Except for some excerpts, we have not presented here the famous Chronicle of Thietmar of Merseburg. We begin to correct that now with the first four books (out of eight), Here are the mentions of the Slavs in Books I – IV of the Chronicle of Thietmar. The translation by David Warner is based on the manuscript at Dresden (available in facsimile which was prepared pre-WWII; the actual manuscript was destroyed in the bombing of that city) but with additions from the other manuscript in existence that of Brussels which seems to stem from the Corvey Abbey. The Dresden manuscript seems to have been prepared by Thietmar and his team and so is superior but is incomplete due to some pages having been destroyed already prior to the sixteenth century (hence they are not part of the facsimile). The Brussels pieces are marked with italics as done by Warner.
“Merseburg had its beginning with Henry who unified the city’s holdings, legally belonging to many at the time, and treaty added to them through his virtue and industry… Born of the noble lineage of Otto and Hadwig, he grew from boyhood like a tree in secret. Like a flower in early spring, moreover, he gradually revealed himself to be a warrior of good character. His father sent him with a large army to that province which we Germans call Daleminzia but the Slavs call Lommatsch*. After much destruction and burning, he returned victorious. But I should now relate how that region acquired its name. Lommatsch is a spring located not more than two miles from the Elbe. It is the source of a pool which often produces marvels, so the local populace claims, and many others have verified this with their own eyes. If a good peace is to be expected, and the earth does not falsely promise its fruits, it is covered with wheat, oats, and acorns. This brings joy to the hearts of the populace which frequently gathers there. When the savage storms of war threaten, it gives a clear indication of the outcome with blood and ash. The entire population venerates and fears this pool more than the churches, albeit with dubious expectations, and this region, which extends from the Elbe up to the Chemnitz, derives its name from it.”
* note: David Warner when translating this chose to supply the appropriate modern place names rather than the archaic form used by Thietmar (here Glomaci). “Widukind notes that the defeated Daleminzi subsequently called on the Hungarians for aid. As the first known raid by the Hungarians occurred in 906, it has been assumed that Henry’s campaign occurred in the same year, As a king, Henry continued and even intensified his aggressive posture towards the Slavs and, by 929, had sufficiently dominated them that they could be forced to pay tribute.”
“While returning from an expedition against the Bohemians, Bishop Arn of Wurzburg set up his tent near this river, in the region of Schkeuditz, on a hill by the road leading to the north. As he changed the mass, he was surrounded by a hostile army. After all his companions had been martyred, he too was offered to God, along with the host which had been consecrated to these sacrifice of praise. This occurred in the year 892 of the Incarnation and in the times of Emperor Arnulf. Nowadays, burning lights are often seen there and not even the Slavs doubt that these are the holy martyrs of God. During his period of office, the aforementioned priest built a templet God in the city of Wurzburg and, in ten years, built nine churches on the same model within his bishopric…”
“As I will be speaking of Otto, I think it unnecessary to discuss each of his father’s accomplishments. The extent of King Henry’s dignity can be perceived in his son and, in any case, the brilliance of his life shines sufficiently in the writings of many others [presumably a reference to Widukind whose chronic forms the basis for this chapter]. But I will add certain things which I find particularly noteworthy. He made the following regions pay tribute: Bohemia, Daleminzia, and the lands of the Abodrites, Wilzi, Hevelli, and Redarii. They immediately rebelled and, inciting others to join them, attacked, destroyed and burned the burg Walsleben. To avenge this, pour army convened and besieged the burg Lenzen.* Meanwhile, they beat back and utterly defeated a counterattack by the burg’s defenders, allowing only a few to escape. The burg was also taken. Among our people, two of my great-grandfathers, both named Liuthar, fell with many others on 5 September. They were distinguished men, the best of warriors, of illustrious lineage, and the honour and solace of the homeland.”
* “A Slavic burg located approximately 50 kilometers north-west of Havelberg, at a strategic crossing over the river Elbe. The Saxons occupied it in 929, and in 948 it was assigned to to the bishops of Havelberg. After the Slavic uprising of 983, it was occupied by the Abodrites.”
