Just off the shores of Baltic Sea peninsula Darß, marine archaeologists discover the wreck of a 700 year-old trade ship with a length of 23 metres: the “Darßer Kogge”. It’s especially the remains of the load arousing the scientists’ interest as it opens up a chapter in German history which had vanished into oblivion: the Hanseatic League. This remarkable trading empire was founded by merchants of various German cities and guilds in the middle of the 12th century in order to form an economic confederation permitting them to carry on commerce without hindrance and to increase their profits. The load of “Darßer Kogge” provides evidence that the association’s sphere of influence might have been much larger than expected. Archaeologists search for traces of a trading network stretching from Siberia up to the coast of North America. In the wild north-west of Iceland and on the Shetland Islands they discover the former outposts of the merchants and mariners telling the story of their adventurous and risky lives. The Hanseatic settlements on the Atlantic coast also show that the “will to trade” was obviously stronger than the laws enacted by the King of Denmark who had allowed the merchants to carry on commerce via the trading station of Bergen only. As new archaeological findings prove, the merchants disobeyed the royal monopoly by going around it. And though the ventures of the Hanseatic League were forbidden by the Crown, they were crowned with success.
“The ventures of the Hanseatic League” takes us inside the world empire of the brave Hanseatic navigators with their pioneering spirit who did neither fear the elemental force of the sea, nor ruthless pirates, nor mighty competitors. But the documentary also reveals the dimensions of the medieval commercial network named Hanseatic League which was actually organized like a modern trade alliance and can be compared to today’s European Union in terms of efficiency and size. “The ventures of the Hanseatic League” breaks new archaeological ground using vivid re-enactments and stunning 3-D animations.