Godeke Wessels

(a.k.a. Godeke Michels)

German Privateer

Born: Unknown

Died: 1402

Godeke Wessels was also known as Godeke Michels, after he married into the gender of Michaelsen of Dauelsen and acquired a residence in Eissel (Germany).

In the 14th and 15th centuries in was not an uncommon practice for husbands to call themselves after the gender of their wife's family in order to keep the family crest, especially if it was a marriage with a rich daughter or a marriage into a well-known and important dynasty, such as the Michaelsens.

Godeke was known as an erudite man from a noble lineage, and he soon chose the life of a freebooter and helped the German Hansa during the war with Denmark to sack Danish ships and supply besieged German cities with food. During that time Godeke Wessels and Klaus Störtebeker often operated together as Vitalienbrüder in the North and Baltic Sea. After the war was over in 1395 Godeke and Störtebeker continued with piracy and captured not only Danish vessels but also ships of England, Holland and the German Hanse.

Due to his family relationships in the area of Pommern Godeke often used these locations as a hideout together with Klaus Störtebeker. There is proof that Godeke and Störtebeker donated 12 Himten units of rye and a ton of herrings to the poor folks of Verden (Lüneburg). However, the lion's share of this donation was later appropriated by the employees of the Verden Cathedral. This act of benefaction was highly unusual around 1400, and this probably is the reason why exactly this donation is passed down until today.

In March 1401 it was decided by the Prussian cities, that fleets should be sent into the Baltic Sea in order to bring the pirate operations of Godeke Wessels to an end. Thereupon Godeke sailed together with his companion Wigbold and a crew of 200 men to Norway. Angry about the escape of Godeke and Wigbold the German Hanse set the castle of Godeke's protector Chief Sibrands of Loquard on fire.

In April 1402 Godeke Michels was captured in the North Sea together with his crew, and they were all beheaded on the Grasbrook in Hamburg.

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