Category Archives: Polabians

Thietmar’s Book VIII

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Chapter 1 [1018]

In the year 1018 of the Incarnation, in the second indiction, in the sixteenth year of Lord Henry’s reign, and his fourth as emperor, the same Henry celebrated the Circumcision and Epiphany of the Lord in Frankfurt, with great solemnity (1, 6 January).  On January 25, Ezzelin the Lombard was granted his liberty.  He had been held in custody for four years.  Afterwards in January 30, Bishops Gero and Arnulf, the counts Herman and Dietrich, and the emperor’s chancellor Frederick agreed to a sworn peace at the burg Bautzen.  The agreement was are at the emperor’s order and in response Boleslav’s constant supplications.  This was not as it should have been,  however.  Rather, it was the best that could be accomplished under the circumstances.  In the company of a select group of hostages, the aforesaid lords returned.  After four days, Oda, Margrave Ekkehard’s daughter, whom Boleslav had long desired, was escorted to Zuetzen by Otto, the duke’s son.  When they arrived they were greeted by a large crowd of men and women, and by many burning lamps, since it was night-time.  Contrary to the authority of the canons, Oda married the duke over Septuagesima.  Until now, she has lived outside the law of matrimony and thus in a manner worthy of a marriage such as this one.

Chapter 2

In her husband’s kingdom, the customs are many and varied. They are also harsh, but occasionally quite praiseworthy.  The populace must be fed like cattle and punished as one would a stubborn ass.  Without severe punishment, the prince cannot put them to any useful purpose.  If anyone in this land should presume to abuse a foreign matron and thereby commit fornication, the act is immediately avenged through the following punishment.  The guilty party is led on to the market bridge, and his scrotum is affixed to it with a nail.  Then after a share knife has been  placed next to him, he is given the harsh choice between death or castration.  Furthermore, anyone found to have eaten meat after Septuegesima is severely punished, by having his teeth knocked out.  The law of God, newly introduced in these regions, gains more strength from such acts of force that from any fast imposed by the bishops.  There are also other customs, by far inferior to these, which please neither God nor the inhabitants, and are useful only as a means to inspire terror.  To some extent, I have alluded to these above.  I think that it is unnecessary fro me to say any more about this man whose name and manner of life, if it please Almighty God, might better have remained concealed from us.  That his father and he were joined to us, through marriage and great familiarity, has produced results so damaging that any good preceding them is far outweighed, and so it will remain in the future.  During false periods of peace Boleslav may temporarily regard us with affection.  Nevertheless, through all kinds of secret plots, he constatnly attempts to sow dissension, diminish our inborn freedom, and, if time and place permit rise up and destroy us.

Chapter 3

In the days of his father, when he still embraced heathenism, every woman followed her husband on to the funeral pure, after first being decapitated.* If a woman was found to be a prostitute moreover, she suffered a particularly wretched and shameful penalty.  The skin of around her genitals was cut off and this ‘foreskin,’ if we may call it that, was hung on the door so that anyone who entered would see it and be more concerned and prudent in the future.  The law of the Lord declares that such a woman should be stoned, and the rules of our ancestors would require her beheading.**  Nowadays, the freedom to sin dominates everywhere to a degree that is not right or normal.  And so it is not just a large number of frustrated girls who engage in adultery, having been driven by the desire of the flesh to harmful lust, but even some married women and, indeed, with their husbands still living.  As if this were not enough, such women then have their husbands murdered by the adulterer, inspiring the deed through furtive hints.  After this, having given a wicked example to others, they receive their lovers unite openly and sin at will.  They repudiate their legal lord in a most horrible fashion and prefer his retainer, as if the latter were sweet Abro or mild Jason.  Nowadays, because a harsh penalty is not imposed, I fear that many will fund this new custom more and more acceptable.  O you priests of the Lord, forcefully rise up and let nothing stop you!  Take a sharp ploughshare and extirpate this newly sprouted weed, down to the roots! You also, lay people, do not give aid to such as these! May those joined in Christ live innocently and, after these supplanters have been rooted out forever groan in shame.  Unless these sinners return to their senses, may our helper, Christ, destroy them with a powerful breath from his holy mouth and scatter them with the great splendor of his second coming.

* note: according to Boniface, the Wends “observed the mutual love of matrimony with such great zeal that a woman would refuse to live after her husband had died.  Among them, moreover a woman was judged praiseworthy if she chose to die by her own hand and burned together with her husband on a single pure. (Bon. Epistolae 73).

** note: John 8:5.

Chapter 4

Now, I have said enough regarding that matter, since I must still related certain things regarding Duke Boleslav’s misfortune.  The latter’s territory include a certain burg, located near the border with the Hungarians.  ITs guardian was lord Prokui, an uncle of the Hungarian king.  Both in the past and more recently, Prokui had been driven from his lands by the king and his wife had been taken captive.  When he was unable to free her, his nephew arranged for her unconditional release, even though he was Prokui’s enemy.  I have never heard of anyone who showed such restraint towards a defeated for.  Because of this, God repeatedly granted him victory, not only in the burg mentioned above, but in others as well.  HIs father, Deuvix, was very cruel and killed many people because of his quick temper.  When he became a Christian, however, he turned his rage against his reluctant subjects, in order to strengthen this faith. Thus, glowing with zeal for God, he washed away his old crimes. He sacrificed both to the omnipotent God and to various false gods.  When reproached by his priest for doing so, however, he maintained that the practice had brought him both wealth and great power.  His wife, Beleknegini – the name means beautiful lady in Slavonic – drank immoderately and rode a horse like a warrior.  Once, in a fit of anger, she killed a man.  These polluted hands would have been better employed at the spindle, and her frenzied spirit should have been restrained by patience.

Chapter 5 [1018]

The Liutizi were always united in evil.  Now, they attacked lord Mistislav who had not supported them with troops during the emperor’s expedition, the latter having taken place in the previous year.  They devastated much of Mistislav’s territory, forcing his wife and daughter-in-law to flee, and compelling him to seek protection within the burg Schwerin.  He was joined there by his best milites.  Then, the evil cunning of the populace, rebellious against both Christ and their own lord, forced him to abandon his paternal inheritance.  He barely managed to get away.  This detestable presumption occurred in the month of February which the heathen venerate with rites of purification and obligatory offerings.  The month takes its name from the god of hell, Pluto, who is also called Februus.  Then, all of the churches, dedicated to the honour and service of Christ, were wasted by fire and other forms of destruction.  Even worse, the image of the crucified Christ was mutilated and the worship of idols was preferred to that of God.  The minds of this folk called the Abodrites and Wagrii, hardened like the heart of Pharaoh.  They seized for themselves the kind of liberty possessed by the Liutizi and, following the model of that famous deception, removed their neck from the sweet yoke of Christ even as they willingly submitted to the burdensome weight of the Devil’s rule.  They did this even though they had previously had a much better father and nobler lord.  The members of Christ should lament this weakness of theirs and complain about it to their head, constantly asking, with the voice of their hearts, that this might be changed for the better.  They themselves should not allow this situation to continue, to the extent that this is possible.

Chapter 6 [1018]

As soon as he learned of these events, Bernhard, one of my brethren at Magdeburg and formerly bishop of those apostates, did not hesitate to bring the issue to the emperor’s attention.  It was not from concern over his secular losses that he did this, but rather from  a deep spiritual sadness.  After receiving the news, the emperor gave a heavy sigh.  Neverthless, he decided to delay his response until Easter, so that, with more prudent advice, what had been engendered through an unfortunate conspiracy might be utterly destroyed…

Chapter 20

Now I shall truthfully explain what provoked them to do this.  In the times of Bishop Giselher and Margrave Gunther, the generous beneficence of Otto II, smiling broadly upon everyone, granted to our church a certain forest.  It was situated between the rivers Saale and Mulde, and between the districts of Siusuli and Plisne.  After the sad destruction of our diocese, during the reign of Otto II, Margrave Ekkehard [I] acquired another forest, in a  place called Soemmering, and traded it for the one belonging to us.  Afterwards, along with most of our property, this forest was returned to us by King Henry, the restorer of our office.  This restitution was confirmed through a legal judgement in the presence of all the king’s leading men, and with the brothers Herman and Ekkehard II unable to support their claim.  This forest had been in our church’s possession for more than twelve years.  And Margrave Herman had in no way succeeded in reacquiring it by offering me sixty manses of land.  Nevertheless, he thought that he and his brother might still claim it by means of imperial diplomats relating to the possession of two burgwards, Rochlitz and Teitzig.  He hoped that the old document which confirmed our rights had been lost.  When he showed me his documents, he realized that they would do him no good.  For at Magdeburg, when our respective diplomata were presented before the emperor, it was clear that our church’s claims took precedence, in every way.  At last, in his brother’s presence and hearing, the aforesaid margrave declared: ‘Until now, whatever we have done regarding this matter has been undertaken because we hoped to have justice, and not out of recklessness.  Now let us give it all up.’

Chapter 21 [1018]

Ekkehard was a young man and therefore immature.  Shortly afterwards, at the instigation of his miles Budislav, he began to erect tall enclosures in his burg ward, Rochlitz, for the purpose of capturing wild game.  When subsequently informed of his actions, I accepted the news peacefully.  Nevertheless, through my intermediary – namely his brother – I asked that he desist.  Also, I immediately complained to his brother.  In each case, I was completely unsuccessful, and so things stood until Easter had passed.  Them, because both the weather and the condition of the roads were favorable, and because I had never visited that part of my diocese, I decided to go there and carefully investigate the situation, as yet unfamiliar to me.  On May 2, a Friday, I went to Kohren and confirmed the people who gathered there.  Continuing my trip, I encountered the area, mentioned above, which had been fitted out with ropes and great nets.  I was astonished and wondered what I shod do.  Finally, because I could not take the apparatus with me, I mediately ordered that part of it to be cut down.  Afterwards, I and directly to Rochlitz. There I confirmed a few people and, under threat of the ban, forbade the withholding of my rightful tithes and use of the forest.  I declared all of  this to be property of our church, and made peace.

