Der Reishandel im Hanseraum
The rice trade in the Hanseatic Area
On the cusp of the 14th century, rice (starting from a low base) became increasingly important in Hanseatic trade. Even though rice was considered to be a luxury good, prized as a thickener for almond-puddings and as a dish in the Lenten-fare, all Hanseatic merchants were acquainted with it. In the following article, we discuss six aspects of the medieval rice trade in Northern Europe. First, we analyze historical and archaeological sources for evidence of rice. Second, we discuss the use of rice in medieval cuisine, and trace the origins of the rice traded in the Middle Ages. As a fourth and fifth point, we describe the trading routes by which rice entered and circulated within the Hanseatic realm, and determine the quantities of rice imported. Finally, we discuss prices, analyzing specific examples of merchants trading in this product. The intention of this article is to draw attention to the archaeobotanical and historical sources which demonstrate that rice was a Hanseatic commodity.