The Hanse and the Danes

From 1201 onwards Denmark ruled the entire Baltic region. This was not a disadvantage for the exchange of goods, and Lübeck developed splendidly. In 1226 the city broke away from the Danish King Valdemar II and threw the Danish representatives out of the castle. It was demolished entirely except the Great Hall.

The Princes of Northern Germany revolted against the territorial demands of the Danish king. On the 22nd of July 1227 there was a battle near Bornhöved, which the Danes lost. Valdemar had to give up his supremacy in the Baltic region and had to withdraw over the river Eider. The County of Holstein and the City of Lübeck were once again part of the Holy Roman Empire. As the battle took place on the Saints Day of Mary Magdalene, they promised to build a monastery if they were successful. In honour of the Saint, the monastery was built in 1229 on the original site of the Danish castle which had been largely demolished.

Waldemar Atterdag

In the year 1361 the Danish King Valdemar IV, “Atterdag”, attacked the Swedish Gotland, massacred the rural population outside the ramparts of Visby and extorted a high ransom from the city. This act of violence provoked resistance from the Hanse.

In 1362 the Hanseatic fleet under the command of Johann Wittenborg, mayor of Lübeck, besieged Helsingborg without success. Valdemar Atterdag gained control of the Hanseatic ships, because Wittenborg had ordered too many troops ashore. The humiliated army had to retreat. The unfortunate commander-in-
chief, the dishonest merchant, was executed in Lübeck.

In 1367 the Hanseatic League struck a second blow against Valdemar Atterdag. At a Hanseatic Diet in Cologne several cities gathered in the so-called Cologne Confederation. Again, a mayor from Lübeck commanded the armed forces. Bruno Warendorp was more successful in besieging Helsingborg, but he later succumbed to his battle injuries.

Climax and decline

With the Peace of Stralsund, in 1370 the Danish King had to accept the triumph of the cities and the hard terms proposed by the citizens. The Hanseatic League was at the height of its power.

In 1425 the Danish King Eric VII implemented stringent customs duties. All ships passing or leaving the Örestrait in the Baltic Sea had to pay customs dues. This action lead to differences which lasted for centuries, especially with the Hanse.