WORKING PAPERS DATINI-ESTER ADVANCED SEMINAR
"Advanced Seminar" theme: The Market and its Agents - Prato, 2-7 maggio 2014
Author: Sabrina Stockhusen
Title of the paper: Market conditions of wholesale and retail trade in Lübeck at the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century – The ‘Krämer’ Hinrik Dunkelgud and his account book (1479-1517)
Abstract: The Hanseatic exchange of goods between Eastern and Western Europe did not only depend on wholesale and long-distance merchants. Moreover, retailers took part in this international trade, too. An excellent example for this fact is the ‘Krämer’ Hinrik Dunkelgud, a trader operating from Lübeck. His account book describes parts of his trade in the years from 1474 till 1508 to Tallinn, Gdansk, Stockholm, Bergen and Bruges. Moreover, he was engaged in retail and ran three stalls on the market square in Lübeck from 1480 till 1512.
The term ‘Krämer’ describes a special kind of retailer and shopkeeper who often was limited in his trade to the urban area and sold imported goods of different kind in small quantities. His trade offers a good possibility to examine the market conditions in Lübeck because Hinrik Dunkelgud received the citizenship first in 1479. As a newcomer on the market in Lübeck he had to establish his different kinds of trade as a merchant and as a ‘Krämer’(i. e. a retailer). Based on this example, we can take a look at the market conditions in Lübeck. ‘Market’ in this paper contains all kind of places and circumstances in Lübeck where the commercial exchange between merchants, local retailers, ‘guests’ and consumers was controlled by the urban legislation as well as by regulations and restrictions of guilds. ‘Market conditions’ shall mean all those conditions which arose from commercial exchange on the ‘market’ in Lübeck. This contribution analyses the access opportunities and possibilities of the newcomer Hinrik Dunkelgud as an example of market conditions and structures from a ‘Krämer’s’ and merchant’s point of view in Lübeck around 1500.
At least since the year 1474 Hinrik Dunkelgud came as a guest to the market in Lübeck. At first, he was only involved in wholesale trade with some long-standing trading partners as well as a few customers in or near Lübeck. In this time there were already some relations with the ‘Krämer’ Hans Meyer and his daughter Kunneke. Dunkelgud used the relationship with his peers and his contacts in Lübeck to expand his family ties. After he had won the citizenry he profited from the relationship with his father-in-law Hans Meyer because he got the access to the ‘Krämerkompanie’ very quickly. Besides Dunkelgud’s retail trade he also kept long-standing trading partners up to the year 1508. We do not know exactly how long he was involved in retail trade in Lübeck but it seems that Dunkelgud finished his career after he had transferred his stalls to his son-in-law in the year 1512. In his at least 38 years in business the ‘Krämer’ Hinrik Dunkelgud used, like other wholesale merchants, his money, relationships with his old and new trading partners and his family ties to be successful in retail as well as in wholesale trade in Lübeck.
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