Category Archives: Poles

Thietmar Book VII

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Here are the “Slavic” excerpts from Thietmar’s Chronicle Book VII in the Warner translation.

Chapter 4 (1014)

After crossing the Alps, the emperor travelled through neighboring regions, exercising his royal prerogatives.  He celebrated the birth of the Lord at Pohlde.  Afterwards, he went to Merseburg, where he revealed to his supporters how things stood with Boleslav’s loyalty and support [April 6, 1015]*.  He asked them to recommend unanimously either that he seek justification or redress…

[*note: these are Gregorian calendar dates – the text obviously contains Julian dates]

Chapter 8 (1014)

… Departing from Alstedt, the emperor spent the birth of the Lord at Pohlde.  On the Wednesday before Easter, he came to Merseburg [April 6], On Maundy Thursday, though unworthy, I consecrated the chrism in his presence. Abbot Redbald of Werden died o nthe vigil of the holy Resurrection, which fell on April 9, and Heidenreich, the monastery’s provost, was lee fed in his place,  On the holy day itself, Archbishop Gero sang the mass.  In the meantime, Ulrich, duke of the Bohemians, had arrived, and we spent solemn days in good spirits.

Chapter 9 (1014)

Meanwhile, Margrave Herman celebrated the feast of Easter with his father-in-law, Boleslav Chrobry.  Immediately thereafter, he went to see the emperor, in the company of Stoignev, one of Boleslav’s emissaries.  His coming had long been awaited by the emperor who was then residing in the West.  This emissary was well acquainted with the art of lying and had been sent by his fickle lord to make trouble, rather than peace, as he pretended.  The emperor commended him to his familiars.  At the same time, he mercifully bestowed his grace upon his brothers-in-law who had asked for it with bare feet. To ensure that the big windbag would see this and accurately inform his lord, he ordered him to appear ahead of time.  Upon his return, however, he reported things quite differently from how the emperor had ordered, and so the wretched duke sent him back, along with the margrave, who still wished to make peace.  In the presence of the emperor and his leading men, Boleslav’s emissary was denounced as a liar and sower of discord.  Then, the emperor again invited Boleslav to justify himself and offer compensation for his disobedience, but the latter refused to come into his presence, and instead asked that the matter be resolved before the leading men.

Chapter 10 (1014)

O reader, observe ho much kindness the emperor showed this man on a previous occasion.  The wily duke of Poland was skilled in a thousand stratagems.  He sent his son Miesco to Ulrich, ruler of the Bohemians, to propose that they make peace, on the basis of their mutual kinship, and thereby offer a unified resistance to all of their enemies, especially the emperor. After trustworthy informants told Ulrich that this plan was intended to work to his detriment, he had Miesco seized and ordered that the most prominent members of his entourage be murdered.  The rest of Miesco’s companions were taken back to Bohemia, along with their captive lord, and imprisoned.  After being informed of these events, the emperor sent my cousin, Dietrich, to demand the return of his retainer and to warn that he should not be harmed, assuming that Ulrich placed any value whatsoever on the emperor’s favour.  Dietrich received the following response: ‘My highest obligation is to obey my lord’s orders in all things, and to do so to the best of my ability and willingly. Despite my unworthiness, Omnipotent God has just seized me from the lion’s mouth and delivered into my hands the lion;s cub, sent with the intention of destroying me.  If I should permit this one to go free, there is no question that both father and son will be my enemies for ever.  If I hold on to him, however, there is a chance that I may obtain some advantage.  Let my lord determine what pleases him in this matter, and what might work to my benefit and I will obediently carry out his every request.’

Chapter 11 (1014)

When Dietrich returned with this message, however, another messenger was, quickly sent back to demand and sternly order Miesco’s release.  In return, he offered the emperor’s promise that all of Ulrich’s concerns would be resolved and a fair peace concluded.  At this, Ulrich had to surrender his captive, whether he wished to or not, and thereby greatly pleased the emperor.  Boleslav was overjoyed at his son;s release and sent messengers who duly expressed his gratitude to the emperor. These messengers also asked the emperor to send Miesco home, an act which would do honor to their lord and confound his enemies.  In return for this boon, they promised appropriate compensation in the future.  The emperor responded that this could not then be done, but promised that the request would be granted, upon the recommendation of his leading men, if Boleslav would come to Merseburg.  The duke receive this message and did no take it very well.  Discreetly ,through emissaries, he repeatedly sought to have his son returned.

Chapter 12 (1014) 

When the emperor came to the agreed upon place, he asked the leading men what he should do in this matter. Among them, Archbishop Gero spoke first:’ When there was time, and when it would have redounded to your honor, you did not listen to what I had to say.  Now, however, Boleslav is exceedingly hostile towards you because of your long custody and imprisonment of his son.  I fear that if you send Miesco back to his father, without hostages or some other surety, neither of them will be inclined to render loyal service in the future.’ The majority of those present agreed with this opinion, but the part which had been bribed complained that no great honour could be gained through such a strategy.  Gold won out over sound advice.  That all of this might be more pleasing to Boleslav, his supporters took custody of Miesco from the emperor and delivered both the son and all of the captives possessions to his father.  After receiving their promised reward, they admonished Boleslav and his son that, being mindful of Christ and their oath to God, they should neither cause the emperor any further harm nor attempt to deceive his supporters.  The two immediately responded to this friendly warning in flattering, flute-like tones which in no way corresponded with their future behaviour.  Despite the fact that they themselves had displayed little or no loyalty, they blamed the emperor and us for having delayed so long before sending MIesco back, though he numbered among our milites.

Chapter 16 (1015)

The emperor went to Goslar for the feast of the birth of Saint John the Baptist which was fast approaching.  While there, he gave Duke Ernst’s duchy [Swabia] to the duke’s cousin and her son. Then, he moved on to Magdeburg where he humbly asked Saint Maurice, Christ’s miles, to help him conquer his obstinate enemy, Boleslav.  After an army had been assembled, the emperor proceeded to a place called Schlenzfurt where he inflicted much damage on the population and their margrave, Gero.  We assembled on July 8, but instead of giving the inhabitants the protection that was their due, we plundered them,  Afterwards, our forces crossed the Elbe.  Meanwhile, I accompanied the empress and her entourage to Merseburg where we awaited the emperor’s return.  When our forces came to a district called Lausitz, they were confronted by troops issuing forth from the burg of Zuetzen.  Accepting the challenge, they killed a great number.  They also captured Erich ‘the Proud’, who had fled our region because of a homicide, and presented him, in chains, to the emperor.

Chapter 17 (1015)

The emperor went to a place called Krossen, on the Oder, where Miesco was sitting with his forces.  He then sent a delegation composed of the leading men of his army, who reminded Miesco of his oath to the emperor and unanimously asked that they might not lose their property on his account, this having been anticipated by his surrender.  He responded to them with the following words: ‘I concede that the emperor rescued me from the power of my enemies and that I promised you my loyalty.  I would willingly fulfill that promise, if I were free.  At present, however as you yourselves know, I am subject to my father’s dominion and he has forbidden this.  Nor would it be permitted by his milites, who are here with me.  Hence, I must reluctantly decline.  To the best of may ability, I will defend this land which belongs to me, but is desired by you.  When my father arrives, I will try to win him over to the emperor’s favour and to friendship with you.’  After hearing this, our representatives returned and relayed Miesco’s response to the emperor.  Meanwhile, Duke Bernhard and his supporters, with bishops, counts, and a band of the heathen Liutizi, moved against Boleslav from the north, and encountered him on theOder which was defended on all sides.

Chapter 18 (1015)

On the feast of the discovery of Christ’s protomartyr, the emperor crossed the Oder and crushed the resistance of the Polish multitude [August 3].  We had no losses, except for that famous youth, Hodo, along with Eckerich and a another dependent of Count Gunzelin.  The emperor had accused this Hodo and Siegfred, the son of Margrave Hodo, of having been too familiar with Boleslav, but on this day each vindicated himself completely.  While Hodo was pursuing the enemy and quite a lone, having outdistanced his companions, he took an arrow in the head.  Initially, he lost only his eye, but then lost his life as well.  Miesco’s tears flowed freely when he recognized the corpse of the man who had been his guardian and companion during his period of captivity.  After showing every concern for the body, he returned it to our army.  The enemy’s dead numbered no fewer than six hundred, which left us with a great deal of booty.

Chapter 19 (1015)

Messengers quickly brought news of these events to the place where Boleslav then resided.  Although the duke would willingly have hurried to the field of battle, he did boo wish to leave an entry for his enemies, who were so close at hand.  Indeed, wherever our forces tried to land their boats, Boleslav and his warriors followed on horseback.  At last, our people quickly raised their sails and travelled for a whole day.  Since the enemy could not follow, our people reached their destination and safely came ashore.  They set fire to the surrounding areas.  Some distance away, Duke Boleslav was made aware of what had happened and fled, as usual, thereby leaving us – albeit unwillingly – with both the confidence and an opportunity for destruction.  Duke Bernhard who had been unable to support the emperor with his own forces, as previously arranged, sent messengers who secretly revealed all that had occurred and indicated the reason for his disobedience.  The duke then returned home, after pillaging and burring everything in the vicinity.  Ulrich, who should have come to the emperor’s aid, along with his Bavarians, also gave up, for many and varied reasons. Even though these men did not accompany the emperor, they rendered faithful service while in the area.   In particular, Ulrich attacked a very large burg, called Biesnitz.  Aside from the women and children, he took no fewer than one thousand men prisoners.  After setting the burg afire, he returned victorious.  Henry, count of the eastern march, learned that Boleslav’s milites were in true area and had captured much booty.  Accompanied by the Bavarians, he immediately fell upon them,  Although the enemy resisted vigorously, eight hundred of them were killed and all of their booty was taken…

Chapter 20 (1015)

The emperor, still unaware of what had occurred, acted with great care because of the smaller number of his forces.  Nevertheless, as long as he wished to, he maintained a powerful presence in this region.  Thereafter, he returned to a district called Diadesi.  Unfortunately, the army had set up camp in a very narrow location where only a beekeeper resided – he was immediately put to death.  Boleslav, hearing that the emperor planned to leave by a route other than the one by which he had entered, secured the banks of the Oder  in every way possible.  When he learned that the emperor had already departed, however, he sent a large force of foot soldiers to the place where our army was camped, ordering that they try to inflict injury on at least some part of it, should the opportunity present itself.  He also sent his Abbot Tuni to the emperor with a sham offer of peace.  The abbot was immediately recognized as a spy and detained.  In the meantime, virtually the entire army crossed the swamp that lay before it, using bridges constructed during the preceding night.

Chapter 21 (1015)

Only then was Abbot Tuni permitted to leave, a fox in a one’s habit, whose craftiness was highly esteemed by his lord.  The emperor commended the remainder of his forces to Archbishop Gero, the illustrious margrave Gero, and the count palatine Burchard, advising them that they should be even more watchful than usual.  After this, in fact, a great clamor and three shouts went forth from the enemy, concealed in a nearby forest.  Immediately they attacked out troops and shot arrow at them.  Archbishop Gero and Count Burchard, who was wounded, barely managed to escape and tell the emperor what had happened.  The young Count Liudolf was captured, along with a few others.  Count Gero, Count Folkmar, and two hundred of our best milites were killed and plundered.  May Omnipotent God look upon their names and their should with mercy! May all of us who caused their deaths, through ours sins, be reconciled to him through Christ! And, may God mercifully protect us so that we never need to endure such a thing again!

Chapter 22 (1015)

When the emperor received this unhappy news, he wished to go back and fetch the bodies of the dead.  Many advised him to wait, however, and he reluctantly complied.  Instead, he sent Bishop Eid of Meissen, who was to press the cursed Boleslav for permission to bury the dead and beg for the body of Margrave Gero.  The venerable father willingly agreed to the emperor’s request, and quickly proceeded to his destination.  Gazing upon the scene of such wretched slaughter, he began to groan and weep as he offered up praiser for the dead,  The victors, still intent on plundering, noticed Bishop Eid when he was still some distance away. Believing that he was accompanied by others, they initially fled in fear.  As he came closer, however, they greeted him and allowed him to proceed unmolested.  Boleslav, overjoyed at our destruction, readily granted Eid’s requests, and the bishop quickly returned to the battlefield where with great effort and the enemy’s indulgence, he buried our dead comrades.  He had the corpses of Gero and WIdred, his companion-in-arms, transported to Meissen.  At Meisssen, a tearful Count Herman took custody of the bodies and, in the company of his brothers Gunther and Ekkehard, transported them to Nienburg.  During the reign Otto II, Archbishop Gero of Cologne and his brother, Margrave Thietmar, had founded an abbey there in honour of the Mother of God and Saint Cyprian.  Thietmar was Herman’s stepfather and the father of the dear margrave.  Archbishop Gero commended the bodies to the earth and offered consolation to Gero’s lady, Adelheid, to his son, Thietmar, and also to his sorrowing friends and milites.

