England’s First Attempt to Break the Commercial Monopoly of the Hanseatic League, 1377-1380

Hanseatic Cities
Hanseatic Cities
Hanseatic Cities

England’s First Attempt to Break the Commercial Monopoly of the Hanseatic League, 1377-1380

Hyman Palais

The American Historical Review: Vol. 64, No. 4 (Jul., 1959), pp. 852-865


During the second half of the fourteenth century English traders first seriously threatened the Hanseatic League’s commercial monopoly in the Baltic. The League, attempting to defendits monopoly, treated the English unjustly,where upon in 1377 the English Parliament rescinded the charter that granted the League important concessions and privileges in its English trade. Parliament refused to return the charter until English merchants received the same rights to trade in the districts of the Hanse that it enjoyed in England.

Finally, in 1380,the Hanse agreed to the English proposal and the charter was returned to them. Throughout the greater part of the Middle Ages, nearly all of Engand’s foreign trade was in the hands of merchants from other countries, particularly Italy, the Low Countries and the Hanse towns. The king, Parliament, and even the English merchants acknowledged the usefulness of foreign merchants to the realm and encouragedthem as importersand exportersin order to profit from them politically and financially. In return for their valuable services alien merchants received many important privileges and concessions.” German merchants were among the most favoredof all the foreigners in England. As early as the ninth century, merchants of Cologne were mentioned as living in Dowgate and already complaining against interference with their privileges. Successive English kings confirmed their privileges and granted many new concessions.

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