Reply To: Baltic Pirates

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Hans Hellinger

A bit more of this from the same article:

“In the very same year (1526), a report by Hans Michelssøn to King Christian II, formerly of Denmark but at that time exiled in Brabant, states that one of his privateers, skipper Clement, lay with five ships in Skjernesund, two miles (22 km) northeast of Nesset (Lindesnes) ‘where he has erected two blockhouses at each side of the bay and closed the harbour with iron chains’, and that all bosmend and hoffmend (sailors and men or war) in Norway are coming to him.

Marten Pechlin, too, was in the service or King Christian, and a sworn enemy of the Hanse. In just a few days, he is reported to have taken twelve Hanse ships which were on route to Sweden, and thrown 105 sailors over board. In 1526, as part of King Christian’s [of Denmark] campaign against his former kingdom and its Hanse allies, he plundered several churches and monasteries on the Norwegian coast. He pursued the then-common strategy of demanding a huge ransom for the ships he captured, and if the owners did not comply, Pechlin ‘sunk’ the ships. Te victorious Hansards [Hanseatic sailors] showed no mercy with the infamous privateer and his crew; of the eighty-man strong crew, only nineteen survived the battle near Skjernesund. Six were taken prisoner, summarily sentenced and thrown overboard. Another thirteen escaped in two boats; four of these were picked up by a ship from Rostock and drowned. Te others were later beheaded in Varberg in present-day Sweden by the only surviving crew member, who was freed for this purpose.

What Gert Korfmaker and his companions discovered in 1526, was that a much-visited harbour had become infested with pirates. Here then, we have another scenario that may explain archaeological con-texts like the one we meet in Skjernesund – piracy, that is, and not trade – or rather both, since the first makes little sense without the second. Te intentional sinking of captured vessels may actually be what lies behind wrecks like the ones in Skjernesund, burnt or not.”

And still a bit more on the fate of a crew who had been captured by the same group of pirates:

” Gert Korfmaker’s story furnishes us with several other possibilities: First, our Hanse skippers noticed a large hulk [type of larger ship], a certain ship type, in an inlet near Skjernesund. It had been seized by the pirates, demasted and left in shallow water; at high tide, she was filled with water.

The ship’s crew stayed at a nearby arm, while its captain had gone home to Tønsberg to try and raise the ransom money demanded by Pechlin and his compatriots to release the vessel.
Then, during the ensuing battle the pirates tried to steer a fire ship into the Hanse fleet.

And, after their victory, the German merchants took everything of value, anchors, ropes and sails as well as cargo, and set the conquered pirates’ ship on fire. Each of these scenarios could explain wrecks like the one in Hundevika”