13 May 2016

International Hanse Day: a league of their own

So what’s Hanse all about and why is Hull celebrating it?

There are many things that give Hull its independent character and its membership in the New Hanse League is no exception. But what’s Hanse all about? And what’s all the fuss about?

Well, the word Hanse is actually a mix of two languages, the old German word ‘Hansa’ meaning a company, convoy or troop, mixed with the old French word Hanse, which means a company or guild. Combined the term is used to describe a medieval guild of merchants and dates all the way back to the mid 13th-century. During this time, seafaring merchants from this league of different nations across Northern Europe came together to form the first Hanseatic League which enabled them to share and protect economic interests as well as gaining improved control over the trade routes the merchants visited. All Hanseatic cities liked to run their own ship, so to speak, with all Hanseatic cities having their very own legal system.

The new Hanse, which was set up in 1980 brought Hanse back to life and has told its story around the world ever since. What makes the new Hanse so special, is the league only has three English towns and cities included as members within it and of course, Hull is indeed one of them. Along with King’s Lynn over in Norfolk and Boston in Lincolnshire, Hull needed to prove its original inclusion in the first Hanse League by sending historic documents to prove it over to the guys over at the Städtebund Die Hanse in Germany. There are now a total of 185 members from 185 towns and cities across 16 countries, with Hull joining back in 2012.

Hanse day

Nowadays, International Hanse Day is the day each town or city sets aside to celebrate their membership as well as entertaining and educating people on everything and anything Hanse. Hull will officially celebrate its first year of International Hanse Day since joining in 2012 this Saturday, bringing together a whole bunch of family fun to the High Street in its fabulous setting in Old Town. If you fancy learning all about Hanseatic past and medieval crafts with a range of performances involving traditional song, dance and storytelling Hanse day has it all.

There’s heaps for people of all ages too, with a range of activities throughout the day, particularly for children, including ten hidden rats, one in each of the ten locations listed on the official Hanse day map. They’ll also have the opportunity to meet a range of characters including Benedict the Merchant and Thomas the Porter over at the Dry Dock and Harbour, as well as Ralf the Apprentice who will be located opposite the Ye Old Black Boy Tavern, whilst Alice the Pauper will be busy roaming the High Street. And if these guys don’t float your boat, there’ll be a mischievous jester who’ll be sure to keep you on your toes with his cheeky antics throughout the day.

Be sure to also pop along for a hog roast in the museum gardens, or even join the tour of the city which begins over at Hull Tourist Information Centre at 10am. To top it all off there’ll also be demonstrations on how leather bottles and medieval pottery were made. Pretty interesting stuff.

International Hanse Day takes place from 10 – 4pm this Saturday. For further information check out the website, or download the official map.

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