Peter Wessel Tordenskjold did not have long to enjoy the peace that his war time efforts had helped to bring about. On the way to visit his parents, after the war, Peter stopped to meet some old friends. One of these was the Duke of Austenborg. He stayed with him overnight, and had a vivid nightmare that left him soaked in sweat and shaking when he awoke. When he told his friend Christian Kold about the dream, Kold told him that his nightmare of a snake biting him was an ill omen. In the morning he also told the Duke who agreed with Kold that it was an evil vision, and he told Peter that he probably should not continue his journey. Peter did not listen. When Peter reached Hamburg crowds lined the streets to cheer him, and he was well received with the greatest hospitality by the finest families in Germany. He basked in the glory he had won.
While in Hamburg he learned from a boy about a German card sharp named Col. Jacob Stael von Holstein who was going around cheating people. This stuck in Peter's mind because it was said that Col. Stael possessed a snake with seven heads. In October of 1720, George I, the King of England who was visiting Hanover let it be known that he wished to meet Admiral Tordenskjold. The king so admired Peter that when they dined together Peter was invited to eat at the king's table everynight. This was a high honor indeed ! Peter over time was sucked into Hanover's wilder side of life, which included drinking, gambling and socializing. At a dinner at the home of Baron von Gortz, Peter was introduced to a Col. Stael von Holstein. The Col. claimed that he knew Peter Wessel, but Peter quickly cut him off, and made it very clear that he had never met Col. Stael. He also added that he had heard of his, " nefarious activities in Hamburg, however. This lead to a heated exchange at which Col. Stael tried to draw his sword on Peter. The blade got stuck in the scabbard, so the Colonel took the entire sword and casing and whacked Admiral Tordenskjold in the back of the head as Peter turned away. Peter then turned around quickly and knocked the weapon out of Col. Stael' s hand and then shoved him to the ground. After another heated verbal exchange Col. Stael left.
During his travels Peter heard that Col. Stael was trying his best to force Peter into a duel by using influential contacts. In Germany duels were legal, but in Denmark and Norway they were illegal acts. Peter also learned that Col. Stael was a practiced duelist who was known for his sword play. Though Peter did not want to be involved in a duel, over the next few days he was pressured by influential people to accept this challenge. It was hard for Peter to refuse for long because Peter was a born fighter and seldom backed down from anyone or anything.
The duel was set for 8 o 'clock on Tuesday November the 12th. Peter was lead to believe, ( I think he was flat out lied to ), that this was not a duel to the death, but simply a duel for honor, and the first one who drew blood would be declared the winner. Word of the duel had spread, and the road by the field where the duel was to be held was packed with the carriages and horses of spectators.
After exchanging salutes Tordenskjold and Stael crossed their swords, and began their sword play. After a few thrusts, Peter decided to end this with one wild lunge, but because Peter's sword was slightly shorter than Col. Stael's sword, Peter missed short. Stael immediately stuck his longer sword through Peter's armpit, and pierced his heart. As Peter stumbled backwards, he fell to the ground with blood covering his shirt. Col. Stael, the coward that he was, raced to a waiting horse and rode off. The spectators quickly disappeared as well. Christian Kold, who was also Peter's " second " ran to his friend, kneeled down and tried to stop the flow of blood, but could do nothing to help his wounded friend. Peter said something that was not understood by Christian Kold, and then he left this earth.
Peter Jansen Wessel Tordenskjold's body was taken to the Naval Church, at Bremerholm, but because he died in a duel, an illegal act, his body was left in a storage crypt instead of being interred with the rest of the great naval heroes. In 1817, however, Frederik VI, made arrangements to honor Peter Wessel Tordenskjold by enshrining him in a marble sarcophagus where it now rests along side the other great naval heroes of both Norway and Denmark.
Peter Jansen Wessl Tordenskjold was a great naval hero who could just as easily have been a Viking Chieftain if he had been born in that era of history. Peter never backed down from a fight, even though it quite often got him into a lot of trouble. In the end his fighting spirit cost him his life. Peter Jansen Wessel Tordenskjold, or Admiral Thunderbolt as he is better known, is a proud addittion to our Germanic / Norwegian Cultural History. All Hail Peter Jansen Wessel Tordenskjold ! All hail Admiral Thunderbolt !!
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !