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Perspectives . . .                                            Exploring the Hanseatic League



                                                                      by Martin Ederer            those  things.    And  that  suited  the power  under  the  Våsa  Dynasty  by
      Beginning of the end,                                            efore  the  British  Common- local nobility just fine. They had the the  1600s.  The  short  form  with
                                                                    Bwealth and before the Europe- real power. Similarly, the concept of much of this was that national mon-
      or end of the beginning?                                      an Union, there was the Hanseatic German (or any other kind of) na- archies  had  become  powerful
                                                                    League. A lot of us have probably tionalism (aggressive or otherwise) enough in their own right to set up
                                                                    come across the name before. Peo- had  not  been  invented  yet.  People their  own  economic  systems  and
         by Martin Ederer                                           ple who travel in Germany usually only knew that there were different trade networks so that more money
            hat’s left to write except a few aphorisms? We’re tired of COVID,  find out that some northern city they languages and customs, and usually came directly into royal coffers and
      Wwe’re tired of politics, and we’re tired of the chaos and the deception  are  visiting  is  a  Hansastadt.  It preferred their own simply because not into the pockets of middlemen.
      on all sides. How about a few aphorisms to cheer us up or to at least make  sounds really impressive, but what they were familiar and made sense.  The  combination  of  both  eco-
      us think? Mortimer Adler made the unflattering observation that aphorisms  was the Hansa all about?  The origins of the Hansa trace nomic  competition  and  political
      amount to hit-and-run philosophy. But for those of us who lack the time for  Long story short, it was a north- back to a number of cities already hostility gradually eroded the power
      careful  reflection,  they  do  serve  their  purpose.  Reflect  on  them  with  a  ern trade consortium assembled by well-established as trading centers. of the Hanseatic League. Then the
      beer…  and  as  my  father  always  reminded  me,  things  could  always  be  a few German cities around 1100. It These  included  Lübeck  and  other Swedish War of Liberation (1521-
      worse.                                                        eventually grew into a trading em- places  that  weren’t  even  German: 1523),  the  Northern  Seven  Years
         • Common sense isn’t as common as we like to think. (Rupert Ederer)  pire  and  military  alliance  encom- Visby  (Gotland  in  Sweden)  and War  (1563-1570)  and  the  Thirty
         • Always do right. This will gratify some and astound the rest. (Mark  passing  some  200  cities  that Novgorod in Russia. The growth of Years War broke its back. A much-
      Twain)                                                        dominated both the North Sea Basin the  Hanseatic  League  actually diminished  Hansa  did  manage  to
         • The devil is in the details, and the devil never sleeps. (my own mashup  and  the  Baltic  Sea  Basin.  Think marked a gradual takeover of exist- limp  on  until  1862.  By  that  time
      of a favorite American saying and a favorite Tirolese saying)  mashup of the European Union and ing Scandinavian trade networks by only three cities still claimed mem-
         • Even a broken clock is right twice a day. (Polish saying)  NATO, and you get the idea.  German merchants and traders.  bership: Lübeck, Hamburg and Bre-
         • The problem isn’t people who are all wrong. The problem is all the  In many respects the Hanseatic  Major  trade  commodities  were men.
      people who are only partially right – and that allows infinite variations.  League  mirrored  the  expansion  of timber, wax, amber, resins, fur, rye  Still  the  concept  has  lived  on:
         • If truth does not exist, how can even THAT statement be true?  German  settlement  eastward.  As and wheat. Much of the Hanseatic There’s  a  reason  why  the  flagship
         • You find out what people are really like when money is involved.  ominous as that may sound to those system  was  formed  and  driven  by German airline is named Lufthansa.
      (Rupert Ederer)                                               of us living on the other side of the merchant guilds attempting to set up  The  following  list  of  member
         •  Allow  people  the  same  benefit  of  the  doubt  that  you’d  hope  for  20th  century,  bear  in  mind  that  in a  secure  (and  free?)  trade  system cities of the Hanseatic League in its
      someone to allow you.                                         the Middle Ages “Germany” mainly among  themselves  in  their  respec- heyday tells much about the reach
         • In view of the fact that God limited the intelligence of man, it seems  was a region and “Germans” were tive  cities.  The  “system”  was  for- of  the  Hanseatic  League  across
      unfair that He did not also limit his stupidity. (Konrad Adenauer)  any  number  of  peoples  subject  to malized into the Hanseatic League much of northern Europe. Included
         • If a society sees to the quality of people, it’ll worry less about their  any  number  of  rulers  who  mainly in the mid-1200s.  in parentheses is the current politi-
      quantity. (Paraphrase of Heinrich Pesch)                      wanted neighboring rulers to leave  First  specific  mention  of  some cal location of the cities (unless still
         • Keep calm and carry on. (British Ministry of Information, 1939)  them alone.           sort of system and structure appears in Germany).
