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Adventures far from home: Hanseatic trade with the Faroe Islands

Adventures far from home: Hanseatic trade with the Faroe Islands

Arge, Símun V. and Mehler, Natascha

ACROSS THE NORTH SEA: Later Historical Archaeology in Britain and Denmark, c. 1500-2000 AD, University of southern Denmark studies in history and social sciences vol. 444 (2012)

Abstract

The hanseatic league was the major economic force in northern europe in the late middle Ages. however, during the second half of the 15th century its power progressively declined, and at the beginning of the 16th century the league found itself in a weaker position than it had ever known. One of the reasons for this was that some individual cities of the league had started to put self-interest before their common hanse interests and they started to trade with foreign nations on their own. It was now the north Atlantic islands that came into their focus (Dollinger 1998, 364 ff.), and Iceland and Shetland experienced considerable trade with german merchants. however, little is known about the role of the Faroe Islands, located roughly between Iceland and Shetland, within the hanse network.

Trade with the north Atlantic islands had previously been prohibited: from 1284 onwards merchants were banned from trading with other sites north of Bergen, their main staple port for the north and home of one of their four Kontors (major hanseatic enclaves in non-hanseatic cities, controlling hanseatic trade within their region), and this ban included Iceland, Shetland and also the Faroe Islands. But at the end of the middle Ages, german traders went north and the Faroe Islands took up a special role due to their location.

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