The Anglo-Hanseatic War was a conflict fought between England and the Hanseatic League, led by the cities of Danzig and Lübeck, that lasted from 1469 to 1474. Causes of the war include increasing English pressure against the trade of the Hanseatic cities on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea.

Anglo-Hanseatic War
Result Hanseatic victory
Kingdom of England Hanseatic League
Commanders and leaders
Edward IV of England Paul Beneke



In the 15th century, English merchants competed with the Hanseatic League to control the wool and cloth trade in England and with the Baltic cities. They urged the Crown to acknowledge their rights to participate in the Baltic trade and in 1447 King Henry VI finally revoked all Hansa privileges. Several Lübeck and Danzig vessels were captured by English privateers in May 1449. After long and difficult negotiations, an eight-years armistice was agreed in 1456.

However, in 1458 English privateers started to move against Hansa shipping again. Peace talks at Hamburg failed in 1465, in particular since Henry VI refused to issue compensation and the Hanseatic cities disagreed about their negotiation line. Tensions increased when in 1468 Danzig privateers, chartered by the Danish Crown, seized several English merchant vessels passing the Sound. King Edward IV in turn had the Hanseatic Steelyard trading base in London foreclosed and seized the next year. The representatives of the Hanse cities met at Lübeck and decided to go to war. English wool imports were banned and privateers were ordered to raid English sealinks.

The importance of the wool trade from England to the continent by Hanseatic merchants can be seen in the economic outputs, and their subsequent decline in the period noted below during the war, which is denoted as 1471–1475. The economic damage done by the war was one of the main reasons why it came to an abrupt end.

Export of English cloth by Hanseatic merchants[1][2]
Date Length of cloth Date Length of cloth
1366–1368 1690 1456–1460 10176[3]
1377–1380 2028 1461–1465 8734[3]
1392–1395 7827 1465–1470 5733[3]
1399–1401 6737 1481–1482 15070
1401–1405 5940 1476–1480 9820
1406–1410 6160 1481–1482 15070
1411–1415 4990 1510–1514 21607
1416–1420 5686 1515–1520 20400
1421–1425 7238 1521–1525 18503
1426–1430 4495 1526–1530 20372
1431–1435 4016 1531–1535 24266
1436–1440 9044 1536–1540 30740
1441–1445 11480 1541–1545 27329
1446–1450 9292 Jan–Sept 1545 27903[4]
1451–1455 7682



Danzig and, to a lesser extent, Lübeck forces carried the main burden, supported by the cities of Hamburg and Bremen. The city of Cologne opposed the war and was temporarily excluded from the Hansa for this. As the Burgundian duke Charles the Bold cancelled his commitment to open his harbours, the Hanseatic privateers had to wait for departure until spring 1470. The rule of the English king, on the other hand, was weakened by the dynastic Wars of the Roses and in September Edward IV even had to flee to the Burgundian County of Flanders. Duke Charles backed Edward's return to England and now opened his harbours providing the Hansa forces to capture several vessels of the king's enemies. Upon the restoration of the English king, Charles again withdrew his support immediately.

From 1472 onwards, the Hansa forces were able to operate in the English Channel up to Ushant island with larger formations, led by Lübeck and Hamburg squadrons, and their advance even called up a French fleet. The war was fought mainly by the use of the naval strategy of commerce raiding. One of the most successful man of war ships was the Peter von Danzig under Paul Beneke, which from 1473 raided the English coast and did not spare neutral ships nor vessels flying Burgundian flags.

The war concluded with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1474 which confirmed the Hansa privileges and granted the League ownership of the London Steelyard, as well as the trading bases in Boston and Lynn. It virtually halted English trade with Germany and the Baltic region.[5]


  1. ^ E. Power & M. Postan (1951), Studies in English Trade in the 15th Century (2nd ed.), p. 407
  2. ^ G. Schanz, Englische Handelspolitik gegen Ende des Mittelalters [English trade politics towards the end of the Middle Ages], vol. 2 (1881), p. 103
  3. ^ a b c H. L. Gray, "The Production and Exportation of English Wollens in the 14th century", in English Historical Review (1924), p. 35
  4. ^ K.Friedland, "Der Plan des Dr Heinrich Sudermann zur Wiederherstellung der Hanse", in Jahrbuch des Kölnischen Geschichtsvereins, 31–32 (1956–57), p. 244
  5. ^ Anglo-Hanseatic War. John A. Wagner. 2001. ISBN 9781851093588. Archived from the original on 2010-11-22. Retrieved 2011-07-19.