The Hanseatic League




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In 1276, German merchants sent negotiators to secure trade privileges in Norway. This grant of privilege from 1278, provided immunities and concessions beyond even those enjoyed by natives.

SOURCE: John Gade. The Hanseatic Control of Norwegian Commerce During the Late Middle Ages. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1951. p. 38-41.
Included here under fair use regulations.

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Magnus, by the grace of God king of Norway, sends to faithful believers in Christ, who this letter may reach, his greeting in the name of the Lord. It is fitting for our

Royal Majesty to honor with particular benefits those who faithfully and sollicitously have protected our Majesty's honor and the services of our subjects. We have therefore upon the request and prayer of the Councillors and citizens of many German ports, but especially upon the humble request of our friends, the Burgomaster, Councillors and citizens of the city of Lübeck, presented to us by the wise and honorable Councillor Herrik Skenken and Alexander, graciously deemed it proper and to the honor of God and of service to them to grant certain privileges to such merchants of German speech as come, either as guests or travellers, to our kingdom with their wares.
     Firstly, as a mark of our bountiful grace and with the agreement of our Councillors and the wise men of our realm, we have granted that the previously mentioned merchants, guests, and travellers who do not rent lodgings for a whole or half a year, shall not be compelled to serve on the night watch.
     Secondly, we ordain that perjurers or other dishonorable persons shall be prohibited from bearing witness against said Germans.
     Thirdly, as a mark of our bountiful grace, we grant them permission to freely trade in retail in all goods on the wharves, streets or alleys, usually called smaavarninger and to trade in all manner of hides, when those do not comprise a deker, also butter as long as this does not amount to nine lober, during the entire period between St. Halvard's and St. Mary's mass [May 15th and August 15th].
     Fourthly, we grant the aforesaid merchants, guests and travellers, exemption from hauling vessels ashore, unless their size is such that their own crew are unable to do so. In such case the Germans shall be encouraged to help in a friendly manner.

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     Fifth, we have granted our Sysselman and other officials permission to permit the merchants to sell their wares to whomever they please for a period of three days. The period is to be reckoned from the time the officials have been notified of the wares the merchants have to sell. On the days of such notification the officials are to notify the merchants what they wish to set aside for the King's table and to come to agreement as to the price. Such regulation will remain in force as long as no general prohibition has been issued in regard to the removal of goods from one place to another.
     Sixth, we have strictly ruled that all Germans who have suffered shipwreck shall unhindered retain all such of their goods as they have with God's assistance and their own efforts managed to salvage. No foolhardy person shall venture to seize them as long as their rightful owners have not abandoned them.
     Seventh, we have ordained that no German merchant, who has pledged his appearance in court and to accept its judgement, be chained or thrown into prison for debt or other misdemeanor, unless this be so great that death of the chopping off of hands is prescribed by the law.
     Eighth, as love teaches us to give grace to those who have suffered the greatest perils, all shipwrecked persons who cannot by their own efforts salvage their belongings, are permitted to call for assistance in their own district or skibsrede, from as many persons as they consider requisite, and such as to be paid for their work six Norwegian öres for every last salvaged. Those assisting in saving the vessel and its fittings should be give a remuneration to be determined by reasonable, disinterested persons. He who refuses to assist, when legally called, shall be punished by law.
     Ninth, as we also wish all the above to remain in force and not be violated, as long as we receive the customary

fidelity, we order our Sysselman and other officials, in case they wish to escape our displeasure, to assist in carrying out all the aforementioned privileges and ordinances.
     Tenth, in order that such privileges should also be accorded our subjects, we have ordered and firmly impressed upon the judges of our realm that they should treat such citizens as come to Norway with their wares with a certain partiality, causing them no difficulties, and see that they are accorded justice when they complain and that their oppressors are severely punished, and that the Lübeck citizens are shown all possible favor and good will whenever this may justly and honestly be done.
     In order that these our friendly concessions and the grace we have shown shall have lasting force we have given this document validity by confirming it with our seal.