Chapter 22 [1018]

Then I returned to my estate at Kohren where, after seven days, I heard that Ekkehard’s millets were threatening my people.  At that time, the chancellor happened to be spending the night with me.  When I explained the situation to him, he responded favorably.  On numerous occasions, those same warriors gathered together and tried to attack me, but our guards stopped them, in timely fashion.  Meanwhile, I sent my representative to the emperor, at Mainz, and humbly sought his mediation.  Now, on his own behalf, Ekkehard agreed to a truce, and his brother, whom I had long awaited, returned from Poland and offered his own hand in peace.  Neither kept his word very well, however.  Six flogged and shave men, and as many devastated houses, prove how others must defend themselves against such lords.  In their accustomed manner, their dependents not only raged against me, but also harmed other, better men.  They attacked Archbishop Gero in Werben and Count Siegfried at Nischwitz and took whatever they wished.

Chapter 31 [1018]

We may not keep silent regarding the sad and harmful events that occurred in Russia.  For, on or advice, Boleslav attacked it with a large army and caused much destruction.  On July 22, the duke came to a certain river, where he ordered his army to set up camp and prepare the necessary bridges.  Also camped near the river, along with his army, was the king of the Russians.  He was anxiously awaiting the outcome of the upcoming battle, for which both rulers had called.  Meanwhile, the Poles provoked the enemy into fighting and, with unexpected success, drove them from the river bank which they were supposed to defend.  Elated by this news, Boleslav hastily notified his companions and quickly crossed the river although without effort.  In contrast, the hostile army, drawn up in battle formation, vainly attempted to defend its homeland.  It collapsed at the first attack, however, and failed to mount any effective resistance.  Among those who fled, many were killed, but only a few of the victors were lost.  On our side, the dead included Erich, an illustrious miles whom our emperor had long held in chains.  From that day on, with every success, Boleslav drove his scattered enemies before him, and the whole populace received and honoured him with many gifts.

Chapter 32 [1018]

Meanwhile, Jaroslav captured a city which had been subject to his brother [Sventopolk], and abducted the inhabitants.  At Boleslav’s instigation, the very strong city of Kiev was disturbed by the constant attacks of hostile Petchenegs and severely weakened by fire. It was defended by its inhabitants, but quickly surrendered to the foreign warriors, after its king fled and abandoned it.  On August 14, the city received Boleslav and Sventipolk, its long-absent lord.  Thereafter, through his favour, and from fear of us, the whole region was brought into submission.  When they arrived, the archbishop of that city received them, at the church of Saint Sophia, with relics of the saints and other kinds of ceremonial apparatus.  In the previous year, this church had been severely, but unintentionally damaged by fire.  Here were found the king’s stepmother, wife, and nine sisters, one of whom had previously been desired by Boleslav, that old fornicator.  Unmindful of her husband, the duke unlawfully took her away.  There, too , he was shown an unspeakable amount of treasure, most of high ch he distributed among his friends and supporters.  He sent some of it back to his homeland, however. Among those rendering assistance to the aforesaid duke were three hundred of our warriors, five hundred Hungarians, and one thousand Petchenegs.  Al of these were no sent home, since, as Sventipolk was happy to see, the populace flocked to him and appeared loyal.  In this great city, the centre of that kingdom, there are more than four hundred churches, eight markets, and an unknown number of inhabitants.  As in this entire land, the city gains its strength from fugitive serfs who converge on this place from everywhere, but especially from areas overrun by the fast-moving Danes.  Until now, it successfully resisted the attacks of the Petchenegs and was also victorious over other enemies.

Chapter 33 [1018]

Elated by this success, Boleslav sent the bishop of this city to Jaroslav, to ask that his daughter be sent back to him.  In return, he promised to send back Jaroslav’s wife, stepmother, and sisters.  Afterwards, he sent his beloved Abbot Tuni to our emperor, with splendid gifts that he might more firmly secure his favor and aid.  He also indicated that he would follow the emperor’s wishes in all matters. He also sent messengers to nearby Greece, who promised good things to the emperor there, if he would consider him as his faithful friend.  Otherwise, they intimated, he would be a most obdurate and invincible enemy.  Among all of these, omnipotent God stands firm., mercifully revealing what pleases him and profits us.  In those days my cousin Udo, took Herman prisoner.  This was a man equal to him in nobility and power; and he led him to his burg against his will.  I fear that another dangerous weed will sprout from this, and be exceedingly difficult or impossible to eradicate.

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September 12, 2017

Further from Bosau

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To complete the Chronicle of the Slavs – previously showcased Book I here and now we’ve added Book II here.

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August 22, 2017

Limes Saxoniae

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We’ve already mentioned the following text from Tschan’s Adam of Bremen (Book 2, 15) but think its worth repeating and reviewing some names here since Tschan took some interpretative liberties with the text.  This is the description of the eastern limits of Saxony as set by Charlemagne (and “other emperor”) after the Slavs have been driven back by the Franks (now with Saxon help).

First, here is the Tschan translation

“We have also found that the boundaries of Saxony across the Elbe were drawn by Charles and other emperors as follows:  The first extends from the east bank of the Elbe up to the rivulet which the Slavs call Boize.  From that stream the line runs through the Delvunder wood up to the Delvenau River.  And so it goes on to the Hornbecker Muehlen-Bach and to the source of the Bille, thence to Liudwinestein and Weisbirken and Barkhorst.  Then it passes on through Suederbeste to the Trave woods and again through this forest to Blunk.  Next it goes to the Tensfelder Au and ascends directly up to the ford called Agrimeswidil.  At that place, too, Burwid fought a duel with a Slavic champion and slew him; and a memorial stone has been put in that spot.  Thence the line runs up, going to the Stocksee, and thus on to the Zwentifeld lying to the East as far as the Schwentine River itself.  Along the latter stream the Saxon boundary goes down to the Scythian Lake and to the sea they call the Eastern Sea.”

Here is the Latin

Invenimus quoque limitem Saxoniae, quae trans Albiam est, prescriptum et Karolo et imperatoribus ceteris, ita se continetem, hoc est:

Ab Albiae ripa orientali usque ad rivulum quem Sclavi Mescenreiza vocant, a quo sursum limes currit per silvam Delvunder usque in fluvium Delvundam. Sicque pervenit in Horchenbici et Bilenispring; inde ad Liudwinestein et Wispircon et Birznig progreditur. Tunc in Horbinstenon vadit usque in Travena silvam, sursumque per ipsam in Bulilunkin. Mox in Agrimeshou, et recto ad vadum, quod dicitur Agrimeswidil, ascendit. Ubi et Burwido fecit duellum contra campionem Sclavorum, interfecitque eum; et lapis in eodem loco positus est in memoriam. Ab eadem igitur aqua sursum procurrens terminus in stagnum Colse vadit; sicque ad orientalem campum venit Zuentifeld, usque in ipsum flumen Zuentinam. Per quem limes Saxoniae usque in pelagus Scythicum et mare, quod vocant orientale, delabitur. 

Here is the English translation of the Latin

“I’ve also discovered the description of the Saxon border, on the other side of the Elbe, that was laid down by Charlemagne and the other emperors.  The border runs as follows:

From the eastern shore of the Elbe to the rivulet that the Slavs call Mescenreiza.   From there the border runs up into the Delvun forest up until the river Delvunda.  From [that river] you come to the Horchenbici [wood] and the sources of the river Bilena.  From there you go further to the Ludwin stone and Wispircon [white birches?] and Birznig.  Then in Horbinstenon it runs until the Travena forest, and then upwards through this [wood] in[to] Bulilunkin.  Soon thereafter in[to] Agrimeshou and straightaway climbing to the ford that is called Agrimeswidil.  There Burwido fought with a Slavic champion and killed him and there stands [too] a memorial stone to that event.  From this water the border runs upwards until it ends at the Colse pond;  and further to the east, you come to the field [called] Zuentifeld, until the very river Zuentina.  The Saxon border runs along it until it slides into the Scythian field/see and the sea that is called  the Eastern [sea].”

Thus we have

  • Albia
    • Elbe, Slavic Laba
  • Mescenreiza
    • name comes from miedzyrzecza, zwischenfluss, interamnium 
      • this suggestion comes from Friedrich Bangert (Spuren der Franken in the Zeitschrift des Historischen Vereins für Niedersachsen)
    • which is it?
      • somewhere on the Elbe by Glüsing?
      • Bille – which means Sachesnwald on the Slavic side?
      • Boize or Boizena?
  • Delvunder forest
    • castrum in loco Delbende 822
  • Delvunda
    • near Lauenburg
  • Horchenbici
  • Bilenispring
  • Liudwinestein
  • Wispircon
  • Birznig
  • Horbinstenon
  • Travena forest
  • Bulilunkin
  • Agrimeshou
  • Agrimeswidil
  • Colse
  • Zuentifeld
  • Zuentina
  • Scythian field/see

Will try to trace this but in the meantime the 1880 map (Spruner-Menckes) above claims that that is the right border.

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August 17, 2017

The Slavs of Windsor

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A long time ago, came across the below excerpt which was written by Thomas William Shore, a historian of Hanpshire.  It is currently available (along with other interesting English information) here.  While some of its claims are no doubt overreaching, it’s worthwhile to showcase it here as it does contain a thoughtful perspective touching on the history of northern Slavs.

Regarding other Slavic-British connections you can read here or here.

And then there is the matter of these horses:

You can read about the horse worship of:

For more on white chalk British horses, see here.

On the Dutch-Slavic connections mentioned by Shore see here and here.

Without further ado, we give voice to T.W. Shore (the excerpt comes from his “Origin of the Anglo-Saxon Race” – the footnotes are his):

Rugians, Wends & tribal Slavonic Settlers

“The name Wends was given by the old Teutonic nations of Germany to those Slavonic tribes who were located in the countries east of the Elbe and south of the Baltic Sea. It is the name as the older name used by Ptolemy,(1) who says that `Wenedae are established along the whole of the Wendish Gulf.` Tacitus also mentions the Venedi. There can, therefore, be no doubt that these people were seated on the coast of Mecklenburg and Pomerania before the time of the Anglo-Saxon settlement. That there were some differences in race between the Wends of various tribes is probable from the existence of such large tribes among them as the Wiltzi and Obodriti, who in the time of Charlemagne formed opposite alliances, the former with the Saxons, the latter with the Franks. The Wends who still exist in Lower Saxony are ofa darker complexion, and are of the same stock as the Sorbs or Serbs of Servia. They are Salvonic descent fair in complexion. Procopius tells us that those Vandals who were allies of the ancient Goths were remarkable for their tall stature, pale complexion, and blonde hair.(2) It is therefore by no means improbable that the ancient Slavic tribes of the Baltic coast were distinguished by differences in complexion.”

“As the identification of Vandal or Wendish settlers with various parts of England is new, or almost so, it will be desirable to state the evidence of their connection with the origin of the Anglo-Saxon race more fully than would otherwise have been necessary.”

