Riga served as a gateway to trade with the Baltic tribes and with Russia. The city became a member of the Hanseatic League in 1282.
The House of Blackheads was first mentioned in 1334. The Riga council rented the main hall to the Blackhead Brotherhood - a guild of young unmarried foreign merchants. As their patron, they chose St Maurice, whose paintings and sculptures tended to show him as a dark-skinned soldier dressed in armour.