Henry II of England:
Grant of Freedom from Wreck to Men of Lübeck, 1176
The hanse of Lübeck obtained from Henry II of England freedom from that annoying
medieval right of "wreck." The importance of this lay in the fact that
henceforth the merchants of Lübeck would not lose their merchandise when their ship was
technically a "wreck."
It has already come to our notice that the merchants of your city, and those of other
German cities, desire to frequent our kingdom with their goods.... Wherefore, we wish it
to be known to you, and the merchants of the other cities of Germany, by these presents,
that we wish to show grace and favor to all and each of the said merchants frequenting our
shores. And on behalf of us and our children we wish to confirm all the customs and
privileges which the merchants of Germany enjoyed in the time of our predecessors, the
kings of England. We also desire that if it should happen that your ships should be
wrecked in these parts, and from such wreck any man should escape alive and reach the
shore, all the goods and chattels contained in that ship shall remain the property of
those to whom they first belonged; nor shall there be extorted from the true masters of
those goods what is called
At Westminster, August 26th, 1176.
From: G. F. Sartorius, ed., Urkundliche Geschichte des Ursprunges der Deutschen
Hanse, J. M. Lappenberg, rev. & ed., (Hamburg, 1830), Vol. II, p. 8; 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. 222-223.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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