Chapter 23 (1015)

Meanwhile, the emperor and his entourage moved on to Strehla.  But knowing that Miesco was following with his army, he had also sent Margrave Herman to defend the burg at Meissen.  The emperor himself went directly Merseburg.  Miesco, instructed by his wicked father, knew that our forces had divided prior to their departure and had not left any guard behind them.  At dawn, on September 13, he brought seven war bands across the Elbe near Meissen, ordering some to lay waste the surrounding areas, others to lay siege to the burg itself.  When the Withasen saw this, they had no confidence in the safety of their suburb and instead sought the protection of the upper burg, leaving virtually every possession behind.  Full of joy at this turn of events, the enemy entered the abandoned suburb and set fire to it, after removing all the booty they could find,.  They also launched repeated attacks on the upper burg which had caught fire in two places.  Seeing his few exhausted helpers, Margrave Herman threw himself prostrate on the ground and invoked both the mercy of Christ and the intercession of Donatus, his illustrious martyr.  He also called on the women to help.  They hurried to the walls and helped the men by throwing rocks.  They also put out the fires, using mead because they had no water.  Thanks be to God!  The enemy’s fury and audacity abated.  Miesco watched all of this from a nearby hill where he awaited the arrival of his companions who were busy ravaging and, wherever possible, setting fire to everything up to the river Jahna.  They returned late in the evening, with their horses exhausted, and spent the night with their lord.  They were to attack the burg on the following day. The fact that the Elbe was rising escaped their notice, however. Because of this, the army went home, extremely tired, but in unexpected safety.  This good fortune easted the anxious hear of their leader. The emperor, as soon as he learned of these events, sent whatever forces he could assemble to help the margrave. Shortly, afterwards, he restored the suburb.  To supper this undertaking and provide Security, Archbishop Gero and Bishop Arnulf met with the counts and many others on 8 October. I was by far the least of these.  Within fourteen days the task was completed and we could leave.  Count Frederick was to assume custody of the burg for four weeks.

Chapter 24 (1015)

Archbishop Gero and I, his companion, came to the place called Mockrehna.  There, after I reminded him of his sweet promises, he conveyed to me, with his staff which I still possess today, parochial rights over four fortresses: Schkeuditz Taucha, Puechen, and Wuerzen,* as well as the village of Rassnitz. He postponed any decision regarding the remaining five: namely, Eilenburg, Pouch, Dueben, Loebnitz, and Zoechritz,* saying that he would return them later. All of this occurred on October 25 in the presence of the following witnesses: Heribald, Hepo, Ibo, Cristin, and Siegbert.  On the same day we came to the fortress of Zoerbig* where, after the archbishop’s milites had assembled, I revealed how mercifully their lord had treated me.  We also learned of the illness of the venerable Friderun whose guests we were.  Alas, after a few days, on October 27, she abandoned this human flesh. From thence, the archbishop moved on to Magdeburg where he celebrated the feast of All Saints [November 1]. I did the same in Walbeck…

[* note that with one or two potential exceptions, these are all Slavic names]

Chapter 25 (1015)

After having just returned from Poland with many impressive gifts, Bishop Eid became ill and surrendered hjis faithful soul to Christ, at Leipzig, on December 20. Bishop Hildeward of Zeitz was asked to attend to him and arrived quickly, but upon entering the house in which the holy man had died, discovered that it was filled with a wonderful odor.  He accompanied the body to Meissen and buried it in front of the altar, with the aid of Count William whose turn it was to guard the burg…

… Foreseeing his end, however, he often asked that he might never be buried in Meissen.  Indeed, from fear of future destruction had always hoped instead that he would be found worthy of burial at Colditz, resting police of the body of Magnus, the martyr of Christ.  But Margrave Herman, hopping that the church would benefit from his prayers, still had him entombed at Meissen, as I already mentioned.

Chapter 39

No one can comprehend the northern regions, and what marvelous things nature creates there.  Nor can one believe the cruel deeds of its people.  Hence, I will omit all of this, and merely say a few things concerning that brood of vipers, namely, the sons of Sven the Persecutor.  These sons were born to him by the daughter of Duke Miesco, sister of the latter’s successor and son, Boleslav.* Long exiled by her husband, along with others, this woman suffered no small amount of controversy. Her sons, who resembled their beloved parent in every way, tearfully accepted their father’s corpse and placed it within a burial mound. Afterwards, they prepared shops and made plans to avenge whatever shame had been inflicted upon their father by the Angles.  The many outrages they committed against this folk are not familiar to me and so I shall pass them by.  I wil briefly describe with my pen only that which has been related to me by a reliable witness.**

[* note: Adam 2.35/Schol. 24, pp. 95-96; Tschan (trans.) 1959: 78.]
[** note: Presumably Sewald.]

Chapter 50 (1017)

…This wise man [Count Frederick], recognizing that the end of his life was fast approaching, had conveyed the burg [Poehlde] to his brother’s [Dedi’s] son, Dietrich. It was agreed, however, that the remainder of the count’s land would pass to his three daughters.  Such arrangements were necessary because Dietrich was an heir, and to have done otherwise would not have been legitimate. Later, Dietrich received from the emperor both Frederick’s countship and control over the district of Siusuli*…

[* note: a very interestingly named Slavic tribe]

Chapter 51 (1017)

Meanwhile, the emperor came to Merseburg where he awaited the outcome of this matter.  While he was there, many highwaymen were put to death by hanging, after champions had defeated them in single combat. The two archbishops, Erkanbald and Gero, Bishop Arnulf, Counts Siegfried and Bernhard, and other leading men, camped for fourteen days on the river Mulde.  Through intermediaries, they asked Boleslav to come to the Elbe for the meeting which he had so long desired. The duke was then residing at Zuetzen.  As soon as he had heard this message, he responded that he would not dare to go there, for fear of his enemy. The messengers asked: ‘What would you do, if our lords come to the Elster?’ But he said: ‘I do not wish to cross that bridge.’ After hearing this, the messengers returned and related everything to their lords.  The emperor was with us, celebrating the Purification of the blessed Mother of God [February 2].  Somewhat latter, the bishops and counts arrived, outraged that Boleslav had so contemptuously trie dot deceive them.  In turn, they sought to arouse the emperor’s ire by describing how things had gone during their legation. At this point, they began to discuss a future campaigning and everyone loyal to the emperor was advised to prepare fir it. The emperor firmly prohibited any exchange of messengers between us and Boleslav, that enemy of the realm, and every effort was made to identify persons who might have presumed to do so in the past.

Chapter 52 (1017) 

After his parting from us, the emperor went to Magdeburg, where he was received with great hour.  Because the next morning, a Sunday, marked the beginning of Septuagesima, he stopped eating meat. On Monday, the archbishop consecrated the north chapel in the emperor’s presence. On the following day, a quarrel arose between the archbishops people and Margrave Berhnard’s, but the matter was settled without violence and in the bishop’s favour. At the emperor’s order, thieves who had been defeated in duels assembled there, and were put to the rope. It was at Magdeburg as well that many questions relating to the welfare of the realm were decided and, from thence, that the convert Gunther set out to preach to the Liutizi. In the emperor’s presence, I raised many complaints a part of my diocese which had been unjustly appropriated by the church of Meissen. The restitution of this property had been promised, in writing, but just when it seemed that I might profit from that, I had to recognize that things had gone rather differently from how I had planned. On the feast of Saint Peter’s throne, February 22, the emperor held court. Ut was attended by bishops Gero, Meinwerk, Wigo, Erich, and Eilward. On this occasion, I arose and presented my complaint, expecting help from the emperor and the bishops. Instead, they ordered me – God knows, I was unwilling, but dared not resist – to  concede to Eilward a parish on the east bank of the river Mulda, in the burg ward of Puechen and Wuerzen. In return, he was to give me a parish that he held on the west bank, though I never desired it. The transaction was confirmed with an exchange of episcopal staffs. I give witness before God and all the saints: in no way did I surrender the rest of my claim! The emperor also ordered Margrave Herman to prove by oath that he was the rightful possessor of three villages which he held from the church of Meissen, or surrender them to me.

Chapter 56 (1017)

The emperor, hearing that his wife had recovered and had made a vow to the Lord, rendered heartfelt thanks to Christ.  He devoutly celebrated Pentecost at Werden, which had been founded by God’s holy priest Liudger at his own expense. The emperor’s needs were fully accomplismodated by Abbot Heidenreich. On the following day, June 10, Bishop Thiedegg of Prague, successor to Christ’s martyr Adalbert, faithfully went the way of all flesh. Thiedegg had been educated at Corvey and was especially skilled in the art of healing. When Boleslav the Leder was suffering from paralysis because of his disobedience to Christ’s preacher, he summoned Thiedegg, with Abbot Thietmar’s permission, and was much improved through his ministrations. Thus, when that burning lamp, Woyciech,* was removed from the shadows of this world, as I have mentioned,** the duke’s aid ensured that Otto III installed Thiedegg, as his successor. After the death of Boleslav the Elder, his like-named son frequently expelled the bishop from his diocese, and just as often Margrave Ekkehard brought him back. He suffered many injuries. As Saint Gregory ordered, he not only invited guests to come to him, but even dragged them in. His one major failing was that he drank immoderately, due to an undeserved illness. Indeed, the tremors in his hands prevented him from saying mass without the help of a priest who stood next to him. He grew progressive;u weaker until the end, but, as I hope, cured his soul with good medicines.

[*note: Thietmar writes Uuortegus and Athelberti for Adalbert]

[**note: Book 4, chapter 28]

Chapter 57 (1017)

Meanwhile, Moravian soldiers of Boleslav’s surrounded and killed a large but careless band of Bavarians. In no small measure, then, losses previously inflicted upon them by the Bavarians were now avenged.* As the emperor traveled towards the East, he ordered the empress to meet him at Paderborn. From there, the two of them moved onto Magdeburg where they were received, with honour, by Archbishop Gero. During the following night, July 7, a Sunday, a horrible storm arose and caused widespread destruction of human beings, cattle, buildings, and the produce of the fields.  In the forests, a huge number of trees and branches fell and blocked all of the roads. The next day, the emperor crossed the Elber, along with his wife and the army, and proceeded to Lietzkau, an estate which formerly belonged to Bishop Wigo but was now the habitation of many wild animals. He set up camp and remained there for two nights, awaiting the arrival of more dilatory contingents. Subsequently, the empress and many others returned, while the emperor pressed on with his army. On that same day, Henry, formerly duke of the Bavarians, returned with a message from Boleslav, which suggested that they negotiate a peace. After listening to this report, the emperor sent Henry back again, with a message of his own. When he could accomplish nothing, however, he was sent to join the emperor’s wife, his sister.

[**note: Book 7, chapter 19]

Chapter 59 (1017)

While all of this was going on, Boleslav’s son, Miesco, took ten war bands and invaded Bohemia.  They encountered less resistance that they otherwise would have, due to the absence of the Bohemian duke, Ulrich. After pillaging the country side for two days, Miesco returned, bringing many captives with him and much joy to his father. Accompanied by his army and a large contingent of Bohemians and Liutizi, the emperor anxiously made his way to the burg Glogow, wasting everything he encountered along the way. At Głogów,* Boleslav awaited him with his army. Surrounded by archers, the enemy tried to provoke our forced to battle, but the emperor held them back. Instead, he selected twelve war bands from this already very strong army and sent them to the burg Nimptsch (Niemcza)**, so called because it was originally founded by us, These war bands were to prevent the inhabitants from receiving any aid from outside. They had barely set up camp, however when news reached them that the enemy had arrived. Because of the exceedingly dark night and a heavy rain, there little that our forces could do to them. They put some of them to flight, but reluctantly permitted others to enter the burg. The later is situated in the region of Silesia which was named long ago after a certain mountain of great height and width, While the detestable rites of the heather were still practiced here, this mountain was highly venerated by the populace, because of its unique character and size.

[*note: ad urbem Glogua or Glaguam]

[**note: ad urbem Nemzi]

Chapter 60 (1017)
(Siege of Głogów)

Three days later, the emperor arrived there [at Głogów] with the rest of the army. He ordered that his camp be set up on all sides of the burg, in the hope that he might thereby prevent his enemy from entering. HIs  wise plan and excellent intentions would have enjoyed great success, had his supporters whom greater enthusiasm when it came to the time to implement them. As it turned out, in the silence of night, a large body of troops managed to pass through all the guards and enter the burg. Our people were then ordered to construct various types of siege machinery. Immediately, our opponents began to do the same. I have never heard of an army which defended itself with greater endurance or more astutely. Against the pagans [that is, against the Liutizi], they erected a holy cross, hoping  to conquer them with its help. They never shouted for joy when something favorable to them occurred. Nor did they reveal their misfortunes by openly lamenting them.

Chapter 61 (1017)

Meanwhile, the Moravians invaded Bohemia where they seized a certain burg and returned, unharmed and with much booty. Margrave Henry had attempted to engage them with an army. When he heard of their attack on the burg, however, he quickly set off in pursuit. As a result, more than one thousand of their men were killed and the rest were put to flight. The margrave also managed to free all of their captives and bring them home. Nor should I fail to mention that other milites of Boleslav attacked the burg Belgern* on August 15. In spite of a long siege, they had no success.  Thanks be to God! Among those Liutizi who had remained at home, a large number attacked one of the duke’s [Boleslav’s] burgs.  On this occasion, they lost more than one hundred warriors and their return was marked by great sadness. Later, they inflicted much devastation on Boleslav’s lands.

