Friday, April 16, 2021

Mapping Medieval Trading Routes

During the Middle-Ages a number of trade guilds and market towns in Northwestern and Central Europe formed a commercial and defensive confederation in order to help ensure safer trade. The Hanseatic League grew from a loose collaboration of a few North German towns in the late 1100s to dominate trade in Northern Europe and the Baltic for the next three centuries.

You can learn more about the trade routes and main roads of late medieval and early modern northern Europe on Viabundus, an interactive map of medieval Northern Europe.The Viabundus interactive map uses historical atlases and records to reconstruct "a map of pre-modern European transport and mobility". This map helps reveal the trade routes that were used by the Hanseatic League to carry goods by both road and by navigable rivers.

The Viabundus map provides both information about the large market towns of Northern Europe, and the factors (such as tolls, fairs and markets) which promoted and affected trade between them. The map also includes a route calculator which can be used to discover what routes travelers and traders were likely to have taken to travel between two different pre-modern European towns.

If you select a town on the map you can view information such as the town's estimated population for different years and the existence of markets. You can also view details on the dates of any fairs in the town (and surrounding towns) and use the route calculator to view a route between the town and any other medieval town shown on the map.

If you want to learn more about travel in Europe before the Middle-Ages then you might be interested in the OmnesViae interactive map. OmnesViae: Itinerarium Romanum is a route planner that lets you navigate the Roman Empire using the roads and shipping lanes available to the ancient Romans.

OmnesViae is based on an ancient Roman map known as the 'Tabula Peutingeriana' and allows you to plan a route that contains all the main roads and cities of the Roman Empire. Routes generated by OmnesViae list the towns and cites and also the river crossings on your trip in the map sidebar and displays the actual route on top of a modern map of Europe.

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