Die Reliquien jener grossartigen Bewegung

„Die Recesse und andere Akten der Hansetage“ sowie das „Hansische Urkundenbuch“


  • Carsten Jahnke




Scholarly research on the history of the Hanse rests on two massive pillars: The Recesse und andere Akten der Hansetage (HR) and the Hansisches Urkundenbuch (HUB), in which the sources for the deliberations of the Hanseatic Diet and for Hanseatic commerce respectively are published. However, these two series are artificial creations, which sprung from the mind of their 19th century editors and their mentors. After all, the Hanse was a loose-jointed organisation which never established a central repository for its own documents or systematically collected disparate materials in one place. How, then, did the 19th century editors come to conceive of these two monumental series without anything in the past to guide them? This article investigates the editors’ approach and methods, their criteria of selection and their editing principles. One can only conclude that both series had massive defects, even by the standards of their time. Their editors were clearly guided by the 19th century’s highly politicized historiography. Far from giving a balanced, representative view of the Hanseatic past, they are disturbingly skewed, clearly intended to mould the published record to fit the political agenda of their times. This fact, little noticed by subsequent historians, has had far-reaching consequences for scholarly endeavors up to the present day.