         • Rise, let us be on our way. (Pope John Paul II)            As impressive as the title of Ger- in  a  document  from  1267.  It  also  Lübeck
                                                                    man “Holy Roman Emperor” might bears  mention  that  the  Hanseatic  Hamburg
                                                                    have  sounded,  the  emperors  –  as League  generally  did  not  rule  its  Lüneburg
                                                                    Voltaire  observed  –  were  none  of cities. In the case of free cities, po-  Wismar
                                                                                                  litical  leadership  remained  in  the  Rostock
      Germany – Country of Innovation                                                             hands of the citizens or local guilds,  Stralsund
         Biontech und Pfizer beantragen Zulassung von Corona-Impfstoff.                           imperial cities answered to the Holy  Demmin
                                                                                                  Roman Emperors, and the rest an-  Greifswald
         by  German  Federal  Research tion by 2025. We already achieved an immediately at the beginning of the  swered to their local rulers.  Anklam
      Minister Anja Karliczek        R&D  expenditure  of  3.13%  of  our COVID-19 pandemic.         But,  suffice  it  to  say  that  the  Pasewalk
          he first vaccine approved by the GDP  in  2018.  In  that  year,  govern-  In  2007,  BioNTech  benefited  power, wealth and the influence of  Braunschweig
      TU.S. and other countries against ment and industry combined invested from  the  GO-Bio  biotechnology  the Hansa gave it significant infor-  Bremen
      COVID-19  was  developed  by  the 105 billion euros in research and de- funding initiative of the German Fed-  mal political, economic, diplomatic  Magdeburg
      German company BioNTech in coop- velopment – more than ever before! eral Research Ministry that supports  (and  sometimes  military)  power.  Goslar
      eration with the U.S. company Pfizer, And we have seen an increase in the life  science  researchers  planning  to  However,  at  its  heart,  the  Hansa  Erfurt
      the  result  of  combining  forces  and number of people working in research start their own company. The goal of  was  about  trade,  shipbuilding,  ex-  Stade
      resources  across  continents  that and  development  to  more  than BioNTech’s project then was to de-  pansion into new markets – and of-  Berlin
      showcases Germany as a country of 700,000  as  of  2018,  representing  a velop optimized RNA-based vaccines  ten  enough  fighting  paganism  and  Frankfurt an der Oder
      innovation.                    rise of 45% in just twelve years.  for  cancer  immunotherapy.  Before  piracy.                Cologne
         In a year that has been more than  Germany  is  a  global  leader  in long,  BioNTech  went  on  to  benefit
      challenging  for  all  of  us,  this  is  the many  future  technologies,  including from another funding initiative of our  The  Hansa  governed  itself  by  Dortmund
      best  news  so  far:  the  U.S.  and  an in  areas  such  as  industrial  applica- ministry,  the  Leading-Edge  Cluster  consensus  of  its  member  envoys  Münster
      increasing number of other countries tions of AI, sensors, batteries, quan- Competition  (Spitzencluster-Wettbe-  who met as needed in its own “par-  Osnabrück
      have  approved  the  first  vaccine tum technology, digital medicine and werb), as part of a prize-winning clus-  liament,” the Hansetag. In 1356, the  Soest
      against  the  novel  coronavirus  that climate  technologies.  In  the  current ter  for  individualized  immune  Hansa was divided into administra-
      causes  COVID-19.  And  Europe  is pandemic,  it  was  the  Berlin-based intervention.  Headed  by  researchers  tive  Drittel,  or  thirds.  In  1554  the  Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland)
      expected to follow soon. As German professor Christian Drosten, who de- Dr Özlem Türeci and Prof. Ugur Sa-  Hansa was restructured in Quartier,  Kolberg (now Kołobrzeg, PL)
      Minister for Education and Research, livered the PCR test that continues to hin,  BioNTech  was  thus  truly  well  or  quarters.  But  by  that  time,  the  Rügenwalde (now
      I shared the enthusiasm of so many of be the best test available for coronavi- positioned  to  develop  a  vaccine  glory days of the Hansa were num-  Darłowo, PL)
      my  countrymen  about  the  develop- rus  infection,  making  it  possible  to against COVID-19.  bered. Many cities were considered  Stolp (now Słupsk, PL)
      ment of this vaccine by the German take  effective  measures  to  curb  the  Our  ministry  co-funded  the  re-  Hansa members. Branch offices in  Danzig (Gdańsk, PL)
      company  BioNTech  in  cooperation spread of the pandemic.    search that led to the development of  other places that wished to do busi-  Elbing (Elbląg, PL)
      with the U.S. company Pfizer.     We  have  a  vision  in  Germany. the  vaccine  with  a  funding  pro-  ness with the Hansa bore the name  Thorn (Toruń, PL)
         This  is  a  truly  remarkable Like  the  other  European  countries, gramme of unprecedented scale and  of Kontor.        Kraków (always Polish!)