“The Vandals are commonly thought to have been a nation of Teutonic descent like the Goths, but there is certain evidence that the later Vandals or Wends were Slavonic, and there is no reason to doubt that these later vandals were descended from some of the earlier. Tacitus mentions the Vandals as a group of German nations, the name being used in a wide sense, as British is at the present time. The most important reason for considering the early Vandals to be Teutonic is that the names of their leaders are almost exclusively Teutonic, as Gonderic, Genseric, etc.(3) This reason would be valid if there were nothing else to set against it. Leaders of a more advanced race, however, have led the forces of less advanced allies in all ages, and the Goths were a more advanced race than the Vandals, whom they conquered, and who subsequently became their firm allies. Among the collection of Anglo-Saxon relics in the British Museum are a number of Vandal ornaments from North Africa, placed there for comparison with those of the Anglo-Saxon period. These are apparently rough imitations of those of the same age found in Scandinavia and in England – i.e., imitations of Gothic work.”

“Of all the people in ancient Germania east of the Elbe whom Tacitus mentions as Germans, not a single Teutonic vestige remained in the time of Charlemagne. Poland and Silicia were parts of his Germania. When the Germans of Charlemagne and his successors conquered the country east of the Elbe there was neither trace nor record of any earlier Teutonic occupation.(4) Such a previous occupancy rarely occurs, as Latham has pointed out, without leaving some traces of its existence by the survival here and there of descendants of the older occupants. In Germany, east of the Elbe, no earlier inhabitants than the Slavonic have been discovered, excepting those of a very remote prehistoric age. At the dawn of German history no traces are met with of enthralled people of Teutonic descent among the Slavs east of the Elbe, and there are no traditions of such earlier occupants, while the oldest place-names are all Slavonic. If there were Germans, strictly so-called, east of the river in the time of Tacitus – i.e., long-headed tribes – their assumed displacement by the Slavs between his time and that of Charlemagne would have been the greatest and most complete of any recorded in history.(5) Ethnology and history, therefore, alike point to people of Sarmation or Slavic descent – i.e., brachycephalic tribes – as the earliest inhabitants of Eastern Germany, and indicate some misunderstanding in this respect by the commentators of Tacitus.(6) In Eastern Germany place-names survive ending in -itz, so very common in Saxony ; in –zig, as Leipzig ; in –a, as Jena ; and in dam, as Potsdam. All these places were named by the Slavs.(7)”

“The statement of Bede that the Rugini or Rugians were among the nations from whom the English were known to have descended was contemporary evidence of his own time. The Rugi are also mentioned by Tacitus.(8) Their name apparently remains to this day in that of Rugen Island, situated off the coast which they occupied in the time of the Roman Empire.”

“As Ptolemy tells us of the Wenedae seated on this same Baltic coast, and as they were Sarmatians or Slavs, it is clear that the Rugians must have been of that race. Some of the nations mentioned by Tacitus were, he says of non-Germanic origin. Rugen Island was the chief place of worship for the Wendish race, the chief centre of their religion. On the east side of the peninsula of Jasmund in Rugen are the white chalk cliffs of Stibbenkammer, and on the north side of the island is the promontory of Arcona, where in the twelfth century we read of the idol Svantovit, and the temple of this Wendish god. No traces of Teutonic worship have ever been found in Rugen. They are all Slavonic. Saxo tells us of the worship of Svantovit at Arcona with the tributes brought there from all Slavonia.(9)”

“The probability of some very early settlers in Britain having been Wends, and consequently that there was a Slavic element in the origin of the Old English race, is shown in anther way. The settlement of large bodies of Vandals in Britain by order of the Emperor Probius is a fact recorded in Roman history. The authority is Zosimus,(10) and this settlement is said to have taken place in the latter part of the third century, after a great defeat of Vandals near the Lower Rhine. They were accompanied by a horde of Burgundians, and as they were apparently on the march in search of new homes, it probably suited them as well as it suited the Romans to be transported to Britain. Unless it can be shown that the Vandal name is to be understood to mean only certain tribes of Teutonic origin, this arbitrary settlement of Vandals in Britain is the earliest record of immigrants of Slavic origin. It is not possible to ascertain the parts of the country in which they settled, but as they were known to Roman writers by the names Vinidae and Venedi, it is possible that the Roman place-names in Britain – Vindogladia in Dorset, Vindomis in Hampshire, and others – may have been connected with their settlements. It is possible also during the time between their arrival and that of the earliest Anglo-Saxon settlers some of their descendants may have maintained their race distinctions apart from the British people, as descendants of some of the Roman colonists apparently did in Kent.”

“The defeat of the Vandals by Probus near the Rhine occurred in A. D. 277,(11) so that their settlement in Britain was not more than two centuries before the arrival of the Jutes and Saxons. As it is probable there were some so-called Saxons already settled on the eastern coast of England, with whom those of a later date coalesced, it is not impossible that some of the Vandal settlers in Britain in the time of Probus may have preserved their distinction in race until the invasion of the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes began.”

“The names in the Anglo-Saxon charters which apparently marked settlements of Rugians in England are Ruanbergh and Ruwanbeorg, Dorset, Ruganbeorh and Ruwanbeor, Somerset ; Ruwanbeorg and Rugan dic, Wilts; Rugebeorge, in Kent; and Ruwangoringa, Hants.(12) There will be referred to in later chapters.”

“The chief Old English names which appear to refer to them in Domesday Book are Ruenore in Hampshire, Ruenhala and Ruenhale in Essex, Rugehala and Rugelie in Staffordshire, Rugutune in Norfolk, and Rugarthorp in Yorkshire. Close to Ruenore, in Hampshire, is Stubbington, which may have been an imported name, as it resembles that of Stubnitz in the Isle of Rugen.”

“In its historical aspect the Anglo-Saxon settlement may be regarded as part of that wider migration of nations and tribes from eastern and Northern Europe into the provinces of the Roman Empire during its decadence. In its ethnological aspect it may be regarded as a final stage in the westward European migration of people of the Germanic stock. As the history and ethnology of the Franks in Western Germany afford us a notable example of the fusion of people of the Celtic with others of the Teutonic race, so the history and ethnology of Eastern Germany afford equally striking example of the fusion of people of Teutonic and Slavonic origins. It began at a very early period A. D., and the present irregular ethnological frontier between Germans and Slavs shows that it is still slowly going on. The eastward migration of Germans in later centuries has absorbed the Wends. The descendants of the isolated Slavonic settlers near Utrecht and in other parts of the Rhine Valley have also long been absorbed. The ethnological evidence concerning the present inhabitants of these districts and the survival of some of their place-names, however, supports the statement of the early chroniclers concerning the immigration of Slavs into what is now Holland.”

“The part which the ancient Wends, including Rugians, Wilte, and other Slavonic people, took in the settlement of England was, in comparison with that of the Teutonic nations and tribes, small, but yet so considerable that it has left its results. During the period of the invasion and the longer period of the settlement, the southern coasts of the Baltic Sea were certainly occupied by Slavonic people. Ptolemy, writing as he did, about the middle of the second century A. D., mentions the Baltic by the name Venedic Gulf, and the people on its shores as Venedi or Wenedae. He describes them as one of the great nations of Sarmatia,(13) the most ancient name of the countries occupied by Slavs, but which was replaced by that of Slavonia. Pliny, in his notice of the Baltic Sea, has the following passage : `People say that from this point round to the Vistula the whole country is inhabited by Sarmatians and Wends.`(14) Although he did not write from personal knowledge of the Wends, this passage is weighty evidence that they must have been located on the Baltic in his time.”

“During the time of the Anglo-Saxon period of the Slavs in the North of Europe extended as far westward as the Elbe and to places beyond it. On the east bank of that river were the Polabian Wends, and these were apparently a branch of the Wilte or Wiltzi. This name Wiltzi has been derived from the old Slavic word for wolf, wilk, plural wiltzi, and was given to this great tribe from their ferocious courage. The popular name wolfmark still survives in North-east Germany, near the eastern limit of their territory. These people called themselves Welatibi, a name derived from welot, a giant, and were also known as the Haefeldan, or men of Havel, from being seated near the river Havel, as mentioned by King Alfred. The inhabitants of the coast near Stralsund, who were called Rugini or Rugians, and who are mentioned by Bede as one of the nations from whom the Anglo-Saxons of his time were known to have derived their origin,(15) must have been included within the general name of the Wends. As these Rugians must have been Wends, the statement of Bede is direct evidence that some of the people of England in his time were known to be of Wendish descent. This is supported by evidence of other kinds, such as the mention of settlements of people with Wendish or Vandal names in the Anglo-Saxon charters, the numerous names of places in England which have come down from a remote antiquity, and the identity of the oldest forms of such names with that of the people of this race. We read also that Edward, son of Edmund `Ironside`, fled after his father`s death `ad regnum Rugorum, quod melius vocamus Russiam.`(16)”

“It is supported by philological evidence. As a distinguished American philologist says : `The Anglo-Saxon was such a language as might be supposed would result from a fusion of Old Saxon with smaller proportions of High German, Scandinavian, and even Celtic and Slavonic elements.`(17) The migration of the Wilte from the shores of the Baltic and the foundation of a colony in the country around Utrecht is certainly historical. Bede mentions it in connection with the mission of Wilbrord. He says : `The Venerable Wilbrord went from Frisia to Rome, where the Pope gave him the name of Clement, and sent him back to his bishopric. Pepin gave him a place for his Episcopal see in his famous castle, which , in the ancient language of those people, is called Wiltaburg – i.e., the town of the Wilti – but in the French tongue Utrecht.`(18) Venantius also tells us that the Wileti or Wiltzi, between A. D. 560-600, settled near the city of Utrecht, which from them was called Wiltaburg, and the surrounding country Wiltenia.(19) Such a migration would perhaps be made by land, and some of these Wilte may have gone further. The name of the first settlers in Wiltshire has been derived by some authors from a migration of Wilte from near Wiltaburg,(20) and the name Wilsaetan appears to afford some corroboration. It is certain that Wiltshire was becoming settled in the latter half of the sixth century, and such a migration may either have come direct from the Baltic or the Elbe, or from the Wilte settlement in Holland.”

