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Thietmar Book VII

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

Chapter 4 (1014)

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

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

Chapter 8 (1014)

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

Chapter 9 (1014)

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

Chapter 10 (1014)

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

Chapter 11 (1014)

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

Chapter 12 (1014) 

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

Chapter 16 (1015)

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

Chapter 17 (1015)

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

Chapter 18 (1015)

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

Chapter 19 (1015)

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

Chapter 20 (1015)

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

Chapter 21 (1015)

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

Chapter 22 (1015)

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

Chapter 23 (1015)

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

Chapter 24 (1015)

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

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

Chapter 25 (1015)

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

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

Chapter 39

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

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

Chapter 50 (1017)

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

[* note: a very interestingly named Slavic tribe]

Chapter 51 (1017)

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

Chapter 52 (1017) 

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

Chapter 56 (1017)

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

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

[**note: Book 4, chapter 28]

Chapter 57 (1017)

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

[**note: Book 7, chapter 19]

Chapter 59 (1017)

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

[*note: ad urbem Glogua or Glaguam]

[**note: ad urbem Nemzi]

Chapter 60 (1017)
(Siege of Głogów)

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

Chapter 61 (1017)

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

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

Chapter 63 (1017)
(Siege of Głogów Conclusion)

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

Chapter 64 (1017)

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

[*note: in text Uuortizlaua]

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

Chapter 65 (1017)

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

Chapter 66 (1017)

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

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

Chapter 67 (1017)

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

Chapter 69 (1017)
(Story of Hennil)

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

[for another translation of this story here]

Chapter 72

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

[*note: Sventipulk]

Chapter 73

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

Chapter 74

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

Chapter 76 (1017)

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

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November 6, 2017

Mit einer banier rôtgevar, daß was mit wîße durch gesniten

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The idea that Zisara or Cisa or Ciza was a Slavic Goddess (see the Ex Gallica Historia post) seemed to make sense except for the location of the Ciza cult which seems to have been around Augsburg – in Swabia – where there should have been no Slavs.  The connection with Dzidzilela also made sense except that it was just a guess.  But then I cross-searched for the two and discovered that I had hardly been the first to have such an idea.  Over 3 centuries ago, August Adolph von Haugwitz (1647 – 1706) wrote an interesting book dealing with the History of his home province of Lusatia – the Prodromus Lusaticus.  (He was born near Bautzen/Budyšin).  Although, by today’s standards, this history book is hardly professional one, von Haugwitz’s effort is quite well-researched and appears well-intentioned – at least in the sense of not obviously pulling things up out of thin air.  In that same book you can find much about Slavic and Germanic pagan history.  Though much of the material may refer to Gods and Goddesses that themselves indeed may have been “made up” in the course of looking for some sort of pre-Christian identity of the German countryside, von Haugwitz provides numerous citations to earlier works and compilations, some of which may be taken seriously.

In the case of Cisa or Ciza he cites, among other things, the Augsburg Chronicle and the Goddesses’ defense of the city.  It does not really matter whether the inhabitants at the time of any invasions really believed that the Goddess helped them.  What matters is that the inhabitants of Augsburg – again, a place where there should have been no Slavs – believed they had earlier worshipped a Goddess whose name seems connected to attested Slavic cults in the East (such as in Poland).  But it gets better. Haugwitz actually claims that the Sorbs (the Cisa chapter appears in the section De Diis Soraborum) also worshipped Cisa or Ciza providing perhaps a bit of a landbridge connection to Poland. 

And, of course, Augsburg was known as Augusta Vindelicorum.  Vindelici were mentioned by Strabo and by Pliny (Pliny’s work has been interpreted to refer to the Vandals – but Pliny’s manuscripts vary and we have Vandilici and Vindili listed as well).

In any event, here is the 1522 edition of Sigismund Meisterlin’s Augsburg Chronicle (Cronographia Augustensium) in the German print (Ein schöne Cronick & Hystoria…) discussing Ciza, the Vindelici and, of course, the River Lech (and Wertach, that is Vertava – compare with Varsava):

Sigismund Meisterlin wrote his chronicle in German in 1457 (the Latin version was written down the next year).  It was a big deal for the city (he also wrote a chronicle for Nuernberg) and they even created a painting to commemorate one oof the first copies of the same being made:

The plant you see in the coat of arms of the city of Augsburg is a fir cone (Zirbelnuss).  Its first attested appearance in the city’s coat of arms is in 1237.  The fir cone may have been also on the Roman shields of the Roman occupiers back in the day when the VIndelici were driven from Lacus Venetus (by later emperor Tiberius & Co).

Now, one may point out that in Polish cis refers to the yew, a coniferous tree (the Eibe).  The eibe is rather poisonous but has, interestingly, also been the subject of Poland’s first environmental statute (of Warka in 1423) which prohibited the cutting of that tree.

Could that fir cone be yew cone?  Well, the problem is that a yew rather does not have cones in the common sense of the word – its “cones” “bloom” into these red “arils”.

