Hanseatic League  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Hanseatic League (also known as the Hanse or Hansa; Middle Low German: Hanse, Deutsche Hanse, Template:Lang-la or Template:Lang) was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and their market towns. Growing from a few North German towns in the late 1100s, the league came to dominate Baltic maritime trade for three centuries along the coast of Northern Europe. It stretched from the Baltic to the North Sea and inland during the Late Middle Ages and early modern period (c. 15th to 19th centuries). Hanse, later spelled as Hansa, was the Middle Low German word for a convoy, and this word was applied to bands of merchants traveling between the Hanseatic cities whether by land or by sea.

The league was created to protect the guilds' economic interests and diplomatic privileges in their affiliated cities and countries, as well as along the trade routes the merchants visited. The Hanseatic cities had their own legal system and furnished their own armies for mutual protection and aid. Despite this, the organization was not a state, nor could it be called a confederation of city-states; only a very small number of the cities within the league enjoyed autonomy and liberties comparable to those of a free imperial city.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hanseatic League" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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