History of the Germans

Ep. 110 - Livonian Cities - Riga, Reval/Tallinn, Dorpat/Taru, Narva

June 29, 2023

“In the monastery of Segeberg there was a man of worthy life, and with venerable gray hair, Meinhard by name, a priest of the Order of Saint Augustine. He came to Livonia with a band of merchants simply for the sake of Christ and only to preach. For German merchants, bound together through familiarity with the Livonians, were accustomed to go to Livonia, frequently sailing up the Daugava River.”

So begins the chronicle of Henry of Livonia, a German missionary who tells about the foundation of the bishopric and city of Riga, the conversion of the pagan population of what is today Latvia and Estonia, and the cruel antics of the Livonian brotherhood of the sword.

In this episode we will touch upon the Livonian Sword brothers and we take a first glimpse at the Teutonic knights, but this is the history of the Hanseatic League and so what we really focus on are the merchants, specifically the merchants from the “Society of German merchants who frequently travel to Gotland”, the Gotlandfahrer who we have met last week.

Because the tale we hear today adds the other important streak to the structure of the Hanseatic League, its willingness to use military force in the pursuit of profits.

The music for the show is Flute Sonata in E-flat major, H.545 by Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach (or some claim it as BWV 1031 Johann Sebastian Bach) performed and arranged by Michel Rondeau under Common Creative Licence 3.0.

As always:

Homepage with maps, photos, transcripts and blog: Episode 110 - Livonian Cities • History of the Germans Podcast

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For this episode I relied heavily on:

Philippe Dollinger: Die Hanse

Die Hanse, Lebenswirklichkeit und Mythos, htsg. von Jürgen Bracker, Volker Henn und Rainer Postel

Rolf Hammel-Kieslow: Die Hanse

Eric Christiansen: The Nordic Crusades

And since we are at it, I came across a really interesting article about the trade in beeswax in the Middle Ages by Dr. Alexandra Sapoznik titled “Bees in the medieval economy”. I have put a link in the transcript that you can find on the History of the Germans Website. A bit niche and geeky but quite fascinating: Bees in the medieval world: economic, environmental and cultural perspectives - King's College London (kcl.ac.uk)

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