“He [Henry I]* established a settlement on a then densely forested mountain next to the Elbe and built a burg there which he called Meissen from a certain brook which flowed from it in a northerly direction [928/929]. As is the custom today, he strengthened it with a garrison and certain other remeasures. From here, he compelled the Milzeni, already subject to his will, to pay tribute. Furthermore, after long besieging the burg Lebusa, of which I will speak more extensively later, he forced the residents to flee to a small inner fortress and then to surrender. From that day, om which he justly destroyed by fire, to the present, the burg has been uninhabited. If, as many say, Henry enriched himself unjustly during his reign, may merciful God forgive him.”
* Henry I died in 936.
[years 929-935] “Many adversities disturbed his fortunes. For the wicked Boleslav [I], having killed his brother Wenceslaus, Duke of the Bohemians and faithful to God and the king, remained full of pride for a long time. But afterwards, the king conquered him by force and placed him in the custody of his brother Henry, the duke of the Bavarians [i.e., in 950]. The Hungarians, once enemies of his father but long pacified, again invaded but quickly retreated [February 937]. No small amount of discord arose among our fellow countrymen and colleagues who incited Tammo, son of the king and Liudgard. All of this because the office formerly possessed by Count Siegfried of Merseburg,m which he claimed for himself, had been given to Margrave Gero and, so it appeared, Tammo’s maternal inheritance was to be entirely taken away from hi,. The king besieged his son in the Eresburg and tried to move him from his evil presumption both with threats and promises. But then the army entered the captured city and drove the youth, exhausted by the fighting, to retreat to the church of Saint Peter where previously the ancient Irminsul had been worshipped. At last, pierced from behind through a window by Maginzo’s lance, he died before the altar [28 July]. Later, in the second year of his reign, the king punished Maginzo with a cruel death.”
“As these events were transpiring, the Slavs started a horrible war at the instigation of Counts Wichman and Ekbert under the leadership of Nacco and his brother Stoignew. Lacking confidence in his own ability to defeat them, the commander, Herman, asked the king for help. Energetic as he was, the latter took a strong force and invaded those northern regions which, as scripture teaches, so often produce evil [Jerome 1:14]. There, the king had Stoignew beheaded, after capturing him in a wood in which he had hidden as his supporters fled. He pursued the authors of this outrage, the brothers Wichman and Ekbert, sons of his maternal aunt…”
“…Gero, margrave of the eastern march, subjugated Lausitz, Selpuli, and even obligated Miesco [I of Poland] and his subjects to pay tribute to the emperor. Duke Herman also made Selibur [of the Wagri], Mistui [of the Abodrites], and their followers pay tribute to the emperor.”
“The emperor summoned Richer, the third abbot of the church of Magdeburg – for Anno and Otwin, then bishops, had preceded him – and wanted to decorate him with the episcopal dignity. But after examining a letter which had been secretly given to him, he changed his mind. Instead, he chose the monk Adalbert of Trier who had been previously ordained bishop for Russia but expelled by the heathen. Otto promoted that illustrious and much-tested father to the archiepiscopal dignity on 18 October, in the year 970 of the Incarnation, and with papal authority. Then, he sent him to his see with great honour, ordering all the leading men of Saxony to be with him at the next celebration of Christmas. The archbishop was received with magnificence by the clergy and the whole populace. During these feast days, he consecrated Boso as first pastor of the church of Merseburg, Burchard as foist overseer of the church of Meissen, and Hugh as first bishop of Zeitz. Also present was Dudo, the first guardian of Havelberg who had been previously consecrated. All of these promised obedience to him and to his successors and to each was conveyed his specific diocese. Thietmar, first pastor of the church of Brandenburg who had been previously consecrated and Jordan first bishop of Poznan joined these brethren.”*
* Bishop Jordan of Poznan (968 – 984) arrived in Poland as part of the entourage of Dobrawa, wife of Mieszko I.
