The Hanseatic League in Lüneburg
Lüneburg – Lower Saxony’s only member of the Hanseatic League
Since the end of 2007 Lüneburg has officially been able to call itself a Hanseatic town once more. After an exhaustive investigation process, it was confirmed that Lüneburg had more than earned the designation.
The era of the Hanseatic League
Lüneburg’s admission to the medieval Hanseatic League of merchants and towns is due entirely to the salt dome lying deep under the town. Salt was a very valuable commodity in the Middle Ages and was also known as "white gold". This meant that Lüneburg long had the monopoly as the supplier of salt in North Germany.
The salt extracted in Lüneburg’s saltworks was taken by ship from the old port to Lübeck, where the Hanseatic League had come into being in the mid-12th century, and from there it was shipped all over the known world. As a result of its flourishing trade, Lüneburg became a member of the Saxonian, and then later the Wendish, group of towns. With this the town acquired a significant function as intermediary between both. Proof that Lüneburg was actually a full member of the Hanseatic League is provided by the co-financing of a campaign against Denmark and attendance at the Hanseatic Diet in Lübeck in 1363.
Between 1363 and 1530 Lüneburg had despatched numerous representatives to the Hanseatic Diets and central meetings, even organising Hanseatic League conventions itself and providing military support to other towns in the league. Lüneburg remained associated with the Hanseatic League into the 17th century; however, with the loss of its salt monopoly the town had already left its economic boom behind.
Today Lüneburg’s townscape still bears witness to its former wealth and the intensive trade of the Hanseatic League. Magnificent gabled houses, mighty churches, the medieval town hall, the old port with its famous crane and the historic warehouse bear witness to the town’s fascinating past. In the German Salt Museum, which is located on the site of the old saltworks, the history of Lüneburg in the age of the Hanseatic League is vividly brought to life.
Today the Hanseatic town of Lüneburg honours its Master Salters once a year. In the Middle Ages they were responsible for the extraction of the salt and hence played a considerable part in the fame and wealth of the town. The Master Salter Days take place every year in autumn, a great medieval spectacle all about salt.