“It must not be supposed that there is evidence of the settlement of all Wiltshire by people descended from the Wilte, but it is not improbable that some early settlers of this time were the original Wilsaetas. The Anglo-Saxon charters supply evidence of the existence in various parts of England, as will be referred to in later pages, of people called Willa or Wilte. There were tribes in England named East Willa and West Willa ;(21) and such Anglo-Saxon names as Willanesham ;(22) Wilburgeham, Cambridgeshire ;(23) Wilburge gemaero and Wilburge mere in Wiltshire ;(24) Wilburgewel in Kent ;(25) Willa-byg in Lincolnshire ;(26) Wilmanford,(27) Wilmanleahtun,(28) appear to have been derived from personal names connected with these people. There has not been discovered that any other Continental tribe of the Anglo-Saxon period were so named, except this Wendish tribe, called by king Alfred the men of Havel, a name that apparently survived in the Domesday name Hauelingas in Essex. The Wilte or Willa tribal name survived in England as a personal name, like the national name Scot, and is found in the thirteenth-century Hundred Rolls and other early records. In these rolls a large number of persons so named are mentioned – Wiltes occur in seventeen entries, Wilt in eight, and Wilte in four entries. Willeman as a personal name is also mentioned.(29) The old Scando-Gothic personal name Wilia is well known.(30)”

“The great Wendish tribe which occupied the country next to that of the Danes along the west coast of the Baltic in the ninth century was the Obodriti, known also as the Bodritzer. From their proximity there arose an early connection between them and the Danes, or Northmen. In the middle of the ninth century we read of a place on the boundaries of the Northmen and Obodrites, `in confinibus Nordmannorum et Obodritorum.`(31) The probability of Wendish people of this tribe having settled in England among the Danes arises from their near proximity on the Baltic, their political connection in the time of Sweyn and Cnut, historical references to Obodrites in the service of Cnut in England, and the similarity of certain place-names in some parts of England colonized by Danes to others on the Continent of known Wendish or Slavonc origin. Obodriti is aSlavic name, and, according to Schafarik, the Slavic ethnologist, the name may be compared with Bodrica in the government of Witepsk, Bodrok, and the provincial name Bodrog in Southern Hungary, and others of a similar kind. In the Danish settled districts of England we find the Anglo-Saxon names Bodeskesham, Cambridgeshire ; Bodesham, now Bosham, Sussex ; Bodding-weg, Dorset ;(32) the Domesday names Bodebi, Lincolnshire ; Bodetone and Bodele, Yorkshire ; bodeha, Herefordshire ; Bodeslege, Somerste ; Bodesha, Kent ; and others,(33) which may have been named after people of this tribe.”

“The map of Europe at the present day exhibits evidence of the ancient migration of the Slavs. The Slavs in the country from Trient to Venice were known as Wendi, and hence the name Venice or the Wendian territory.(34) Bohemia and Poland after the seventh century became organised states of Slavs on the upper parts of the Elbe and the Vistula. The Slavonic tribes on the frontier or march-land of Moravia formed the kingdom of Moravia in the ninth century. Other scattered tribes of Slavs formed the kingdom of Bulgaria about the end of the seventh century ; and westward of these, other tribes organized themselves into the kingdoms of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Servia.(35) in the North the ancient Slav tribes of Pomerania, Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, and those located on the banks of the Elbe, comprising the polabians, the Obodrites, the Wiltzi, those known at one time as Rugina, the Lutitzes, and the north Sorabians or Serbs, became gradually absorbed among the Germans, who formed new States eastward of their ancient limits. These have long since become Teutonised, and their language has disappeared, but the Slavonic place-names still remain.”

“What concerns us specially in connection with the settlement of England and the Vandals is that these people were Slavs, not Teutons or Germans, as is sometimes stated. They are fully recognised as Slavs by the historian of the Gothic race, who tells us that Slavs differ from Vandals in name only.(36) It is important, also, to note that the Rugians mentioned by Bede were a Wendish tribe. Westward of the Elbe the Slavic Sorabians had certainly pushed their way, before they were finally checked by Charlemagne and his successors. The German annals of the day A. D. 782(37) tells us that the Sorbians at that time were seated between the Elbe and the Saale, where place-names of Slavonic origin remains to this day.”

“Those Wends who were located on the Lower Elbe, near Luneburg and Hamburg, were known as Polabians, through having been seated on or near this River, from po, meaning `on` and laba, the Slavic name for the Elbe.”

“The eastern corner of the former kingdom of Hanover, and especially that in the circuit of Luchow, which even to the present day is called Wendland, was a district west of the Elbe, where the Wends formed a colony, and where the Polabian variety of the Wendish language survived the longest. It did not disappear until about 1700-1725, during the latter part of which period the ruler of this ancient Wendland was also King of England.”

“During the later Saxon period in England the Wends of the Baltic coast had their chief seaport at Julin or Jomberg, close to the island called Wollin, in the delta of the Oder. Julin is mentioned by Adam of Bremen as the largest and most flourishing commercial city in Europe in the eleventh century, but it was destroyed in 1176 by Valdmar, King of Denmark.(38) Its greatest rival was the Northern Gothic port of Wisby in the Isle of Gotland. Whether Jomberg surpassed Wisby as a commercial centre, which, notwithstanding the statement of Adam of Bremen, is doubtful, it is certain that these two ports were the chief porte respectively of the Wends and the Goths of the Baltic. Both of them, even during the Saxon period, had commercial relations with this country, or maritime connections of some sort, as shown by the number of Anglo-Saxon coins and ornaments with Anglians runes on them found either in Gotland or Pomerania.”

“The connection of the Slav tribes of ancient Germany with the settlement of England is supported also by the survival in England of ancient customs which were widely spread in Slavonic countries, by the evidence of folk-lore, traces of Slav influence in the Anglo-Saxon language, and by some old place-names in England, especially those which point to Wends generally, and others referring to Rugians and to Wilte. The great wave of early Slavonic migration was arrested in Eastern Germany, but lesser waves derived from it were continued westward, as shown by the isolated Slav colonies of ancient origin in Oldenburg, Hanover, and Holland. The same migratory movement in a lesser degree appears to have extended even into England, bringing into our country some Slavonic settlers, probably in alliance with Saxons, Angles, Goths, and other tribes, and some later on in alliance with Danes. The existence of separate large tribes among the Wends is probable evidence of racial differences, and the alternative names they had are probably those by which they were known to themselves and to their neighbours. The remnant at the present time of the dark-complexioned Wends of Saxony, who called themselves Sorbs, show that there must have been some old Wendish tribe of similar complexion, from which they were descended. As the country anciently occupied by the Wiltzi included Brandenburg and the district around Berlin, it joined the limits of ancient Saxony on the west. There is evidence, arising from the survival of place-names in and near the old Wendish country, to show that these Wilte have left distinct traces of their Existance in North-East Germany – for example, Wiltschau, Wilschkowitz, and Wiltsch are places in Silesia ; Wilze is a place near Posen ; Wilson in Mecklenburg-Schwerin ; Wilsdorf near Dresdon ; Wilzken in East Prussia ; and Wilsum in Hanover.(39) Similarly, names of the same kind which can be traced back to Saxon time survive in England. If the existence of these Wilte place-names in the old Wendish country of Germany is Confirmatory evidence of the former existence in that part of Europe of a nation or tribe known as the Wiltzi or Wilte, the existence of similar names in England, dating from the Anglo-Saxon period, cannot be other than probable evidence of the settlement in England of some of these people, for no other tribe is known to have existed at that time which had a similar name. This tribal name has also survived in other countries, such as Holland, in which the Wilte formed colonies. The Probian Wends or Wilte were located on the right bank of the Elbe, where some ships for the Saxon invasion must have been fitted out. There were Saxons on the left bank and Wilte on the right. At a later period they were in close alliance, and unless there had been peace between them, it is not likely that a Saxon expedition to England would have been organized.”

“Under these circumstances, if we had no evidence of Wilte or other Wends in England, it would be very difficult indeed to believe that some of them did not come among the Saxons. The general name of the Wends survives in many place-names in the old Wendish parts of Germany, such as Wendelau, Wendemark, Wendewisch, Wendhagen, and Wendorf.(40)”

“It is difficult to avoid conclusion that the old Slavonic tribes not only comprised people of different tribal names, but of different ethnological characters, seeing that at the present time there are dark-complexioned Slavs and others as fair as Scandinavians. No record of the physical characters of the ancient Wends appears to have survived, but observations on the remnant of the race, who call themselves Sorbs, in Lower Saxony have been made by Beddoe. The Wendish peasants examined by him and recorded in his tables(41) showed the highest index of nigrescence of any observed by him in Germany. These observations have been confirmed by the results of the official ethnological survey of that country.(42)”

“The coast of the Baltic Sea as far east as the mouth of the Vistula, and beyond it, is remarkable for having been what may be called the birthplace of nations. Goths were seated east of the Vistula before the fall of the Roman Empire, and Vandals appear to have occupied a great area of country around the sources of the Vistula and the Oder. In the middle of the fifth century the Burgundians were seated in large numbers between the middle courses of these rivers, while the Slavic tribes known as Rugians were located on the Baltic coast on both sides of the Oder. The name Rugini or Rugians thus appears, at one time, to have been a comprehensive one, and to have included the tribes known later on as Wiltzi.”

“In the Sagas of the Norse Kings, Vindland is the name of the country of the Wends from Holstein to the east of Prussia, and as early as the middle of the tenth century we read of both Danish and Vindish Vikings as subjects of, or in the service of, Hakon, King of Denmark.(43) In this century the Wends were sometimes allies and sometimes enemies of the Danes and Norse. There is a reference to interpreters of the Wendish tongue in the Norse Sagas.(44) The Wends were sea-rovers, like their neighbours, and comprised the largest section of the ancient association or alliance known as the Jomberg Vikings.(45) An alliance was made between the Danes and the Wends by the marriage of Sweyn, King of Denmark, to Gunhild, daughter of Borislav, a King of the Wends. Cnut, King of England and Denmark, was actually King of ancient Wendland, and the force of huscarls he formed in England was partly composed of Jomberg sea-rovers who had been banished from their own country. The evidence of Wendish settlers with the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in England rests, as far as the Rugians are concerned, on Bede`s statement, and generally on the survival of customs, place-names, and folk-lore. It is certain that large colonies of Vandals were settled in Britain before the end of the Roman occupation, and some of them may have retained their race characters until the time of the Saxon settlement. It is certain, also, that there was an immigration in the time of Cnut. The evidence of a Wendish influence in the English race, arising from these successive settlements, extending from the Roman time to the later Anglo-Saxon period, cannot, therefore, be disregarded.”

