The Hanseatic League




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These regulations were promulgated by the League between 1260 and 1264 and were meant to apply to all cities governed by Lübeck's legal code. This would have applied to most German Baltic and North Sea towns.

SOURCE: “Decrees of the Hanseatic League.” In Thatcher, Oliver & Edgar McNeal, eds. A Source Book for Medieval History. New York & Chicago: Charles Schribner’s Sons, 1905. pp. 611-612.

Page 611 Page 612

      We wish to inform you of the action taken in support of all merchants who are govered by the law of Lübeck.
     (1) Each city shall, to the best of her ability, keep the sea clear of pirates, so that merchants may freely carry on their business by sea. (2) Whoever is expelled from one city because of a crime shall not be received in another. (3) If a citizen is seized [by pirates, robbers, or bandits] he shall not be ransomed, but his sword-belt and knife shall be sent to him [as a threat to his captors]. (4) Any merchant ransoming him shall lose all his possessions in all the cities which have the law of Lübeck. (5) Whoever is proscribed in one city for robbery or theft shall be proscribed in all. (6) If a lord besieges a city, no one shall aid him in any way to the detriment of the besieged city, unless the besieger is his lord. (7) If there is a war in the country, no city shall on that account injure a citizen from the other cities, either in his person or goods, but shall give him protection. (8) If any man marries a woman in one city, and another woman from some other city comes and proves that he is her lawful husband, he shall be beheaded. (9) If a citizen gives his daughter or niece in marriage to a man [from another city], and another man comes and says that she is his lawful wife, but cannot prove it, he shall be beheaded.

      This law shall be binding for a year, and after that the cities shall inform each other by letter of what decisions they make.