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During this work in progress session, Ester Zoomer and Christian Manger will respectively present papers on disputes between merchants working in different early modern European cities and urban councils and their efforts to balance several legal and political identities when faced with the interurban disputes of their burghers. All are welcome to attend.

Event details of Councils and Kontore: Managing Hanseatic Conflicts from London to Tallinn in the Late Middle Ages
Date 17 June 2021
Time 15:30 -16:30

Conflicts involving the transregional network of the Hanseatic cities and traders were often entangled on different levels of politics, diplomacy and law. A dispute between individual merchants could escalate beyond the boundaries of one local market and involve multiple cities and their rulers in the Hanseatic region and abroad. Vice versa, a diplomatic clash between rulers could impact the mercantile relations within a single city. Hanseatic disputes crossed borders, from their own cities to the trading posts (Kontore) they had established in the major European commercial centers, and from politics between neighboring cities to declarations of war against kings and nobles. Due to the overlapping and connected levels of these conflicts, a neat resolution was often not feasible – or even in the interest of conflict parties. Strategies of escalation, de-escalation, provocation and maintaining the status quo were just as important as attempts to solve problems altogether.

In order to analyze these strategies, Ester Zoomer and Christian Manger will turn our attention to the actors and institutions applying them throughout cities all over late medieval Northern Europe, from London to Tallinn. In the first paper, Zoomer will focus on merchants seeking justice and Kontore officials attempting to contain disputes at their trading location. As ‘conflict managers’ these actors took on the temporary role of diplomats, added their own expertise and knowledge to specific events and built forth on existing ideas of the Hanseatic common good and shared burdens. In the second paper, Manger will turn to the urban councils and their efforts to balance several legal and political identities when faced with the interurban disputes of their burghers. At the same time responsible to represent their subjects externally, to act in solidarity towards their fellow Hanseatic partners, and beholden to the jurisdiction of the Holy Roman Emperor, these councils employed tactics centred around the Hanseatic ideal of reciprocity.