“The Anglo-Saxon charters(46) tell us of Wendlesbiri in Hertfordshire, Wendlescliff in Worcestershire, Waendlescumb in Berkshire, and Wendlesore, now Windsor – all apparently named from settlers called Wendel, after the name of their race.”

“In such Old English place-names the tribal name lingers yet, as similar names linger in North-East Germany ; and in the names Wilts, Willi, Rugen, Rown, or Ruwan, and others, we may still, in all probability, trace the Wilte and Rugians – Wendic tribes of the Saxon age. In the old Germanic records the Rugians are mentioned under the similar names to those found in the Anglo-Saxon charters, Ruani and Rugiani.(47)”

“Some manorial customs, and especially that of sole inheritance by the youngest son, maybe traced with more certainty to the old Slavic nations of Europe than to the Teutonic. Inheritance by the youngest son, or junior preference, was a custom so prevalent among the Slavs that there can be little doubt it must have been almost or quite the common custom of the race. The ancient right of the youngest survives here and there in parts of Germany – in parts of Bavaria, for example – bit in no Teutonic country is the evidence to be found in ancient customs or in old records of the identification of this custom with the Teutonic race as it may be identified with the Slavic. In the old Wendish country around Lubeck the custom of inheritance by the youngest son long survived, or still does, and Lubeck was the city in which during the later Saxon age in England the commerce of the Wends began to be concentrated.”

“There is evidence of another kind showing the connection of Wends with Danes or Northmen. At Sondevissing, in Tyrsting herrad, in the district of Scanderborg, there is a stone monument with a runic inscription stating that `Tuva caused this barrow to be constructed. She was a daughter of Mistivi. She made it to her mother, who was the wife of Harald `the Good,` son of Gorm.`(48) The inscription has been assigned to the end of the tenth century, and Worsaae says : `We know that there existed at this period a Wendish Prince named Mistivi, who in the year 986 destroyed Hamburg, possibly the same as in the inscription.` This refers to a generation earlier than that of Cnut, to the time of Sweyn, who married the daughter of Borislav, king of Wends. During the period of Danish rule in England there are several historical references to the connection of the Wends with England. In 1029, Eric, son of Hakon was doubly the King`s nephew, being the son of his sister and the husband of his niece Gunhild, the daughter of another sister and of Wyrtgeorn, king of the Wends.(49) There was at this time an eminent Slavonic Prince who was closely connected with Cnut, and spent sometime with him in England – viz., Godescale, son of Uto, the Wendish Prince of the Obodrites, whose exploits are recorded in old Slavonic history. The Obodrites were the Wendish people whose warlike deeds are still commemorated at Schwerin. Godescale waged war against the Saxons of Holstein and Stormaria, but was taken prisoner, After his release he entered the service of Cnut, probably as an officer of the huscarls, and later on he married the King`s daughter.”

“There is another trace of the Wends in an English charter of A.D. 1026, which is witnessed by Earl Godwin, Hacon, Hrani, Sihtric, and Wrytesleof. The name of the last of these is apparently Slavonic.(50) There is also a charter of Cnut, dated 1033, by which he granted to Bouige, his huscarl, land at Horton in Dorset.(51) Saxo, the early chronicler of the Danes, tells us that Cnut`s Wendish kingdom was called Sembia, and it was in the Wendish war under Cnut that Godwin, the Anglo-Saxon earl, rose to distinction dominions,(52) the migration into England of Wendish people during his reign is easily accounted for.”

“There is additional evidence of the intercourse of the Wendish people of Pomerania with the people of Anglo-Saxon England in the objects that have been found. The gold ring which was found at Coslin, on the Pomeranian coast, in 1839, Stephens says was the first instance of the discovery of a golden bracteates and Northern runes on German soil.(53) The inscription is in provincial English runes, the rune which cannot be shown at present is the sign for yo which is slightly different, for, as Stephens says, it has only been found in England. The ring must be a very early one, for it contains the heathen symbols for Woden and also for the Holy Triskele (Y). Stephens states that it cannot well be later than the fifth century, and that it had been worn by a warrior `who had been in England, or had gotten it thence by barter.` The style is that of six centuries earlier than the eleventh or twelfth centuries, when the Germans came to Pomerania. The well-preserved characters on the ring point to its loss at an early date after its manufacture, and thus to early communication of some kind between England and Pomerania. It may have been the much-prized, rare ornament of a Wendish chief, brought or sent from England. In any case we know that the Wends, who had no knowledge of runes, must have prized ornaments such as this, whose construction was beyond their skill, for the relics of Vandal ornaments we possess from other countries where the Vandals had settled are clearly in many respects rough imitations of those of the ancient Goths.(54) With this English golden finger-ring there were also two Roman coins, one of Theodosius `the Great` (379-395), and the other of Leo I. (457-474), thus fixing the probable date of the ring as the fifth century. At that time the Goths were settling down in Kent, with some Wends, probably, near to them. They can be traced on both Essex and Sussex. The coast of the Baltic, it should also be remembered, was not only Wendish in the parts nearest to the Elbe, but also Gothic in those beyond the Vistula. The discovery of this ring in old Vandal territory with the Roman coins, and especially with the very early English runic characters upon it, assists in proving that the early Goths who settled in Kent were of the same stock as those who overran so large a part of Europe during the decline of the Roman Empire. In considering this, it should also be remembered that inscribed stones discovered at Sandwich, which are marked with very early runes, and are ascribed to the same early period, still exist in Kent.(55)”

“The evidence we possess relating to the connection of ancient Wendland with both the earlier and later Anglo-Saxons thus points to a continued intercourse between that country and our own. It is known to have been very considerable in the time of Cnut, who was the King or overlord of the Baltic Wendland. A large discovery of coins was made at Althofthen on the Obra, in the province of Posen, not far from Brandenburg, in 1872. From sixty to seventy Anglo-Saxon coins of AEthelred and Cnut, and an Irish one of Sithric, were found in this hoard. The Anglo-Saxon coins bear the mint marks of Cambridge, London, Canterbury, Shaftsbury, Cricklade, Oxford, Stamford, Winchester, York, and other places – twenty in all.(56)”

“The local traces of Wendish settlers in various English counties will be stated when considering the evidence of tribal settlers in different parts of England. Among these local traces are customs and folk-lore, which were of great vitality among these people of Wendland. On this subject Magnus, the historian of the Goths and Vandals, give us positive information. He says : `For, as Albertus Crantzius reports of Vandalia, “great is the love men bear to their ancestors` traditions.”(57)”


(1) Morfil, `Slavonic Literature,` 36, quoting Ptolemy.

(2) Procopius, `Wars of the Vandals` (Greek ed., 1607), book i., p.92, and Greek-Latin ed., iii. 313.

(3) Latham,R. G., `Germania of Tacitus,` Epileg. Ixxxix.

(4) Latham. R. G., loc. Cit., Prolegomena, xxvii.

(5) Ibid., Prolegomena, xxvii.

(6) Ibid., xxvi.

(7) Ripley, W. Z., `Races of Europe,` 239.

(8) Germania, Sect. xIiii.

(9) Saxo Grammaticus, translated by O. Elton, 393-395.

(10) Zosimus, i., c. 68.

(11) Hodgkin, T., `Italy and her Invaders,` 217.

(12) Codex Dipl., Index.

(13) Bunbury, E. H., `Hist. Of Ancient Geography,` ii. 591.

(14) Pliny, `hist. Nat.,` iv., chap. xxvii., quoted by Elton, C. I. `Origins of Engl. Hist.,` 40.

(15) Beda, `Eccles. Hist.,` edited by J. A. Giles, book v., chap. ix.

(16) Cottonian Liber Custumarum, Liber Albus, vol. ii., pt. Ii., 645.

(17) Marsh, G. P., `Lectures on the English Language,` Second Series, p. 55.

(18) Beda, loc. Cit., book v., chap. ii.

(19) Hampson, R. T., `The Geography of king Alfred,` p. 41.

(20) Schafarik, `Slavonic Antiquities,` quoted by Morfil, W. R., `Slavonic Literature,` 3-35.

(21) Cart. Sax., edited by Birch, i 416.

(22) Codex Dipl., No. 931.

(23) Ibid., No 967.

(24) Ibid., nos. 641 and 387.

(25) Ibid., No. 282.

(26) Ibid., No. 935.

(27) Ibid., No. 1205.

(28) Ibid.

(29) Hund. Rolls, vol. ii., Index.

(30) Stephens, G., `Old Northern Runic Monuments,` iii. 122.

(31) Monumenta Germaniae, scriptores ii. 677, A.D. 851.

(32) Codex. Dipl., Index.

(33) Domesday Book, Index.

(34) Menzel, `History of Germany,` i. 242.

(35) Rambad, A., `History of Russia,` i. 23.

(36) Magnus, J., `Hist. De omn. Goth. Sueon. Reg,.` ed. 1554, p. 15.

(37) Monumenta Germaniae, Ann. Einh., edited by Pertz, i. 163.

(38) Mallet, M., `Northern Antiquities,` Bohn`s ed., p. 139.

(39) Rudoplh, H., `Orts Lexikon von Deutschland.`

(40) Rudolph, H., loc. Cit.

(41) Beddoe, J., `Races of Britain,` 207.

(42) Ripley, W. Z., `Races of Europe,` Map.

(43)`The Heimskringla,` translated by Laing, edited by Anderson, ii. 12.

(44) Ibid., iv. 201.

(45) Memoires de la Societe Royale des Antiquaires du Nord, 1850-1860, p. 422.

(46 Codex Dipl., nos. 826, 150, 1283, 816.

(47) Monumenta Germaniae, ii. 461.

(48) Worsaae, J. J. A., `Primaeval Antiquities of Denmark,` p. 118.

(49) Freeman, E. A., `Hist. Of the Norman Conquest,` i. 475.

(50) Freemane. A., loc. Cit., i. 650.

(51) Codex Dipl., No. 1318.

(52) Freeman, E. A., loc. Cit., i. 504, Note.

(53) Stephens, G., loc. Cit., ii. 600.

(54) Collection, British Museum.

(55) Stephens, G., loc. Cit., ii. 542.

(56) Warne, C., `Ancient Dorset,` p. 320.

(57) Magnus, O., `Hist. Omn. Goth.,` Quoting Albertus Crantzius, lib. Ix., chap. xxxvii.


