Hansa Towns - Helen Zimmern




C4. The Hansa Loses its Colonies.

The prominence which we have had to accord to the history of Lubeck in the preceding chapters would almost make it appear as though we were dealing with the adverse fortunes of only one town, of a town moreover that was fighting mainly for its private and special interests and that succumbed in the combat. But this conception would be wholly erroneous. In those days the German Empire had no maritime commerce save that carried on by the Hansa; this commerce had no protection save that afforded to it by the League. The League was only powerful so long as Lubeck with a firm hand and high spirit held together its various members and led and encouraged their more feeble and often vacillating steps. For there were few among the cities that heartily supported the Queen of the Hansa in these latter days. At the cost of great and real sacrifices she insisted that the prerogatives of the League should be maintained, and if in return she also asked for some privileges for herself, this can scarcely excite wonder. It is therefore obvious that the declining power of Lubeck necessarily brought with it an enfeeblement of the whole federation.

After the failure of Wullenweber's bold schemes and his ignominious death, after the enmity against Lubeck, and consequently against the League, that had been fanned to yet greater fury by late events, it is easy to understand that the relations of the Hansa to the Scandinavian kingdoms suffered an entire change. Denmark was the first to avail itself of the liberty it had regained. The country forthwith began to draw profit from its "gold mine" the Sound. Then Norway followed suit. The town of Bergen, above all, so long oppressed by the League, now took its revenge. Gradually as the inhabitants beheld the enfeeblement at home and abroad of their rivals they withdrew from them privilege after privilege until the time came that the natives of Bergen recovered both their commercial activity and their fortune.

The justice of history is less pressed for time than the justice of man, but it is yet surer and more inexorable.

This inevitable justice, which punishes the children for the sins of their fathers, fell upon the Hanseatics in full measure at Bergen. The time actually came when it fell to the people of Bergen to advance funds to impoverished or ruined Hanseatics, and, on the principle of returning a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye, insult for insult, they advanced these moneys under the same hard conditions that had been employed towards themselves. The dispossession of the Hanseatics was naturally a work of time, but in course of years it became complete. The last occasion when the four chief "games" were performed, which according to a reporter at the Hanseatic Diet were designed "to keep off rich folks' children from Bergen and secure the profits of the trade to poor young fellows," seems to have been about 1590.

It is true that up to the eighteenth century German merchants retained certain prerogatives in Norway, but they were no longer the Hanseatics of the League, they were merely the members of an association reduced to slender proportions, an association as impotent to sustain its dignity as to restore the rights of its predecessors.

Sweden was no less happy in its efforts after emancipation from Hanseatic tutelage. Gustavus Vasa laid the foundations for this exemption from tolls, monopolies, and harassing restrictions. He taught his subjects the great lesson how to trade to their own profit. After his position as ruler was once well assured he did not hesitate to speak in open court of the German merchants as "butchers," comparing his predecessors to "good milch kine," and adding that he should never forgive himself, but should be ashamed before God and man, did he sacrifice the well-being of his kingdom to the rapacity and selfishness of the Lubeckers. And he kept his word. So long as he lived he checkmated the League with all the resources at his command, and he left his desire to raise the commercial prosperity of his kingdom as a legacy to his son.

Nor was it enough that men had come to hate the Hansa with that fierce hatred which is felt towards those who, holding power in their hands disgust and oppress their inferiors by overbearing conduct. Even nature seemed to turn against them in that dark moment of their national life. In the years following the burgomaster's war, as Wullenweber's war grew to be called, the herrings which had already failed once or twice during the course of the fifteenth century, either entirely abandoned the Scanian coasts, or came in such small quantities as not to repay the cost of maintenance of the "Witten." There was yet worse in store. Not only did the herrings abandon the Hansa, but they favoured their rivals the Netherlanders, coming in great masses into their waters, and thus enriching them at the expense of their enemies; a circumstance that furnished the pious preacher Bonnus with the theme for a sermon, in which he pointed out, to his own satisfaction, how this was the direct punishment inflicted by Almighty God, for the war so wantonly entered upon by the Hansa.

