The Hanse of Utrecht, 1251
When merchants of lesser cities united with those of a metropolis like Utrecht, or
when merchants of many cities, such as those on the Rhine, federated for the purpose of
mutual protection and the development of trade in a particular area, then the word
"hanse" assumed its final and larger meaning.
We, the mayor, gild officers, consuls, and officers of the city of Utrecht, in behalf
of the common good, decree that no one may sell a vas of wine or more to any one
who wishes to sell it on tap at Utrecht, except the buyer of that wine be a citizen of
Utrecht, paying tribute and taxes, and subject to the other duties of the city. We also
decree that no one acting in the name of any one who is not a citizen of Utrecht, or in
the employ of the same, may presume to sell wine on tap. Moreover, if any one act contrary
to these laws of ours, he will be held to pay ten pounds as a penalty, or will leave the
city and cease from trading for one year. Moreover he will be guilty of breaking his oath
to us. Again, the merchants of the Rhine, our citizens, approving this action of ours,
agreed among themselves that if any one of them infringe this statute of ours, he should
be deprived of his gild along the Rhine, and he should never recover it except he pay a
penalty of one mark, and no one may do business with him for one year. And if anyone
should do this, he himself would likewise be deprived of his gild and may not recover it
except he give one mark; and if he himself buy wine from Cologne none of the brothers of
the hanse of Utrecht may drink it; but if any one do so and be convicted thereof by two
aldermen, he will lose his hanse.
Given in the year of our Lord 1251, on the feast of St. Lucy the Virgin.
From: C. Gross, The Gild Merchant, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1890), Vol. I, p.
294, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval
Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York:
Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 219-220.
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© Paul Halsall, September 1998