Charlotte Ruys - Janssen
Translation Ton Janssen
Roermond, being an important market town on the river Maas was the first
city in Limburg to join the Hanze. The Hanze was a community of travelling
tradesmen, from the 13th century, which developed into a community of
Originally only Baltic cities but soon joined by others to become a
powerful group. They convened regularly to take important decisions
in order to protect their mutual interests: the “Stapelrecht”
a privilege under which non-resident merchants were forced to offer
all of their wares for sale for a certain period in the city or pay
a fine or tax. Originally conceived to ensure the supply of goods to
the city's residents, it afforded the Roermond tradesmen the very profitable
opportunity to act as middlemen.
Weaponry, salt, beer, wine, coal and cloth was transported to the East
and hide, fur, wax, honey, herring and wood was brought in return.
In their hey-day the Hanze counted more than 200 members! Not only did
the Hanseatic towns prosper but their connections also lead to a cultural,
architectural and philosophical exchange. Which manifested itself in
important buildings, trading corporations and town walls. These cities
attracted painters, architects, poets and philosophers who were responsible
for a cultural and artistic flourishing period.
The Joining of Roermond:
It is not clear when exactly Roermond joined the Hanze. It requests
membership in a document dated September 24th, 1437, but according to
experts this concerns a renewal. Roermond trades with numerous Hanze
towns long before 1437. In documents of the Hanze conventions Roermond
is mentioned as a participant for the first time in 1441. This is taken
by some as the official year of joining; however the fact remains that
Roermond is doing business with other Hanseatic towns already in the
early middle-ages. It was famous for its cloth and an important transfer
port for many products from Dinant, Liège and Namur.
The decline of the Hanze started with rise of the national and territorial
economies which left no room for a supra-regional trading community.
The last Hanze convention was held in Lübeck in 1669.
Today the Hanze are alive! The towns that formed the original Hanze
are reunited again and Roermond is a member. The emphasis is on cultural
exchange and making citizens aware of the Hanze history of their cities.
Fraternization across borders: a new kind of peace movement in Europe.