“Meanwhile, the illustrious Margrave Hodo collected an army and attacked Miesco [Mieszko I] though the latter was faithful to the emperor and paid tribute for territory extending to the river Warta. Only my father, Count Siegfried, then a young man and unmarried, came to his aid with warriors of his own. When the battle began at Zehden, on the feast of John the Baptist, they were initially successful [24 June 972]. But then Mieszko‘s brother, Cidibur [Czcibor], attacked and killed all the best warriors, with the exception of the two counts.* The emperor was very disturbed when he learned this miserable news and sent representatives from Italy who ordered Hodo and Miesco to leave off their fighting and preserve the peace until he returned, or risk losing his favour.”
* This refers to the Battle of Cedynia.
“From thence, he went to Quedlinburg to celebrate the upcoming feast of Easter with divine praise and earthly joy [23 March 973]. Here also, at the emperor’s order, Dukes Miesco and Boleslau, and legates of the Greeks, Beneventans, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Danes, and Slavs gathered along with all the leading men of the kingdom. When all matters had been settled peacefully and gifts had been distributed, they went home satisfied. But the emperor’s joy was disturbed when Duke Herman died there on 1 April. While his son Bernhard was preparing to transport Herman’s body to Luneburg, he encountered Bishop Bruno of Verden, who was near by. Because the bishop had placed the duke under the ban during his lifetime, the son tearfully asked that he might immediately grant absolution and permit burial in the church. But his request was not granted.”
For a portion of this chapter dealing with the Slavs see here.
“Because i have already spoken briefly about Duke Conrad, the emperor’s son-in-law who was killed at the river Lech, I believe that it would be appropriate for me to reveal certain things which were not discussed at that time. Much later, during a stay at Merseburg, the emperor learned from an informant that the Slavs at Zwenkau under lord Kuchawiz, whom he much esteemed, had possession of the duke’s armour. With Kuchawiz‘s aid, a judicial duel was held and the losers were hanged at the emperor’s order. Most of the booty was restored. I do not know whether they took these things as murderers or, without guilt, discovered the duke’s death by chance. In any case, they rightly paid with their lives for having presumed to keep this secret.”
“In the days of the previously mentioned emperor, there was a certain count, named Hed, who built a church in Heeslingen in honour of the athlete of Christ Vitus. Because he had no heir, he endowed it with the greatest part of his property and, after establishing a congregation of nuns there, placed the same abbey under the protection of Archbishop Adaldag of Bremen. But alas, the two venerable matrons who were placed over this foundation – each named Wendelgard – died quickly…”
“…The emperor looked upon the still impoverished bishopric of Merseburg with generous concern, giving to Bishop Giselher, whom he loved greatly, first the abbey in Pohlde and then the burg Zwenkau with all its appertinences, this for the service of Saint John the Baptist. He also granted to him whatever lay within the walls of Merseburg, including the Jews, the merchants, and the mint; also the forest between the river Saale and the Mulde or rather between the districts of Siusuli and Pleissnerland; as well as Kohren, Nerchau, Pausitz, Taucha, Portitz, and Gundorf. All of this was conveyed through a diploma which he confirmed with his own hand.”*
* The various back & forths regarding these lands conducted by bishops and emperors should not cause us to lose sight of the fact that the lands at the time consisted primarily of Slavic villages.
“…By election and by the emperor’s grant, Warin was quickly amnointed in his place [as archbishop].”