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July 2, 2017

Chapels in the West

Published Post author

In his Westphalian annals (volume 3), the Catholic priest Hermann Stangefol makes the following curious statement regarding the so-called Drüggelter Kapelle (which just means chapel) just south of Soest.  The place was first mentioned during the Crusades as apud Druglete and the “Kapelle” as Capellam Druchlete.

“The Paradise Monastery is noteworthy for the fact that it was spared by the enemy in the siege of Soest in 1447.  At around the same time, by reason of a pious gift, the farms of the town Drüchgelte on the River Möhne were transferred to [the ownership of] this new monastery.  There in an ancient temple, that still exists, there stood there an statue of the Goddess Trigla, which had three heads, to which the pagans in times of greatest need typically ran, pleading for help. It may be thought that it is from this statue [Goddess] that the village derives its name.  This statue was destroyed in 1583 during the Cologne War [1583-1588].”

“Monasterio Paradiso in obsidione Susatensi a. 1447 hostes, quod notabile admodum est, pepercerunt.  Villae in Druechgelte ad Moenam fl. ex piorum oblationibus huic novello Monasterio simul obvenerunt.  Ubi in pervetusto templo, quod etiamnum supcrest, extitit olim simulachrum Triglae deae, tria habens capita, ad quam gentilitas in summis necessitatibus opem imploratura cofugere solebat.  Est credible, quod ab eadem imagine hunc pagaum nomen suum mutuasse.  Status haec anno 1583 in bello trucksessisno omnino periit.”

This from the Annales circuli Westphalici, hoc est Opus Chronologicum Et Historicum rerum omnium, maxime notabilium sub hoc circulo gestarum, a Christo nato ad annum MDCLVI deductum et in IV partes distinctum.  The Moenam/Moyne refers to the river Möhne.

It is curious that Stangefol mentions Trigla as having “three heads” but does not seem to be aware that the name is likely a direct translation of that same concept.  He also does not mention the Slavs or the Slavic God Triglav suggesting that he may not even have been aware that Triglav had been attested in the Life of Otto of Bamberg.  These facts would add credibility to his report.  And it is true that the columns of the Kapelle feature a number of “strange” symbols and carvings including a column with three heads (notice too the boar’s or ram’s head in the middle below):

 Then there is the column with multiple heads:

Whether the various carvings visible on other columns may be solar symbols or something else is up for debate.

Speaking of reports, as we observed previously, there certainly have been reports of Slavs in the neighboring Soest.  We’ve also mentioned that Soest itself sounds vaguely Slavic or at least features the “Venetic” prefix -est (as too does Tergeste/Triest).  Note too that Slavic idols may have been found in places such as Bamberg (Bababerg arguably referring to Slavic (?) sculptures).

It is also true that in some cases former pagan sculptures/images were incorporated in the structures of the new Christian churches as in Altenkirchen (incidentally, located between Arkona and Glowe with the latter meaning “head”).  Of course, one may legitimately guess that such “incorporation” was usually intended as either pragmatic (useful building materials) or humiliating (we put your “god” into our wall upside down) or both.  The notion that pagan sculptures should be incorporated as prominent features of a church may seem to stretch credulity.  And yet, if you wanted to have the local pagans attend mass, what better way to do that than pretend “nothing’s changed”.

Whether Druglete can in fact derive its name from Triglav is another question.  That seems unlikely.  If one were to seek a Slavic etymology, a druch or drug would seem to fit better – meaning a “friend” or “companion” (this presumably from the numeral drugi meaning “the second”).

As an aside, it is also remarkable that drugubica means a net/trap/snare and has a definite Slavic etymology.  Yet Druch apparently means the same in German – as in Schlinge, Fusschlinge or Latin pedica.

This was noted by Wilhelm Engelbert Giefers in his study of the Three Strange Chapels of Westphalia. Giefers presumably did not know that the same is true in Slavic.  He also noted that Trigla cannot be the name of a goddess since, among other reasons:

“neither in the Germanic, nor Roman nor Greek mythology is there anywhere a reference to a Goddess Trigla.”

This, however, is not exactly true.

The 12th century Eustathius of Thessalonica (Commentary on the Illiad, XVII, 73) observes otherwise regarding Diana saying that she used to be called Trigla (by reason of three heads or eyes?).  Note too that “eyes” would work – gała/gały/gałka/gałki – compare with Russian galaz (or głazy – meaning stones, pebbles – or to simplify, something round). (Note too glaesum for “amber”).  Yet tri by itself won’t do it to make this Slavic since that is an IE prefix (at least in Slavic and Celtic – compare Tarvos Trigaranos on the Pillar of the Boatmen).

And earlier we have in Atheneus (3rd century AD, Deipnosophistae, Book 7) the following quote regarding a “trigle” fish (taxonomy continued to today):

“The Red Mullet (triglê). — This word, like chichlê (thrush) is spelled with an ê. For all feminines ending in la require a second l: Scylla, Telesilla. But all words in which g is inserted end in ê, like troglê (hole), aiglê (brilliance), zeuglê (yoke-strap). “The red mullet,” Aristotle says in the fifth book of Parts of Animals, “spawns thrice a year.” He says that fishermen infer this from the roe, which is seen three times a year in certain localities. Perhaps, therefore, the name triglê is derived from this circumstance, just as the amias are so‑called because they do not go solitarily, but in schools, scarus (parrot-fish) and caris (shrimp) from scairo (leap), aphyae (anchovies) because they are aphyes, that is, of poor size; from thyo, dart, the darting thynnys (tunny), because at the time when the Dog-star rises it is driven forth by the bot-fly on its head.”

“The triglê (red mullet) is jagged-toothed, gregarious, spotted all over, and also carnivorous. The third spawning is infertile; for certain worms develop in the womb, which devour the roe that is to be spawned. From this circumstance Epicharmus calls them the “squirming” in these lines from The Marriage of Hebe: “So he brought some squirming mullets and disgusting baiones.” Sophron, again, mentions trigolae, whatever they may be, in Mimes of Men, thus: “With a trigolas that cuts the navel-cord;” and “the trigolas that brings fair weather.” On the other hand, in the mime entitled Puffing Passion, he has: “The jaw of a Triglê, but the hind parts of a trigolas.” And in Mimes of Women: ‘The barbelled Triglê.” Diocles,in his work addressed to Pleistarchus, mentions the Triglê among fish with hard flesh. Speusippus says that the piper, flying-fish, and Triglê are similar. Hence Tryphon declares in his work On Animals that some persons identify the trigolas with the piper because of the hardness of their hind parts, which Sophron has indicated when he says, “the jaw of a Triglê, but the hind parts of a tirgolas.” Plato says in Phaon: “But the red mullet will give no strength to the glands. For she is a daughter of the virgin Artemis and loathes the rising passion.” The Triglê, on account of the syllable in its name which is common to the epithets of Hecate, is dedicated to her. For she is the goddess of the three ways and looks three ways, and they offer her meals on the thirtieth days. By like analogies they associate the turbot (citharus) with Apollo, the boax with Hermes, the ivy with Dionysus, the coot (phalaris) with Aphrodite, by way of insinuating phallus, like Aristophanes’s pun in The Birds. (So some persons associate the duck, called netta, with Poseidon.) The sea product which we call aphyê, others aphritis, others still, aphros (foam) — this, I say, is most dear to Aphrodite, because she also sprang from foam. Apollodorus also, in his treatise On the Gods, says that the Triglê is sacrificed to Hecate because of the associations in the name; for the goddess is tri-form. But Melanthius, in his work On the Eleusinian Mysteries, includes the sprat with the Triglê because Hecate is a sea-goddess also. Hegesander of Delphi declares that a Triglê is carried in the procession at the festival of Artemis, because it is reputed to hunt sea-hares relentlessly and devour them; for they are deadly. Hence, inasmuch as the Triglê does this to benefit mankind, this huntress fish is dedicated to the huntress goddess. Further, Sophron called the Triglê barbelled, because those mullets which have barbels are better to eat than other kinds.”

At Athens there is also a place called Trigla, and there is a shrine there dedicated to Hecate Triglanthinê. Hence Charicleides says in The Chain: “Mistress Hecate of the three ways, with three forms and three faces, beguiled with triglas.” If a Triglê be smothered a live in wine and a man drinks this, he will not be able to have sexual intercourse, as terpsicles narrates in his book On Sexual Pleasure. If a woman, also, drink of the same wine, she cannot conceive. The same is true even of a bird. The encyclopaedic Archestratus, after praising the trials of Teichious, in the Milesian territory, goes on to say: “Also in Thasos buy a red mullet, and you will get one that is not bad. In Teos it is inferior, yet even it is good. In Erythrae, too, it is good, when caught by the shore.” And Cratinus says in Trophonius: “No longer may we eat a red mullet from Aexonê, nor taste sting-ray or black-tail of huge growth.” The comic poet Nausicrates commends the red mullets of Aexonê in these lines from The Skippers: “A. With them, excellent in quality, come the tawny-skins, which Aexonê’s wave fosters as its own children, the best of all. With these, sailorfolk pay honour to the goddess, light-bringing virgin, whenever they offer her gifts of dinners. B. You are talking about mullets.”

Whatever your judgment on Trigla, the Slavs are not mentioned by Eustathius or Atheneus.  Perhaps the mystery is deeper and its solution lies with the Laconians/Lacedaemonians or the Pelasgians (as per Pokorny, from pelag-skoi “flatland-inhabitants” – Polanie?) who were descended (perhaps) from the mythical Phoroneus Φορωνεύς (Piorun/Perun/Perkunas?).

For more see Ernst Maaß’ Hekate und ihre Hexen in the Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung auf dem Gebiete der Indogermanischen Sprachen.

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June 17, 2017

Krakows Gallore

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That there are multiple Krakows in Germany we’ve written about before.  The furthest one is on the west bank of the Rhine.  But here is another one – this one near Magdeburg (previously Krakow – currently Cracau):

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June 16, 2017


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We’ve previously described here the curious case of the town of Soest.  However, what can be said about Soest can also be said about other places in Westphalia.  Take, for example, Osnabrück.  What is the origin of that name?

One theory holds that the oldest version of the name – Osenbrugge* – was a reference to a bridge (German Brücke) and that the Osen was a reference to German Gods, i.e., Asen.

