The Hanseatic League




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After Novgorod, Smolensk was a significant Hanseatic trading post in Russia. The Gotland Community, a predecessor of the Hanseatic League, negotiated this treaty with Prince Davidovich of Smolensk in 1229. Additional clauses not presented here allowed for the reciprocity of privileges for Russian traders in Gotland.

SOURCE: “Commercial Treaty Between the Prince of Smolensk and the German Merchants.” In d'Hanens, Albert, ed. Europe of the North Sea and the Baltic: The World of the Hanse. Antwerp: Fonds Mercator, 1984. p. 184.
Included here under fair use regulations.

Page 184

5.   If a Russian buys on credit from a German visitor and that Russian is also the debtor of another Russian, the German shall have priority of payment.
10.   No Russian may insist on a judicial duel with a German in Smolensk, nor may a German insist on a judicial duel with a Russian in Riga or Gotland. If German visitors fight between themselves with sword or spear, that does not concern the Prince or any other Russian. They shall come to terms pursuant to their own laws.
15.   If the porterage contractor (Volok) learns that a German visitor has arrived for porterage at the same time as Smolensk merchants, he shall without delay send a messenger ordering his men to transport the German visitor and the Smolensk merchant with their goods.
16.   Lots shall be drawn to decide which of the two shall be transported first. If a Russian stranger arrives at the same time, he will pass after them.
17.   Each German visitor arriving in the town shall offer the Princess a roll of cloth and the porterage contractor shall be given a pair of gauntlets with fingers.
19.   Any German in Smolensk may sell his goods without any contestation.
20.   If a German wishes to go to another town with his goods, neither the Prince nor the people of Smolensk shall oppose him.
21.   If a Russian buys from a German and carries the goods away, he may not bring them back and he must pay for them (and vice versa). A Russian may not bring a German before the general court, but only before that of the Prince. But if a German requests the general court his wish shall be complied with.
27.   If a German buys a silver mark and has it weighed, he shall give two squirrel skins to the weigher, but nothing if he sells it.
29.   If the weight for weighing wax in inaccurate, it must be compared and corrected with the weight standards, one of which is to be found in the church of the Mount and the other in the church of the Germans.
31.   A German shall pay no toll from Smolensk to Riga or from Riga to Smolensk. Similarly, a Russian shall pay no toll from Gotland to Riga or from Riga to Smolensk.
32.   If the Prince of Smolensk goes to war, that shall in no way concern the Germans, unless they ask to accompany him.
33.   If, God forbid, a German or Russian ship be wrecked, its owner may unload his cargo on the bank without obstruction. If he has too few men and is obliged to engage others, the latter shall not receive more than the agreed wage. This applies both to Germans and Russians, on the territories of Smolensk, Polotsk and Vitebsk.
This deed is drafted in 1229 before Bishop Nicholas of Riga, the priest Jean, Master Volkin (of the Sword-bearers), and numerous merchants from the [Holy] Roman Empire, whose seal is affixed hereto. The following are witnesses: Regenbode, Dethard, Adam, burghers of Gotland; Member, Friedrich, Dummon of Lubeck; Henry the Goth and Ilier of Soest; Conrad Blödauge and Johann Kinot of Munster; Bernek and Volker of Gronningen; Arembrecht and Albrecht of Dortmund; Heinrich Zeisig of Bremen; the burghers of Riga Albrecht Sluk, Bernhart, Walter and Albrecht, the Riga solicitor. If a Russian or German violates this treaty, he violates divine right and the law.