A German history starting in the Middle Ages when the emperors fought an epic struggle with the papacy to the Reformation, the great 18th century of Kant, Goethe, Gauss, the rise of Prussia and the horrors of the Nazi regime. We will end with the post-war period of moral and physical rebuilding. As Gregory of Tours (539-594) said: “A great many things keep happening, some good, some bad” .
Episode 112 – Grain and Beer
This week we will kick off with the string of cities along the Baltic Coast from Lübeck up to Königsberg (modern day Kaliningrad). Who founded them and why? And why so many? Who were the people who came to live there, how did they organise themselves and most importantly, what did they produce and what did they trade?
We will dwell on the most splendid of those, Gdansk or Danzig in German, the one city in the Baltic that could give Lübeck a run for its money, a place that developed as six separate cities and only became one entity in the late 15th century. And as we talk about Gdansk, we will also talk about the Vistula River, Europe’s nineth longest that connected Gdansk not just to many of Poland’s great cities, but also to the agricultural wealth of the Prussia of the Teutonic Knights, to the Ukraine and to ancient Lithuania.
And all that foodstuff is put on ships and goes to the growing cities of Flanders, the Rhineland, England, Northern France and even Spain. For the first time since the fall of the Roman empire do we hear about large scale grain shipments that sustain urban centres, urban centres that couldn’t otherwise exist.
But grain is not the only thing that the Hansa become famous for. The other is Germany’s most popular drink and best-known export, beer. The economics there are even more fascinating, since people did not only drink vast quantities of beer in the Middle Ages, they also cared a lot about where it came from, and Einbecker was Europe’s favourite beer.
The music for the show is Flute Sonata in E-flat major, H.545 by Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach (or some claim it as BWV 1031 Johann Sebastian Bach) performed and arranged by Michel Rondeau under Common Creative Licence 3.0.
Homepage with maps, photos, transcripts and blog: www.historyofthegermans.com
For this episode I again relied
Philippe Dollinger: Die Hanse –
definitely my go-to-book for this season
Die Hanse, Lebenswirklichkeit und Mythos, herausgegeben von Jürgen Bracker,
Volker Henn and Rainer Postel
Rolf Hammel-Kieslow: Die Hanse