[*note: Belegori that is Biała Góra or White Mountain; the city was mentioned in 973 as Belgora and in 983 as Belegora]

Chapter 63 (1017)
(Siege of Głogów Conclusion)

In the meantime, the siege machinery had been completed, and now, after three weeks of silence, the emperor ordered an attack on the burg. As he looked on, however, all of this machinery went up in flames, destroyed by fire thrown down from the ramparts. After this, Ulrich and his companions tried to scale the fortifications, but accomplished nothing.  A similar attack by the Liutizi was also turned back. Finally, the emperor realized that his army, already weakened by disease, had no prospect of capturing the burg and decided to undertake the arduous march to Bohemia. There, he was honoured with suitable gifts by Ulrich, who illegally held the title of duke in that region. Meanwhile, September 18, marked the death, following a long illness of Margrave Henry, my aunt’s son and the glory of eastern Franconia. Three bishops, Henry, Eberhard, and the venerable Rikulf, attended to his burial. His grave was located on the north side of the monastery at Schweinfurt, outside of the church, and next to the door, as he himself had wished. The emperor, who learned of his death while residing in Meissen, was very sad.

Chapter 64 (1017)

Boleslav anxiously awaited the outcome of events in his burg at Wroclaw.* When he heard that the emperor had departed and that the burg [that is Głogów] was unharmed, he rejoiced in the Lord and joyfully celebrated with his warriors. More than six hundred of his foot soldiers secretly invaded Bohemia and, as usual, hoped to return with much booty. Except for a few, however, they were trapped by the very snare that they had wanted to lay for their enemies.

[*note: in text Uuortizlaua]

The Liutizi returned to their homeland in an angry mood and complaining about the dishonor inflicted upon their goddess. One of Margrave Herman’s retainers, had thrown a rock at a banner which bore her image. When their servants sally related this event to the emperor, he gave them twelve pounds as compensation. When they attempted to cross the swollen waters of the Mulde, near the burg Wurzen, they lost yet another image of their goddess and a most excellent band of fifty milites. The rest returned under this evil omen and, at the instigation of wicked men, tried to remove themselves from the emperor’s service. Yet, afterwards, a general assembly was held at which their leading men convinced them otherwise. If an entry could barely be forced into the territories of Bohemia, it was even more difficult to exit from them. This expedition was undertaken in order to annihilate the enemy, but it also inflicted many wounds on us, the victors, because of our sins. What the enemy could not do to us then occurred to us later because of our misdeeds. May I also bemoan the outrage which Boleslav’s followers committed, between the Elbe and the Mulde. On September 19, at their lord’s order, they quickly departed, taking with them more than one thousand prisoners and leaving much of the area in flames. With luck they returned home safely.

Chapter 65 (1017)

On October 1, the emperor came to Merseburg, where he installed Ekkehard as bishop of Prague. As abbot, Ekkehard had presided over the monastery of Nienburg for twenty-three years and five months. With my permission, the emperor had him consecrated as bishop by Archbishop Erkenbald on November. On the same occasion, a messenger sent by Boleslav promised that Liudolf the Younger, long held in captivity, would be allowed to return. In return for Liudolf’s freedom, he sought the release of certain of Boleslav’s milites who were being held in firm custody by us. Furthermore, the messenger carefully inquired whether Boleslav, might send a representative to negotiate his return to the emperor’s grace. Relying on the constant advice of his leading men, the emperor agreed to all of these propositions. Only afterwards did he learn that the king of the Rus had attacked Boleslav, as his messengers had promised, but had accomplished nothing in regard to the besieged burg. Subsequently, Duke Boleslav invaded the Russian king’s realm with his army. After placing his long-exiled brother-in-law, the Rus’ brother, on the throne, he returned in high spirits.

Chapter 66 (1017)

… On the following Sunday, November 3, [Abbot Harding of Nienburg]  granted to our brothers serving Christ at Magdeburg a property called Roeglitz… He also conceded to me three churches, located in Leipzig, Oelschuetz, and Geuss…*

[* note: in the text these names are written as Rogalici, Libzi, Olscuizi, Gusua]

Chapter 67 (1017)

Before concluding my account of this year, I must add a few more observations. In the previous year, Thietmar, venerable bishop of the church at Osnabrueck, servant of Saint Maurice at Magdeburg, and formerly the very accomplished provost of Mainz and Aachen, lost the use of his eyes which were now clouded by a kind of darkness…

Chapter 69 (1017)
(Story of Hennil)

…One should scarcely be surprised to find that such portents occur in our regions. For the inhabitants rarely come to church and show little concern at the visits of their pastors. They worship their household gods and sacrifice to them, hoping thereby to obtain their aid. I have heard of a certain staff which had, on its end, a hand holding an iron ring. The pastor of the village where the hand was preserved would carry it from household to household, and salute it as he entered, saying: ‘Awake, Hennil, awake!’ Hennil is what the rustics call the hand in their language. Then the fools enjoyed a lavish feast and believed that they were secure in the hand’s protection. They knew nothing of David’s words: ‘The idols of the heathen are the works of men, and so on… Similar to those are all who make and put their trust in them.’

[for another translation of this story here]

Chapter 72

Now I shall continue my criticism and condemnation of the wicked deeds of the king of the Rus, Vladimir.  He obtained a wife, named Helena, from the Greeks. She and formerly been betrothed to Otto III, but was then denied to him, through fraud and cunning. At her instigation, Vladimir accepted the holy Christian faith which, however, he did not adorn with righteous deeds. He was an unrestrained fornicator and cruelly assailed the feckless Greeks with acts of violence. He married one of his three sons to the daughter of Boleslav, our persecutor.* Bishop Reinbern of Kolobrzeg was sent with her. He had been born in Hassegau, educated by wise teachers in the liberal sciences, and was elevated to the episcopate, worthily, so I hope. My knowledge and faculties would not suffice to describe the effort he expended in fulfilling his assigned task. He destroyed the shrines of idols by burning them and purified a lake inhabited by demons, by through into it four rocks anointed with holy oil and spindling it with consecrated water. Thus he brought forth a new sprout on a tree which had hitherto borne no fruit for the omnipotent Lord, that is, through the propagation of holy preaching among an extremely ignorant people. He afflicted his body with continual vigils, fasts, and with silence, thereby transforming his heart into a mirror of divine contemplate. Meanwhile, King Vladimir heard that his son had secretly turned against him, at the urging of Duke Boleslav. He then seized not only his son and wife, but also Reinbern as well, placing each of them in solitary confinement. With tears and through the sacrifice of constant prayers offered from a contrite heart, Reinbern reconciled himself to the highest priest. Then, freed, from the narrow prison of his body, he joyfully crossed over to the freedom of perpetual glory.

[*note: Sventipulk]

Chapter 73

King Vladimir’s name is wrongly interpreted t mean ‘power of peace.’ Indeed, that which the impious hold among themselves or the occupants of this world possess is no true peace because it constantly changes. True peace is attained only by one who lays aside there soul’s every passion and seeks the Kingdom of God with the aid of patience which conquests every obstacle. Sitting in the security of heaven, Bishop Reinbern can laugh at the threats of that unjust man and, in his two-fold chastity, contemplate that fornicator’s fiery punishment since, according to our teacher Paul, God judges adulterers. As soon as Boleslav learned what had happened, he worked ceaselessly to get whatever revenge he could. Subsequently, King Vladimir died in the fullness of his days, and left his entire inheritance to his two sons. The third son remained in prison, but later escaped and fled to his father-in-law, leaving his wife behind.

Chapter 74

King Vladimir wore a cloth around his loins as an aphrodisiac, thereby increasing his innate tendency to sin. When Christ the master of our salvation, ordered us to bind up our loins, overflowing with dangerous desires, it was greater continence that he demanded, not further provocation. Because the king heard from his preachers about the burning light, he tried to wash away the stain of his sins by constantly distributing alms. It is written, moreover: ‘Give alms, and all will be clean for you.’ Vladimir died when hew was already weak with age and had held his kingdom for a long time. He was buried next to his wife in the great city of Kiev, in the church of Christ’s mart, Pope Clement. Their sarcophagi are displayed openly, in the middle of the church. The king’s power was divided among his sons, thereby completely affirming the words of Christ. For I fear that we will witness the fulfillment of that which the voice of truth predicted with the words: ‘Every kingdom divided within itself will be wasted’, and so on. All Christendom should pray that, in regard to these lands, God may change his judgement.

Chapter 76 (1017)

In this year, four large Venetian ships, filled with different kinds of spices, were lost in shipwrecks. As I have previously mentioned, the western regions which had rarely known peace in the past were now completely pacified. Thanks be to God! Ekkehard, a monk of Saint John the Baptist at Magdeburg, who was also one of my brethren, lost his speech due to a paralyzing illness. In the lands of the Bavarians and Moravians, a certain pilgrim, named Koloman, was seized by the inhabitants and accused of being a spy. Compelled by their harsh treatment, he confessed his guilt although it was not merited. He made every effort to justify himself and explained that he was wandering, in this way, because he was one of of the poor men of Christ. Nevertheless, they hanged this innocent man from a tree which had long ceased to bear fruit. Later, when his skin was slightly cut, blood poured forth. His nails and hair continued to grow. The tree itself began to bloom, moreover, thereby proving that Koloman was a martyr for Christ. As soon as Margrave entry learned of these events he had the body buried at Melk.

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November 6, 2017

Absolute Apsorus Absolutely

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Jan Dlugosz claimed that the eponymous father of the Lechites, Lech himself originally came from a town of Psary somewhere in Croatia.

Duo itaque fillii Iani nepotis Japheth, Lech et Czech, quibus Dalmatia, Serbia, Slavonia, Carvatia et Bosna contigerant, et praesentium et futurarum collisionum, discrimen et pericula vitaturi, pari et concordi voce et deliberatione, originario solo relicto, novas sedes quaerendas populandasque decreverunt, et caeteris quidem fratribus in Pannoniis remanentibus ipsi omnibus coloniis, familiis et substantiis, quae ditionis eorum erant, ex Slavonia, Serbia, Carvatia, Bosna, et ex castro Psari in altissima rupe (quam fluvius Gui Slavoniam et Carvaciam disterminans alluit/abluit) sito, cuius etiam hactenus nonnulli aspiciunt priscam magnificentiam, testante ruina et eius vetustam nuncupationem villaginum Psari, sub loco arcis situm in eadem die retinet, in quo Principum praefatorum Lech et Czech familiarior, peculiariorque habitandi et illic subditis iura reddendi esse usus consueverat.

This location has long eluded the best historians.  Dlugosz mentions the river Gui or Huy near the border between Croatia and Slavonia with Slavonia today being, roughly, the region of Croatia between the Sava and Drava (above the Una).  Another location was the island of Pharos – close to Hvar – far south in the Dalmatian portion of Croatia. Maciej of Miechow threw in the River Crupa as being nearby. You can read all about this in Aleksander Małecki’s “Croatian ‘Psary’ Versus Dalmatian ‘Pharos’ in the Legendary Beginnings of Poland.” Interestingly, even the Danube Schwabians were living in Slavonia.

But let’s stick to Psary.

All you need to do is whip out some old records and you will find a relatively decent candidate.  You don’t even have to go that far back.  Just open Franjo Rački’s Documenta historiae Chroaticae periodum antiiquam illustrantia.  In it you will find numerous references to Apsaros or the like.

In Latin the town goes by Apsorus.  In Greek Byzantine as Opsara.  In Croatian it is Osor.

Now, Osor is not on the border of Slavonia but neither is Pharos, of course.

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October 20, 2017

Lel, Polel, Lada and the Alcis of the Mother of the Gods

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I have previously discussed the similarities between the “mother of the Gods” mentioned by Tacitus and the Polish Lada as well as the fact that she was made by Polish writers to be the mother of Lel and Polel the alleged Polish dioscuri.  In turn, Tacitus said that the Nahanarvali worshiped Alcis who were their dioscuri.  The Nahanarvali likely lived on the river Narwa – which is today’s Narew. It is possible that the naha refers to -nad meaning “on the”.  It is more likely that it refers to a Germanic term as in nah or “near” such as is found in In der Nähe and so forth (neahneh meaning “nigh”).  That would not establish the language of the Nahnarvali themselves as the writers’ (Tacitus and others)  intermediaries may have been Germanic. In any event, Narwa is in Mazovia andi so too in Mazovia was Lada worshipped as per Dlugosz (perhaps in the village Lady).  I’ve written about all of this previously.

What I had forgotten to mention was that already Jacob Grimm had the same idea.  I attach that here. This passage also discusses the Krainian God Torik which Grimm dismisses as not having anything to do with Thor because it just meant the “second” (vtorik > Torik). Of course, one could also interpret Thor as the “second”.  On that see here.

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October 8, 2017

Polish Pantheon

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Who were the Polish Gods?  Jan Dlugosz is actually quite clear about this question but it’s worth to summarize again. To call these Names a “pantheon” is in some respects an exaggeration.  They were made a pantheon by Dlugosz but each Name has its own development and history and it is quite possible that some of these Names had a different tradition and came from, at least at some point, different tribes or even peoples (Sarmatian, Venetic/Lusatian, Suevic).

