Book ID: mid-century kids' historical fiction about the Hanseatic League
February 4, 2024 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone help me identify a book I vaguely remember reading as a kid, probably by someone like Geoffrey Trease or Henry Treece, with a plot involving the Hanseatic League?
posted by tangerine to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Cynthia Harnett's Ring Out Bow Bells! (1953), published in America as The Sign of the Green Falcon, mentions the League.
posted by paduasoy at 11:06 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Secret Fiord by Geoffrey Trease. "What happened to their father, a master stone mason who was working on the cathedral in Bergen about 1400, is the problem that the twins, Jillian and Roger have to solve. Escaping from their treacherous uncle, they fall into the kindly hand of Adam Dean, who allows them to flee England aboard his trading ship, bound for Norway. Here they feel the power of the Hanseatic League and also find kindness on the part of the Norwegian people, which eventually leads to a happy ending." (Loganberry Books)
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:47 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maybe Geoffrey Trease's The Secret Fiord? A search of WorldCat for juvenile books with Hanseatic League as a topic led me to it, and this Kirkus review mentions it, too. Goodreads shows it with a different cover, and there's a couple more if you look on Google images.
posted by stormyteal at 12:47 PM on February 4

Response by poster: Thank you! The Secret Fiord sounds right. Much appreciated, people.
posted by tangerine at 1:05 PM on February 4

I'd also like to chime in and say that paduasoy has accidentally solved an AskMe of mine from ages ago. Cynthia Harnett was the author I was looking for.
posted by ninazer0 at 11:07 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]

Oh man, if I'd seen your question ninazer0 I could have told you straight away about some of it - The Writing on the Hearth (set in 1441, not 1221) is the one with the palindrome and was one of my favourite books; I now live not far from Ewelme and it was so exciting to visit for the first time. The other ones set in the same period with some overlapping characters are The Wool Pack (which I'm reading with my daughter right now, all about Cotswold wool trade) and The Load of Unicorn (about early printing press) are also v v good.

I haven't read the Great House (the architecture one) but am going to find it asap.

I don't know the Norman Conquest one and its not obviously recognisable from Harnett's wikipedia page.

If you're still into historical fiction which provides v vivid details of day to day life as an adult, I can't recommend Nicola Griffith's "Hild" and "Menewood" highly enough - imagining the early life of St Hilda of Whitby in 7thC Britain - they are stupendous. I read them as audiobooks and the reader is exceptional.
posted by melisande at 12:44 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]

Mod note: [btw, this thread (and it's coincidental solving of an 18-year-old mystery question) has been added to the sidebar and Best Of blog!]
posted by taz (staff) at 2:37 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]

I still love The Wool Pack, so am another happy person to get reminded of other Cynthia Hartnett books as well as learning about Geoffrey Trease.
posted by pipstar at 5:03 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]

This is not the book you're looking for (it having already been found), but because people seem to be enjoying comments in the general vicinity also, I will chip in that Quest For A Maid by Frances Hendry was a favorite of mine in about the same age range and also featuring the Hanseatic League.
posted by branca at 6:36 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]

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