      achievement for two reasons: the vac- we  are  currently  setting  the  future scope.  A  total  of  750  million  euros  Factors that began to weaken the  Breslau (now Wrocław, PL)
      cine is the result of international co- course for our society and the econo- are being made available in 2020 and  Hansa included Russia’s resurgence
      operation  in  science  combined  with my. Our primary focus is to increase 2021 to support the vaccine develop-  under  Ivan  III  that  ended  Russian  Visby (Sweden)
      the  pooling  of  forces  and  resources our  prosperity  while,  at  the  same ment work of three German compa-  traders’  alliances  with  the  Hansa  Stockholm (Sweden)
      across continents. This should be the time,  delivering  on  the  United  Na- nies  –  BioNTech  situated  in  Mainz,  after  Russia’s  struggles  with  the
      “new normal”.                  tions’   Sustainable   Development CureVac  in  Tübingen  and  Dessau-  Tartar-Mongols  had  ended.  But  Königsberg
         Only  if  we  stand  shoulder  to Goals and climate targets in particu- based  IDT.  The  primary  purpose  of  probably the biggest factor was the  (now Kaliningrad, Russia)
      shoulder can we tackle the challenges lar.                    this funding is to boost the scale-up of  Protestant Reformation and its polit-
      facing  humankind.  Moreover,  this  For decades, we have been talk- development and production capacity  ical aftermath, which convinced lo-  Riga (Latvia)
      breakthrough  shows  the  outstanding ing  about  reconciling  economic in Germany, and to increase the num-  cal governments to tighten their grip
      ability  of  Germany  as  a  country  of growth  with  environmental  protec- ber  of  participants  in  clinical  trials.
      innovation – with researchers in the tion. Now, the time has come for us to This enables a more reliable forecast  on their people in order to enforce  Reval (Talinn, Estonia)
      key role at all times, of course.  finally walk the talk. This will be the of  the  vaccine  efficacy  in  particular  religious and cultural uniformity.  Dorpat (Tartu, Estonia)
         BioNTech is yet another example central  topic  for  the  coming  years. groups  such  as  the  elderly  already  Many  of  these  dynamics  were
      of Germany’s broad science and in- For our future. And we are achieving during the experimental trial phase.  what  eventually  fueled  the  growth  Deventer (Netherlands)
      novation  landscape.  Germany  has this  through  innovation  on  a  broad  The  story  of  BioNTech  is  even  of  absolutist  political  theories  and  Kampen (NL)
      long been one of the most innovative scale.  Particularly,  by  pushing  for more  special  because  the  founding  practices. The Protestant Reforma-  Groningen (NL)
      countries in the world. We have many green hydrogen as future energy car- couple,  Drs  Türeci  and  Sahin,  both  tion  also  helped  to  fuel  Scandina-
      talented  people  brimming  with  cre- rier  and  way  to  avoid  carbon  emis- have immigrated to Germany. In Ger-  vian  nation-  (and  monarchy-)  Kontor/branch offices
      ativity and bold transformative ideas. sions in heavy industry.  many, people from all walks of life  building  as  Sweden  and  Norway  Novgorod (Russia)
      Across Germany, established compa-  Our  success  will  depend  in  no and origins can put down their roots  fought to free themselves from the  Bergen (Norway)
      nies,  start-ups,  research  institutions, small part on comprehensive govern- and be successful in life. Germany is  Danish-dominated  Union  of  Kal-  Bruges (Flanders/Belgium)
      universities and schools are generat- ment  funding  for  fundamental  and a country that is open to the world.  mar.         Antwerp (Brabant/Belgium)
      ing new ideas, technologies, products applied  research.  BioNTech  is  a We are happy to welcome motivated  As part of these Reformation-era  London (Hansa had
      and services that will help us increase prime  example  in  this  context.  Past and ambitious people ,who come to  religious  and  political  dynamics,  a steelyard here)
      our quality of life and make progress. and sustained support of the Federal Germany to expand their knowledge  Dutch traders once part of the Han-  Bishop’s Lynn, England
         The  numbers  speak  for  them- Research  Ministry  put  BioNTech  in and play an active role in our science  sa struck out on their own, and the  Ipswich, England
      selves: Germany is well on its way to such  an  excellent  position  to  start and  business  community.  We  are  English  tried  to  create  economic  Malmö (Sweden)
      achieving the target of spending 3.5% developing an mRNA-based vaccine continuously  working  to  attract  the  monopolies  (and  competition)  of  Kaunas (Lithuania)
      of its GDP on research and innova-                            brightest minds to Germany – a coun-  their own. Then there was the mete-  Pskov (Russia)
                                                                    try of innovation, which has its eyes  oric rise of Sweden as a major world  Polotsk (Belarus)
                                                                    on the future.
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