Episode 120– Money, Money, Money

How did the Hanse operate the other side of the equation – the money? Find out how the 15th century was already almost cashless…

Episode 119– What was the Hansa

Historians have re-intepreted the Hanse for 200 years. The latest notion is that it was a network like ebay or Amazon. Does that make sense?

Episode 118– Pirates

Klaus Stortebecker may have been a legend, but there were pirates in the Baltic in the 14th century and they were a danger to the Hansa

Episode 117– Embargoes

A story of plague and recovery first of the cities of the Hanseatic league and then of the broken kingdom of Denmark

Episode 114– The London Steelyard

If like many of you, you are listening to this podcast on your morning or evening commute and you happen to live in London, you may be one of the 20 million souls going through Cannon Street Station every year. Few of them will be aware that under their feet lay the vestiges of the…

Episode 113– Bergen & Bruges

Today we will talk about the Bryggen, the famous Hanseatic Kontor or trading post in Bergen in western Norway. Bergen itself was never a member of the Hanseatic League, but like The St. Peter’s yard in Novgorod, the steelyard in London and the Kontor of Bruges, the Bryggen in Bergen was a key element of…

Episode 112– Grain & 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…

Episode 110– The Livonian Cities

Riga, Reval (=Tallin) and Dorpat (=Tartu) were the members of the Hanseatic League who ended up controlling the trade in fur and beeswax

Episode 109– Gotlandfahrer

Working on the new series about the Hanseatic League I come back to the question how this organisation (if it even was one) could be so enduring. It had no permanent institutions, no register of members and operated on the fringe of global trade…

Episode 108– Henry the Lion or from Saxony to Saxonies

These last few episodes you may have wondered how all this hangs together. This week we will try to resolve this question. What we will talk about is how the great stem duchy of Saxony fell apart. And there are two stories about that. One is the story of Henry the Lion and his fall…

Episode 107– The House of Wettin

The House of Wettin ruled modern day Sachsen for centuries. In this episode we explore where they came from and how they became so rich..

Episode 105 – The Foundation of Lübeck

Episode 105 is out! today we look at how a small settlement on a minor river became the second largest city in the empire north of the Alps

EPISODE 104 – The Making of Holstein

After 200 years of raiding and plundering the Slavic lands north and east of the Elbe River the Saxon magnates have a change of heart with consequences that impacted Eastern European history for centuries to come

EPISODE 103 – All the Duke’s Men

This week we talk about what happens after the fight for independence is won. As had happened countless times before in history, precious freedoms gained in bloody struggles can be lost easily in the subsequent peace, not to the old adversary, but to new, homegrown usurpers. That is at least one way of telling the…

#4 Capo Colonna July 13/14, 982

In 982 the unlucky emperor Otto II loses a battle in Southern Italy, which triggers an uprising of the pagan Slavs east of the Elbe River giving Poland enough wiggle room to plough its own furrow.


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About Me

I am a history geek with no academic qualification in the field but a love for books and stories. I do this for fun and my personal self-aggrandisement.

I have been born, raised and educated in Germany but live in the UK for now over 20 years with my wife and two children. My professional background is in law, management consulting and banking. History has always been a hobby as are sailing, travelling, art, skiing and exercise (go BMF!).

My view of history is best summarised by Gregory of Tours (539-594): “A great many things keep happening, some good, some bad”. History has no beginning and no end and more importantly, it has no logic, no pattern and no purpose . But that does not mean there isn’t progress and sometimes we humans realise that doing the same thing again and again hoping for a different outcome is indeed madness. The great moments in history are those where we realise that we cannot go on as we were and things need to change. German history – as you will hopefully see – is full of these turning points, some good, some bad!

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1 Comment

  1. This is a very enjoyable podcast. I like the comments about the shift in perception of historical events. E.g., former historians valued the actions of the pope against the Empire as decisive blows that prohibited the
    Empire from becoming centralized and strong, whereas the modern perception is much more subtle than
    that. In fact the resolution of the investiture quarrel was in the end quite similar in the Empire and in states
    like France or England. It is very rewarding in this context to look at the antagonism of the ruler trying to
    establish an absolute rule, and the resistance this provoked in the church, the barons, townspeople etc.
    The equilibrium reached in this struggle defines the degree of centralization a state can finally reach.
    These struggles were different in France, England, and Germany, but there are similarities.
    I like the analysis regarding the codex of Justinian. It states that the rule of Augustus introduced autocratic
    rule in exchange for peace for the people. Before Augustus, Rome was in an anarchic state of civil war, and
    an autocracy offered a way out of that. So people complied. The situation was different in the early medieval
    ages. An autocratic ruler would have been a mere tyrant that restricted any freedoms subordinates had. So various groups rallied against that. After much ado over centuries the compromise was a co-ruler ship with
    the most powerful of these subordinates, introducing democratic elements into the governance. It is interesting
    to see that during the great depression when perspectives were bleak, people again turned to autocratic
    rulers like Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, or Stalin.

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