Hanse: Urbanisation and Urbanity

The urbanisation at the Southern Baltic coast between the 11th/12th and 13th/14th century.

Urbanisierung und Urbanität The Baltic region experienced a fundamental change between the 11th/12th and 13th/14th century, which is boldly circumscribed as „Europeanisation“ or „Hanseatinsation“ and neutrally described as the „structural transformation of the High Middle Age“. Since time immemorial the sea has unified the human fascination and fear of the elements. A coastal city is an expression of this ambivalent relationship and in it economic and power political processes encounter natural conditions.

This is true of modern as well as medieval seaside towns. Some of these lie directly at the sea coasts, others at riverbeds, but their mutual feature was and is, that they are landing points in maritime and inland transport zones. Lake- and seaports at the Baltic coast are open to the ocean, their development was determined by the possibilities as well as the dangers of the sea.

From the Kiel Fjord to the Baltic States all along the southern Baltic coast “city-law” emerged on autochthonic roots and on the wings of colonization and territorialisation, extensive Christian expansions and new economic forms. By adopting and modifying or developing town concepts of Western Europe, the new type “civitas maritima” emerged, which was the actual novelty based on the earlier initiated urbanising processes.

The goal of the research project is to illustrate not only the structural similarities of urbanisation on the Southern Baltic coast but also their differences and variability, in order to single out the players of “local level strategies”. A current article can be found here.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Müller