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Medieval Sourcebook:
Coinage Agreement Between Hamburg and Lübeck, 1255

As early as the twelfth century Lübeck had a large Baltic commerce and had entered into an agreement with Hamburg. The advantages of a common coinage system and of cooperation rather than competition were perceived at an early date and out of such arrangements with other cities Lübeck, which was at one time the metropolitan capital of the Hanseatic League, organized the Baltic and North Sea trade.

To all the faithful of Christ to whom these presents shall come, the Advocate, Council, and Citizens of Hamburg give joy and greetings in the Author of Salvation.

We wish it to be known to all people, that for the honor and true love we have for them, we have agreed with and allied with our beloved friends, the citizens of Lübeck, that the new denarii which are now being struck in our city, and in Lübeck likewise, ought to weigh thirty-nine solidi less two denarii to the mark, and so that the coins may endure, the alloy should be of half an ounce.

We thus bind ourselves mutually to the promise that our friends of Lübeck will not strike any other new denarii, except these, without our consent, nor ought we in our turn to strike any other new denarii without their consent. And it is further added that, if in the meantime it should happen that both our lords, the Counts, should die, which God forbid, we of Hamburg should be held beyond suspicion by the citizens of Lübeck by reason of the said promise.

Therefore, in order that this agreement between us and the citizens of Lübeck may not be changed or broken, we have given this present charter, here written, to our beloved friends of Lübeck, sealed with our seal, properly attested and sealed. Given at Hamburg in the year of Our Lord 1255, on April thirtieth, on the vigil of the feast of St. George.


From: G. F. Sartorius, ed., Urkundliche Geschichte des Ursprunges der deutschen Hanse, (Hamburg, 1830), Vol. II, p. 71; 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. 145-146.

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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