The Hanseatic League and European Cooperation

As a consequence of the monopoly that Lüneburg had for many years as a supplier of salt, it very quickly became a member of the Hanseatic League. The League was formed in 1158 in Lübeckn intially as a union of individual merchants, but in 1356 it met as a federation of trading towns. Lüneburg’s salt was needed in order to pickle the Herring caught in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. The Scania Market at Scania in Sweden was a major fish market for herring and became one of the most important trade events in Northern Europe during this period. Lüneburg’s salt was in great demand and the town quickly became one of the wealthiest and most important towns in the Hanseatic League, together with Bergen, Visby and Lübeck. This European trade organisation functioned remarkably well, without a political union and without a single currency. The exhibition in the Ostpreußen Landesmuseum in Lüneburg shows centuries of close European political and trading contacts between seven of today’s European northern countries, united in the Hanseatic League. Two hundred objects from 40 museums tell the story of the astonishing mobility of people, transport of goods, sea voyages, trade, diplomacy, art, social life, marriage, dynasties, architecture and languages. The medieval people managed rather well to bridge the cultural and physical gaps, may even better than today’s European.