This is what Brueckner has to say about the etymology of the same here:

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October 21, 2017


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

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

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

The entry for the Thuringian one is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here are some interesting points

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

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September 28, 2017

Ziza or Zizilia

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more of these see here.

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

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

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

Para Suevorum et Isidi sacrificat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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September 21, 2017

Thietmar (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

On the Sorbs – Albis Germaniae Suevos a Cerveciis dividiit

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We believe the Sorb people deserve more attention than they have thus far received here – and deserve their own tab apart from the other major Polabian Slavs (Obotrites and Veleti).

Admittedly, the Sorbs (and Serbs) are a bit of mystery within the Slavic family.  They are most often accused of having Eastern, “Sarmatian” or “Iranian” roots (the Croats, or at least some of them, get dragged into this as well).  But as we have shown, Sarmatian peoples (in the shape of the Iazyges) were not only no strangers to Europe but, in fact, their most notable “friends” on our continent were the Suevi.  Were there other Sarmatians?


The Sorbs are Little People – and They Need YOUR Help!

And what better way to begin their story – though, we think, mid-stream – than with that 4th or 5th century writer, Vibius Sequester.  Mind you, he was a 4th (i.e., 300s) or 5th (i.e., 400s) century A.D. persona.  And while Slavologists (or whatever) talk freely about Jordanes and Procopius (even if only to lambast the former), they are somehow silent about Vibius – why?


Vibius, you see, wrote a little pamphlet of lists called De fluminibus, fontibus, lacubus, nemoribus, gentibus, quorum apud poëtas mention.  It contains lists of various things but, currently, what’s of interest to us, is the list of Flumina, i.e., rivers/waterways.  There, on his list we have the following sentence:

Albis Germaniae Suevos a Cerveciis dividiit: mergitur in Oceanum

or, “Elbe of Germany divides the Suevi from the Cervecii and empties into the Ocean”

[as to the Ocean, actually the reference is to the North Sea but ok; some manuscripts do not contain this reference]

In two manuscripts the name is shown as Corvitiis and Servitiis (!)

All the manuscripts feature the above forms.  However, the printed editions vary.  Originally, they all followed the above formulations.  But in the Jeremias Jacob Oberlin (1735-1806) edition of Vibius, published in 1778, a switch was made to Cherusci.  Why?  Oberlin, confessed that this was based on a conjecture of (apparently, though this itself is not clear, of a 16th century Swiss theologian, Josias Simmler).  From that edition onwards the name Cherusci began to appear in the Vibius editions.  For no apparent reason. Other than… Well, it can’t be Serbs, right?

So who were the Cervecii?  

The natural thought would be that these were Servii or Serbii or, using today’s nomenclature, just Sorbs.  The Sorbs appear in the Story of Samo so we know that they were on the Elbe in the early to mid 7th century.  (Some recent dendrochronological measurements put Slavic settlement on the Elbe in the 8th century – go figure – apparently, if there is no sufficiently aged wood, there are no Slavs – a new requirement).

Ok, early 7th century.  But 4th or 5th century?  That can’t be right.  After all there were no Slavs in Europe at the time, right?

And there is something else.

On the Serbs and Suevi

The Bavarian Geographer’s list traces the Slavs – or at least the Eastern ones (there are at least two separate lists within that list) – to a people called Zeriuani – no one really knows who these were – were they Zerivani?  Zervingi? Tervingi?  Do they (any of them) have something to do with the Черве́нські городи́/ Rotburgenland or Tscherwener Burgenland/Grady tscherwenske/Grody Czerwieńskie?  These are located partly in Poland and partly in Ukraine (here is a Polish map):


But some have suggested a Serb or Sorb connection.  The same Slavic tribe list also contains the mysterious line about the Suevi being “sown” not “born” (and also about the Boii being from the River Boia), i.e., “Suevi non sunt nati sed seminati.”

Further, we may ask, putting aside the Cervecii, what’s going on with the Suevi here?  Were they not to be found in the Swabia of today already?  Is this proof of the Suevi being on the Elbe in the 4th or 5th century?  Is that the same population as the population of the North Suavi, i.e., Nordschwaben that we discussed as being suspiciously close to Slavs here?

Cervetiis (Vaticanus Latin 4929)

In any event, if these are Serbs/Sorbs, it is interesting then to see here them so close to the Suevi – another population with “source” potential for the Slavic question.


Suedos? Servetiis? (Parisian Codex Latin 8413)

Does this mean that between the Suevi, the Serbs and the Veneti, we probably have our Slavs covered (somewhere in there, wherever that may be)?

And what if the Cherusci?  Well, they last appear in Tacitus about 98 A.D. and make it into Ptolemy’s Geography – meaning their last mention is in the 2nd century.   So could these have been Cherusci?

Sure, anything is, of course, “possible”.  What will people think of next?  Perhaps that Cherusci were Serbs!?


The Latin “forte” means “possibly” – but why?

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July 2, 2015