a1 Department of History, Durham University, 43 North Bailey, Durham, DH1 3EX
a2 School of Humanities, University of Derby, Kedleston Road, Derby, DE22 1GB
a3 History, School of Humanities, Swansea University, Swansea, SA2 8PP
The most striking feature of this year's publications is the large number of articles about the economic, financial and business history of medieval towns. ‘What was the Hanse?’ (Was war die Hanse?) sounds like the sort of question that might be asked in an undergraduate examination, designed to elicit a wide range of responses, from the purely descriptive to the more analytical. The question has, in fact, generated a substantial, if rather problematic, historiography, as two studies of the Hanse make clear. The tendency to define the Hanse as a ‘state’ or to see it as endowed with ‘state-like’ qualities does not do justice to the complexity of a more loosely framed and highly adaptable commercial and urban network.