* note:  elsewhere Asnabruggensi

First off, there is the interesting matter that the German Brücke seems like it should be related to the Slavic bereg (Берег) meaning “shore” (also related probably German Berg meaning “mountain”.  Either “bridge” or “shore” would be a fitting description of the settlement’s location.  However, on balance, brugge seems closer to Brücke

But what about the “Asen”?  Apparently, someone who knows a lot about water names – particularly Slavic ones –  Jürgen Udolph (the author of, among other titles, Die Stellung der Gewässernamen Polens innerhalb der alteuropäischen Hydronymie) – stated in an interview for the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) that the name *Osna or a similar form was once  the name of a portion of the run of the River Hase* and that, later, it was renamed Hase.  According to this version, the name *Osna would have survived in the name of the city of Osnabrück, which would mean something like “a bridge over the river Osna.”

* note: Regarding the river Hase, it appears in 763 as Hassa (elsewhere Assa).  Those who’d like to connect it to Tacitean Chasuarii will, however, find a gap of seven centuries.  In German Hasa or Hassa is supposed to mean “grey” – similar to “hazy”.

Haven’t heard this interview so can’t say for sure how far Udolph took this but one has to observe that Osna is actually the first reported name of the Polish Silesian town of Ośno Lubuskie.  The name of that town before WWII was a German Drossen but the name (as far back as we can tell) is Slavic.  It was written as civitas forensi Osna in 1252 in the report on the possessions of the bishopric Lebus (Polish/Slavic Lubusz).  In the same document,the other towns listed as belonging to the Osna grant are such Slavic towns as Boriza and Boleseouiz. Indeed, in 1856 the Landbuch der Mark Brandenburg und des Markgrafthums Nieder-Lausitz expressly admitted that the town’s name was likely Slavic and even provided an etymology noting that the place was probably named by the “immigrant Slavs” – eingewanderte Slawen:

As late as 1350, the name of the town was still reported as Osna.

One observation that also deserves making is that the combination of:

  • vowel > s > n > vowel

is a rather Slavic combination.  Take, for example, jasna (“light”) or vesna/wiosna (“spring”) or, for that matter, sosna (“pine”)  

While it is true that similar combinations appear in France too – as an example you have the name Chesney – it is striking that the appearance of such French names seems limited to the northwest of the country – just slightly East of where would have expected to find the Gallic Veneti.

Further, there is also the Ptolemaic tribe of the Ossi who lived close to the Wilzi/Welatabi (note that the Dietrich of Bern saga features a “king of the Wiltzi” named Ossantrix).

Just for kicks you can open the Westfälisches Urkunden-Buch which has a rather nice list of early Westfallian documents.  There are plenty of German/Nordic names but there are a number of place names which, again, seem rather Slavic as these names and fragments:

  • Ysin-burg, Lippia (yes, the same one as this), Bure
  • in fluuuio Uuisura, in pago Uimodia nuncupato, cui confinis est uilla Liusci uocata
  • in ducatu Budinisuelt
  • in pago Logni
  • Uualanae
  • Chestinacha

And there are plenty of others even more interesting.

So the question that has to be posed is “how far have these Slavs really eingewandert“?

For more on this question see here and here and here and here and here and, of course, here.

We leave you with the coat of arms of the town of Osnabrück (for more on such rosettes, see here):

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June 13, 2017

The Astronomer’s Slavs

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One of the principal sources for the times of Louis the Pious is the so-called Astronomer‘s “The Life of Emperor Louis” or Vita Hludovici (the others include Thegan as well as Ermoldus Nigellus that is Ermold or Ermoald the Black).  It was written sometime after 840.

Here are the Slavic excerpts from that work.  The translation is that of Thomas Noble (and the notes are his).  (Note that we do not include references to place names that might have an etymology suspiciously resembling Slavic such as Triburi, that is, “three forests” (Drevergau) not necessarily “drei Höfe”; Vlatten (“probably of Celtic origin” as in Vlatos = the ruler… but certainly not from Wladyka); or the River Cisse flowing into the Loire; or monastery at Vadala (San Salvador de la Valeda in Berga near Barcelona? Or Vandala? Or Veleda?).

Chapter 25

“…The emperor then ordered the Saxon counts and the Abotrits, who had formerly submitted themselves to the lord Charles, to give aid to Harald, so that he could be restored to his own kingdom.  Baldric was deputized to carry this message.  When they had crossed the Eider River, they entered the land of the Northmen in a place called Sinlendi.  Although the sons of Godfred had abundant forces and two hundred ships, they did not wish to come close and give battle.  Both forces withdrew, and our men destroyed and burned everything they encountered, and what is more, they received forty hostages from that same people.  Having done this, they returned to the emperor in a place called Paderborm, where he had gathered all his people in a general assembly [July 815] .  To that same place came the princes of the eastern Slavs and all their most important men*…”

[* note: “Other sources specify Abotrits, Sorbs, Wilzi, Bohemians, and Moravians.” The wording used is Quo in loco principes Sclavorum orientalium omnes primoresque venerunt]

Chapter 26

“After the emperor spent the harsh winter in restful health and calm success, and with the approach of summer’s most welcome charms, those who are called the eastern Franks and the counts of the Saxon people were sent by him against the Slavic Sorbs, who were said to have withdrawn from his authority.  With Christ’s help their attempt was suppressed very quickly and easily…”

Chapter 27

“…While he was staying in that palace [Aachen], he also received the envoy of Emperor Leo of Constantinople, whose name was Nicephorus.  Apart from friendship and alliance, the legation treated the boundaries of the Dalmatians, Romans, and Slavs.  But because they [the Slavs] were not present, nor was Cadalo [margrave of Friuli], the prefect of those border regions, and because without them affairs could not be brought into order, Albgar was sent to Dalmatia to pacify and organize the situation, along with Chadalo, the prince of those very same borderlands…”

Chapter 29

“…With these things already properly ordered, the emperor then, in that assembly, wished for his firstborn son Lothar, to be, and to be called, co-emperor, and he sent forth two of his sons, Pippin into Aquitaine and Louis into Bavaria, so that people might know whose authority they ought to obey.  Immediately, a defection of the Abotrits was announced to him.  They had come to an understanding with the sons of Godfred and were disturbing Saxony beyond the river Elbe.  The emperor sent adequate forces against them, and with God’s favor their movement was stopped…”

Chapter 30

“…The emperor, for the purpose of avenging their [the Bretons’] insolence, assembled a military force from all sides and headed for the Breton frontier.  He held a general assembly at Vannes [August or September 818], entered the province, an with little time or effort devastated everything until Murman [Breton leader], while he was attacking the baggage train, was killed by a certain keeper of the royal horses named Coslus [see Ermoldus Nigellus for more].  All of Brittany was conquered with him, gave up, and surrendered to whatever conditions the emperor might wish to impose, in the end, future servitude..  The Bretons gave and accepted hostages – who they were and hoe many, he decided – and he organized the whole land according to his will.”

Chapter 31

“…Meanwhile, the envoys of other peoples were there too, that is, of the Abotrits, Goduscani, and Timotani,* who had recently renounced an alliance with the Bulgars and associated themselves with us.  And the envoys of Liudewit [Croat leader rebelled in 819 and was murdered in 823], the commander of lower Pannonia, were there also accusing Cadalo [margrave of Friuli], falsely as it turned out, of being unbearably cruel to them.  All these were heard, dealt with, and dismissed, and the emperor moved on to that very palace where he planned to spend the winter.   While he was there, King Slaomir of the Abotrits was paraded before him by the Saxon leaders.  Since he was accused of defection and could not answer the charge, he was sent into exile, and his kingdom was given to Ceadrag, a son of Thrasco.**”

[* note: These are the south Abotrits “who lived on the north bank of the middle Danube.  The Goduscani lived on the Croatian-Dalmatian coast.  The Timotiani lived along the Serbian-Bulgarian frontier.  These people were pressured by the recent expansion of Bulgaria.”]

[** “Slaomir had mirdered Thrasco in 809 or 810 and the, from about 816 or 817, shared rule over the Abotrits with Ceadrag”]

Chapter 32

“…In the following summer [819], his people came to him in the palace of Ingelheim.  There he received the messengers from his army that had been sent to suppress the open treachery of Liudewit, but that affair remained more or less unresolved.  Indeed, puffed up by arrogance on account of his actions, Liudewit, through his envoys, laid before the emperor certain demands that, if the emperor were prepared to fulfill them, would lead him to return to his former obedience to Louis’ commands.  But these seemed pointless to him, and so he tossed them aside and did not accept them.  Liudewit decided to remain disloyal, and he associated with himself in perfidy whomever he could.  Indeed, after the return of the army from the frontiers of Pannonia, and while Liudwit was still in opposition, Duke Cadalo of the Friuli succumbed to fever and lived his last day.  Baldric took his place. When he first came into the provide and entered the lands of the Carinthians, he put the forces of Liudewit to flight near the river Drava with only a few men.  Harrying the rest, he compelled them all to leave his territory.  Chased out by Baldric, Liudewit confronted Borna, the duke of Dalmatia, who was camped on the Kupa River.  Borna had been deserted because of the treater or the fear of the Goduscani – it is not clear which – and he escaped the impending reckoning of accounts safe and sound only by using a force of personal bodyguards.  Later on he dealt with those who had deserted him.”