A fresh blow of great force came to the League in the year 1553. The English, so long forcibly kept outside the navigation of the Baltic, had suddenly opened out for themselves a road to the mouth of the Northern Dwina by means of the Arctic Ocean, thus discovering the White Sea, and offering a new route to merchants trading with Russia.

The discoverer of this new ocean route was Sir Richard Chancellor, who, together with Sir Hugh Willoughby, had been commissioned by an association of London merchants, to undertake the search of a road to China by way of the icy sea. They set forth in three stately vessels, the Bona Esperanza, the Bona Confidentia, and the Edward Bonaventura. For four months the ships kept close together, but in the region of the North Cape the Edward Bonaventura, which Chancellor commanded, was separated, owing to ice and storms, from its comrades—never more to rejoin them.

Sir Hugh penetrated with his ships as far as the harbour of Artschina in Northern Lapland, whence he could not continue his journey, owing to the intense cold and the lack of means of sustenance. In this desolate spot, he and his whole crew perished. Long after, fishermen found their bodies. Beside Willoughby's corpse lay his journal, which closed with the desponding words: "Then sent we three men south-east three days' journey, who returned without finding of people or any similitude of habitation." The diary, which has been lately printed, is a touching record of patient endurance and heroic enterprise.

Meantime the more fortunate Sir Richard had penetrated to the spot where Archangel is now situated, and where then stood a monastery dedicated to St. Nicholas. After resting here, he made his way to Moscow, where Czar Ivan held his Court. Here he was received in the most friendly manner, remained some months, and was finally dismissed with a royal letter to the young King Edward VI., in which Ivan expressed his great wish that their two countries should henceforth approach each other in more intimate relationship. Nor were these desires of the Czar's fruitless.

After Sir Richard Chancellor's return, and on hearing his report concerning the terms under which the Czar would allow the English to trade in and with his country, a number of London merchants formed themselves into a commercial corporation under the title of "The London and Muscovite Company." This company once more despatched Chancellor to treat with the Czar, and the result was that by the year 1555, mutual trading relations between Russia and England were established.

Now if an earthquake had shaken the whole of Northern Europe, it could not have produced a greater commotion in the entire Baltic North than did this Russo-Anglican alliance, "The London and Muscovite Company." The good understanding between England and Russia was at once recognized as a danger of first-class importance to all the merchants along the Sound and the Baltic. They saw their entire commerce in imminent danger. What did it now avail them that the Sound had been closed for centuries against the English ships, if the London merchants could carry their goods to Russia by another route? Above all, the Hanseatic League recognized the danger that menaced both them and their colony of Livonia, the colony of which the city of Bremen was wont to boast that it had been the godmother. What would happen, they asked themselves, with good reason, if Czar Ivan, already their enemy at Novgorod, should also take unto himself Livonia, if he should open its harbours to his new friends, and thus obtain for himself the mastery of the Baltic?

In order to fully appreciate these fears, we must remember that the province anciently called Livonia embraced all the departments now known as Esthonia, Courland, and Livonia; in a word, the whole Baltic coast of the Russian continent. This district was entirely governed by the Germans. Three hundred years back a priest named Meinhard had founded the first Christian Church at the mouth of the Dwina, and from that time forward Germany had not ceased to send the flower of its aristocracy, the elite of its burghers, its monks and its priests, its merchants and citizens, its landsknechte and mercenaries to these northern coasts to spread the Christian faith, and to found a German colony.

Colonists of all kinds rapidly established themselves in Livonia, and while the industry of the merchants raised prosperous cities and safe harbours along the river and the seaboard, the nobles dotted the land with their castles and strongholds, and the clergy with their churches and convents. It was a special characteristic of this greater Germany that it faithfully retained and reproduced the outward features of the mother-land. With German speech, German law and German customs had become naturalized.

On the gates of the citadels the knights beheld the same coats of arms that greeted their eyes at home. In the towns were seen the same architectural features, the same tightly-packed gabled houses, with their quaint projecting storeys, and their yawning cellars, for the storage of goods; the cocklofts, with their heavy, pendant cranes, that distinguished the northern cities and made them all resemble, more or less, those toy towns of our childhood that come from Nurnberg, and are so deftly packed into their box that, once removed, no unskilled fingers can replace them.

