How did the town become a member of the Hanseatic League? Does “Wallfahrt” have anything to do with the town wall? An old European pilgrimage route brings tradesmen, pilgrims and artists to the town.
In the eleventh century, merchants began forming armed cooperatives known as “Hanse” associations, a development which began abroad.
Examples can be found in London, where merchants shared a guild hall, in Bergen, in Wisby on Gotland, and as far away as Novgorod. In the Western trade region, the Hanseatic cities of Lübeck, Hamburg and Cologne formed an alliance in 1347 in Bruges. The goods that were mainly traded included cloth from Flanders, salt, cereal, beer, wood, honey and herring.
Historic documents from as early as 1311 provide evidence that Hanseatic merchants from Attendorn cooperated with merchants from Cologne and Dortmund to import wool from England via Bruges. There is documentary evidence of merchants from Attendorn engaging in trade across the entire Hanseatic region. Thanks to their success, the prospering town reached a heyday from the mid-fourteenth century to the first half of the fifteenth century. Its economic prosperity is reflected in flourishing building activities, such as the new parish church, largely constructed in Gothic style, the Town Hall and the founding of the Augustinian Canons’ Monastery in Ewig.
At town level, the long-distance traders joined together in a closed community established as a brotherhood in honour of St. Nicholas. Bearing the name Nikolai-Konfraternität, it combined religious and civil life, as was customary at the time.
As in other mercantile towns, a small (wooden?) chapel, endowed with a special benefice, was dedicated to the Saint and consecrated in 1328. After a few decades, the chapel was replaced by a more solid building on Ennester Straße. The Nikolai Brotherhood used this chapel, which existed for more than four centuries, as a place of worship and a burial site for their deceased brethren, until it burned down in a town fire in 1742.