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Institutions of Hanseatic Trade

Studies on the Political Economy of a Medieval Network Organisation

Ulf Christian Ewert and Stephan Selzer

The merchants of the medieval Hanse monopolised trade in the Baltic and North Sea areas. The authors describe the structure of their trade system in terms of network organisation and attempts to explain, on the grounds of institutional economics, the coordination of the merchants’ commercial exchange by reputation, trust and culture. The institutional economics approach also allows for a comprehensive analysis of coordination problems arising between merchants, towns and the ‘Kontore’. Due to the simplicity and flexibility of network trade the Hansards could bridge the huge gap in economic development between the West and the East. In the changing economic conditions around 1500, however, exactly these characteristics proved to be a serious limit to further retain their trade monopoly.


BIC Classifications

  • Humanities (H)
    • History (HB)
      • Regional & national history (HBJ)
        • European history (HBJD)
      • History: earliest times to present day (HBL)
        • Early history: c 500 to c 1450/1500 (HBLC)
  • Society & social sciences (J)
    • Politics & government (JP)
      • Political science & theory (JPA)
  • Economics, finance, business & management (K)
    • Economics (KC)
      • Economic theory & philosophy (KCA)
    • Business & management (KJ)

BISAC Classifications

  • Business & Economics (BUS)
    • BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History (BUS023000)
    • BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Education (BUS024000)
  • History (HIS)
    • HISTORY / Europe / General (HIS010000)
  • Political Science (POL)
    • POLITICAL SCIENCE / Labor & Industrial Relations (POL013000)

THEMA Classifications

  • Society & Social Sciences (J)
    • Politics & government (JP)
      • Political structure & processes (JPH)
  • Economics, Finance, Business & Management (K)
    • Economics (KC)
      • Economic theory & philosophy (KCA)
    • Business & Management (KJ)
  • History & Archaeology (N)
    • History (NH)
      • European history (NHD)
        • European history: the Vikings (NHDE)
        • European history: medieval period, middle ages (NHDJ)
  • Geographical qualifiers (1)
    • Europe (1D)
      • Central Europe (1DF)
        • Germany (1DFG)
      • Northern Europe, Scandinavia (1DN)