The traditional hanseatic days

The tradition of the Hanseatic days © H.-J. Draeger / © BOYENS BUCHVERLAG

By the second half of the 14th century, the towns and cities of the HANSE needed a more formal structure for their organisation, and revised the structure originally set up in the 13th century. The central body in the new organisation was the "Tagfahrt" (convening day), to which delegates were sent by the Hanseatic Towns and Cities to discuss current problems and to negotiate joint resolutions. The usual procedure was for Lübeck, together with Hamburg, Lüneburg, Wismar, Rostock and Stralsund to issue the letters of invitation. The invitations indicated not only the date of the meeting, but also a precise agenda of matters to be discussed, and at the same time called upon the towns and cities invited to send their authorised representatives.

The Hanseatic Days, the highest decision-making council of the Hanseatic League (1356-1669) © H.-J. Draeger / © BOYENS BUCHVERLAG

The Hanseatic Days, the highest decision-making council of the Hanseatic League (1356-1669)

As Lübeck was centrally placed with respect to all the other Hanseatic towns and cities, most of the Conventions were held there - for example 43 out of the 67 Conventions held between 1356 and 1407.

Once the seating arrangements for the delegates had been established in accordance with the ranking of the towns and cities, the Convention was opened. The Mayor of the host city would chair the meeting and give the speakers the floor. Resolutions had to be adopted unanimously, which sometimes proved extremely difficult (no different from today!) in view of the widely differing economic interests of the 50 towns represented.

Decisions at a total of 67 Hanseatic days (1356-1669) were hard to find © H.-J. Draeger / © BOYENS BUCHVERLAG

Unanimous decisions were difficult, decisions were only recommendations

When decisions had to be taken on problems which were not mentioned in the letter of invitation, or which went beyond the scope set out there, the matters had to be discussed first with the Councils and Assemblies of the various home cities. No resolution was then possible until the next Hansa Convention. The decision-making procedure was extremely difficult and cumbersome because of this "ad referendum" procedure, i.e. referral to the home cities, and because of the requirement for unanimity.

The resolutions (known as "settlements") of the Hansa Conventions became valid only on promulgation, i.e. reading out, at the offices and municipal assemblies of the individual towns and cities. Anything that ran counter to the interests of the respective towns and cities was simply left out. This meant that in fact there was very little chance of a "settlement" becoming legally valid in all Hanseatic towns and cities.

More than 400 years of economic supremacy © H.-J. Draeger / © BOYENS BUCHVERLAG

More than 400 years of economic supremacy

Despite these obstacles in the internal organisational structure, the Hanseatic League was a major influence in shaping economic, trading and power policies in Northern Europe from the mid 13th century until the end of the 17th century, and in some areas it was the decisive influence.

The last Hanseatic day in Lübeck in July 1669 with only 9 delegates © H.-J. Draeger / © BOYENS BUCHVERLAG

The end of the Hanseatic Days

In July 1669 the last Hanseatic day took place in Lübeck, with only 9 delegates. Changed economic structures and the barely developed politically power structures were the demise of the Hanseatic League. There was no formal disbandmend. The revival of the modern Hanseatic days took place again from 1980 onwards. For the first time in Zwolle / the Netherlands and since then changed annually in one of the approximately 190 Hanseatic cities.

Hanseatic days of modern times

Several Hanseatic cities present themselves in a multi-day and very colorful festival with art, culture and music. A medieval flair, costumes and parades are guarantor for an open and multicultural Hanseatic destival of modern times.

Video gallery

Experience art and culture in Lüneburg

32nd hanseatic day in Lüneburg

Hanseatic day 2011 in Kaunas