a German community (that in 1288 was to be united with a Gutnish community into a township). Long-distance traders from Lower Germany departed from Smolensk and made their way to the trading centers of Polozk and Witebsk on the Duna and there established a connection with Kiev and that part of Russia that until that time had been oriented toward Constantinople. In 1229 these merchants had forged a trade agreement with the prince in Riga.

During the early thirteenth century, West European merchants also formed similar, although non-permanent alliances. These included the association of mercatores de xvii villes including members from Flanders and Northern France (first documented in 1230), which, at the time of their decline, was called the ‘Hanse of 17 cities’, and the nations of the Italian merchants, who, like the Flemish and French, had also formed a universitas at the fairs of Champagne. Sometime around 1200 (documented in 1241), Flemish merchants from 52 cities had formed an umbrella organization in London, the “Hanse of London”.

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