“Meanwhile Liudewit entered Dalmatia again, in the following winter. and he tried to destroy everything by cutting down with the sword every living thing and by setting fire to every inanimate thing.  Since Borna was unable to meet his attack, he looked for a way to harm him by cunning.  He did no declare open war on him but harassed him and his army with sneak attacks such that Liudewit was ashamed and sorry that he haas undertaken such things.  With three thousand of his soldiers killed and many horses and lots of equipment of various kinds destroyed, he was forced by Borna to leave the region.  The emperor, who was them at Aachen, heard all these things most joyfully…”

Chapter 33

“In that same palace, with winter [January 820] coming on, the emperor gather together an assembly of his people.  At that time Borna, who complained bitterly about the attack of Liudewit, received form the emperor substantial forces to help him grind down Liudewit’s land.  The forces were int he first place divided into three, and they devastated almost all the land under his authority by fire and sword, but Liudewit protected himself by the heights of a certain fortress and would not come forth to fight or to talk.  After these forces returned home, the people of Carniola and certain of the Carinthians who had give over to Liudewit surrendered to our duke Baldric…”

Chapter 34

“In this year the lord emperor spent the winter [820/821] season in Aachen.  In that same winter, im February, an assembly was held at Aachen, and three armed bands were dispatched to lay waste the land of Liudewit…In the midst of these things, Borna lost his life, and the emperor made his nephew Ladasclao his successor…”

Chapter 35

“…At the same time, he sent an army from Italy into Pannonia against Liudewit, Since he was unable to maintain himself there, he left his own city [Sisak as per the Carolingian Annals] and went to a certain chieftain of Dalmatia and was admitted to his city.  Then, however, he turned the gables on his host, brought him grief, and subjected the city to his own domination.  And although he would neither fight nor talk with our men, nevertheless he sent envoys to say that he had made a mistake and he promised that he would come to the lord emperor…”

“…With these things taken care of, he spent the autumn, hunting in the way of the kings of the Franks, and to pass winter, he sought out a place across the Rhine whose name is Frankfurt.  There he ordered an assembly of the neighboring peoples to come together, of all of those, that is, who lived beyond the Rhine and who obeyed the command of the Franks.  He discussed with them everything that appeared to contribute to the public good, while he took thought suitably for the affairs of each.  In that same meeting, a legation of the Avars appeared bearing gifts*…”

[* note: apparently last ever contemporaneous mention of the Avars]

Chapter 36

“In that same estate, that is, Frankfurt, after winter had ended, the emperor in May held an assembly of the eastern Franks, the Saxons, and of the other peoples who bordered on them.  There he brought to a fitting end a struggle between two brothers who were fiercely contending for the kingship.  They were WIlzi by birth, sons of King Liubi, and their names were Milegast and Celeadrag.  When their father, Liubi, declared war on the Abotrits, he was killed by them, and the kingdom was conveyed to the firstborn,  But when he showed himself to be more sluggish in the administration of the kingdom than the situation demanded, the favor of the people shifted on behalf  of the younger son.  They came into the emperor’s presence on account of this altercation.  He investigated, discovered the will of the people, and declared the younger to be chief.  The emperor endowed both with ample gifts, bound them by oaths, and dismissed them as friends, both to himself and to each other…”

“…In that same assembly the death of the tyrant Liudewit was announced.  He was killed by some trickery.  The emperor dissolved this assembly and called for another one at Compiegne in the autumn [of 823].”

Chapter 39

“Later the emperor ordered an assembly to be celebrated by his people in May [of 825] at Aachen.  While it was meeting, a legation from the Bulgarians, who had for a long time lived in Bavaria according to his instructions, was brought in to be heard.  They were especially concerned about the boundaries to be observed between the Bulgarians and the Franks after the establishment of the peace.  Present as well, and promising submission and obedience with many words, were not a few leaders of the Bretons, among whom was Wiomarc’h, who seemed to exceed the others in authority, the very one who had by reckless boldness and stupid audacity gone so far as to provoke the emperor to send a expedition into those regions to suppress his insolence.  Therefore, when he said that he regretted his deeds and that he would commit himself loyally to the emperor, he was received mercifully by him in his usual fashion – for he was always accustomed to bestow clemency – and he, along with totters of his countrymen, was endowed with gifts.  He was allowed to go home. But later, not unmindful of his customary perfidy yet forgetful of all that he had promised an dog the good things that he ha experienced, he did not miss a chance to complain about his neighbors, the emperor’s faithful men, and to harass them with persistent harm.  So it happened that, overwhelmed by the men of Lambert, he met the end of all his evils and the term of his life in his own house.”

“So, having dismissed the envoys of the Bulgarians and of the Bretons, the emperor went off hunting in the wilds of the Vosges, believing that he could do that until the month of August, when he would return to Aachen to hold an assembly, as he had planned.  At that time he ordered that the peace which the Northmen were seeking be confirmed in October…”

“…When the envoys of the Bulgarians returned from that assembly bearing the emperor’s letters, their king received what was written with little pleasure, because he had not obtained what he had sought.  With a certain irritation he sent back that same messenger and demanded that either a common boundary be established or he would, with whatever force he could muster, see to his own frontiers.  But then the rumor spread that the king who had made such demands had lost his kingdom, so the emperor retained the envoy for a bit, until he could send Bertric, the count of the palace, who learned that what was going around was false.  Having learned the truth he dismissed the envoy with that affair still unfinished.”

Chapter 40

“…On the first of June [of 826] the emperor came to Ingelheim and an assembly pif his people met him there, just as he had instructed…  Moreover, two dukes, Ceadrag of the Abotrits and Tunglo of the Sorbs, when they were accused and the verdict did not appear clear enough, were chastised and sent home…”

Chapter 42

“In February of the following winter [in 828], there was a public assembly at Aachen… Also a charge was lodged and investigated against Duke Baldric of the Friuliu, that on account of his laxity and carelessness the Bulgarians had wasted our land.  He was expelled from his duchy, and his power was divided among four of his counts.  But, then, the spirit of the emperor was most mild by nature, and he was always eager to request mercy for those who had sinned…”

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June 6, 2017

Lollus of the Borderlands

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It has been assumed that Germanic gods were Odin/Wotan, Thor and the like.  But their worship in Germany proper is attested only poorly.  On the other hand, during the Enlightenment, German amateur anthropologists and folklore collectors began to write down and study local folk tales, myths and superstitions.  The most well-known of this bunch are, of course, the Brothers Grimm.  However, already many years before them, folklore research was well under way in Germany.

Some of the more curious discoveries in the Main include references to old German Gods.  Many of these have been discarded as untrustworthy but they nevertheless merit mention.  This is particularly so since – whether or not they were actual Gods – their names suggest a Slavic origin and, thus, a Slavic presence far West of the Elbe.

Such names include Germanic Krodo (perhaps related to the Polish Krotoszyn/Krotoschin?), the Sorbian Flins but also, among a number of Thuringian Gods, Jecha, Ostara, Cisa and Biel (a Sun God!) and others.

Take Lollus described usually as a Frankish agricultural God.  Apparently, a statue or a figurine was discovered at some point near Schweinfurt (originally mentioned as Suinuurde in about 720 – what does it really refert to?).

The statue was of a youth with curly hair who holds his stretched out tongue in his right hand and a bucket of corn (mixed with wine?) in the left.  According to the tale, he was worshipped along with the Goddess Diana in a holy grove on the shore of the river Main.  The locals are supposed to have given him grape offerings (Dionysus?).  Saint Killian the Irish monk had the effigy of Lollus thrown into the Rhein but… after Killian perished a martyr’s death, a new statue was cast and worshipped.  The name of the God survives in the name of a square in Schweinfurt called the little Lollein.  A second effigy of the God was found in the wall of a churchyard at Lellenfeld near Eichstadt.

The first to report the figure’s discovery was Johann Laurentius in his chronologic Swinfurtensia in the 1600s (though an earlier 16th century letter may have mentioned the same).  He reported that even in his day the place where the Lollus was worshipped previously was called the Löhle or Lölle.

(Then the story appeared many other folklore works – in Johann Heinrich Bockreuß’ (or Bochris’) the Elder’s (1687-1716) Miscellanea lipsiensia, ad incrementum rei litherariæ edita volume 3 (1716) (edited by Karl Friedrich Pezold), in Johann Wilhelm Englert’s Dissertatio historico-theologica Franconiam in tenebris Ethnicismi et in luce Christianismi sistens…, in Johann Georg Sulzer’s Charaktere der vornehmsten Dichter aller Nationen, volume 7 (1803); in Heinrich Christian Beck’s the Chronik der Stadt Schweinfurt (1836) and in many other authors).

The name Lollus appears also as Lullus, Loellus and Lallus.

Whether he may have something to do with the Polish Lel (or Polel)  is an obvious question.

Another question is whether the name could have something to do with Tacitus’ Alcis.

Yet another question can be asked whether this has something to do with “dolls.”  A lalka is a doll in Polish (as also in Slovene and among some East Slavs).  Was the name “dolls” originally applied just to little idols?

In some Slavic languages a similar word indicates a familial relationship.  Thus:

  • lola means father (Polabian, portions of Ukraine/Belarus)
  • lela means aunt and lelak uncle (Bulgarian/Balkan and portions of Ukraine/Belarus)

Note also that a laluś in Polish is a boyish dandy who cares about his looks a bit too much (with all the same connotations as in English).

A more nuanced question could be asked why is it that in the Frankish dialect Loell or Lolli refers to someone who can’t speak well.  Why does that matter?  Because lulac means to try to put to sleep (and or ululac means to put to sleep).  This is, of course, in some unknown way cognate with a “lullaby” and the English “lull” as in a peaceful pause.

But, interestingly, in Polish the same meaning of “not being able to speak well” is expressed but the word ululany which just means someone who is way drunk.  That someone like that won’t speak well is, of course, obvious (it seems to be the opposite of the Latin ululare, that is, to howl).  That Lel/Polel were also described as bar drinking expressions in the Polish late Renneisance is also interesting (in fact, the much later Brueckner is on the record for claiming that these were not deity names but merely drinking shouts).  And so we may come all the way to Jas, Dionyssus or Bacchus.

About the Main and Regnitz Wends we already wrote here.  About Würzburg we wrote here.  About Bamberg here.  About the River Jossa/Jassa in the vicinity of Aschaffenburg, here.  Here is a map showing these places in relation to Schweinfurt with the terra Slavorum in rough outline.

And here is another German map of Slavic place names – the roughly same highlighted area, this time in the western portion of the map.Make of it what you want but something tells us that at least some of the Slavs did not come from the East.

Interestingly, in 1990 halfway between Bamberg and Munich, in Kemathen – which these days is  a part of the town of Kipfenberg (Landkreis Eichstätt) there was discovered a Germanic warrior grave from about 420-450.  In it was found this belt (picture from Ludwig Wamser’s book). 

While the rosette is a common symbol, this type was particularly popular as a protection symbol in Polish houses.  Check these out from the Podhale region.

Starry Detour

Incidentally, if the rosettes above remind you of the asterisk symbol, you should know that an asterisk is derived from Greek for “little star”.  On the star of Jastarnia see here.  The interesting thing about stars is that Balto-Slavic languages have a very different word for them:

  • gwiazda (Polish)
  • żwai(g)zdē (Lithuanian)

Interestingly, in Prussian swaigstan meant “light” (Polish światło). Even more interestingly, stara in Slavic means “the old one” (female gender).  Whether this goes to something meaning “stars” or has more to do with old people lacking a certain flexibility (compare “to stare” or “stiff) is another matter.

Back to Our Stary, err… Story

Finally, it is also interesting that a lelek refers to a stork in parts of Poland (lelek is also a separate type of bird – the nightjar.  The more typical name for stork (nowadays German Storch) is bocian (compare that with Latin buteo and Germanic buse and busart (!)).

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May 27, 2017