“In the year 976 of the Incarnation of the Lord, Henry, duke of the Bavarians, fled to Bohemia after being deprived of both his office and the communion of the church. While he was residing there, with Duke Boleslav, the emperor attacked with a strong army, but gained nothing at all against these two. Moreover, through the treachery of one of Boleslav‘s warriors, he lost a great troop of Bavarians who were coming to his aid had just set up camp next to the burg Pilsen. In the evening, the Bavarians were washing themselves without having set a guard for security. Suddenly, the mailed enemy arrived and cut them down as they ran naked to their tents and through the meadow. The enemy returned with all of their booty, happy and unharmed. Hearing of the loss of so many men, and knowing that no other route of rerun was accessible to him, the emperor went directly to his burg at Cham. In the following, he brought the duke to submission as the latter sought refuge at Passau. In the next year, Duke Henry, Count Ekbert, and Bishop Henry were accused before the emperor at Magdeburg. Afterwards, they were captured and sent into a long exile.“
“While the emperor was still in Rome, Archbishop Adalbert, in the thirteenth year after his consecration, was traveling around Bishop Giselher’s dopes, teaching and confirming his flock – this because Giselher himself was then with the emperor. He celebrated mass at Merseburg on 19 June and happily spent the following night in Corbetha with Hermuzo, an honorable layman. The next morning, after arising, he complained bitterly of a severe headache. He departed nonetheless. When he had passed through the village of Zscherben, on the way to Freckleben, he began gradually to sink down on his horse and would have fallen to the ground had he not been supported by his companions…”
“After receiving the emperor’s permission, Giselher came to Magdeburg, on 30 November, in the company of Bishop Dietrich of Metz. Dietrich was a friend of the emperor and very dear to him. He also belonged to that group of corrupt men who, in return for obscuring the truth, had accepted one thousand pounds of gold an silver from the archbishop. One morning, at the emperor’s order, someone jokingly blessed Dietrich in the following manner: ‘May God satisfy you with gold in the hereafter since we here cab by no means do so!’ Then everything previously belonging to our church was wretchedly divided, as if in accord with the custom of the Slavs by which, after a family has been accused, its property is dispersed by being put up for sale. Bishop of Zeitz received that part of our diocese which lay between the Saale, Elster, and Mulde rivers; and between the districts of Pleisse, Wethau and Teuchern; and including the villages of Possen and Pissen [Bishop Frederik of Zeitz was bishop circa 980 – circa 990]. Bishop Folkold of Meissen was given a piece which included the villages of Wechselburg and Lastau and pertained to eastern Schkeuditz, being bordered by the rivers Chemnitz and Elbe. For himself, Giselher kept nine burgs, namely: Schkeuditz, Taucha, Wurzen, Puechen, Eilenburg, Dueben, Pouch, Loebnitz and Zoecheritz. Documents which conveyed royal or imperial gifts he either burned or, by altering the name of the recipient, mad ether refer to his own church. Payers of tribute, and everything that was supposed to belong to Merseburg, he intentionally scattered so that they might never be gathered together again. He established an abbey at Merseburg itself and set over it Ohtrad, a venerable monk of the monastery of Saint John. Later he gave it to Heimo who came front he same monastery. But note, O reader, what came of this destruction!”
“Margrave DIetrich’s arrogance so irritated peoples who had already accepted both Christianity and the status of tribute payer in regard to our kings and emperors, that their members unanimously decide to take up arm’s. This turn of events was predicted to my father, Count Siegfried, in the following way. In a dream, he saw a sky filled with dense clouds. Astonished, he asked what it meant and a voice replied: ‘Now that prophecy must be fulfilled: ‘God allows the rain to fall both on the just and the unjust.” [Matthew 5:45] The outrage began on 29 July, with the murder of the garrison and destruction of the cathedral at Havelberg. Three days late, at the sounding of prime, the entire band of Slavs attacked the bishopric of Brandenburg, a see established beyond Magdeburg some thirty years previously. Folkmar, the third bishop of that seem had already fled, and his defender, Dietrich, barely escaped with his warriors on the same day as the attack. The clergy who remained were captured. The second bishop, Dodilo, was dragged from his tomb. He had been strangled by his own people and, though three years in the grave, his body and priestly vestments were as yet uncorrupted. The greedy dogs then plundered him and carelessly threw him back again. They also stole all of the church’s treasures and brutally spilled the blood of many. Thus various cults of demonic heresy were venerated instead of Christ and his fisherman., the venerable Peter. And not only the heathen praise this sorrowful change, but also Christians!”
