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Hanseatic League The Hanseatic League was not so much a league of cities as it was a league of merchant associations within the cities of Northern Germany and the Baltic Trade in the middle ages was a dangerous and risky business and the only way for merchants to protect themselves was by travelling together This banding together of merchants on the road led to their alliances at home as well The Hansa was founded in the twelfth century by an alliance between the northern towns of Hamburg and Luebeck which lay on opposite sides of the base of the Danish peninsula Luebeck was in a position to capitalize on a large commodities market in herring but one thing held Luebeck back With no refrigeration or canning the shipping of a highly perishable commodity like fish was problematic Hamburg on the other side of the Jutland peninsula had easy access to the salt produced in the salt mines at Kiel and salting and drying of meat and fish made transport and distribution possible It was in the interest then for the merchants of these two towns to open trade along the canal that was made between them a canal which came to be known as the Kiel canal because Kiel was the source of the salt that travelled through it While each city had its own merchant association the alliance formed a loose Diet or parliament to govern inter-city trade and common policies In most respects the policy of the merchants was protectionist and aimed at producing a German monopoly in the markets they supplied There was a Rhennish third based on the Rhine trade a Wendish third based on Baltic shipping out of Luebeck and a Prussian third based on the trade of grain from the lands of the Teutonic Order Almost all trade to the Baltic either coming or going went through the port of Luebeck The cargos in the port of Luebeck consisted
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