Travel: Pirate of Hamburg

I will leave you with an interesting tale about the infamous Pirate of Hamburg.

Klaus Stortebeker was originally a simple fisherman hired during a naval war to break the blockade that the Danish had besieged upon the Swedish capital of Stockholm. After the war ended however, he found that he enjoyed ‘pirating’ so much, that he continued to capture rich merchant vessels for their wealth. He was a fair man, however, and is known as the only Captain that split the loot equally with all his men, whereas most Captains tended to take up 50-60% of the goods, and left the rest for his men to squabble over. Klaus was even liked by the poor, he was seen as a ‘Robin Hood’ of sorts, and contributed his earnings to help fuel their meager living.

Unfortunately, in his overzealousness, he continued to capture the merchant ships of the Hanseatic League. They were never able to capture him, due to the speed of his ship. Instead, they played upon his character, by paying a spy to play a stranded seaman, Klaus, being the good man he was, welcomed the stranger on board. In their sleep, the spy arose to pour molten lead into the ship’s rudder, thereby rendering Klaus’s ship useless, and unable to escape capture when they saw the Hanseatic Navy on the horizon.

After being sentenced to death, him and his crew were marched naked through the streets of Hamburg. On this route, he tried to think of creative ways to avoid the fate of those that befell the guillotine. Upon crossing the Bridge of Sorrows, he shouted,

“Wait! If you let my men and I free, I will give you a gold chain that can wrap around the city twice!”

The magistrates did not believe him, and decided that even if this was plausible, they would find this treasury of gold after he died. Therefore, they rejected Klaus’s first proposal.

Klaus was running out of time, and as they reached the execution square, he mad a final attempt.

“Wait! If my headless body can walk past my men, let them go free.”

The magistrates replied that they would be more than interested in seeing his headless body march, and agreed to free as many men as he walked past. To the dismay of the executioner, after the severing of the head, Klaus’s body began to stroll past his men. Not 1, but 11 men were passed, before the executioner, in his rage, tripped the the body by throwing the executioner’s block in front of it’s feet.

When asked if he still had the energy to execute the remaining men, the executioner replied in jest, “Not only do I have enough energy to kill all of them, I have enough energy to kill all of you as well!”

In a rage, the senate sentenced him to death as well as Klaus’s men, including the 11 that his headless body had walked past.

2013-04-30 05.52.47

Klaus’ Skull

That was an interesting story, no? I certainly enjoyed how it brought me back to a childhood in which such Myths and Legends seemed plausible. ^_^

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