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Störtebecker, Klaus. Klaus Störtebecker (?-1401) was a native of Hamburg who fought against the Hanseatic League as a pirate. Soon after his death the legend grew that his last request was that the authorities free all of his shipmates past whom his headless body walked, and that his headless body walked past his entire crew before collapsing. He appeared in the German dime novel Klaus Störtebecker, Der Gefürchtete Herrscher der Meere #1-60 (1908-1909); the stories were translated across Europe and in the Ottoman Empire, with the French version begin written by French author Jean Petithuguenin (Pierre Briscard, Ethel King).
The fictional Klaus Störtebecker is actually Klaus de Winsfield, a German, born in Hamburg around 1380, whose life revolves around gaining revenge against the Hanseatic League. Störtebecker takes to sea and becomes a pirate, preying on the League's merchant vessels and also fighting against various warships and against other pirates. He is based in Heligoland, and after a time joins the dread Vitalis brothers and uses his ship, the Ram to help them, and vice-versa. His secret weapon is Greek Fire. He is active on the North and Baltic Seas, fights against the Hanseatics, the Danes, and the citizens of Hamburg, and even goes as far south as Constantinople and as far east as India. He fights the Flying Dutchman, the Prophet of the Holy Mountains, his own doppelganger, the Prince-Robber of Wisby, the Devil of Lake Lagoda, and Jeanne de Belleville, the Pirate Queen.
Störtebecker appears in stories with titles like “A Captain of 18 Years,” “The Indian Gold Ship,” and “The Robbers’ Nest of the Shetland Islands.”
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