Tuesday, 20 October 2020


Executed by means of a beheading that as capitial punishment goes was extraordinarily dramatic on this day in 1401 (*1360), Klaus Störtebeker (see previously for more of the lore) was the leader of a band of privateers—the Victual Brothers—engaged to supply Stockholm with provisions during a siege with Denmark.

Once their services were no longer needed after peace was achieved, they continued their piracy, adopting the new name for their group “Likedeelers”—the equal-sharers, maintaining a stronghold in East Frisia. Threatened with disruption to trade, a fleet of ships from Hanseatic Hamburg finally took on Störtebeker, double-crossed by a disgruntled mate who sabotaged his escape vessel, and brought the fugitive back to city to stand trial. Despite offers to exchange a gold band long enough to encircle Hamburg for the freedom of him and his crew, Störtebeker and seventy-three of his companions were sentenced to death for their crimes. The Lord Mayor did agree to acquises to one last request: that Störtebeker be beheaded first and that all men he could pass after decapitation would be spared. Störtebeker’s body rose (minus the head) and managed to walk past eleven crewmates before being tripped up. The Lord Mayor, however, did not honour those wishes.