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 CogĀ 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.

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