For today’s #RetroConflictsInspirations, we turn our attention to the Channel – a familiar sight for those Hansards traveling to w-European cities and markets – and the language of belonging. For this, we move forward to the 18th c., and Renaud Morieux’s article re: fishermen.
It is specifically the aspect of a deliberate, outward expression of belonging that catches our attention. By itself, 'belonging to the Hanse' is already elusive. How does one, after all, define an inter-regional group sharing privileges, but not common property or a leader? Especially a group that expressed a fluid language of belonging in diplomatic/legal interactions, sometimes claiming a shared burden, or ignoring it all together. The language of belonging, as Morieux rightfully observes, changes with the circumstances. With the Hanse abroad we see this as well: language of defining, be it national or mercantile identity, goes beyond something a concept imposed upon an entire group. It is often a deliberate strategy to be used, and therefore something that fluidity serves well: "In order to back several horses at the same time, [the fishermen of the Channel] always maintained a deliberate ambiguity in their national allegiances." A conclusion very applicable to the Hansards balancing their loyalties to cities of origin, communities abroad & networks. Many attempts to impose a definition of who legally 'belongs' can be found in Hanseatic history, e.g. by foreign rulers or as required by negotiations following large-scale conflicts, but strategies of belonging were often the tools of those acting upon diplomacy from below.[....]