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On the trail of the Hanseatic League

In the middle of the 13th century German merchants formed a union to enforce their economic interests and improve trade relations with foreign cities. At its peak the Hanseatic League comprised up to 225 towns and cities and some of the big kontors of the North and Baltic Sea region. Even though Neuss was not an official member of the Hanseatic League it was given the “Hansa Privilege” by Kaiser Friedrich III in 1475, after the successfully fended siege of Charles the Bold. This privilege said that Neuss should “benefit from the same honour, dignity, advantage, privilege and justice” as all the other Hanseatic cities. Even though Neuss didn’t participate in any of the Hanseatic Days – the last took place in 1669 – the “Hansa Privilege” increased the city’s confidence and since trade with the Netherlands, the North German cities and the Baltic countries went well, Neuss didn’t necessarily depend on the Hansa to maintain its trade relations. For more than 400 years the Hansa has shaped economy, trade and politics of the Hanseatic cities until it lost its significance in the middle of the 17th


The tradition of foreign trade relations comes to life again as Neuss is invited to the Dutch city of Zwolle in 1980 to take part in the foundation of a new league, the “New Hansa”. The main goal of this league was to maintain the Hanseatic spirit as a community of life and culture that is to contribute to the economic, cultural, social and political unification of its European member cities. In 1984 Neuss hosted the International Hanseatic Day for the first time, as part of the city’s 2000-year-anniversary. Today, in 2022, Neuss will be hosting the event for the second time, welcoming delegates, creative artists, business representatives and merchants from 16 countries. In this way Neuss pays tribute to its historic roots and Hanseatic trade relations.

The ”New Hanseatic League” comprises 195 member cities from 16 countries. This makes it one of the biggest voluntary municipal communities in the world, focusing on reviving old cooperations between cities and strengthening the awareness of its Hanseatic past.

The Rhenish Hanseatic League

In 2009 the mayors of the Rhenish cities of Kalkar, Wesel, Emmerich and Neuss signed a deed on the grounds of the old customs port in Neuss: The Rhenish Hanseatic League was founded. This league’s aim is to increase the awareness and consciousness of the Hansa, its past and present values in their home country. The four Hanseatic cities will present themselves together at the International Hanseatic Day which annually takes place in a different city of Europe.

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