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The Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck was a city-state that existed from 1226 to 1937 in the present-day Germanmarker states of Schleswig-Holsteinmarker and Mecklenburg-Vorpommernmarker.


Imperial Free City and the Hanseatic League

In 1226 Emperor Frederick II declared the city of Lübeckmarker to be an Imperial Free City. In the 14th century Lübeck became the "Queen of the Hanseatic League", being by far the largest and most powerful member of this medieval trade organization.

Several conflicts about trade privileges were fought by Lübeck and the Hanseatic League against Denmark with varying outcomes. While Lübeck and the Hanseatic League prevailed in conflicts in 1435 and 1512, Lübeck lost when it became involved in the Count's Feud, a civil war that raged in Denmark from 1534 to 1536. Lübeck also joined the Schmalkaldic League. After defeat in Count's Feud, Lübeck's power slowly declined. Lübeck managed to remain neutral in the Thirty Years' War, but with the devastation of the decades-long war and the new transatlantic orientation of European trade, the Hanseatic League and thus Lübeck lost importance. After the Hanseatic League was de facto disbanded in 1669, Lübeck stayed an important trading town on the Baltic Sea.

Full sovereignty in 1806

Lübeck remained a Free Imperial City even after the German Mediatisation in 1803 and became a sovereign state after the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. During the War of the Fourth Coalition against Napoleon, troops under Bernadotte occupied the neutral Lübeck after a battle against Blücher on November 6, 1806.

First Annexation

Under the Continental System, trade suffered and from 1811 to 1813 Lübeck was formally annexed as part of the First French Empire.

Reestablishment as sovereign state in 1813

Lübeck reassumed its pre-1811 status in 1813. The Vienna Congress of 1815 confirmed Lübeck's independance and it became one of 39 sovereign states of the German Confederationmarker. Lübeck became part of the North German Confederationmarker in 1867 and became an autonomous state of the new-founded German Empiremarker in 1871.

Second and final Annexation

In 1937 the Nazis passed the so-called Greater Hamburg Act, where the nearby Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburgmarker was expanded, to encompass towns that had formally belonged to the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein. To compensate Prussia for these losses (and partly because Hitler had a personal dislike for Lübeck), the 711-year-long independence of Lübeck came to an end and almost all its territory was incorporated into Schleswig-Holstein.

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