”Ersamen, besunderen guden frunde”. Det hanseatiske kontoret i Bergen som politisk aktør i seinmellomalderen
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”Ersamen besunderen guden frunden” – The Hanseatic Kontor in Bergen as a political actor in the late Middle ages.
This thesis aims to examine the political situation of the Hanseatic Kontor in Bergen both in relation to the Hanseatic League, of which it was a part, and in relation to the Norwegian kingdom, in which it was situated. The examination is limited to the period 1490 – 1510, which coincides with what is generally considered the end of the golden age of the Kontor. From this period, 36 letters from the Kontor are preserved, and these are thoroughly examined for information about the Kontors political activities.
It is concluded that the relationship between the Kontor and the association of merchants trading with Bergen in Lübeck, the so-called Bergenfahrerkompanie, was much closer than has been realized until now. The Bergenfahrerkompanie was at this time practically an integral part of the Kontor. The Kontor participated actively in the Hanseatic diets during this period. It was subordinate to the decisions of these diets, but its envoys also helped shape the decisions made there. In general, the Kontor had a high degree of self-rule.
The thesis shows examples that the Kontor used its court actively as a political tool, in the fight against direct trade with Iceland, a trade that was detrimental to the Kontors interests. In this fight, the Kontor was allied with the Norwegian council of the realm, or Riksråd, against merchants from Hanseatic cities, mainly Hamburg and Bremen but also some from Lübeck, including members of the city council of Lübeck, who conducted direct trade with Iceland with the acceptance of the Danish-Norwegian king.
It is shown that relations between the Kontor and the Norwegian council of the realm in general were much better than previous research has emphasized. The reasons for this are explained by shared interests between the two. Joseph S. Nye jr’s model of hard and soft power, developed for international relations theory, are used in the analysis, and it is shown that the Kontor had soft power in Norway, through controlling an e conomic structure that benefitted Norwegian society enough that Norwegian authorities were more eager to preserve it than risk changing it.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
- History 401