  • Yessa/Yassa/Yesza/Yasza (in Polish spelled with a “J” in lieu of a “Y”) – the head of the Polish pantheon its equivalent being Jupiter; this God is probably the same as the “Germanic” Jecha and Tacitus’ Isidi/Isis; He is also likely the “Greek” Iasion (the Czechs spoke of Chasson sive Jassen) and perhaps the “Greek” Jason; in Aethicus Easter, it seems Yassa as Iasion appears with the Eastern Slavic Paron; Yesha/Yessa or Yesza/Yassa; As the “yasny” or “light” God, He is also probably the “God of Lightning” mentioned by Procopius, the One who comes “first” (Jeden/Odin) and who is followed by thunder (Thor or Wtory, meaning the “second” or Perun/Paron or Baltic Perkunas); He seems to be also the God of Light and of fertility/harvest rites; at war He may be identical with Yarovit/Gerowit; He may also be linked to Ossirus or Odyseus; note that the Slavic “sh” or “sz” is nothing more than a diminutive form (compare it with, for example, Sasha); the original Name must have been Iasion;  later, after introduction of Christianity, a traveller, wanderer – much like Odin but unlike the scheming and bitter Odin, He remained the simple Jaś Wędrowniczek – a young boy who travels the countryside – very much in line with the original Iasion/Jason; 
  • Lada/Ladon – the guardian of Jessa; this deity is Mars or a Goddess; perhaps the best answer to this confusion is that Lada is both Mars and a female Deity; She is an Amazon – the protector of Yassa (Alado gardzyna yesse – which means something like “Oh, Lada, protect Yassa”) interestingly, she was worshipped, as Dlugosz says (without himself making the Amazon connection) in Mazovia; notice too that her name appears already in Luccan as the consort/spouse; She seems to be similar to Leda who was seduced by Zeus (or, in this case,  Iasion which would also make Lada similar to Demeter though Dlugosz makes Marzanna be Ceres (which was the equivalent of Demeter));
  • Niya – the God or Goddess of after life or underworld; the equivalent of Pluto; the God had a temple in Gniezno according to Dlugosz;
  • Dzidzilelia/Didilela/Zizilela – the Goddess of marriage and fertility; also associated with Venus; this Goddess is probably the same as the “Germanic” Ciza, Zizara;
  • Dzievanna/Devanna – the Goddess of the forests and hunts; this Goddess is probably the same as the “Germanic” Taefana; expressly tied to Diana as a forest Deity; interestingly, the name also appears in India (Vindi) and in Ireland (Dublin-Lublin) and parts of Britain (Cheshire with its 20th Legion);
  • Marzana – harvest Goddess associated with Ceres;
  • Pogoda – the Goddess of weather, the “giver of good weather”;
  • Sywie/Ziwie/Zyvie/Ziva – God of Life (Zycie or of the zijn);

Outside of Dlugosz many of the above Names are repeated.  Other Names include:

  • Boda/Bodze;
  • Lel/Heli/Leli – the Polish Castor but perhaps connected with the Germanic Hel;
  • Polel – the Polish Pollux;
  • Pogwizd/Pochwist/Pochwistel/Niepogoda;
  • Pan;
  • Grom;
  • Piorun (probably Ukraine only since, at the time of writing, that was part of Poland);
  • Gwiazda;

Finally, one book mentions a whole league of Deities and demons:

male:

Farel, Diabelus, Orkiusz, Opses, Loheli, Latawiec, Szatan, Chejdasz, Koffel, Rozwod, Smolka, Harab the Hunter, Ileli, Kozyra, Gaja, Ruszaj, Pozar, Strojnat, Biez, Dymek, Rozboj, Bierka, Wicher, Sczebiot, Odmieniec, Wilkolek [werewolf], Wesad, Dyngus or Kiczka, Fugas

female:

Dziewanna, Marzanna, Wenda, Jedza, Ossorya, Chorzyca, Merkana

For other posts on Polish Gods see here (part I), here (part II), here (part III) and here (part IV).

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October 8, 2017

Alpert’s Interesting Times

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Alpert of Metz (died 1024) was a Benedictine chronicler of the eleventh century. His De diversitate temporum (On the Diversity of the Times, which really means something like On Our Interesting Times) is a major source for the history of Western Europe (particularly for France, Western Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands) in the period it covers (990 to 1021).

In the book Alpert makes a very brief mention of the Slavs who fought Henry II.  This could refer to the Veleti but also the Poles or Bohemians – or to all of them as Alpert speaks of multiple kings of the Winnidi:

Of the Reign of Henry [II]
Book I
Chapter 5

“But as soon as the most noble Henry took dominion, this place [the monastery] was brought back to its former state.  Many exquisite things may be written by us about this man: how easily did, by God’s grace, he reach the peaks [highest position] of the kingdom; how through a quick victory, he compelled the surrender of famous and very mighty men, who had [previously] started wars against him; how he subjugated and made tributary to him kings in the interior of Germany who are called Winnidi; how he besieged for several years and almost completely destroyed Metz, a town in Lorraine that had been angering him for a long time, and [how he] finally after doing a lot of damage subjugated it. But because lord Adelbold, the bishop of Utrecht described all of this beautifully in a book, we have believed that [in describing] the part [of the narrative] that now necessarily comes to [the fore] in our work, we need to go further beyond [Adelbold’s version] so as to avoid a work of history, that is [otherwise] so full of important and that beautiful lessons, becoming muddled through us as if by a foolish pawn.

De Henrico rege

Ubi vero Heinricus summa rerum potitus est, iterum locum illum in priorem statum reduxit. Multa praeclara de hoc viro nobis scribenda sufficiunt: quam facile gratia Dei donante ad apicem regni pervenerit, qualiter illustres viros et summae potentiae, bella adversum se concitantes, celeri victoria in deditionem venire coegerit, qualiter reges in interioribus Germaniae partibus, qui sunt Winnidi vocati, suae dicioni tributarios effecerit, et Mettim in Belgis diu contra se male cogitantem, et compluribus annis obsessam, pene ad interitionem vastaverit, et tandem multis incommodis illatis sibi subegerit; set quia domnus Adelboldus Traiectensis episcopus haec omnia pleniter in uno volumine luculento sermone comprehendit, a nobis pars quae aliquando nostris scriptis necessario occurritt praetereunda visa est, ne historia tantis et tam venustis documentis edita a nobis tanquam ab insipientis latratu obfuscaretur.

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October 1, 2017

Thietmar in the Flesh

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Speaking of Thietmar, thought this was cool. From the Dresden manuscript, the page that mentions Cedynia, Mieszko and his brother Czcibor (look also for the notes in the margins – note Cideburg):

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September 30, 2017

Thietmar (Book VI)

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Chapter 2 [1004]

“Meanwhile, because of his own madness and also at the instigation of Margrave Henry, Boleslav attacked the Bavarians and all of his countrymen with a large force [see Book 5 Chapter 36].  In response, the king assembled an army and attacked the lands of the Milzini.  Had he not been impeded by heavy snow which was followed by a quick thaw, the whole region would have been wasted and depopulated.  He returned disappointed, but was aided by Margrave Gunzelin and other loyal supporters who supplied garrisons.  When he arrived at Merseburg, trustworthy intercessors sent by Margrave Henry informed him that his brother haas fled to the king of the Hungarians and desired forgiveness.  The margrave had also repented greatly for what he had undertaken.  Accepting their petition, though unwillingly, and being influenced even more by the entreaties of his dear Tagino and Duke Bernhard, the king offered to forgive Margrave Henry, on the condition that all property and people be to him and to his supporters, and that the margrave himself be retained in custardy as long as the king wished.  In tears, Margrave Henry confessed that he was guilty in all things and, in the manner and clothing of a penitent, surrendered himself to the king.  At the king’s order, the archbishop of Magdeburg  led him off to the burg at Giebichenstein and had his warriors guard him carefully, both day and night.  Among his various good works there, the margrave sang the psalter with one hindered and fifty genuflections, all in a single day.

Chapter 4 [1004]

“…Turning in a different direction he [king Henry at Verona versus King Arduin of the Lombards] asked his advisers if it would be at all possible to seize the mountain passes, located some distance from there, with the help of the Carinthians.  After careful consideration, this plan was carried out although it seemed arduous to many.  Immediately obeying the royal commands, the Carinthians divided into two detachments.  Before daybreak , one secretly seized a high point above the passes with foot soldiers.  At dawn the other detachment followed, in order to storm the passes.  The soldiers who had been sent ahead gave them such a loud signal that their enemies would have heard int in their hidden ambushes.  Thinking that their rear was secure, the enemy took up arms and rushed to mer the attackers.  But then our forces attacked their flank, forcing some to flee and other to die by falling from the precipices or into the rising waters of the Brenta.  The victors carefully protected the passes until the king arrived.”

Chapter 10

“Departing from there [Strassburg], the king humbly sought the threshold of the church of Saint Martin at Mainz and celebrated the feast of the Apostles with due veneration [20 June]/  After this, travelling through eastern Franconia, he visited Saxony which he often referred to as the flowery hall of paradise.  In the middle of August, he announced an upcoming military expedition to all who resided under his authority and were faithful to Christ.  And, from his pious heart, he unleashed his secret and long-repressed desire to restrain the savagery of that arrogant Boleslav.  At the stated time, an army was collected in Merseburg and finally moved against the enemy although by stealth.  For the army gave the appearance of going to Poland, with shops having been reserved on the Boritz and Neussen, all this that its subsequent change in direction would not be revealed to the enemy buy anyone whose support was only feigned.  Meanwhile, a heavy rain greatly delayed the army’s crossing of the river.  Thenm when one could have least expected it, the king suddenly headed towards Bohemia.  The roaring lion, with his tail following, tried to prevent his arrival by setting archers on a certain height, located in a forest called Miriquidui, from which every approach could be blocked.  Learning of this, the king secretly sent a small number of armored warriors ahead to force a way through the unwilling enemy and prepare an easy pat for those who followed.  One day, as Boleslav was ding, one of our people, a chaplain of Bishop Reinbern [of Kolberg/Kolobrzeg], remarked on the advent of our army.  When Boleslav asked what he had said, he responded: ‘If they could leap like fogs, they could be here now.’  But one thing is certain had divine love not inspired the king and inflamed the other’s arrogance we would not have won this happy victory so readily.”

Chapter 11 [1004]

“The king was aided by the presence of the exiled Jaromir – his name means ‘firm peace’ – whose hoped-for arrival weakened the resistance of the Bohemian warriors.  Their advice and wish allowed the king to proceed and, at the entry to that region, a castle was willingly surrendered to him,  The king’s progress was delayed somewhat because the Bavarians had not yet arrived.  When he came to the city called Saaz [on the Eger], the residents opened their doors to him, massacred their Polish garrison, and were thereupon accepted as allies.  The king was disturbed at the sight of so much bloodshed and ordered that the survivors be hidden in a church  One of those present maintained that Boleslav had be been killed by his countrymen.  While the king’s supporters rejoiced in God, the corrupt supporters of the false duke were saddened.  The latter secretly murmured among themselves and spread this falsehood from their unjust hearts: if the king were ever to feel completely secure, they would be as nothing, and would have to suffer much harm from him.  Because of this, as fire hiding under the cinders, on this campaign and quite often afterwards, they preferred the enemy of all the faithful to their king.  They were worse than brute animals and did not know that God, the uncreated father who watches from on high, would reach down from heaven to rescue his early vicar from their wickedness.”

Chapter 12 [1004]

“Then, at the king’s order, Jaromir was sent ahead with our best warriors and with his local supporters to capture or kill the venomous serpent at Prague.  But among this group were informers who gave a detailed account of the plan to Boleslav ,already quite confident in the face of such danger.  Warned by this message, he made secret preparations.  In the middle of the following night, as he heard bells summoning the people to battle in the nearby burg Wyschegrad, he went out with his best warriors and fled to his homeland.  Sobieslav, a brother of Adalbert, bishop and martyr of Christ, pursued him and was wounded on a bridge.  This gave great joy to his enemies but caused his friends unspeakable sadness.  On the following day, Jaromir arrived.  He received petitioners before the door to the city, confirming rights and granting forgiveness for past offenses.  After being allowed to enter, he wa joyfully installed in his former dignity and, removing his simple clothing, put on more costly garments.  His warriors presented him with whatever booty had been seized as their enemies fled or were killed.  Delighted with the many gifts, he was then led to Wyscherad where his rulership was acclaimed and he promised both the king’s favour and a long-desired reward to those who had persevered with him until this point.  From all sides, a huge crowd of both lesser and greater men gathered both to seek the new duke’s favour and to await the glorious king’s arrival.  When the king finally arrived he was received by Bishop Thieddeg and Duke Jaromir and led to the church of Saint George, amid the rejoicing of the clergy and people.  Then, before an assembly of the entire populace, the king immediately honoured Jaromir by bestowing upon him the rights held by his father.”

Chapter 13 [1004]

“While in Prague, the king wished to celebrate the birth of the holy Mother of God which the whole world celebrates [8 September].  Hence, he ordered Gottschalk, venerable pastor of the church of Freising – true to his name!* – to sing the mass an instruct the people, permission for this having been given by the bishop of that place…”

* note: “His name means ‘servant of God.'”

Chapter 14 [1004]

“After everything had been taken care of at Prague, the king sent the Bavarians home.  In the company of the new duke of the Bohemians, he then invaded the nearby lands of the Milzeni, making his way by an unspeakably difficult march, and besieged the burg Bautzen [Budisin].  One day, while encouraging his faithful to attack, the king would have been injured by an arrow shot from the ramparts had divine providence not protected him.  Instead, the arrow injured someone standing very close to him, thereby fulfilling the enemy’s goal with another.  The king humbly raised his heart and offered praise to God who had once again bestowed his love and protection upon him, despite his unworthiness.  As for the aforementioned burg, fires had been set all around it and it would have gone up in flames if Margrave Gunzelin had not hindered this through a most unfortunate command.”

