Visbys position as a great power took place before the forming of the Hanseatic League.
The words Hansa and Hanseatic League coincide with the beginning of the downfall of the city. There was never a merchant Hansa in Visby as the Baltic trade was dominated by Gotland and "Gutniska kusten" (the Gotlandic coast).
The maritime commerce was later concentrated to Visby who eliminated the other harbors on Gotland. Contributing reason is the immigration of foreign merchants to Visby beginning of the 13th century. Visby was at that time the largest and richest city in the Baltic area and undisputed leader for the Baltic trade. However, Lübeck advanced very fast and became by the beginnig of the 14th century equal in power to Visby.
Predecessors to merchant Hansas. In the early days travelling
merchants gathered in guilds and formed travelling groups.Those travelling
groups of German merchants were named "Hansas". The word
means group, community. The word "Hansa" is for the first time
documented in 1282. It is the Londoner office that is indicated.
The second Hansetag in Lübeck 1358 is considered as the time when the Hanseatic League was formed. A milestone in this new organization was the Cologne Confederation of the Hanseatic League in 1367. The League was on its peak in the 1370's.
We must not confuse German and other foreign settlements in Visby from the end of the 12th century and during the 13th century with the Hanseatic League from the 1350's.
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