Neil MacGregor charts the rise and fall of the Hansa, or Hanseatic League, a great trading alliance of 90 cities, including Lübeck, Hamburg, Danzig, Riga and London.
He also focuses on the role of the artist Hans Holbein the Younger, who painted portraits of Hansa merchants.
'If I had to choose one image to sum up the Hansa in its heyday,' says Neil MacGregor, 'It would be Holbein's 1532 portrait of Georg Gisze, a Danzig merchant trading in London.' The painting shows an expensively-dressed 33 year old man, his wealth and status indicated by a vase made of the finest, the thinnest Venetian glass, a small circular brass clock, certainly made in Southern Germany, and a Turkey carpet imported from the Levant.
Producer Paul Kobrak.