Chapter 15 [1004]

“Many were wounded on both sides and some were killed.  On our side, Hemuzo, a warrior noble in lineage and vigorous in manner, had repeatedly provoked the occupants and pursued them almost to the walls, but he was killed when half of a millstone struck his helmeted head.  The jeering enemy dragged his corpse into the burg.  Count Henry, my brother, who was his vassal, ransomed his body and returned it to his homeland.  Another warrior, called ‘wild Tommo’ because of his constant pursuit of wild game, was vigorously resisting the enemy on the river Spree when the wet rocks caused him to slip.  Alas, though protected for a long time by the best of armour, he finally died from a wound.  While trying to prevent him from being dragged away, one of his retainers was stabbed from above by a spear and killed.  Now, when the suffering of war was almost over, Boleslav sent a messenger who arranged for the burg to be surrendered to the king in return for the lives of the defenders.  It was then secured with a new garrison.  After this, the king returned home with his army which was exhausted by the journey and lack of food.  Wherever necessary, he supported the margraves with the usual reinforcements.”

Chapter 16 [1004]

“While in Mersburg, where he indulged in some long-sought rest, he learned that the venerable Count Esiko had died in Lübschtz after a long illness…”

Chapter 19 [1005]

“The king attacked the Frisians with a fleet forcing them to cease their defiant behaviour and placate the fury of the queen’s sister, Liudgard.  In the palace and in all the countships of his realm, and under the royal ban, he announced an expedition against Poland, naming Leitzkau* as the place of assembly.  The army was assembled there at the proper time, that is 16 August.  The king was celebrating the feast of the Assumption of the Mother of God at Magdeburg [15 August].  Following the completion of his liturgical and charitable obligations, he crossed the Elbe on the same day as the army, with the queen accompanying him.”

* This is the formerly Slavic (Morziani tribe of the Liutici/Veleti confederation) town of Liezka.

Chapter 22 [1005]

“After putting the army in order, the king set forth.  The queen quickly retraced her steps and anxiously a waitered her beloved lord’s return in Saxony.  Our army arrived at a place called Dobrilugk, in the region of Lausitz, where it was strengthened by the forces of Dukes Henry and Jaromir.  The dukes lifted the army’s spirits and fortified it with their good council and bravery.  Traitorous leaders, intent on preserving their own property, led the army through wastelands and swamps where it was much oppressed and, in their evil spitefulness, they prevented it from quickly attacking the enemy.  After reaching the region called Neiss, a camp was set up next to the river Spree.  There, the celebrated warrior Thiedbern learned that the enemy was preparing an ambush.  Desiring to gain the highest praise for himself, he gathered the best of his comrades and tried to trap the enemy by stealth.  But their enemies were very careful.  That they might better hurt pursuers they fled among the thickness of the fallen trees and, as usual, shot the arrows which were their best offensive weapon.  Thus, on 6 September, they were able to kill and despoil any who were careless: chiefly Thiedbern, and then Bernhard, Isi, and Benno, illustrious retainers of Bishop Arnulf, as well as many other warriors.  The king and his entire entourage took the loss very hard and, so credible witnesses report, Boleslav also grieved.”

[* note: We’ve already discussed Thietmar’s Liutizi religious passages here but we include all of them again, this time in David Warner’s translation.]

“After this, the Liutizi joined us.  They came, with images of their gods preceding them, on the day before we were to have arrived at the river Oder.”

Chapter 23 [1005]

“Although I shudder to say anything about them, nevertheless, in order that you, dear reader, may better understand the vain superstition and meaningless worship of this people, I will briefly explain who they are and from whence they have come.  In the region of the Redrarii, there is a burg called Riedegost which has three corners and three doors.  It is surrounded everywhere by a great forest which the inhabitants hold to be inviolable and holy.  Two of its doors offer entry to all.  The third door faces the east and is the smallest.  It opens on to a path leading to a lie that is located nearby and is utterly dreadful in appearance.  In the burg, there is nothing other than a skillfully made wooden shrine supported on a foundation composed of the horns of different types of animals.  Marvellous sculpted images of gods and goddesses adorn its outer walls, so it seems to the observer.  Inside, stand gods made by human hands, each with a nam inscribed and frightfully clothed with helmets and armour.  Among them, Swarozyc occupies the first place and all the heathens honour and worship him above the others.  Their banners may never be removed from this place except in time of war an then only by warriors on foot.”

Chapter 24 [1005]

“To carefully protect this shrine, the inhabitants have instituted special priests. When they convene there to offer sacrifices to the idols or assuage their anger, these priests sit while everyone else stands.  Murmuring together in secret, they tremble and dig in the earth so that, after casting lots, they may acquire certainty in regard to any questionable matters.  When this is finished, they cover the lots with green grass and, after placing two spears crosswise on the ground, humbly lead over them a horse which they believe to be the largest of all and venerate as sacred.  That which the casting of lots had already revealed to them, should also be foretold by this almost divine beast.  If the same omen appears in both cases, it is carried out in fact. Otherwise, the unhappy folk immediately reject it.  An ancient but equally false tradition also testifies that, if the harsh savagery of a long period of internal warfare is imminent, a great boar whose teeth are white and glistening with foam will emerge from that same lake and appear to many witnesses while happily disporting itself in the mire with a terrible shaking.”

Chapter 25 [1005]

“Each region of this land has a temple and a special idol which is worshipped by these unbelievers, but the burg mentioned above has precedence over all.  When going to war, they depart from here and, if they return victorious, they honour the place with appropriate gifts.  Just as i have mentioned, they carefully inquire, by casting lots and consulting the horse, what their priests should offer to their gods.  Their unspeakable fury is mitigated by the blood of human beings and animals. There is no individual lord who presides over all of these people who are collectively referred to as Liutizi.  When important issues are discussed at an assembly, there must be unanimous agreement before any action can be undertaken. If one of their countermen opposes such a decision during an assembly, he is beatern with rods.  If outside the assembly, and openly, he must either lose everything through burning an immediate confiscation, or he must come before that body and, in accordance with his status, pay compensation for his sin.  These unbelieving and fickle people nonetheless demand reliability and great loyalty from others.  They make peace by offering hair cut from the top of their heads and grass, and by joining their right hands, but the desire for riches will easily move them to violate it.  Such warriors, once our servants, now free because of our wickedness, came with their gods for the purpose of supporting the king.  Dear reader, avoid both their society and their cult!  Rather, hear and obey the mandates of divine scripture! If you learn and commit to memory the faith declared by Bishop Athanasius, the things that I have recounted above will rightly appear meaningless to you.”

Chapter 26 [1005]

“From there, under unequal leaders, the dissimilar bands advanced to the river Oder and set up their tents next to a stream called Bober in Slavic, but Castor in Latin.  Having fortified the banks of the river, Boleslav waited at Krossen with a large army, seeking at all costs to prevent a crossing.  The king delayed there for sven days and had boats and bridges constructed, but then, divine province revealed an excellent ford to the scouts he had sent out.  At the king’s order, six war bands entered the river there at dawn and came across safely.  Boleslav’s guards observed this from a distance and quickly sent the sad and incredible message to their lord.  After three or more scouts had assured him that his was true, he quickly dismantled his camp and fled, along with his army, leaving much behind.  After carefully observing  this, at the head of his army, the king joined the clergy and people in chanting praises to God, and safely crossed the river.  If we had not waited for the long-hesitating Liutizi, those who preceded could have surprised and overpowered their enemies while stil in their tents.  Although our forces pursued the enemy vigorously, they fled like deer and could not be caught.  Hence, our warriors returned to their comrades.”

Chapter 27 [1005]

“From here the king moved on to the abbey called Meseritz where he was able to celebrate the annual feast of the Theban legion with the greatest veneration [22 September].  He also took strong measures to prevent his forces from inflicting any damage on the church or the residences of the absent monks.  The enemy did not dare to spend the night in any of their burgs as the king pursued them, wasting everything in his path and stopping barely to miles from the burg Poznan at the request of hies leading men.  Nevertheless, when the army scattered to gather food and other necessities, it suffered heavy losses from the enemy’s ambushes.  Meanwhile, Boleslav sought the king’s favour through trustworthy intermediaries and it was immediately granted.  At Boleslav’s request, Arhcbishop Tagino and others who are close to the king came to Poznan.  After appropriate compensation and promises had been proffered they concluded a peace agreement.  Our forces, suffering grievously from the long journey, lack of food and general savagery of war, were happy to return home.”

Chapter 28 [1006]

“After this campaign , the king sought to strengthen the wholesome security which our region had long desired by rooting out the authors of iniquity [December 1005-April 1006].  He ordered that his celebrated retainer, Brunkio, be hanged with a rope, at Merseburg.  Along with their followers, Boris and Vezemiskle, leading men among the Slavs, suffered the same fate at Fallersleben. At Werben on the Elbe, the king held frequent meetings with the Slavs during which, whether they wised to or not, he took up issues crucial to the realm and forcefully settled them.  For the safety of the homeland, he restored the previously devastated Arneburg and returned property that had been wrongfully taken from it a long time ago.  Through the judgement of a synod, issued in his presence and by canonical and apostolic authority, he forbade both illegal marriages and there selling of Christians to the heather, ordering that those who rejected the justice of God be destroyed with the spiritual sword.”

Chapter 30 [1007]

“…As he was gradually accumulating everything necessary for the celebration of the divine mysteries, he constantly entreated Bishop Henry of Wuerzburg, one of his familiares, that he might agree to this heartfelt plan and, in return for compensation, surrender parochial rights over that district which is named after the river Regnitz…”

Chapter 33 [1007]

“It is rare tfor the heavens to shine brightly without the shadows of dark clouds following.  Thus, while the king was celebrating Easter at Regensburg, representatives of the Liutizi and the large city of Wollin, and also Duke Jaromir, informed him that BOleslav was trying to instigate a great conspiracy against him and employing both his words and riches to lure them into it [April 6th]. They also told the king that he could no longer rely on their loyal service if he continued to grant Boleslav his peace and favour.  The king carefully considered the situate with his leading men.  After receiving different opinions from them, and accepting their hostile viewpoint, he sent, Boleslav’s own son-in-law, Herman, to announce to the duke that their pact of mutual peace had ended.  Boleslav had learned of this embassy through intermediaries and, though he had previously invited the count to visit, did not accord him a friendly reception.  When he received the king’s message, he made a great effort to justify himself, saying: ‘May Christ, who knows all, be my witness! That which I must do, I do unwillingly!’ Afterwards, he assembled an army and ravaged the district of Moeckern which is located near Magdeburg. Boleslav’s hostility also destroyed the bonds of Christian fraternity which he had previously established with the Magdeburgers.  Then, moving on to the burg called Zerbst, he conquered the occupants with dire threats and sweet encouragement, and led them away with him.  Our forces learned of these events, but were slow to arrive and hesitant in their pursuit.  Archbishop Tagino, their leader, knew about everything ahead of time, but had not made sufficient preparations.  I was also with him.  When we had all arrived at the place called Jueterbog, the wisest were of the opinion that pursuit of the enemy with such a small force would not be advisable and so, we returned.”

Chapter 34 [1007]

“Nevertheless, Boleslav then occupied Lausitz, Sorau, and Selpuli.  Not long afterwards, this wicked father-in-law also besieged the burg Bautzen which was defended by a garrison provided by Margrave Herman.  Through messengers, he urged the occupants to surrender this burg to him without a fight, noting that they could hope for no rescue from their lord.  A truce was arranged on the seventh day.  While Boleslav prepared for a n assault, the besieged sent a messenger, to humbly ask for help from their lord and from the leading men of the realm, with the promise that they would resist the enemy for another seven days.  Margrave Herman came to Magdeburg where he approached Walthard, who was then provost, and sent messengers to summon each of the leading men individually.  He complained bitterly about their sluggish response and sent messhegers to reassure his own milites. The latter had suffered much from Boleslav’s constant attacks which they had resisted both long and vigorously.  When they saw that some of their comrades were wavering, however, and that their lord still had not freed them, they arranged with the duke to had over the burg in return for permission to leave with all their possessions.  In sorrow, they returned to their homeland.”

Chapter 49 [1009]

“Meanwhile, Count Dedi brought great shame upon my cousin through his words and deeds and, in so doing, reawakened an evil that he thought long forgotten.  For with his advice and aid the burg of Werner’s father, our Wolmirstedt – it is called Ustiure in Slavic, because Ohre and Elbe flow together here – had been burned down and pillaged.  All of this roused the spirit of the excellent young man’s heart. Thus, when he learned for certain that Dedi was riding out of the burg Tangermuende, so called because there the river Tanger flows into the Elbe, he want after him, taking only brother Frederick and no more than twenty armed men.  He caught up with Dedi near the village of Mose, on a high plain that permitted one to see very far.  He attacked vigorously, and immediately note than forty of his enemy’s allies fled, leaving Dedi and his retainer, Egilard to die, despite their valiant resistance.  After this, Werner justly lost that which he had previously come close to losing unjustly through Dedi’s slander.

