Friday, 22 January 2010

Störtebeker’s Stolen Skull

by Kathryn Hadley,

A skull believed to have belonged to the legendary 14th-century buccaneer Klaus Störtebeker and a life-size wax model of the pirate have disappeared from Hamburg history museum. The museum officially announced the theft in a press release on Wednesday January 20th. The skull went missing on January 9th and the police have since been investigating the theft, albeit without success. The museum has offered a reward of up to several thousand euros for any information leading to the skull’s recovery.

The story of Störtebeker’s life has been the subject of many myths and legends. He was the leader of the Victual Brothers, a group of privateers initially recruited by the Dukes of Mecklenburg to fight against the forces of Queen Margaret of Denmark, which had besieged Stockholm in the battle for Scandinavian supremacy. The name ‘victual’ is derived from the Latin term for provisions, victualia, and is thus a direct reference to the first mission of the group, which was to bring relief to the besieged town.

Klaus Störtebeker is believed to have been executed on an island in the Elbe River on October 20th, 1400, along with 30 other pirates. His skull was discovered in Hamburg, in 1878, at a time when the city was rapidly expanding and many large warehouses were being built for the shipping industry. The skull had been on display in the museum since 1922.

Spiegel Online also reported on the theft.

Störtebeker’s skull (Hamburgmuseum)

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