The monks and the priests, on their part, formed in Livonia their accustomed cells, their silent cloisters, the glory and weird wonder of the Gothic cathedral, with its tall, pointed spires and steeples, its coloured glass windows, through which the northern sunlight broke in soft rays, staining the floors of God's house with glory.

In a word, everything here reproduced mediaeval Germany. Of the natives of the land there was little trace, though some of these still lingered in the country and ventured secretly to pay worship to their old deposed gods in sacred thickets and on lonely heaths. To this day Livonia retains its German character; the German language still reigns supreme there, German customs prevail, German names survive. In the times we speak of it was entirely under Teutonic sway.

Was this rich, important colony to be lost to the mother-land and to the Hansa that had created it? No wonder the League was alarmed.

Nor was it alone in its fears. Sweden and all the West took fright. In imagination, they already beheld the East—in the shape of Russia and its barbarous dependencies—descending upon them with the weapons furnished to them by England. At the instigation of the King of Sweden and of the Livonians, who, in 1556, expressed their fears on this subject before the Hanseatic Diet, the League, desirous to dispel this European peril, warned the Emperor of Germany, the Kings of Denmark, England, and Poland, and the Duke of Prussia, not to facilitate Russia's projects of invasion by putting at her disposal either the munitions of war or the means that would help to civilize her, and thus render her yet more redoubtable.

To these requests England turned a deaf ear, for her commercial policy then, as now, was a trifle selfish and insular. Judging that the distance which separated her from Russia gave her entire security, she did not dream of disturbing a traffic which she found lucrative. Queen Mary, admonished by the King of Sweden to interdict to her subjects the new navigation to Archangel, contented herself by forbidding the shippers who traded with the White Sea the exportation of arms.

It was not long before the alarms expressed proved themselves to be anything but chimerical. Danger first showed itself in the shape of dissension. Livonia, seeing itself suddenly grown of enhanced importance to the League, took up certain pretentious airs towards its foster-mother. It broke through ancient contracts and statutes, among which was a stern interdict against trading on its own account with Russia. The next step was to put the Hanseatic League commercially upon the same footing as a stranger; and the Livonians were, consequently, able to turn against them some of their own laws—for example, that which declared that guest should not trade with guest.

Meanwhile Russia, which had now completely thrown off the Tartar yoke and was beginning to feel its strength, cast more and more greedy eyes towards Livonia, with its rich cities and wide seaboard.

Under pretext of bringing about a fusion of the Greek and Latin branches of the Catholic Church, the Czar Ivan had sent successive embassies to Germany, who there recruited for him workmen, artists, learned men, and officers, all of whom were to aid in putting the newly-welded Russian Empire upon a civilized basis. While there, these men had learnt the fact that Livonia, which stood under the government of the Teutonic knights, had been divided by internal dissensions since the death of the Grand Master, Walter von Plattenberg, who, early in the sixteenth century, had saved the province from falling a prey to the Russian desire for conquest.

Ivan, hearing this, felt the moment was favourable. He saw that the German Empire looked on indifferently at what was passing in the extreme corner of its possessions—the German Empire always had the knack of being indifferent at the wrong and critical moment—he perceived that the Hansa League was ill-disposed at that instant to her stubborn and disobedient daughter; while Sweden and Denmark glanced with all too loving eyes at the German colony on the Baltic Sea. He felt now or never was the time for action. Moreover, Livonia had but one friend, and that a nominal one, Poland, which masked designs anything but friendly under the cover of an amicable alliance; it had but one man on whom it could count—the present Grand Master of the Teutonic knights, Gotthard Kettler. But this man, though of dauntless courage and a true patriot, was condemned to rule over the once bold company of Knights at a moment when too long-continued peace and prosperity had sunk them into sloth, indifference, and vicious practices.

