353 The so-called commercial revolution of the thirteenth century brought about the intensification and transformation of European trade networks. 1 During this period, the Hanseatic League established itself as the major economic power in medieval northern Europe, exercising its power through towns, merchants and a specific trading infrastructure. However, the League also had political interests which interacted with the political structure and development of specific towns and regions. The role of Hanseatic trade and the development of towns is also an important aspect in understanding medieval Livonia 2 (that is, the territories of present-day Estonia and Latvia). 3 This paper will attempt to explore, on the basis of the published sources and literature, the role of the Hanseatic League in the newly emerging Livonia, as well as the Hanseatic character of the Livonian towns involved in the League and the influence of the League as an international superstructure on Livonia’s relationship with both Western and Eastern powers. The chronological framework of research covers the medieval period in the Baltic, from the eve of the thirteenth century, when the Baltic Crusades began, to the mid-sixteenth century, when the Livonian states collapsed during the Livonian War (1558–1583).