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Hanse Across the Sea


The Hanseatic League, or Hanse, was formed as a northern European trading organisation, founded in the middle of the twelfth century in the north German city of Lubeck and continued as a powerful force for around 500 years. It grew to comprise a network of around 200 trading cities as far apart as London, England, in the west and Viliky Novgorod, Russia, in the east and during its lifetime had to protect its interests from interfering rulers, pirates and rival traders. The type of ship on the stamp above issued in 1977 is a Cog and it was the ship of choice for most Hanseatic League traders.

The Hanseatic League influenced the economic, political and cultural life in Europe for nearly four centuries.

The 1948 definitives above from Germany show Lubeck’s Holstentor, the red-brick city gate that is its symbol and the gate that defended the old town.

Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) and nearly 200 towns and villages in the surrounding areas.  It was created on 15 November 1920 as part of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles after the end of World War I. The stamps above were issued in 1921.

The stamp booklet above from Sweden in 2006, was part of a joint issue with Germany that commemorated the 650th anniversary of the founding of the Hanseatic League. The three stamps reflect the active period in the Baltic region’s history during which the Hanseatic League dominated trade.  The stamps show a Cog filled with goods (top left and bottom right), the Port of Visby with a Medieval building (top right) and a scene from a medieval shop that sells dice and jewels (bottom left).


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  1. Thanks for your comment Ian, Kingston upon Hull was another Hanseatic port on the East Coast. I should have mentioned Hafnarfjordur, Iceland as being the westernmost Hanseatic port.

  2. Kings Lynn still has several of the Leagues original warehouses, they are beautifully built, extremely old and well worth a visit.

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