Commerce and craftsmanship


From marketplaces to malls

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The exchange of goods and services began as early as the Iron Age, but commerce didn't begin in earnest in Denmark until international marketplaces began to emerge. For the king, it was important to maintain control over trade. In exchange for levying taxes, he protected market towns and ensured their exclusive right to serve as the seat of commerce and craftsmanship.

Small markets sprouted up at fixed sites along the Danish coast starting in the latter half of the Iron Age. The markets were seasonal, and closed when travelling merchants moved on. Hand-crafted items was normally the most important items sold at markets. Gold and silver were often added as decoration on buckles, and could be fashioned to order. Old glass could be smoothed and made into beads, while the comb maker sold knife handles, combs, game pieces and other items made of bone or antler.

Royal control
Most Iron Age marketplaces have long since disappeared, but still with us are the remnants of larger marketplaces that attracted merchants from outside Denmark's borders. The first to be established was in the town of Ribe, in the eighth century. Later came marketplaces in Hedeby and Schleswig. Control over trade was an important tool for the king to rule his kingdom. A source from 808 writes that Danish King Godtfred before retreating destroyed the …

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