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Medieval Sourcebook:
Waldemar the Victorious of Denmark:
Grant of Market Privileges to Men of Lübeck, 1203

Waldemar the Victorious, King of Denmark, who controlled much of the Baltic lands by reason of his conquests, was able to grant privileges in southern Sweden, the center of the herring trade, to Lübeck, since Scania formed a part of the Danish dominions. Thus the trade of Lübeck expanded in the direction of the North Sea as well as in other directions.

In ancient times King Waldemar granted to the city of Lübeck that its citizens could, and should, at the markets at Skanör and Falsterbo, sell their wares, retail and wholesale, and buy whatever might be found for sale there. Also that they elect there any advocate they choose to judge all offenses and faults except those of "hand and neck": and so this law has been faithfully observed throughout the past up to the present day except for bla and blot, and this is beyond the jurisdiction of the citizens, and of those who live by the law of the city. But everyone must give lawful thelony to the officials of the lord King: they can sell cloth by the cubit; they can, also, sell other things by weight, both besemer and punder and this for the reason that the said King granted that such liberties should be observed in their free markets.

Our goods are unvorvaren to reasonable thelony until the first cart, carrying goods to the ship, is in the water.

If the officials of the King place the blame (for anything) upon any of our citizens, the citizen ought to purge himself on the testimony of our citizens, and not on that of others.

The heirs of any of our citizens dying here may take his goods, if they are here; if not, our advocate and worthy citizens may take them and give them to the heirs: in this the advocate of the King shall have no jurisdiction.

If any one take goods ashore here to sell, he ought not to give thelony for such goods if he has a stall, a ship, a hudeuat or mattan in the market here.

There ought not to be any Woltforinghe here, except for violence done to women, or binding the hands to the back where it is not strong (in the small of the back), or binding of any one behind closed doors, without process of law, or right, or reason.

Whatever ship comes ashore the men will lawfully unload it when they come.

Whatever any one buys here he ought to take away freely, and he ought not to be prevented in this.

On the Sunday before Michaelmas nine denarii are given as thelony, and not before that date.

No one ought to stay in our fishing villages unless our advocate and our citizens are willing.

We have no inn for selling beer in the village, but we can give it for money by amphora.

If we present a thief with the thing stolen to the King's advocate, whether he is bound or not, we do not err in this.

If our citizen buy a beast of burden in daylight, and it were stolen perhaps, he incurs no blame as purchaser (because he was ignorant of the theft) if he should meet him from whom it was stolen and be willing to restore it.

Everyone having a stall here may bequeath it to his heirs provided he satisfies the King concerning the place.


From: G. F. Sartorius, ed., Urkundliche Geschichte des Ursprunges der Deutschen Hanse, J. M. Lappenberg, rev., (Hamburg, 1830), Vol. II, p. 12; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, eds., A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 223-224.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, October 1998


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