Chapter 50 [1009]

If you wish to hear of Dedi’s origins you should know that he was of the lineage of the Bukkonen and his father was Dietrich. From childhood he serve dMargrave Rikdag, who was a relative, and distinguished himself through both his spiritual and physical excellence.  As I have mention,d he also led the rebellious Bohemians against us at the church of Zeitz [see book 3, 18]. Ranging far and wide with them, he brought devastation to the land and wen t so far as to capture his own mother, including her among the booty as if he were her enemy rather than her son.  After this, he made his peace with King Otto III and quickly aimed his favour and trust. Meanhile, Count Bio of Merseburg died during a  military expedition.  Through Archbusio Giselher’s influence, Bio’s country, which lay between the Wipper, Saale, Salza and WIlderbach, was ceded to Dedi.  For himself and his brother Frederick, Dedi also obtained the fortress district of Zoerbig that his ancestors had possessed as a benefice…”

Chapter 51 [1009]

“In those days, Bishop Dietrich of Metz and his brother, Duke Henry, along with other conspirators, were a source of great annoyance to the king and his supporters [July-August].  Nevertheless, Dietrich also brought irreparable harm upon himself and his successors.  For the Slavs, who have no fear of God, pillaged both a church located outside the city of Metz and the congregation that served it.  The king compensated for most of the damage through oaths and from his own property, and ordered all of his warriors to take care that such an incident did not occur again.  They had destroyed vineyards, building, grain, and other useful things.  Not long afterwards, I saw a letter which stated that hunger and need had forced eight hundred dependents of Saint Stephen to flee their homeland, without the permission of their superiors.  The letter did not mention those who had been given permission to leave.  It would have been better for this church if that man had never been born [Dietrich].”

Chapter 53 [1009]

“Meanwhile, Count Herman and Margrave Gunzelin were feuding, but did battle with each other in a manner unusual for our region.  For after vainly trying to conquer the burg Strehla, which was guarded by Herman’s millites, Gunzelin turned his attention to the burg Rochlitz, located next to the river Mulde and not well guarded, and had it burned to the ground…”

Chapter 54 [1009]

“After this incident came to the king’s attention, he immediately hurried to Merseburg inn order to suds it more carefully, There, after listening to the statements of the two counts, he assigned all the blame to Gunzelin. The latter having disregarded the king on many occasions in the past, should not have expected him to avenge his present disgrace.  The king added that he had received more than a few complaints from people that Gunzelin had sold their dependents to the Jews.  Gunzelin had shown no inclination either to order their return or to restrain the banditry which he himself had instigated to the detriment of so many.  It was also noted that he enjoyed more avour with his brother-in-law, Boleslav Chrobry, than was appropriate for him or acceptable to the king.  Among those present were some who personally wished to accuse Gunzelin of treason.  The king then asked the leading men to give their collective opinion regarding the many complaints and also to assess the justification suggested by Gunzelin and his supporters.  After deliberating in private for a long time, they offered the following response.  We recognize that this man’s behaviour towards you is not inexcusable.  It is our opinion that he should submit himself unconditionally to your mercy.  You, however, following the admonitions of our most merciful God, should provide an example to all who might wish to turn to you, namely by displaying that mercy of which you possess an abundant supply and by rejecting the model of behaviour that he himself has followed.  Concurring with this opinion, the king received Gunzelin and placed him in the secure custody of Bishop Arnulf.  He provided for the continued protection of Meissen against enemy attacks and placed it temporarily in the care of Frederick.  The following autumn, on the recommendation of the queen and instigation of his dear Tagino, and also with the advice and agreement of the same leading men, he gave the march to Count Herman.”

Chapter 55 [1009]

“Meanwhile, it was the turn of Count Brun, the brother of Gunzelin, to guard the previously mentioned burg Meissen.  And behold, the day before Count Herman was to arrive at the burg that had been promised to him, a large band of Poles crossed the Elbe at dan and silently approached its entrance.  Because the warriors were in place, however, the invaders found no easy way to enter and so they returned sadly though unfortunately without injury.  As it turned out, the leaders of the incursion were two Withasen from the suburb [see book 5, chapter 9]. They rightly paid for their presumption with their own blood.  Boleslav awaited them at Bautzen, suspended between hope and fear.  When he saw his people arriving, he took the loss very seriously.  After this, Count Herman was installed by a representative of the king and thereupon repaid his debtors whatever they had given him, affirming this with his right hand.”

Chapter 56 [1009]

“During this summer and the winter following, the king made peace with his enemies, thereby following both good advice and his own inclination.  His thoughts turned constantly, moreover, to the shame and injury that Boleslav had inflicted upon him.  Accordingly, after Easter, he issued a ferocious order indicating that an expedition was to be undertaken.  The army was to assemble on Margrave Gero’s lands at Belgern, which means ‘beautiful mountain.’* Then Duke Bernhard and and Provost Walthard went  ahead to see if they could bring Boleslav to his senses.  Finding nothing there that pleased them, they returned. Among those who came to Belgern was Jaromir, the illustrious duke of the Bohemians and a faithful supporter of the king. I also cannot omit the great misfortune that befell the margrave.  All of us – and I exclude no one -acted as though we were Gero’s enemies rather than his friends. With the sole exception of his dependants, we destroyed everything, much of it by fire.  The king did not seek revenge for this offence, nor did he offer protection.”

* note: Alt-Belgern.  The expedition took place between the middle of August and the end of September, 1010 (BG 1735a). Bel-gern is the Germanized versions of Biała Góra (White or Pretty (Bela) Mountain).

Chapter 57 [1010]

“From Belgern, we went to the district of Lausitz.  The burg Gehren is located att he entrance of this district and takes its name from Margrave Gero.  As Gero was a large man, he was called Gero ‘the great’.  At Gheren two brothers from the burg Brandenburg, in the district of the Heveli, were captured.  They had sought out Boleslav in order to provoke his animosity against the king. When they left, however, they were snared in the trap which they themselves had secretly prepared. After being questioned about many things, and behaving indicated their unwillingness to provide any answers, both were killed by being hanged from the same height.  At the is point, both the king and h dear Tagino became ill.  This caused the leading men anxiously to consider what should be done in regard to the expedition that had just begun.  Finally, they decided that the king should return, along with certain of the bishops and everyone else who had taken ill. Bishops Arnulf and Meinwerk, Duke Jaromir, Margrave Gero, Herman, and several others were to pillage the districts of Silesia and Diadesi.  And so it was done.”

Chapter 58 [1010]

“Together and fully armed, these lords passed by the burg Glogow where Boleslav himself was residing and could see them.  This aroused the spirits of his warriors who were watching from the walls.  Addressing their duke, they asked why he suffered such an outrage and requested permission to do battle.  Boleslav answer them in the following way: ‘The army you see may be small in numbers, but it is great in courage and its warriors have been specially selected.  If I were to attack them, regardless of whether I won or lost, I would be weakened in the future.  The king can always raise another army.  It is much better for us to endure this now and find some other occasion to attack their arrogance, if possible, without much harm to ourselves.’ Thus he calmed the insolent spirits of his warrior.  During this campaign, his wish to do us harm remained unfulfilled.  Although frequently delayed by rain, our forced inflicted much damage on the enemy.  Finally, after pillaging far and wide, the Bohemians went back to their homeland and our forces happily returned to the Elbe, through the lands of the Milzeni.  Messengers were sent ahead to inform the king of our success and imminent return.  By the grace of God, the king was again healthy and happily received both the messengers and those who followed, at Merseburg.  Archbishop Tagino had separated from the king at Strehla.  He rejoined him after his own health returned, and after he had celebrated the feast of try Thebas at Magdeburg [September 22].”

Chapter 59 [1011/1012]

“After deliberating on many issues of pressing concern to our troubled homeland, the king again visited the western regions and subdued the fickle minds of the inhabitants with the bridle of wisdom.  He happily celebrated the feast of the birth of the Lord at Poehlde. Afterwards, he again visited dear Merseburg where he established a mutual pace for five years. On the advice of a few, he ordered that the burg Lebusa be rebuilt and strengthened.  Alas, in the same year, the outcome that many predicted would follow the king’s order actually did occur.  We went to Lebusa at the end of January and celebrated the feast of the Purification of the holy Mother go God February 2]. Our assigned task was accomplished  in fourteen days and, after securing the place with a  garrison, we departed.  Near by and to the north was another burg which was separated from the first only by a single valley.  This burg had twelve door.  I surveyed it with great diligence and decided, on the authority of Lucan, that it was a large Roman structure and the work of Julius Caesar.* It could have held more than ten thousand men.  The smaller structure, which we had just restored, had been empty since the time of King Henry [see book 1, chapter 16]. After I have recounted the events that occurred in the meantime, I will explain the tearful fate that quickly befell this place.”

“In the previous summer, on August 10, the monastery at Walbeck was destroyed by fire, along with four churches, all of its bells, and with other structures belonging to it.  All of this happened because of my sins.”

* note: Lucan Pharsalia 6.29-65.

Chapter 65 [1012]

“Although nobility of lineage and manner attracted Tagino’s admiration, he did not disdain persons of lesser character, but merely kept them at a distance.  He loved those who worshipped Christ, but persecuted anyone who spurned him, with righteous anger. He carefully tended to everything that God had committed to him, and tried to increase it.  Before celebrating the divine mysteries, he was very serious. Afterwards, however, he smiled and was friendly with everyone.  He frequently sang the Kyrie eleison with his household. For my part, I can scarcely number the many gifts he lovingly bestowed upon me, though I was unworthy of them.  I know only this, that I never responded to him with suitable repayment.  By no means, did I render the obedient service which, during my examination, I had promised to him and to his successors.  For his church, he acquired the burgs Arneburg, Frohse, and Prettin, as well as an estate formerly belonging to Count Esiko.  The episcopal vestments he acquired were splendid and rich.  As I have already mentioned, this column of the church stood for eight years, four months, and eight days before it fell, at least in terms of this world. Nevertheless, it will stand of ever in the invisible temple of the Lord, to which it has been removed.  Unger, pastor of the monastery at Poznań, died on the same day, in the thirtieth year after his ordination [June 9].  What has been said here will suffice, and I can now return to my original theme.”

Chapter 67 [1012]

“… Furthermore since he [the king] wished to launch another attack on his brothers-n-law, he asked those of his leading men who were present how matters stood in their campaign against Boleslav.  The king committed the entire issue to the care of the newly installed bishop [Walthard?], along with all of his property in Saxony.  On the same day, we all departed fro home [June 15].”

Chapter 68 [1012]

“The following Saturday, at the king’s command, Bishop Arnulf enthroned Archbishop Walthard at Magdeburg, where both were received with honour and great joy [June 21].  The following day, Walthard was anointed by the venerable Eid, third bishop of the church of Meissen, with help from his fellow bishops, Wigo, Hildeward, and Erich [June 22].  I assisted as well, though most unworthy, and we were aided by Bishop Arnulf…”

Chapter 69 [1012]

“Meanwhile, at the request of messenger sent by Boleslav, Walthard went to Zuetzen for the purpose of making peace,  He was accorded a magnificent reception  and remained there for two nights. He returned, having accomplished nothing, but richly rewarded with gifts. Soon it was July 24, the day on which the prosed military campaign was supposed to begin.,  We assembled at the village of Schrenz, and from there moved towards Belgern.  Meanwhile, the leading men decided that it would be better to secure the march with troops rather than proceed any farther.  During the following night, the archbishop suffered from severe headaches [August 2].  In the morning, I tried to visit him, and had to wait for a long time as he lingered in his tent.  When he finally came out, he complained that he was in great pain, but noted his plans to visit the queen, then residing in Merseburg, and promised to speak with me there.  After I departed, Walthard celebrated the mass, though previously disinclined to do so, because it was the feast of the first martyr of Christ as well as a Sunday [August 3].  Unfortunately, it was the last time he would perform this task.”

Chapter 71 [1012]

“On Tuesday, before prime, I visited Walthard again [August 12].  This time, Bishop Eid was present and continually offered prayers for him.  When I had entered the chamber in which that pious man lay, I no longer heard him speaking and realized that he was no longer entirely conscious.  While he still lived, bishops Arnulf, Hildeward, Meinwerk, and Erich arrived and, together, offered him their blessing and absolution.  I, though a sinner, anointed the most painful spots with consecrated oil.  Duke Jaromir was also present.  On Holy Saturday prior to the most recent celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection, his brother an retainer, Ulrich, completely unmindful of his debt, had expelled him from the kingdom oft he Bohemians [April 12].  The duke then tried to flee to Boleslav who, though close in terms of blood relations, had hitherto treated him as an enemy.*  Jaromir had hoped that Walthard’s intercession would allow him to obtain the king’s favour, knowing that he was helpful to all in need and expecting to fin him healthy.  When he saw how Walthard had declined, however, he tearfully sought to commend himself to his care, and thereby to ours as well.  As for the archbishop, I do not know what he say to his left, but as his end approached, he protected himself by vigorously making the sign of the cross with his right hand.  Then, with body and face turned, his face contracted as though he was about to cry, but soon relaxed and seemed happy.”

[*note: Boleslav and Jaromir were cousins as the latter’s father (Boleslav II of Bohemoa) was the brother of Dobrawa, the Polish duke’s mother (Thietmar, Book IV, chapters 55-56)].

Chapter 79 [1012]

“I was on guard duty at Meissen when that venerable man appeared to me, on the feast day of the Apostles Simon and Jude, just after matins [October 28].  Since I knew the dead man well, I immediately asked how things were with him… [Thietmar describes his encounter with the ghost of Walthard…]”

Chapter 80 [1012]

“Upon learning of the archbishop’s death, Boleslav [Chrobry] assembled an army and attacked Lebusa.  He even set up camp there, knowing that the flood waters of the Elbe would prevent us from coming to its aid.  His warriors approached, eager for battle, but encountered little resistance from the defenders.  No more than once thousand men defended this burg although three times that number would have barely sufficed. While sitting at his morning meal Boleslav watched as his victorious followers joyfully entered the burg.  The door was opened and the blood of many was spilled.  Among the most prestigious captives were Gunzelin, Wiso, and Isich, the commander of the burg, who had also been wounded.  For whatever reason, the burg had been entrusted to Isich’s protection, but he had finally lost it, not through cowardice but through wretched misfortune.  All of these men were brought before their proud conqueror who immediately ordered that they be taken away and carefully guarded.  Among the duke’s followers, no fewer than five hundred remained on the field of battle.  This miserable slaughter took place on August 20.*”

“After the booty had been divided and the burg set afire, the victorious army departed for home, amid much rejoicing, and accompanied by its lord.”

