Paul Beneke: privateer or pirate? Fierce debate among ULO students at UG

prof. Możejko

Prof. Beata Możejko opens the debate.

Who was Paul Beneke, thanks to whom Hans Memling's painting The Last Judgement appeared in Gdańsk? Was he a privateer who acted legally or a pirate who, against the law, together with his fleet, raided and plundered sailing ships that were not under the Hanseatic flag? This is what students from the University Secondary School in Gdańsk had the opportunity to discuss during the final of an Oxford debate organised at the University of Gdańsk.

In line with the principle of a socially open university, involved, among other things, in initiatives for the education of schoolchildren, an Oxford debate was held at the University of Gdańsk, attended by students from the University Secondary School in Gdańsk.

The event, organised by the Memling Research Centre at the University of Gdańsk in collaboration with ULO, took place on May 11 in the prof. Jerzy Limon Theatre Hall at the UG Faculty of Philology and was moderated by Elżbieta Michalak-Witkowska from the UG Centre for Communication and Promotion.

After welcoming the assembled guests and introducing the two teams (Class 1 b: Maja Polak, Piotr Wałejko, Amelia Zdrojewska, Zofia Wyrzykowska and Class 1 c: Julia Żywicka, Pola Korbus, Maria Dzierwa, Amelia Manko) an anonymous vote was held among the audience - everyone who believed that Paul Beneke should be considered a privateer threw a white card into the ballot box. Those in whose opinion he was a pirate threw in a black card. The votes were counted, and the whole thing was repeated at the end of the debate after listening to the arguments of both teams, which made it possible to determine whether anyone in the audience had changed their position.

The floor was then taken by prof. Beata Możejko, Director of the Memling Research Centre at UG, the initiator and main coordinator of the meeting, gave a presentation on Paul Beneke, his action of April 27, 1473, and the turbulent history of the great caravel.

Finally, it was time for the discussion to begin. First, the proposal leader presented the arguments of their side (the proposal team) supporting the thesis that Paul Beneke was a privateer. Then the opposition leader took the floor and presented her team's arguments, defending the thesis that Paul Beneke was a pirate. This was followed by the other members of the teams, who took turns presenting their speeches. Listening to the speeches of both teams, brilliantly prepared by ULO's Polish teacher Brygida Maciejewska, one could be transported for a moment to the 15th century, to the times of the Great Caravel, seafaring at the time; battles fought at sea and great explorers and travellers.

After the speeches by the team representatives, the audience had time to ask questions. There was no shortage of people wanting to ask questions, and the discussion, which was conducted in a cultured and mutually respectful manner, was at times very lively and exciting.

As a result of the debate, the proposal team convinced two audience members to change their position, which should be considered a success!

In the end, members of both teams received gifts donated by the UG Communication and Promotion Centre and book prizes from a private sponsor.

Elżbieta Michalak-Witkowska / Press Office UG