Under the pretext that a certain toll had not been paid him, Ivan quite unexpectedly sent into Livonia a herd of barbarous soldiers, under the leadership of the erstwhile Khan of Kasan. The money not being forthcoming, this army took possession of Narwa, a port just about to enter into the League. Thence they overspread all the province, burning, razing, sacking, robbing, and violating.

They met with little resistance. The enervated nobles—"usually so ready for a scuffle," says an old chronicler—fell like flies before them, and the strongest burghs were quietly delivered over into their hands. Dorpat, one of the strongest, opened its gates to the invader without the smallest opposition, the citizens having been seized with panic at their approach. Here there fell into their hands rich treasure, stored in the fort, affording them the sinews of war. Reval, also besieged, turned to the King of Denmark for aid against its foes. He sent back the Livonian ambassadors laden with a thousand sides of bacon and other victuals to stay their hunger, but more effective aid he could not or would not afford.

In short Livonia was being rapidly broken up and divided among the various greedy nationalities that surrounded her—the two Slavonic, Russia and Poland, on the one hand; the two Scandinavian, Sweden and Denmark, on the other.

In these sore straits the Grand Master of the Teutonic knights, Gotthard Kettler, made "the sad plaint of the Christian Brothers on the Baltic," heard at the Imperial Diet. The Emperor Ferdinand, to whom the Grand Master made personal appeal for speedy help, promised his assistance, and did send a letter to the Czar, begging him to desist from his persecution of the Livonians; but the letter was so lukewarm in its wording, and it was so evident from its tenour that the Emperor had no intention of following it up by action, that the Czar did not hesitate to send a very haughty and defiant reply. In this letter he proved that it was not difficult to find excuses for his conduct. The Germans, for instance, had oppressed his subjects; had taken from them their churches, and converted them into storehouses for their goods; had forbidden to his people free-trade in their markets. Some of these complaints were doubtless not quite groundless, for we know with what a high hand the Hansa was wont to treat the inhabitants of a land they had taken under their protection.

Livonia now turned to the League for aid; but the League had been offended by the late independent deeds of its colonies, and was not inclined to bestir itself much. The Hanseatics did not perceive the folly of their action at the time; they did not observe that in thus yielding to personal feeling they were losing their finest, richest dependency. It seemed as though with Wullenweber all Hanseatic ambition, clear-sightedness, and enterprise had sunk into its grave. An able scheme which would have rescued the entire colony for the Hansa, at a cost of some 200,000 dollars, was allowed to gather dust, unregarded and unconsidered, in the archives of Lubeck.

The weakness of Germany, the supineness of the League, the cold calculations of the King of Poland, all combined to deprive the hapless land of support. It became a prey, on the one side, to the barbaric vigour of Ivan IV., and, on the other, to the machinations of Sigismund Augustus, king of Poland. By the year 1561 the colony of Livonia was lost to Germany and to the Teutonic knights, and was divided among the various nationalities that surrounded it, Sweden coming in for no inconsiderable portion. Thus fell Livonia, the Russo-Baltic province to which in those days was assigned the role accorded to the Ottoman Empire by a certain class of statesmen in our own time, namely, that of a rampart of civilization against barbarism.

As we look back upon the course of history and the state of opinion in those times, it seems almost incredible that this fall should have been permitted, that neither the Hansa nor Germany should have stretched out a hand to help the oppressed colony. Incredible, because at that time the whole German and Scandinavian Baltic coast resounded with the cry of alarm that the Muscovite was seeking to make himself master of the Baltic. It is true that this result, equally bitter for Germany and for all Northern Europe, was only accomplished in the days of Peter the Great; but the foundations of this Russian Empire over the inland sea were laid in those times, and Germany had largely itself to blame for the disasters that happened in consequence.

The immediate result of the loss of Livonia was that Lubeck became involved in its last war—a war that was to leave it exhausted. These hostilities lasted seven years, from 1563 to 1570, and were instigated by a desire on the part of Lubeck that the Hansa, though it had lost Livonia, should not lose all profits accruing from trade with the Russian continent. The quarrel began by Eric XIV., Gustavus Vasa's successor, professing that he would reinstate the Hansa in all her privileges in his kingdom; but demanding in return from the League far more than it had ever possessed in Sweden, namely, a factory and special privileges in every town of the League.

