When Amsterdam and Rotterdam were still small villages during the Middle Ages, our Hanseatic cities in the east of the Netherlands had already developed into powerful trading centres. For four hundred years, some 200 Hanseatic cities worked together within a European Union. Most of the trade went by sea with the first cargo ships of the Middle Ages, the Kogges. A great piece of history that brought great prosperity to our cities.
What's a Hanseatic city?
description Long before you existed, somewhere between 1100 and 1200, representatives of different cities signed an alliance: the Hanseatic League. This alliance was an alliance for the Hanseatic cities and the traders in these cities. In the past, you could participate in this alliance voluntarily as a city. There was no central authority that imposed rules or guidelines. Occasionally meetings were held in Lübeck, Germany, in which delegates from various cities took part.
What Hanseatic cities are we talking about here?
Dutch Hanseatic cities
In the Netherlands alone there are more than 20 Hanseatic cities, but also in countries such as Germany, Belgium, Poland and Norway the Hanseatic League was a well-known phenomenon. The vast majority of the Hanseatic cities are located in the east of the Netherlands, mainly along the waterfront.
By working together, these cities were able to work cheaper and travel more safely against pirates in each other's company. Moreover, together they were stronger against the lords of the country. From 1356 onwards, the Hanseatic League was no longer just an alliance of the traders in the cities, but of the cities as a whole. The trade flow consisted of articles such as salt, fish, grains, wood, beer, wine, cloth, beeswax and furs.
By bundling its interests, the Hanzen network was able to acquire favourable privileges. Moreover, the individual merchant was able to protect himself against the whims of feudal lords.
Moreover, the exchange of knowledge and information was an important side effect. In its heyday, the Hanseatic League had no less than 150 members, mainly in Germany and the Netherlands, but also in Scandinavia, Poland, Flanders, as far as Spain and Portugal.
What was traded?
The trade flow consisted of articles such as salt, fish, grains, wood, beer, wine, cloth, beeswax and furs. The sea and the rivers formed an important link in the transport of these goods, thanks in part to the development of the cogge, the most important trading ship until the 15th century. During these centuries, the Hanseatic cities were full of activity and the economy flourished as never before.
A golden age
Prosperity manifested itself in imposing new buildings, ornate merchant houses and impressive trading offices.
The originally small settlements grew into powerful cities with impressive city walls and ditto gates. Prosperity also exerted its influence on other areas. Painters, master builders, poets and philosophers settled in the city and ensured a flourishing period in the artistic field. There was talk of a Golden Age 'avant la lettre'. Elements that left their mark on each other in our beautiful Hanseatic cities connected by water!