Category Archives: Prussians

Thietmar (Book VI)

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Chapter 2 [1004]

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

Chapter 4 [1004]

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

Chapter 10

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

Chapter 11 [1004]

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

Chapter 12 [1004]

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

Chapter 13 [1004]

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

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

Chapter 14 [1004]

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

Chapter 15 [1004]

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

Chapter 16 [1004]

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

Chapter 19 [1005]

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

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

Chapter 22 [1005]

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

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

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

Chapter 23 [1005]

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

Chapter 24 [1005]

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

Chapter 25 [1005]

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

Chapter 26 [1005]

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

Chapter 27 [1005]

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

Chapter 28 [1006]

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

Chapter 30 [1007]

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

Chapter 33 [1007]

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

Chapter 34 [1007]

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

Chapter 49 [1009]

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

Chapter 50 [1009]

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

Chapter 51 [1009]

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

Chapter 53 [1009]

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

Chapter 54 [1009]

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

Chapter 55 [1009]

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

Chapter 56 [1009]

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

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

Chapter 57 [1010]

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

Chapter 58 [1010]

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

Chapter 59 [1011/1012]

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

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

* note: Lucan Pharsalia 6.29-65.

Chapter 65 [1012]

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

Chapter 67 [1012]

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

Chapter 68 [1012]

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

Chapter 69 [1012]

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

Chapter 71 [1012]

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

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

Chapter 79 [1012]

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

Chapter 80 [1012]

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

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

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

Chapter 83 [1012]

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

Chapter 89 [1013]

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

Chapter 90 [1013]

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

Chapter 91 [1013]

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

Chapter 92

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

Chapter 93

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

Chapter 94 [1004?]

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

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

Chapter 95

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

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

Chapter 99 [1014]

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

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September 29, 2017

Prussian Entreaties

Published Post author

While most of the religious sources on the site are Slavic, it behooves us to look at some neighboring tribes as some of the religious vocabulary of theirs shows potentially remarkable connections.

Starting with the pagan Prussians we have the so-called Treaty of Christburg (modern Dzierzgoń) from February 2 or 7, 1249 between the Teutonic Knights and the Prussians.  The Treaty ended (if only briefly) the Prussian resistance to the Teutons (the so-called First Prussian Uprising).  The text of the treaty contains some interesting religious references with the mention of:

  • a Prussian Deity by the name of Kurcho
  • Prussian diviners that is Tulissones and Ligaschones 

Old Prussian fortress walls at Dzierzgoń

The actual treaty text resided in Konigsberg and appeared (as Urkunde number 191) Friedrich von Dreger’s 1748 Codex diplomaticus.  The section that interests us reads as follows regarding the requirements imposed on the “neophytes,” that is the Prussian new Christian believers/converts:

“They will refrain from making the annual harvest offerings which had been given to the Deity they call Kurcho or to all the other Deities for verily they are not the creators of heaven and earth.  The Prussians promised too to remain faithful servants of the Catholic Church.  They promised also to refrain from reliance on the auguries of the diviners who are called tulissones and ligaschones for those are but simple charlatans and liars.  They call evil good since at burials they honor the dead for their sinful [lifetime] deeds such as robberies and murders.  These diviners raise their blades up high and shout that they see the dead in the heavens riding on a horse clad in shining armor in the company of other warriors.  It is with such fantasies hat they deceive the people.  The Prussians promised to expel these seers from amongst their people.”

Codex diplomaticus. Oder Uhrkunden, So die Pommersch-Rügianisch- und Caminische, auch andere benachbarte Lande angehen. Aus lauter Originalien oder doch archivischen Abschrifften in chronologischer Ordnung zusammen getragen, und mit einigen Anmerckungen erläutert.

Curiously, the Germans conducted extensive architectural digs at Dzierzgoń (then still Christburg) looking for Teutonic tribes.  They found signs of habitations dated (by them) to the beginning of the first millennium B.C.  They also gratuitously vandalized a few of the local trees with swastikas which can be seen even till this day.

Now most probably think that the Polish swear phrase kurczę blade really does refer to a pale chick and is used in lieu of using something worse.  But perhaps some of that is actually incorrect… There are also the word kruche meaning something that is “brittle” and kurgan which is a Turkic word or so they say.

Interestingly, this mention of a Prussian Deity predates the Polish Yassa, Lada, Nia by some one hundred and sixty years.

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September 18, 2017