When this was not granted he suddenly chose to take umbrage at the fact that Lubeck had never ceased to trade with Narwa, although he had, as he alleged, repeatedly told the Lubeckers that by so doing they strengthened the hands of the Muscovite, the common enemy. He complained of this to the Emperor Ferdinand, who, on his part however, was satisfied with the reasons for their actions put forward by the Lubeckers. Eric who, on his side, was by no means satisfied, now demanded in the most emphatic terms that the Hansa should cease all navigation to Narwa or to Russia, in order that the Muscovite might not be strengthened by the importation of arms. He contended that the channels of Finland were not the open sea, but belonged to his dominions, and that he had a right to hold sway over them, and to capture or harass any vessels he found in their waters.

It is strange indeed to find Lubeck replying to this, that the open, rude Baltic had been recognized by nature herself as a free sea; Lubeck which had ever contended that this sea was an inland lake and should be so treated, that only those should trade in its waters to whom she, its mistress, graciously accorded permission. The conclusion of the dispute was that Lubeck made an alliance with the Danish king, Frederick II., in which it was resolved to carry on war against Sweden. The sister towns, apathetic and most unwilling to fight, did not fail, however, to obey the Danish king's mandate that they should at once cease from all trade and intercourse with Sweden.

On June 9, 1563, the Queen of the Hansa issued her declaration of war against Eric XIV. of Sweden. The king, to whom the document was addressed, referred it with contempt to the magistrates of Stockholm, saying that "kings must write to kings, but burghers and peasants should treat with their peers."

But though Eric was so contemptuous, these burghers, whom he professed to despise, were to cause him some uncomfortable moments. Not inglorious for Lubeck was this last seven years' war waged by her, and its results might have been of some consequence had she been supported by the whole League. But this was far from being the case. Still she won several important victories, and on one occasion captured the Swedish admiral's vessel. In the midst of the hostilities Eric was deposed, and here again would have been the Hansa's opportunity had it known how to profit by it.

But in vain did Lubeck counsel union and implore the other Baltic cities to make common cause and crush the common enemy. They only replied complaining of the expenses entailed by this thoughtless war, and by alleging that more advantage might be obtained by diplomacy. In the end Lubeck had to bend to the common sentiment.

Imperial diplomacy was put into motion, resulting in a congress held at Stettin, in December, 1570, in which a reconciliation was brought about between Denmark, Lubeck, and King John of Sweden; and of which the conditions were, that the Hansa might trade with certain Russian cities; "so long as the emperor permitted it;" Sweden was also bound over to pay some of the outstanding debts which Gustavus Vasa had contracted with Lubeck.

King John assented, but no sooner did he feel himself firmly seated on his throne than he too forgot all his treaty promises, and once more demanded that all Hanseatic commerce with Russia should cease. He defiantly styled himself "Lord of the Baltic," assigning as his claim to this title the fact that to the Swedish crown had passed the heritage of the Hansa, both on the seas and in the Livonian colonies.

An Imperial Diet assembled at Speyer shortly afterwards and discussed these new complications, and professed great anxiety for the welfare of those deluded subjects of the empire, the Hanseatics. It also made sympathetic reference to the fate of Livonia, and made no secret of its embarrassment and annoyance at seeing now the Muscovite, now the Pole, now the Swede in possession of the Baltic.

But the anxiety and the sympathy did not go beyond words. The Hansa was weary; the empire was impotent to aid. It is true that Sweden had offered to restore to the Germans all the portion of Livonia she had taken for herself in return for the costs of war, but even this proposal was allowed to drop. When, by 1579, the Swedes perceived that the empire made no effort to regain its lost possession, they quietly assumed that none would ever be made, and their assumption did not prove erroneous.