“In those times, the church of Zeitz was captured and wasted by an army of Bohemians under the leadership of Dedi. Its first bishop, Hugh, had already fled. Afterwards, the Slavs devastated the monastery of Saint Lawrence at Calbe and pursued our people as if they were so many fleeing deer. Our spirits were fearful because of our sins, but their spirits were strong. Duke Mistui of the Abodrites burned and ravaged Hamburg which was formerly the residence of the bishop. Yet all of the Christendom should piously note the miracle that Christ performed there from heaven. A golden hand came down from the highest regions and, with outstretched fingers, reached into the middle of the fire. This occurred in full view of all. The army looked on in astonishment, and Mistui was both terrified and dumbfounded. This incident was related to me by Avico who was then Mistui’s chaplain, but later became my spiritual brother. We both came to the conclusion that God had, in this way, taken the relic up to heaven and, at the same time, terrified and put the enemy to flight. Later, Mistui lost his mind and was held in chains. After being immersed in water that ha been blessed, he shouted: ‘Saint Lawrence is burning me!’ But before he could be freed, he died wretchedly.“
“By the time the Slavs had burned and pillaged all the burgs and villages as far as the river Tanger, there were more than thirty bands of warriors on foot and horseback. Without sustaining any losses and aided by their Gods, they did not hesitate to ravage the rest of the region, as their blaring trumpets preceded them. We did not remain unaware of these events. Bishops Giselher and Hildeward joined with Margrave Dietrich and with the other counts: Rikdag, Hodo, Benizo, Frederick, Dudo, my father Siegfried, and many others. At dawn, on Saturday, they heard mass together. Then, after fortifying body and spirit with the sacrament of heaven, they confidently fell upon the approaching enemy and, except for a few who found refuge on a hill, completely annihilated them. The victors praised God, marvelous in all his works, and the truthful word of the treater, Paul, was confirmed: There is neither prudence nor strength nor counsel against the Lord. [actually from Proverbs] Utterly abandoned were those who had once dared to reject God and stupidly chose to worship meaningless idols, which they themselves had made, rather than their own creator. Unfortunately, as night approached and our forces made camp some distance await, the Slavs of whom I have spoken above furtively escaped. The next day our people happily returned to their homeland, after sustaining only three casualties. While on their way, or once they were at home, they were congratulated by everyone they encountered.”
[this describes Otto’s campaign in Italy in July 982]
“Along with Duke Otto and several others, the emperor fled to the sea where, in the distance, he spotted a ship f the type known as a salandria. He hurried out to it on a horse belonging to the Jew Calonimus but the ship’s crew refused to take him in and continued on their way. Returning to the safety of the shore, he found the Jew still standing there, anxiously awaiting the fate of his beloved lord [or the return of his stolen horse :-)]. When the emperor saw that his enemies had also arrived on the scene, he sorrowfully asked this man: ‘What now will become of me?’ Suddenly, he noticed that a second salandria was following the first once, and realized that a among the ship’s occupants was a friend who might be expected to help him. Once again, he urged his horse into the water hand hurried out to the ship where he was recognized only by his warrior Henry, whose Slavic name is Zolunta. He was taken on board and placed in the bed of the ship’s commander. Eventually, the commander also recognized him and asked if he was the emperor. After denying out for some time, Otto finally conceded and declared: ‘Yes, it is I, reduced to this miserable state because of my sins. But listen carefully to what we may now do together. I have just lost the best men of my empire and, tormented by this sorrow, can never again set foot in this land and have no further desire to see those who have befriended it. Only, let us go to the city of Rossano where my wife awaits my arrival. We will take he and all the treasure, of which I have an unspeakable amount, and go to your emperor, my brother. As I hope, he will be a loyal friend to me in my time of need.’ Delighted at this pleasant conversation, the ship’s commander hurried day and night to reach this place. As they approached their destination, the warrior with the two names [i.e., Henry/Zolunta] was sent ahead to summon the empress and Bishop Dietrich, who accompanied her, and also to fetch the many treasure-lade pack animals.”
“… In the year 983 of the Incarnation of the Lord, the emperor held court at Verona and Henry the Younger, having been released from exile, was made duke of the Bavarians. And in this same year, the Slavs united in resistance to the emperor and Margrave Dietrich. Also, the emperor’s son was unanimously elected lord.”