[*note: the large number of casualties is also noted in the necrology at Merseburg (NMer., 20 August, 5r, p. 11).]

Chapter 83 [1012]

“Meanwhile, Jaromir, of whom I spoke, humbly sought the king’s favour.  Instead of mercy and restitution, however, he found exile and imprisonment with Bishop Adalbold, Bishop Ansfrid’s successor.  Such punishment was due to Jaromirfor having slaughtered the Bavarians as they were bringing gifts to Boleslav, and for having killed persons entrusted to his care, but not because of any disloyalty to the king. Our enemies made sport of us when they heard the news, but our countrymen feared that it would not be to their advantage.  Those who gave such advice to our king should themselves experience the results of this deed.  After this, at the king’s invitation, Jaromir’s brother, Ulrich, came to Merseburg.  There, the kingdom he had unlawfully seized was willingly conveyed to him as a gift.  At the same time, alas, there was much destruction due to flooding, the result of frequent downpours, and an invasion of pirates.  With the Danube flooding in Bavaria, and the waters of the Rhine covering the land, an unspeakable number of people, cattle, and houses were destroyed.  Indeed, the force of the flood uprooted a large number of trees.  The inhabitants of these regions asserted that neither they nor their ancestors had ever experienced such a thing.  Lamenting that this had occurred because of their many sins, they feared that something worse was still to come.  Yet, after this long digression, I should return to my theme.

Chapter 89 [1013]

“Meanwhile, the king departed from Allstedt where he had celebrated the Lord’s epiphany [January 6] and had received messengers from Boleslav who asked for a truce and promised that Miesco, Boleslav’s son, would confirm it.  Then, the king came to Merseburg, where he learned of Archbishop Liawizo’s death…”

Chapter 90 [1013]

“After a few days, Boleslav’s son Miesco [II], arrived bearing splendid gifts.  He became the king’s man and swore an oath of loyalty to him.  Then, he was sent off with great honour and satisfaction so that he would come again.  In those days, after sundown, a great storm raged and greatly disturbed all of us.  Indeed, it destroyed a church, located outside the city, which had been constructed of red wood during the reign of the first Otto.  A fire also destroyed much of the archbishop’s property.  Furthermore, it came to the king’s attention that my cousin Werner, and Ekkehard, the brother of Margrave Herman, had visited Boleslav without permission and said many things contrary to the king’s favour.  Here, in our homeland, they had secretly received Boleslav’s messengers.  The king took all of this very seriously and ordered both men to appear before him.  When they did not dare to comply, all their property was confiscated and they were declared guilty of resisting the king’s power.  Nevertheless, by offering land and gold, my cousin managed to regain both the king’s favour and the right to remain within the realm.  Ekkehard was only restored to grace much later, through faithful intercession.  In that same year, on March 18, the hermit Wonlef died.  He was a true Israelite [John 1:47].”

Chapter 91 [1013]

“During the following Lent, the king came to Werla where he suffered from an extended attack of colic and had visions in which many things were revealed to him.  Finally, through the tears and prayers of many, he recovered his health.  There was no longer enough time for him to reach his intended destination.  Hence, he celebrated the paschal feast at Paderborn, with appropriate solemnity, in the company of Meinwerk with whom he was very close [April 5]. He spent Pentecost with us [May 24].  Boleslav arrived on the vigil of this feast, having left hostages at home to guarantee his safety [May 23].  He was accorded the best reception.  On the feast day itself, he commended himself into the king’s hands and became his man.  After swearing an oath, Boleslav acted as the king’s arms-bearer as he processed to the church while wearing the crown.  On Monday, he appeased the king by bestowing magnificent gifts that came not only from him, but also from his wife.  He received much better and more through the king’s largesse, and also obtained the long-desired benefice.  His hostages were thereupon released, with honour, and in a friendly manner.  Afterwards, with our help, he attacked Russia and laid waste to a good part of its territory.  When a fight broke out between his own people and the generally hospitable Petchenegs, he ordered all of the latter to be slaughtered, even though they had supported him…”

Chapter 92

“While traveling in the regions to the west, the king made preparations for his trip to Lombardy and returned again to us.  From thence, on September 21, he set forth for the place called [lacuna], hastening through the lands of the Bavarians and Swabians.  From all directions, the army conveyed on this place and duly expressed its desire to render assistance.  Without a hint of anxiety, the king then went on to Rome.  The queen accompanied him.  Although his support for this trip had already been requested, Boleslav did nothing and, as usual, was revealed as a liar despite this attractive promises.  Morevover, in a letter to the pope, he complained that the king’s secret plots prevented him from paying true tax he had promised to Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles.  Then, he sent spies to find out how the king was held in these parts and, wherever possible, lure men away from his favour.  Thus did he show his respect for God, and this did he seek the intervention of pious men!  So firm was the faith of the celebrated warrior and so did he observe his terrible oaths! Observe, dear reader, how the king acted in the course of so many shameful acts.  If he either recognized that he had greatly sinned or knew of any justifiable complaint against him, he ordered the canons to be placed before him so that he could discover how this sin ought to be emended.  Then, in accordance with those writings, he immediately set about correcting whatever crime had been committed.  Nevertheless, he is still more inclined to sin recklessly than to remain in salutary penance.”

Chapter 93

“Arduin, Boleslav’s equal and virtual colleague, falsely called king by the Lombards, was aggrieved at the arrival of the great king and at the power of his army.  Having no confidence in the ability of his own forces to do battle with them, however, he immediately withdrew to the protection of a burg…”

Chapter 94 [1004?]

“Before I take up these matters, however, Iwill add to my text a few things that were omitted owing to my forgetfulness…”

“Not long afterwards, however, he [Brun] left the king’s service to pursue a life of solitude and lived by his own labours. Following the death of that most glorious emperor [Otto III], when Henry II ruled by the grace of God, Brun came to Mersebur, with the pope’s permission, to ask for the office of bishop.  At the pope’s command, he was consecrated by Archbishop Tagino and also received the pallium which he had brought with him [August or November 1004]. Then, for the profit of his soul, he took upon himself the labour of a long and wide-ranging trip, while constantly chastising his body with fasts and torturing it with vigils.  He received many gifts from Boleslav and other wealthy people , but quickly divided them among churches, his companions, and the poor, retaining nothing for himself.”

Chapter 95

“In the twelfth year of his most excellent conversion, Brun travelled to Prussia.  He hoped to make this sterile land bear fruit by sowing a divine seed, but could not easily soften that horrid place, bristling with thorns.  Later, while he was trying to preach near the border between this land and Russia, the residents first forbade him to do so, and then when he continued evangelizing, seized him.  For the love of Christ, the head of the church, Brunn was himself beheaded on February 14*, meek as a lamb, and accompanied by his eighteen companions.  The bodies of so many martyrs remained unburied until Boleslav, being informed of this, ransomed them and thereby secured the solace of his hour for the future.  These events occurred in the time of that most serene King Henry.  Through the triumph of such a great bishop, omnipotent God had both honoured and, as I hope, saved him.  Much later, the bishop’s father became ill and, as he himself told me, was advised by his son to receive the habit of a monk. He slept in peace on October 19.”

[* note: probably March 9 as per AQ and translator]

Chapter 99 [1014]

“Here I must add that Duke Ulrich of the Bohemians, whose name means ‘mammon of iniquity’, ordered that his celebrated warrior, Boso, be put to death along with manny others.  He did this because he had heard false rumors that they were giving aid to his exiled brother.  From these murders, all should carefully learn ho to protect themselves in the future.  Because of blind ambition, that which the Lord strongly orders to be observed, in both testaments, cannot be fulfilled in those regions.  Ulrich feared his brother, though he should shave loved him above all, and wwas always concerned to keep hint at a distance.  At one time, during the reign of Duke Swentepolk, the Bohemians were our rulers.  Indeed, our ancestors paid an annual tribute to the duke and he had bishops in his land, who is called Moravia.  He and his successors lost all of  this because of their excessive pride since, as the gospel testifies, humility always increases while the height of arrogance declines.  Without the greatest fear, no one can rule in those lands.  Falsehood reigns there, in alliance with receipt, and pure love laments an outcast.”

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September 29, 2017

Izvestia

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Albrecht Greule’s Deutsches Gewässernamenbuch is a nice introduction to the study of Central European hydronames.

It is, however, far from complete.  I am not talking about additional entries that could have been provided or additional thinking that could have been done in respect to certain other entries. All that is true and, not as important for the present point.

Take a look at the entry for Saale.  There are three such Saales in Germany: Frankish, Thuringian and one by the town of Duingen.

The entry for the Thuringian one is as follows:

We are told by Greule that this river is mentioned as:

  • Salas potamos (in a 12th century manuscript of Strabo’s Geography)
  • Salas fluvium (in a 9th century copy referring to circa 830) (this is from Einhard: Salam fluvium, qui Thuringos et Sorabos dividit)
  • trans Salam in 945

Then Greule launches into the names of the place in 1109, 1325, 1365, 1433 and 1520 while also mentioning Salauelda in 899 and 942.

But the name that does not get mentioned is the one used by Al-Bakri in his copy of the travel report of Ibrahim ibn Yaqub – Çalâwa or Slawah  which travel report is dated to 965/966.

The later “Polish Annals” (14th century) also say:

“Bolezlavus Magnus, qui Chrabri dicitur, natus est.  Iste Bohemos et Ungaros subiugavit et Saxones edomuit, et in flumine Solave meta ferrea fines Polonie terminavit.

This – Soława – is the Sorb name to this day which is pronounced Souava.

For Ibrahim ibn Yaqub’s description in the best edition (based on the earliest manuscripts):

  • Tadeusz KowalskiRelacja Ibrāhīma Ibn Jakūba z podróży do krajów słowiańskich w przekazie al-Bekrīego (Pomniki dziejowe Polski Ser. 2, T. 1. Wydawnictwa Komisji Historycznej. Polska Akademia Umiejętności T. 84 (1946) (this includes pictures Kowalski himself took of the codex Laleli 2144 in the Süleymaniye Library (discovered by Ritter) and of codex 3034 in the Nuru Osmaniye Mosque Library (discovered by Schaeffer))

(Incidentally, Kowalski’s daughter, an ethnographer in her own right, was married to Tadeusz Lewicki, the famous orientalist).

For earlier efforts you can locate L. Koczy, G. Jacob (1889), F. Westberg (1898).  For the earliest:

  • Friedrich Wigger in Bericht des Ibrahîm ibn Jakûb über die Slawen aus dem Jahre 973 in Jahrbücher des Vereins für Mecklenburgische Geschichte und Altertumskunde, Band 45 (1880) (see here)
  • M.J. De Goeye in Een belangrijk arabisch bericht over de slavische volkeren omstreeks (1880) (see here)
  • Arist A. Kunik & Baron Victor von Rosen in Izvěstija al-Bekri i drugih avtorov o Rusi i Slavjanah in Zapiski Imperatorskoj Akademii Nauk, 32, Pril. 2. (1878) (based on the discovery in the 1870s of the Al-Bakri manuscript at the Nuru Osmaniye Mosque in Istanbul) (see here)

For more information about the earliest travels of Jews in Eastern Europe see Teksty źródłowe do nauki historii Żydów w Polsce i we wschodniej Europie (Ringelblum & Mahler, 1930).

So here are some interesting points

  • if -ava is really a Germanic suffix denoting the fictional Germanic designation of “water” (fictional because never attested), then why is -ava a Slavic suffix in this case but the Germanic version is, repeatedly, Saale?
  • how does Greule know that the Salas potamos refers to the Thuringian Saale? The quote from Strabo refers to this “And there is also the river Sala, between which and the Rhine Drusus Germanicus died, whilst in the midst of his victories.” Why is this not the Frankish one for example (which, but for Strabo, would, as per Greule be attested in 777 or maybe even in 716). Cassius Dio relates that Drusus died before reaching the Rhine.  If Drusus were returning towards Mainz.  is soldiers later that year raised the Drususstein in Mainz.  If that is where his soldiers ended up then it is also quite possible that that is where they and Drusus were heading – southwest.  Probably then they were going for the River Main first and to get to that they may have passed the Frankische Saale and then Drusus died (of some disease acceding to Cassius Dio). This is not the only solution of course but it is just as reasonable as the one that has him die past the Thuringian Saale.
  • how did the editors of Deutsches Gewässernamenbuch miss this miss?

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September 28, 2017

Ziza or Zizilia

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Always thought it was curious when German (as opposed to Nordic) Gods sounded Slavic.  One such case – of Lollus – we already discussed here.  Others such as Jecha or Biel I might want to get to later.  But then there is the curious case that actually is attested as early as 1135 in a story – Ex Gallica Historia –  that is very unlikely to be true but whose value (noticed too by Grimm) is nevertheless at least threefold.