Curiously enough, at the diet held at Frankfort, in the autumn of 1570, presided over by the Emperor Maximilian who was ever well inclined to the Hansa, and repeatedly urged them to unity, there was also present the infamous Duke of Alva, the Catholic butcher, who murdered human beings to the glory and honour of God. It was he who urged that by all possible means the exportation of armour and fire-arms should be hindered, lest the Muscovite, in possession of a European army, should one day bring sorrow not only to the Netherlands, but to all Christendom.

The German merchant world was to blame, in the first instance, for the loss of the prosperous colony; and that this was perfectly understood by outsiders is proved by the rough utterance of a Tartar Khan who had been imprisoned together with a Livonian. Spitting into the face of the latter, the barbarian said, "It serves you German dogs quite right that you have lost your province; you first put into the hands of the Muscovite the rod with which he whipped us, now he has turned it against yourselves and whipped you with it."

But the League's troubles were not at an end with the loss of Livonia and their Russian trade. They were to learn by bitter experience, what individuals too have to learn, that mankind cannot resist the temptation to kick the man or nation that is down.

Bitter ingratitude was first to be shown them by their ally, Denmark, in return for all the heavy sacrifices they had made on her behalf. Lubeck was treated with overbearing contempt, while the neutral cities were punished, as perhaps they more justly deserved, for their cowardly policy. Thus Rostock, which had furnished the Swedish admiral with food supplies in 1566, was forbidden to trade thenceforth with Scania; Hamburg, whose ships had been captured engaged in the same unpatriotic business, had to pay a hundred thousand dollars to regain them; and Danzig, too, was fined the same sum by the King of Denmark for a like offence.

But the keenest humiliation was yet in store for Lubeck herself, in King Frederick's behaviour concerning the Island of Bornholm, so long the Hansa queen's special possession. First a Lubeck governor was formally ejected by the Danes, then the inhabitants of the island, encouraged in insubordination by seeing how the authorities at Copenhagen dealt with their masters, refused to pay their dues, finally one of the towns even forcibly ejected some Lubeck traders. It was ominous that King Frederick opposed all mention of Bornholm during the treaties for peace. Suddenly, on the 7th of September, 1575, he informed the city of Lubeck, "that as the fifty years' possession, accorded to them by his grandfather, would have expired on the 19th of the month, he intended to retake possession of the island." On the city's replying that the peace of Hamburg had extended their right of possession which they held for unpaid Danish debts, King Frederick was not ashamed to reply to the council of Lubeck, that they should reasonably consider that this treaty was invalid since his father, who had made it, was not at that time crowned, and neither he nor his councillors had been consulted in the matter. Frederick did not for a moment consider that the Hansa had in all respects acknowledged the "uncrowned king," and had helped him into his kingdom.

Lubeck felt too weak, too exhausted, seriously to resist the king's claims. It sent an embassy to Copenhagen, begging for the extension of the possession, held by them as a pledge, for another forty, thirty, twenty, fifteen, eight, seven, six, five, or at least one year. Thus low had the Queen of the Hansa sunk, thus was she broken, that she could beg so abjectly. She begged in vain. King Frederick was deaf to entreaties; he saw his rival's weakness, and he profited by it. Had they not had enough return for helping Frederick I. to power by holding the island fifty years? Lubeck was forced to yield; the only concession that was made to her was, that Frederick graciously permitted her to convey one hundred tuns of Rhenish wine free of duty through the Sound for the space of ten years, to supply the town cellar of the capital. In the summer of 1576 Bornholm was formally delivered over to the Danes, and the Hansa lost yet another source of wealth.

For a while the League still strove to carry on some trade with Russia, at first by Reval, then by Narwa, but in 1587 the latter town was finally taken by the Swedes. By good fortune Lubeck and its friends found in the Czar, Feodor Ivanowitch, a prince inclined to deal favourably with them. Indeed, so well disposed was he, that in the year 1586 he reduced the existing custom dues by half in their favour, and placed at their entire disposal once more the factories Novgorod and Plestrow. But in recovering the possession of their establishments, the Hansa were far from recovering their monopoly, which time and events had undermined for ever. Annoyances without end awaited them from the Swedes and the Poles, whose territories they had to cross to arrive at their settlements. They were made to pay heavy transit tolls; their goods were subjected to annoying, and often disastrous delays; their ships were often captured and ransacked by Swedish and Polish pirates, who were well aware that their devastations were regarded with no evil eye by the home authorities.

