Sunday, 13 August 2006

On this day

I so hope this is true. Thank you, Wikipedia, for this gem.

Otto Witte (1868–August 13, 1958) was a circus acrobat who managed to be crowned King of Albania.

In 1913, when Albania broke off from the Ottoman Empire, some Albanian Muslims invited Halim Eddine, a nephew of the Sultan, to come and be crowned king. Noticing his own resemblance to Halim Eddine, Witte traveled to Durres, Albania, with a friend, the sword-swallower Max Schlepsig. He succeeded in being crowned king by the local troops on August 13, 1913. Over the next five days, he enjoyed a harem and declared war on Montenegro before his ruse was discovered. Taking a substantial portion of the kingdom's treasury, he and Schlepsig managed to escape the palace with the aid of the harem and they eventually made their way out of Albania.

His story was adapted for Harry Turtledove's fantasy novel Every inch a king.

Later in life his official identity card, issued by the Berlin police, stated that its holder was "a circus entertainer" and "one-time King of Albania".

The Man Who Was King, Time Magazine, 25 August 1958.

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