The Baltic trading town Lübeck was the early driving force behind the Hanseatic League (founded 1356), which evolved from a series of local commercial alliances. The League’s extensive network of Baltic ports exported resin, amber, wax, iron, copper, flax and timber and imported textiles, wines and spices. ‘Kontors’, massive walled compound housing docks and warehouses, were established from Bruges to Bergen and Novgorod. A military as well as a commercial power, the Hanse defeated the Dutch (1438–41) and the English (1469–74) when they sought to break the Hanse’s trade monopolies. The Hanseatic League was able to exert a commercial stranglehold over the uneasy Union of Kalmar (1397–1523) between Denmark, Sweden and Norway, playing the kingdoms off against one another. But by the end of the 15th century, rising nationalism threatened their interests, and they were expelled from Sweden and Novgorod. The territory to the east of the Baltic Sea was dominated by the Jagellon dynasty, founded by the Duke of Lithuania, who married Queen Jadwiga of Poland.
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