One of the chief concerns of the merchants of the thirteenth century was piracy and robbery, and energetic measures were taken to suppress this evil by concerted action on the part of mercantile cities. This was a distinct step toward a stronger and more perfect union.
The advocate and common council of Lübeck.... We have made an agreement with our beloved friends the citizens of Hamburg.
1. That if by chance robbers or other evil men rise against our citizens or theirs, from that place where the river which is called the Trave flows into the sea to Hamburg, and thence along the Elbe to the sea, and if they assail our citizens or theirs, whatever costs or expenses are incurred for extirpating those robbers we ought to share with them, and they with us.
2. If by chance any criminal should outrageously kill, wound, beat, or, God forbid, in any way ill-treat outside the city any burgess of Hamburg or Lübeck whom he has accused, whatever expense is incurred in taking him and punishing him, we shall share with them and they with us, this condition being added, that whatever happens to their citizens near their city, and to our citizens near our city, they with their citizens, and we with ours, shall punish at the expense of the city.
3. Further, if any burgesses of theirs near our city of Lübeck, or our burgesses near the city of Hamburg, should be ill-treated, we shall surrender the doer or doers of the deed for punishment, and they will surrender such people to us at the expense of the commune likewise.
From: F. Keutgen, ed., Urkunden zur Städtischen Verfassungsgeschichte, (Berlin: Emil Felber, 1901), p. 521; 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. 232-233.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998