Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Hamburg and Hanse Towns

SP 82
Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Hamburg and Hanse Towns

Mainly original in-letters and despatches (with some copies) to the Secretary of State from the British diplomatic representatives (often designated envoys extraordinary, ministers, or residents) responsible for the 'Hanse Towns'. The representatives usually resided at Hamburg, though they were separately accredited to Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck.

The papers include those of James Cresset (Envoy Extraordinary to Brunswick-Lüneburg who resided almost entirely at Hamburg during 1697-1700) and Dr John Robinson (Envoy Extraordinary to Sweden who resided at Hamburg on business of mediation from October 1707 until August 1709).

A large number of original letters and memorials from the governments of the Hanse Towns, The Merchant Adventurers of England residing in Hamburg and other institutions and individuals are included. Draft letters or letters in copy form from the Secretary of State (or occasionally one of his assistants) to the British representatives are also to be found.


The records are arranged generally in chronological order.

Held by:
The National Archives, Kew
Legal status:
Public Record
Physical description:
103 volume(s)
Publication note:
Selected documents dated before August 1589 are described in the Calendar of State Papers Foreign Series of the Reign of Elizabeth I ed A J Butler S C Lomas and R B Wernham (London 1901-1950). For references to the more important papers for the period August 1589 to December 1595 see the List and Analysis of State Papers Foreign Series Elizabeth I I-VI ed by Richard Bruce Wernham (London 1964-1993). Please speak to staff at the Map and Large Document Room enquiry desk for the precise location.
Administrative / biographical background:

Hamburg was a member of The Hanseatic League, founded by north German towns and German commercial groups abroad to defend mutual trading interests. It was a self governing city, though in theory subject to Denmark until 1768. In 1770 it was acknowledged as an 'immediate' imperial city of Germany, having no overlord other than the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Lübeck and Bremen were likewise free cities. The League gradually lost its importance and influence, and was dissolved in 1630. The above-mentioned Hanse Towns remained autonomous republics until the Napleonic Wars overthrew the old order in Germany.

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