The medieval trade Union of the Baltic Cities (Hanzeat League)

Bergen ex-Hanseatic city (

Trade Union of the Baltic Cities (Hanzeat League)
The name of the German airline Lufthansa was inspired by the name of the medieval trading organization “Hanza”.
The Hanseatic League was originally a merchant guild in northern Germany. It influenced the development of cities, navigation and the creation of shopping centers in the coastal area of ​​the North and Baltic Seas. Later, the term Hanseatic League came to mean meeting places and international trade exchanges. The main cities were Novgorod in the east, London in the west, Bergen in the north and Briege in the southwest. Goods were transported by large galleys known as “Koge”.

Hansa merchants brought in Greek, French, Spanish and, of course, Rhine wine as well as Baltic herring, salt and even bread in years of bad harvest.

Hansa partners helped Novgorod out of difficulties more than once. Thus, according to one chronicler, in 1231 it was seed from Hansa that saved Novgorod from the serious consequences of spreading famine.

Hansa and old-Russia practiced both wholesome and barter trade. Money was used only to measure the value of goods. By the way, the trade itself took place not at the Marketplace but in the Hansahof and in the yards of Novgorodians where Russian and German merchants examined the goods they needed, chose the best and arranged deals.

Trade relations between Hansa and Novgorod were regulated by some special agreements and the regulations of the Hansahof called «Skra» These agreements guaranteed safe trading. Thus, the essential articles were ones about providing a «secure trade route» to Novgorod land for Hanseatic merchants and to the Baltic for Novgorodians.

One of the leading Hanseatic depots of Europe was founded in Veliky Novgorod.

The five hundred kilometers between Moscow and Novgorod can be easily covered by either car or train. However, six or seven centuries ago this distance required a week-long journey on river boats. Perhaps greater than the physical distance was the ideological gap between the two towns. As time passed, Moscow conquered Novgorod. Yet a special aura still exists in Russia’s former capital. Some call this the air of democracy and liberty, but in any case Novgorod is beautiful, and surely worth a contemplative visit.

Medieval Novgorod was one of Europe’s greatest art centuries. Its architectural traditions, school of icon painting, jewelers and decorative applied art became famous all over the world.

Though the name of the town means “New Town,” Novgorod is the oldest major Russian city: people have been living here since the 6th century AD and it had become a major trade settlement by the 9th century. The place where Novgorod stands is strategic: the Volhov River was a key part of the busy trade route from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Novgorod was just the place to control this route and to develop trade with foreign merchants. This specialized role of the town determined its type of rule: Novgorod became a merchant republic.

Sweden had close relations with the Hanseatic League. This can be seen from the architecture of old Stockholm and the city of Visby on Gotland. This can also be seen from the words taken from the German language. In Sweden, at one time in 2007, a volume with 3 motifs on postage stamps of 10 kroner was published (one motif of which is the same as the German edition of 70 eurocents: a depiction of a Hanseatic skin from 1380. Goods are being unloaded from a galley). Other postage stamps show Visby and the meeting in Stockholm, as well as the royal seal of the time.
In 1356, a meeting of representatives of a large number of Hanseatic cities was held in Lubeck. The subject of the meeting was an agreement on commercial matters and commercial law and the establishment of a means of access to the Count of Flanders, the city of Briege and the German merchants in Briege. It was agreed that the delegation would visit Briege and conduct negotiations on this issue. Briege was a seaport then and a densely populated city. Briege had a large number of textile workshops in the area. The workshops had favorable opportunities for East-West and North-South exchange.
The €0.70 postage stamp represents a detail of a 16th century painting depicting Briegge. The Belgian postage stamp of €0.80 shows the “Eastern House” in the city of Antwerp according to a painting from the 18th century. Antwerp-Anvers was not actually a member of the Hanseatic League. Nevertheless, merchants from the Hanseatic League stayed in Antwerp to do business.
The Hanseatic League was a maritime and continental trade association. It was an important political factor in almost all of Europe. The Hanseatic League gets powerful naval competitors (merchants from Holland and England) after 5 centuries of glory and power. The significance of the Hanseatic League unfortunately declines after the Peace of Westphalia or Münster Peace Agreement (24.10.1648).

Peace of Westphalia or Peace of Münster is a peace treaty concluded in Münster in Westphalia on October 24, 1648 between the Roman and German. Emperor Ferdinand III. on the one hand, and the Swedes, the French and their anti-imperial allies in between. state authorities on the other hand. It ended the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48) between the Habsburgs and France and Sweden with allies for political and religious supremacy in Europe. Peace negotiations were conducted from 1645, with the French in Münster, and with the Swedes in Osnabrück. The French and the Swedes expanded their territory, and the Swedes received 5 million thalers in compensation. To the detriment of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, or areas under Habsburg control, Bavaria, Saxony and Brandenburg expanded territorially. The German states acquired sovereignty for their countries (lat. superioritas territorialis, german. Landeshoheit). Switzerland was separated from the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation as an independent republic. Independence was also recognized for the Republic of the United Netherlands. The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation lost about 100,000 km² of its territory. In the religious aspect, the Peace of Westphalia accepted the principle of the Augsburg religious peace of 1555 (Cuius regio, illius religio), extending it to Calvinists as well. The Pope did not recognize the Peace of Westphalia because it was completely bypassed in the negotiations. The Peace of Westphalia had a great significance: it limited the authority of Rome. emperor, changed political balance in Europe by strengthening the influence of France and Sweden, contributed to a broader concept of freedom of conscience and religious tolerance. By emphasizing state sovereignty and cooperation, it became the foundation of the new European order, based (theoretically) on the principle of equal states.

Red Izba Tourist Information Centre is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.,

Discover the Hanseatic assembly rooms! Join us through the Hanseatic Bryggen!
Open 11-17 and guided tours every day:
Until 14 Aug: English (13:00 and 16:00) – German (12:00) – Norwegian (15:00) 


  • AdultsRead MoreNOK 120
  • Buy your ticket on top of this page!
  • StudentsNOK 60
  • ChildrenFree
  • Groups of 10+NOK 85 per person

The museum is closed 24 – 28 Dec

Summer season

  • 15 May – 15 Sep11 – 17Guided tours until 14 Aug: English 13:00/16:00, German 12:00

Off season

  • Winter season11 – 15Guided tours offered during the weekends. Closed 17 May and during Christmas


Øvregaten 50

5003 Bergen, Norway


53 00 61 10


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