First, the story of how the Swabians defeated the Romans (attributed to Velleius Paterculus but not likely written by him) tells of the founding of the city of Augsburg.  Augsburg was founded by the Romans after the defeat of not the Suevi but of the Vindelici who are supposed to have been an entirely different tribe.  These were, in fact, the same Vindelici who gave their name to Lacus Venetus, that is Bodensee.  Augsburg’s Roman name was Augusta Vindelicorum.  Thus we have Suevi, Vindelici (or Veneti?) of the River Lech and… Master Kadłubek.  This is because the story is in many ways similar to the stories written by Wincenty Kadłubek about how the Poles (or Lechites as he would have it) defeated the Romans (and others).  The fact that Augsburg sits in the old Vinde-Licia seem very suggestive.  At the very least here there may be an inspiration for Kadlubek who was a travelled man.

Second, there is a name here that is clear Slavic and that appears nowhere else.  The author has Roman soldier be called Bogudis.  He seems to be an Avar.

Third, there is a report of who the Swabians relied on for their Divine Protection.  Here we have a name that is at least somewhat similar to a Goddess said to have been worshipped by the pagan Poles.  We know that

  • Jan Długosz says: “Venus they called Dzydzilelya and thought her to be the goddess of marriage, so that they asked her to bless them with children and to give them a richness of sons and daughters.”
  • Marcin Kromer‘s list of Gods includes Zizililia: Colebant itaq pro dijs Poloni, & caeterae Slavici nominis gentes, praeciupe Iovem, Martem, Plutonem, Cererem, Venerem, Dianam: quos Iessam, Ladum sive Ladonem, Niam, Marzanam, Zizililiam, Zievanam sive Zevoniam, vocabant.
  • This is repeated by Maciej Stryjkowski who says: Venera (Venus/Aph-rod-ite [!]) they called the goddess of love Zizilia, to whom they prayed for fertility and all sorts of bodily pleasures they demanded from her.  

(Another “Z” Divinity is Zievana sive Zevonia (Kromer) about whom Stryjkowski says: “Diana the goddess of the hunt in they tongue they called Ziewonia or Dziewanna.”)

For more of these see here.

In any event, the Swabian Goddess’ name is supposedly Cisa or Zisa.  This, when one thinks of the tree cis, would already be enough to perk up Slavic ears. But in the story the name comes up slightly differently:

  • Zizarim (or Zizarana?)
  • Ziza
  • Ziznberc (mountain)
  • Zicę

Of course, already Grimm noticed the similarity of the name to that mentioned by Tacitus:

Para Suevorum et Isidi sacrificat.

There are even closer connections to words such as the Goddess Ziva mentioned by Helmold or “life” as życie (that word comes from żyto supposedly – of course, there is an interesting Slavic connection here too found in Diodorus Siculus description of the (real) Galls who, he says, make a drink “out of barley which they call zythos or beer”).

In any event, the Goddess Ziza has been repeatedly cited by the learned men and women of Augsburg throughout the Middle Ages and many places are said to have been named after Her.

There is another potential connection here to Slavs but about that later.

There is also this definition of “cross-eyed” (zez) which Brueckner claims comes from the German sechs but does not say why he thinks that:

On the other hand, a multi-cephalic goddess may appear or at least seem to be all seeing – if you tried the same you’d look cross-eyed… not to mention that the expression above about a naked man waiting on Zyza (or on Leda as in “ice”) can also be read to mean waiting not “on” but “for” as in a naked man waiting for a judgment [?] of Zyza or of Leda/Lada.  The expressions cited by Bruecker are ones he discussed already in 1900 and they come from Potocki’s writing.

Here is a full text of the Historia from the MGH:

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September 21, 2017

We Know That We Do Not Know

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One of the readers had asked the question about the location of the “Vistula Venedi”.  This is rather complicated since, with the exception of the Tabula Peutingeriana, we don’t have any actual ancient maps of the region

Pomponius Mela says that: “Sarmatia, wider to the interior than toward the sea, is separated by the Vistula [Vistula] River from the places that follow, and where the river reaches in, it goes all the way to the Ister River. Its people are very close to the Parthians in dress and in weaponry, but the rougher the climate, the cruder their disposition.”  Which sounds about right.

Strabo does not venture that deep (he does mention the Vindilici who previous to Tiberius’ wars lived at the Bodensee).

Pliny, says that “some writers state that these regions, as far as the river Vistula, are inhabited by the Sarmati, the Venedi, the Sciri, and the Hirri.  He does not say who the Sciri and Hirri are.

Incidentally, the Codanus Sinus has also been identified with the Kattegat and not just with the Bay of Gdansk (it appears in Pomponius Mela and in Pliny).

Tacitus does not mention the Vistula and places the Veneti somewhere where Suevia ends.  Where Suevia ends, however, he declines to say.

He also contributes by noting that the Suevi and Esti are very similar except for language with the Estian language similar to that of Britain.

Ptolemy is more detailed and is worth quoting in more detail but is full of issues of his own:

“Lesser races inhabit Sarmatia near the Vistula river. Below the Venedae are the Gythones, then the Finni, then the Soulanes/Boulanes; below whom are the Phrungundiones; then the Avarini near the source of the Vistula river; below these are the Ombrones, then the Anartophracti, then the Burgiones, then the Arsietae, then the Saboci, then the Piengitae and the Biessi near the Carpathian mountains. Among those we have named to the east: below the Venedae are the Galindae, the Sudini, and the Stavani, extending as far as the Alauni; below these are the Igylliones, then the Coestoboci and the Transmontani extending as far as the Peuca mountains. Back from the Ocean, near the Venedicus bay, the Veltae dwell, above whom are the Ossi; then more toward the north the Carbones and toward the east are the Careotae and the Sali; below whom are the Gelones, the Hippopodes and the Melanchlaeni; below these are the Agathyrsi; then the Aorsi and the Pagyritae; then the Savari and the Borusci to the Ripaeos mountains; then the Acibi and the Nasci; below whom are the Vibiones and the Idrae; and below the Vibiones bordering on the Alauni are the Sturni, and between the Alauni and the Amaxobii are the Cariones and the Sargati; near the bend of the Tanis river are the Ophlones and then the Tanaitae; below whom are the Osili extending as far as Rhoxolanis; between the Amaxobii and the Rhoxolani are the Rheucanali and the Exobygitae; and between the Peucini and the Basternae are the Carpiani, above whom are the Gevini, then the Bodini; between the Basternae and the Rhoxolani are the Chuni, and below the mountains named from these are the Amadoci and the Navari.”

Regarding Ptolemy we have “several” issues:

  • The guy was writing in Egypt in pre-Internet days.  He was writing a world geography not a geography of the Vistula region meaning that he had to make sure that he was generally correct across all geographies but he did not need to be specifically correct in any given place.  I mean who was going to call him on whether the Sciri were Sarmatian or something else?
  • He was relying on multiple sources that he was compiling into one “universal” work.  Normally, the way you would do that is you would critically check each against the other and discard the chaff.  But, how could he “critically” look at anything sitting in Alexandria?  My strong suspicion is that, when I’m doubt, he included multiple data points that in reality referred to one and the same thing.  If you can’t check, it’s probably better to be overinclusive than to risk leaving things out altogether.  And he had to fit all of this on his “map”
  • How good were his sources?
  • Even where they were good, to what time periods did they pertain?  The situation north of the Empire was fluid with various watahas carving up their own “kingdoms” until a bigger guy showed up with more men and better weapons. We do not know how long precisely his work took but it was not put together over a day.  Thus, the situation could have changed while he was writing his magnum opus.
  • A very important word in all of Ptolemy is a word that was translated as “below” – what did he mean by that?  Did he mean “south” or “down river” or something else (think of Curta’s arguments about what maps Jordanes was using…).  In fact, did he mean the same thing every time he used the word?
  • The manuscripts vary greatly which means that some of them were copied incorrectly or that some monks “corrected” Ptolemy or both.
  • It is also worth noting that the so-called “Ptolemaic” maps were not his but rather were medieval maps put together as best guesses based on the numbers and names provided by Ptolemy.

There is no good English translation of Ptolemy.  The above comes from Stevenson who, ahem, may have translated from Latin (the original we think was in Greek).

With that said:

  • it is not clear what Ptolemy means by Venedicus Bay – it is safe to say that if the Venedae were really a “great” people then the suggestion that Venedicus Bay is the Bay of Gdansk is ridiculous simply because it is way too small.  A helpful hint is provided by Pomponius Mela who says “Sarmatia, wider to the interior than toward the sea”.  This is, of course true: the further East you go the “thicker” “Sarmatia becomes.  The further West you go the “thinner” it is until you reach the “Cymbrian Peninsula” that is Denmark.  The reason the west is thinner is simple – the Baltic Sea.  Of course, we know that the Baltic is a sea.  But to Ptolemy and others of his age, the north was “Ocean”, Scandinavia was an island and the Baltic Sea was just a “bay” that the Ocean must have carved up in Sarmatia to make it – at that place – thinner than it is to the East.  If you view the entire Baltic Sea as basically a giant bay then you have your Venedicus Bay.  It is the same as the Suevian Sea of Tacitus.  The fact that the Suevian Sea was also called the Sarmatian Sea puts an end to speculation here.  On a large Baltic, you could fit all the Venedi – a “greater” people. This also matches arguably what we see on the Tabula Peutingeriana.
  • There is a potential problem with this.  The “Vistula” was supposed to have separated Sarmatia from Germania.  In fact, the Gotones (assuming they are to be seen as Goths) dwelt in Sarmatia (!) below the Venedae and near the Vistula.  If the Vistula ends Sarmatia then the southern Baltic shore can’t be part of the Venedic Bay. 
  • Or can it?  The assumption that is made is that the Goths must have dwelt at the “mouth” of the Vistula but that is not what Ptolemy says (“Lesser [than the Venedae?] races inhabit Sarmatia near the Vistula river. Below the Venedae are the Gythones, then the Finni, then the Soulanes”).  Moreover, even if the Goths lived at the mouth of the Vistula, we know they moved south at some point.  But there is an even bigger issue here.  We know that the Goths came from Scandinavia (at least those who do not want to deny reality know that).  If so and if they landed on the Baltic shore then it stretches credulity to suggest that they landed in one place that neatly separated different peoples.  It is much more likely that they landed at the mouth of “a river” (will get back to that) and that their landing, in effect, separated the people who lived along that river.  That is the Goths may have simply cut into the Venedae.
  • But there is another issue.  We do not even know what the Vistula River is.  We assume that it must be the river that we call Vistula today because that prevents us from having to think but even this is not certain.  There are quite a number of good reasons to think that the Vistula was the Oder.  For example, in Ptolemy’s mind “Sarmatia is terminated in the west by the Vistula river and by that part of Germania lying between [Vistula’s] source and the Sarmatian mountains but not by the mountains themselves.”  What he is arguably describing here is the land west of the Odra/Oder which is, to the Nysa/Neisse, in Poland.
  • There are other reasons to think that the Veneti extended to the Oder.  Like the name of the river itself.  Whoever you may think the Veneti were the fact that Odra is similar to Adria where the Veneti lived has not escaped notice.
  • Moreover, have you ever thought as to why there were no Rugii at Ruegen in Tacitus’ writings?  But if we assume that Vistula is where the Goths are Vistula must be today’s Vistula, this creates a mess as the Rugii are nowhere near Rugia island.  I mean even if some Rugii marched out, there should have been some other Rugii left behind at… well, Rugia. BUT, if Vistula is the Oder and the Goths are there then the Rugii can be both close to the Goths and close to the island of Rugia/Ruegen.
  • In other words, whether the Goths landed at the Oder or at today’s Vistula has very little bearing on the question of whether there were Veneti West of (today’s) Vistula.  The fact that that whole are is called Wendland (in fact to Denmark) by King Alfred should surprise no one.  And perhaps this matches to with Aethicus Ister who lists “.. Alani, Meotae, Huns, Frisians, Danes, Vinnidi, Riphaeans, and Olches, whom the folk in those parts call orci, very filthy peoples.”  This list seems to be composed of several lists but the Frisians, Danes, Vinnidi description seems to make sense and nicely suggests that the Vinnidi dwell between the Danes and the Riphaeans (which, traditionally meant the Ural mountains or thereabouts).
  •  It is also curious that there are many tribes that Ptolemy mentions that are clearly or very likely the same as the Slavic tribes we know from medieval history.
  • Take the Lincis – all the manuscripts say Lincis – except one.  So 19th century researchers decided to make Silingae out of the poor Lincis.
  • Take the Veltae – the later Veleti who dwell next to the Ossi.  The Ossi speak “Pannonian” we are told by Tacitus.  Then we have Ossentrix be the king of the Wilzi in the Didrek Sagas.  Did the Ossi conquer the Veltae?
  • In fact, take something else… The English translation by Stevenson (corrected above) speaks as follows: “Below the Venedae are the Gythones, then the Finni, then the Sulones.  BUT the manuscripts actually vary and the alleged Sullones are Soulanes or… Boulanes.   
    • The fact that much later in the medieval day the first mentions of the Poles speak of them as Bolanes (not all but enough to ask questions) is interesting
    • the fact that Bol means “great” (Bole-slav) suggests that Boulanes may have been just a different form of Veltae – a “great” people.”
    • Here is a little excerpt from Karl Müller’s 1883 Ptolemy which also discusses the topic (including Schaffarik’s views):

 

That the Venetic name appears in Prussian and Polish is quite clear.  See this piece on the meaning of the word.  But there were also a number of villages in Poland with similar names such as, for example, near Wroclaw.

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September 14, 2017