Money is not evil. Money doesn't think. Money doesn't speak, except metaphorically. Money is only a system to exchange goods, a means of commerce and trade. I'm glad it runs our world. Without commerce and those cut throat businessmen that supposedly take you against your will for your hard earned pennies culture wouldn't exist.
Culture has aways spread because of business. When Christopher Columbus discovered the new world he didn't do so out of benevolence. His aim wasn't some higher calling to develop a new continent.
He wanted to make history. He wanted to capitalize on the wealth of an untouched nation and discover gold. But he brought to the new world a different way of living. He discovered people and a culture very different from what he was used to. In time, parts of this indigenous culture melded with the new culture, creating the atmosphere we have in North America today.
This isn't the only example of commerce and wealth serving as the motive power for helping a country become prosperous and comfortable.
The Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League, or the Hansa as it is commonly called, was a confederation headquartered in Luebeck that was established to protect and expand commerce in Northern Europe. The Hansa was made up of merchant guilds who discovered they could better protect their economic interests in a product or region with the help of others. Basically, a bunch of men got together and said, "It really sucks that the Vikings and the other raiding tribes keep ruining our trade routes and stealing our goods. Hey, we should protect our power and commercial interests here by joining together for mutual benefit."
The Hansa levied each guild and in return did the following:
1. Raised armies to fight raiders and protect cities. They often used trade ships to transport armies to different guild areas that needed additional support.
2. Helped raise less-developed cities into prosperity.
3. Negotiated and helped remove trade restrictions between member guilds.
4. Established trading posts to facilitate trade.
5. Developed a network of trade goods from England to Sweden and everywhere in between.
Today, although the league is long gone, several uses of its name remain. Two of the most notable are the football team FC Hansa and Lufthansa
As is usually the case, when businessmen prosper many others do as well. For 5 centuries the Hansa helped countries in East and West Europe develop from hovels and shacks into comfortably positioned countries.
The Medieval Town of Tallinn
One of the poor, less-developed cities in the Baltics that the Hansa helped was Tallinn. From the 13th Century to 1917 and from 1941-44 under German Occupation Tallinn was known as Reval. The city got its start when Teutonic Knights passed through and built a castle here.
It wasn't until later that the economic importance of the city was discovered. As a port city it links East and West Europe together on a trade route from England to Sweden. This is why Tallinn caught the eye of The Hansa.
Today, Tallinn is know for its old town, which is a perfectly preserved medieval city and example of Hanseatic Architecture. This type of architecture is know for its medieval look and feel, and incorporates cobblestone streets, and brick buildings. Both of these elements, and Tallinn having never been pillaged or ransacked, are the reasons why Tallinn has remained so well-preserved.
With new trade came also new buildings, as an increased flow of money brought spending. Warehouses, granaries, houses, restaurants and more sprung up and breathed new life into the city.
Today, you can visit Tallinn, Estonia's capital, and see some of the warehouses built in the 11th century. You can walk the original cobblestone streets past houses that have not changed in size or shape since they were first built centuries ago. Also visit the original church, barns, and granaries that traders and merchants used to use. This city has been marked as a UNESCO world heritage site because of its history and preservation as a medieval Northern European trade city. In fact, it is the most well preserved medieval European City. While you can see Hanseatic architecture in Luebeck, Bremen and Hamburg Tallinn is the only city to remain untouched by war and destruction.
But, don't let the old town fool you. Tallinn is a wealthy city, thanks in whole to the centuries spent as a commercial hub in Northern Europe. Tallinn has grown much since then, and the city now expands outward in stretches of new, delicious restaurants, stores and houses. But, at its core is old town, a reminder of the helping hand up that the Hansa gave this once poor city. For, without trade and business a country cannot expand and develop into something far greater than what it is now.