Die Städte an Zuiderzee und IJssel auf den Hansetagen


  • Volker Henn




This article deals with the representation of the towns along the southern and eastern coasts of the former Zuiderzee and the River IJssel at the Hanseatic Diets between 1367, when Harderwijk, Elburg, and Kampen first attended, and 1507. Out of 102 assemblies in that period the Zuiderzee and IJssel towns’ delegates took part in 57. Unluckily, the extant sources provide little information on the course of the debates and the influence the councillors from the Zuiderzee and IJsseltowns might have exerted on the deliberations. Better documented are the numerous regional Diets which were held in order to prepare for the general gatherings. These regional meetings were convened in order to sound out the opinions of the regional Hanse towns and to decide on practical courses of action. This regional co-operation attained formal recognition when in 1447 a Tohopesate (a military alliance of Hanse towns) was signed, one which created an entirely new Hanseatic Quarter, uniting towns from the eastern Netherlands, the Rhine region and Westphalia, with Deventer and Nimwegen (Nijmegen) as conveners. Since taking part in the Hanseatic Diets and influencing its decisions was predicated on being a member of the Hanse, the exact status of Zwolle and Kampen is a crucial question, since both formally applied for ‘readmission’ to the Hanse in the first half of the 15th century. However, ‘readmission’ is a misleading term, since Zwolle and Kampen had long been part of the Hanse. It would seem that they were interested in a merely formal acknowledgement of their membership, even if their reasons are difficult to fathom. In the case of Kampen trade in Bergen might have been a factor. More importantly, these re-admissions to the Hanse occurred at a time when the towns of Holland were beginning to disengage from the Hanse and emerge as its competitors. This forced the Zuiderzee and IJssel towns to take sides. They managed to remain in favour with the Hanse, without breaking off commercial relations with Holland. This turned out rather well for the Hanse in general and for the towns. Thus, the Zuiderzee- and IJsseltowns functioned as a hinge (Bert Looper) between Holland and the Hanse. Once again, we see that the interplay of regional independence and common solidarity was an essential characteristic of the Hanse.