Forces of the Hanseatic League

Forces of the Hanseatic League

13th–15th Centuries

Men-at-Arms 494
  • Author: David Nicolle
  • Illustrator: Gerry Embleton
  • Short code: MAA 494
  • Publication Date: 20 Apr 2014
  • Number of Pages: 48
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About this Product

The Hanseatic League was a commercial and defensive federation of merchant guilds based in harbour towns along the North Sea and Baltic coasts of what are now Germany and her neighbours, which eventually dominated maritime trade in Northern Europe and spread its influence much further afield. The League was formed to protect the economic and political interests of member cities throughout a vast and complex trading network. The League continued to operate well into the 17th century, but its golden age was between c.1200 and c.1500; thereafter it failed to take full advantage of the wave of maritime exploration to the west, south and east of Europe. During its 300 years of dominance the League's large ships - called ‘cogs' - were at the forefront of maritime technology, were early users of cannon, and were manned by strong fighting crews to defend them from pirates in both open-sea and river warfare. The home cities raised their own armies for mutual defence, and their riches both allowed them, and required them, to invest in fortifications and gunpowder weapons, since as very attractive targets they were subjected to sieges at various times.

Biographical Note

David Nicolle, born in 1944, worked in the BBC's Arabic service for a number of years before gaining an MA from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and a doctorate from Edinburgh University. He has written numerous books and articles on medieval and Islamic warfare, and has been a prolific author of Osprey titles for many years.

Contents

Introduction: origins and nature of the League
Knights and militias, 13th-14th centuries
Hanseatic shipping: the ‘cog', its capabilities and influence; armed ships and piracy; river trade and river wars
Fortified ports and siege warfare
Introduction of cannon by land and sea
The League in the late 15th century: the ‘age of discoveries', from peak of prosperity to decline
Select bibliography
Plate commentaries
Index

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