While the Skåne market (or Scania Market), was not a specific town or city within the Hanseatic League, but rather a market which played a large played in ensuring its wealth and influence within its sphere. Most experts agree that it was in fact a cornerstone of the Hanseatic League itself. The Scandinavian market, mostly traded in fish, particularly Herring, but later grew to include other goods shipped and traded within the Hanseatic League.
A Brief Historical Overview:
We don’t have any clear evidence of the official start of the Skåne market, but we do know that it was a fully operational market from about 1200 and lasted all through the middle ages and grew into the largest market of Northern Europe during the 14th Century. The Skåne market included Skanör, Falsterbo, Køge, Dragør, Copenhage, Malmö, Helsingborg, Simrishamn, Ystad, and Trelleborg.
The market came into existence, and was based on the very rich herring fishing opportunities around the area of the Falsterbo peninsula. Many legends from this area often told about how the herring in this area was so abundant that you could scoop them up with your bare hands.
There was an annual market fair which ran from roughly the end of August to the middle of October. It was a flourishing market, and a gigantic boon for the Danish crown. Herring became very popular amongst regular people, as it was a cheap source of protein, and, in a still very Roman Catholic Europe, was admissible during lent season when all meat was forbidden.
The Danish crown was heavily reliant upon the profits and taxes from this market, and therefore regulated it heavily. A good fishing year, would yield about 300 000 barrels of herring for export, and the Danish crown derived as much as one third of its annual income.
The Skåne Market in the Hanseatic League
The link between the Hanseatic League and the Skåne market started early on, as the salt and barrels, that were needed for preserving the herring, were provided by Lüneburg, as well as Hanseatic traders from Lübeck. The Hanseatic League also later provided the market with an additional workforce of women, who could help with cleaning the fish.
Trade and goodwill flourished between the Hanseatic League and the Scandinavian traders as well as the Danish crown. However, tensions soon rose between the Hanseatic League, and the Danish crown, with the Skåne market being caught in the cross fire.
Denmark’s increased taxation and regulation regarding the Skåne market, limited and affected the Hanseatic League in such a way, that they chose to take the cause up by declaring war. In doing so, they created the Confederation of Cologne in 1367.
The war ended in 1370 with the Treaty of Stralsund. The war was also settled in the Hanseatic League’s favour, where they awarded control of fortifications of the market, as well as a percentage of the profits made from the market.
The prosperity of the market came to an abrupt end at the beginning of the 15th century when the herring fishing grounds dried up, and the market almost immediately lost its place of importance in Northern Europe.