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In the 13th and 14th centuries German Hansa merchants dominated North European maritime trade. They created trade settlements abroad and new towns in the Baltic. The Kontor in Bergen was the largest of these settlements and had ca. 1000 residents in winter, increasing to 2000 in summer. Its counterpart was a Norwegian state whose authority declined after 1319. The resulting military, administrative and judicial relations are unique in Northern Europe. The great expansion in the Bergen stockfish trade took place 1250-1320 and declined after the Black Death. Norwegian merchants and state officials found the Kontor presence problematic, but stockfish producing households between Bergen and the Barents Sea saw the trade as a source of economic welfare and better food security.