Workshop 1: The Große Schicht of Braunschweig (1374) and the Hanse

Workshop 1: The Große Schicht of Braunschweig (1374) and the Hanse

Workshop 1: The Große Schicht of Braunschweig (1374) and the Hanse

In 1374, a great uprising took place against the general city council of Braunschweig. It was a short but bloody fight. Ten members of the council were executed in public, the others could flee the city to the Hanseatic meeting which took place at that moment, and which had been rushed from Stralsund to Lübeck. The fugitives reported a shocking account of the violence they had witnessed. They begged the Hanseatic cities to stop the violent situation and to prevent them from staying dishonourably banned through no fault of their own.[1]

The events, which went down in history as the Große Schicht, had lasting influence on the collective memory of the Hanseatic cities. The Detmar chronicle from Lübeck describes, for example, the situation in 1374 as if the devil had been released in the city of Braunschweig.[2] For the first time, the Hanse would try to intervene to a large extent in the affairs of an individual city. In 1375, Braunschweig became verhanst, i.e. excluded from the privileges and cooperation of the merchants and cities of the Hanse. Only in 1380, Braunschweig was accepted as a Hanseatic city again.

Nevertheless, the events were never really forgotten. In the so-called Aufruhr-Statuten of 1418, the ‘uprisings-statutes’, Verhansung became the prescribed punishment for communities who revolted against their city council. The Saxon cities, who were also united in a separate, regional league, formulated even more drastic measurements in order to support each other in case of a repetition of such events: they allowed each other to interfere actively if necessary. Up and including the mid-fifteenth century, the Saxon cities tried to convince the Hanse to include more far-reaching measurements in the Hanseatic statutes. The agreements of 1447 were at least temporarily a move in the intended direction.  

The workshop

The Große Schicht is one of the most well-researched inner city developments of the late Middle Ages. Therefore, it is a good starting point for further research into the reaction of the Hanse to political events in individual Hanseatic cities. Notwithstanding the extensive research on the Große Schicht already performed, the participants in the workshop will not follow the well-trodden paths. It has not yet been satisfactorily clarified why the Hanse decided to interfere into the situation in Braunschweig.

During the workshop, we aim to shed more light on three aspects:

1.       The causes of the Schicht, and the causes for the development of the case in Braunschweig;

2.       The reasons of interference for the Hanse;

3.       How the Hanse’s attitude with regard to Braunschweig changed over time. Why, for instance, was the Verhansung already lifted in 1380, but the conflict between Braunschweig and the Hanse officially solved only in 1386?



<link typo3>[1] Hanserecesse I.2: Nr.78, p.91.

<link typo3>[2] C. Hegel, Die Chroniken der niedersächsischen Städte: Lübeck, Volume 1 (Leipzig 1884) p.549.

(Stand: 09.06.2021)