The last embassy sent by the old and veritable Hanseatic Confederation to the Muscovite Court, in January, 1603, only attained their ends very partially, notwithstanding the truly royal presents which they laid at the feet of the then reigning Czar, Boris Feodorowitch Gudenow. The chronicles tell that the presents consisted of valuable silver-gilt vessels, representing ostriches, eagles, pelicans, griffins, lions, also a Venus and a Fortuna. Presents were also added for the Czar's son, but by an unlucky oversight, the all-powerful Russian Chancellor had been forgotten in the matter of gifts; this want of thought lost the Hanseatic ambassadors his potent favour.

The ambassadors consisted of councillors from Lubeck and Stralsund, and there went with them besides a certain Zacharias Meyer, an old Lubeck merchant, who had lived for many years in Russia, and knew the language and habits of the people. The embassy met with little success.

The monarch whose geographical knowledge was not very extensive, and who confounded the names of the Hanseatic towns who sent him this embassy with those that had passed into the possession of Poland, his arch enemy, categorically refused to recognize the Hanseatic League as such, and would only allow the city of Lubeck to be spoken of, which it seems was less unfamiliar to him. Towards this city he showed himself well disposed, and very generous, and said it might establish factories and storehouses in various localities, according to traditional custom, and trade freely without vexatious custom dues as far as Moscow. In return he demanded only a money duty on the weight of the merchandise imported, no matter of what nature. In vain the ambassadors pleaded that the towns could not separate themselves. The Chancellor exclaimed with anger—

"Then we will separate them; the Czar does not know the other towns, and those which he knows are in the hands of princes who are his enemies."

And from this decision neither he nor his royal master could be moved. This entirely personal favour to Lubeck naturally changed the character borne hitherto by the Hanseatic commerce in Russia, and helped yet further to fan the fire of discontent already smouldering in the bosom of the League. All attempts made by the other cities to profit by the advantages conceded to Lubeck remained fruitless; and this city herself, though she seems to have preserved these custom privileges until the middle of the seventeenth century, does not seem, judging from appearances, to have obtained any durable or profitable result from them. There always remained the disturbing fact that either Swedish or Polish domains must be crossed, or a long detour made by way of the White Sea, where again obstacles of yet another kind awaited them.

In very truth the Hanseatic commerce with Russia was slowly dying. Some efforts were made to resuscitate it by the cities that remained united when Czar Michael Feodorowitch sat on the imperial throne. The Hansa's demands were actually supported by the Netherlands. But even goodwill on the Russian side was impotent to raise a commerce which had been practically strangled by the powerful grasp of Sweden. Gustavus Adolphus, it is true, annoyed at the new direction commerce was taking, and the consequent loss to his kingdom in transit dues, tried all in his power to revive the old movement upon the Baltic. In this spirit and with this desire, he concluded various treaties with Russia that obliged the Hanseatics to pass through his domains, and especially to touch at Reval, the Lubeckers, who held their depot at Novgorod, naturally preferring to pass by way of Narwa. But Gustavus Adolphus and his successors, after all, did not depart from the previous policy of Sweden. He and they, like their predecessors, sought to make themselves masters of the entire Baltic commerce, and to impose their intervention upon the outside nations, whom they crippled with custom dues. Various promises of relaxation which were made to Lubeck by Sweden were ill kept. The hand of this country continued to weigh heavily upon all the Baltic coasts, until there arose on the scene the figure of Peter the Great, who in his turn reduced them to submission, and who made himself practically lord and master of the Baltic lands.

Thus ends the history of the Hanseatic commerce with Russia, which might be said to have ended already, under Czar Feodorowitch Gudenow, for it was no longer one League, but only an individual city that maintained communication with Russia in those latter days. The confederation of cities known as the Hanseatic League had ceased to march together, or to figure by name in the various treaties and negotiations made after the accession to power of this Czar.