The Hanseatic League




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Queen Elizabeth I ordered the closing of the Steelyard in 1598 after centuries of struggle between English and Hanseatic interests in London.

SOURCE: “The Closing of the London Business House.” In d'Hanens, Albert, ed. Europe of the North Sea and the Baltic: The World of the Hanse. Antwerp: Fonds Mercator, 1984. p. 195.
Included here under fair use regulations.

Page 195

Whereas an order has been addressed by the Roman Emperor to all the Electors, prelates, counts and other dignitaries and subjects of the Empire, enumerating various complaints made by the associated towns of the German Hanse, relative to various torts suffered by them in our kingdom; whereas a complaint has been lodged by them against the company of adventurer merchants; whereas no reply had been given to the said Hanseatic towns, such complaints being manifestly unjustified and unable to be supported by any proof; whereas by that order the English merchants, i.e. the adventurer merchants, are forbidden to trade within the Empire and are ordered to leave it under penalty of sanctions, may no longer land, openly or secretly in any port or unloading dock and may in no way recommence by sea or land within the Empire, under penalty of being arrested and having their goods confiscated, not to speak of other extreme sentences pronounced against our said subjects.
And although we have sent letters to the Emperor, the Electors and other princes of the Empire by express, expressing our opinion about this unjust procedure to be put into force by the said Hanse towns, requesting that the said order be revoked or suspended; but not knowing what will come to pass, we feel it a matter of honour, in the meantime, to order all nationals of the Hanseatic towns of the Empire who are present in our kingdom and in particular those who reside in our city of London, whether in house commonly called the Steelyard or in any other place, to cease any commerce or business and to leave our domains, just as our subjects have received the order to quit the Empire, under penalty of the same sanctions.
And in execution thereof, the mayor of our city of London and the sheriffs shall proceed immediately to the Steelyard, call together the administrators and residents, inform them of our decision and command giving them strict injunctions to leave the kingdom before the 24th of this month - the date on which our merchants must leave Stade - and make known to all the subjects of the Hanseatic towns of the Empire who are within our kingdom that they must leave before the said day.
And you, mayor and sheriffs, together with two of our customs officers, will take possession of the said house on January 24th so that it shall remain sequestered by us until we are informed of more favourable measures on the part of the Emperor, tending to re-establish the tradition trading of our subjects with the Empire.
And this ordinance shall be your mandate for seizing the premises. In testimony whereof we have established these letters patent in our presence on January 13th of the fortieth year of our reign.