Hansa - north German former land, Prussian and Livonian cities’ trade and political union, founded in 1280, in Lübeck. In XV century it owned about 160 cities from 10 countries. If translate from the German language, word „Hanse” means „group”, „union”.
This, on economic bases set up organization, actually was performing until XVII century. In the middle ages such trading-political union was necessary to protect land against unexpected military assaults by the Vikings, as well from the potential piracy. North Germany towns due to this union fast become the dominant economic force in Baltic Sea region and Lübeck – trading center, which was joining Baltic and Scandinavian countries.
Hansa’s cities - Danzig, Kaliningrad, and Riga (from 1282 year) maintained close economic relations with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (LDK). Activities of Hansa residences in Lithuania especially prospered in the middle of fifteenth century, when in 1445 year, in Kaunas, at current moment in Thunder's home was established Hansa merchants’ office- branch, which almost an all century, was the most important trade transit point for Lithuania. The largest Hansa’s union branches were located in Bruges, Berlin, London and Novgorod.
Hansa’s representatives controlled foreign merchants, brokered between the Hansa’s and the local merchants.By Hansa trade routes to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (LDK) were transported Rhine and French wine, English and the Flemish baize, Flamish and Pareine iron works, and from Sweden, Russian lands, Livonian, Lithuanian and Prussian - furs, wax, flax, hemp, corn, wood, iron and copper brown, fish. Hansa’s trading monopoly constrained LDK merchants’ activities. In order to reduce the impact of the union, the Grand Duke Vytautas was inviting to LDK Moscow, Genoa, and Tatar merchants, but it was impossible to withstand the competition from Hansa merchants’ side.
The heritage of Hansa
At this moment New Hansa cities’ union connects 163 towns from 15 countries. Present Hansa’s office is located in Lübeck. Even until the present day’s greater part of the North Germany cities, for example, Bremen, Hamburg, by the same Lübeck, Anklam, Demmin, Rostock, Stralsund, Wismar, Greifswald in their official names use Hansa name. Hamburg calls itself as “Free and Hansa’s Hamburg” (in German “Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg“), Bremen just „Hansa city“ (in German (Hansestadt Bremen). Even car registration numbers in those cities begin from the letter „H“, for example, HH - Hansestadt Hamburg, HB – Hansestadt Bremen, HGW – in Greifsvald, HRO – in Rostok. It is also interesting that Rostok urban football club is called “Hansa”. In Netherlands was mentioned Hansa’s establishment 700 year anniversary. Hansa’s days are celebrating each year in one of the organization belonging town. Kaunas is the only Lithuanian town, from 1992 year, belonging to this union. In 2011 year, in Kaunas was held international Hansa cities union’s festival “Hansa’s days”.