Ever since research on the Hanse began in the nineteenth century, there have been repeated efforts to redefine the boundaries and the core of the phenomenon. Views of the Hanse have evolved, and it has been seen by turns as a profoundly German league of towns, and as a network or organisation of towns and traders that was present in commercial centres and harbours from Novgorod to Portugal, and from Norway to Italy. In more general discussions on the institutional development of commerce in Europe, many of them influenced by the New Institutional Economics, the Hanse has even appeared as a mega-guild. The revival of the field of institutional economics and the history of commerce in pre-modern Europe has recently spawned a reappraisal of Hanseatic sources. The present article contributes to this debate by arguing that from the perspective of conflict management, the late medieval and early modern Hanse was an institution. There were several institutional mechanisms, such as a strong preference for mediation and arbitration in conflicts between individuals, as well as a mediation strategy for internal conflicts between towns. All of these mechanisms combined in a multifaceted institution of conflict management, which represented the added value of Hanse membership for traders, and for their towns.