“After leaving Magdeburg, Henry went to Quedlinburg to celebrate the joyful feast of Easter. The great men of the duchy also gathered there, and some who did not wish to come in person sent a representative who was to scrutinize everything carefully. During the celebration, the duke’s supporters openly greeted him as king and he was honoured with divine laudes. Dukes Miesco, Mistui and Boleslav converted there along with innumerable others and swore oaths confirming their support for him as king and lord. Many others, not daring to violate their oath to the king, for fear of God, withdrew somewhat and hurried to the Asselburg where there allies, now openly plotting against the duke, were meeting. These are their names: from the East, along with Duke Bernhard and Margrave Dietrich, there were the Counts Ekkehard, Binizo, Esiko, the count and priest Bernward, Siegefried and his son, the brothers Frederich and Ziazo; from that region also were the brothers Dietrich and SIgbert, Hoiko, the brothers Ekkehard and Bezeko, Brunig and his brother; and, at the order of Archbishop Willigis, the milites of Saint Martin, joined by a great multitude from the West.”
“In the company of his supporters, Henry then sought out Boleslav [II], duke of the Bohemians, who had always been willing to help him, whatever the circumstances. The duke receive him honorably and had his army conduct hiom from the boundaries of his territory through those of the territories of Nisan and Daleminzia as far as Muegeln. Then, with our people coming to meet him, he proceeded to Magdeborn. Meanwhile, one of Duke Boleslav of Bohemia‘s milites, Wagio, who had been among the trips which ac companied Henry, stopped at Meissen while making his way home. After conversing with the inhabitants of the place, the had an intermediary invite Frederich, ally and warrior of that Margrave Rikdag, whip then resided at Merseburg, to meet with him for a discussion at a certain church outside of the city. As he went out, however, the door closed after him. Rikdag, guardian of that city and a celebrated warrior, was ambushed and killed by them, at a stream called Triebischbach. The city was soon furnished with a garrison by Boleslav and it quickly accepted him both as lord and resident.”
“At the instigation of the ever capricious people, Boleslav drove out Bishop Folkold, who then went to Archbishop Willigis and was accorded a friendly reception. The bishop had nourished him as if he were his own son and, when sent to those eastern regions, had warmly recommended to Otto II that WIlligis succeed him as the king’s teacher. WIlligis never forgot this favour and acknowledged it with all gratitude, especially now, when Folkold was in greatest need. He ordered that Folkold be cared for and given every consideration, at Erfurt, a location the bishop himself had chosen. After residing there [at Erfurt] for a long time, he was able to return to his own see after Margrave Rikdag died and was succeeded by the illustrious Ekkehard, and when Boleslav returned to his own lands [October/November 985]. Afterwards, he became Boleslav‘s close friend. When he was in Prague, where he had celebrated Maundy Thursday and, on the following day, which is Good Friday, he was rightly proceeding with the memory of he divine passion, he was paralysed vt stroke and had to be carried away…”
“The king celebrated the next fewest of Easter at Queldinburg where he was ministered to by four dukes: Henry at his table, Conrad as chamberlain, Henry ‘the Younger’ as cellarer, Bernhard as marshal [April 4, 986]. Boleslav and Miesco also came here with their followers and, after everything was taken care of, departed again, richly endowed with gifts. In those days, Miesco commended himself to the king and, along with other gifts, presented him with a camel. He also joined the king on two expeditions… The king did not cease to assault the Slavs with many harsh campaigns [June – July 986]. He also conquered certain peoples in the East, who presumed to rise up against him. In the West he contended by force and guile to conquer an enemy which repeatedly took up arms and plundered far and wide. It is unnecessary to describe Otto’s childhood, and it would take too long to recount what he accomplished with the advice of prudent counsellors.”
“At that time, Miesco and Boleslav [II] had a falling out and did much damage to one another. Boleslav called on the aid of the Liutizi who had always been loyal to him and to his forefathers. But Miesco sought help from Empress Theophanu. She was then in Magdeburg and sent Giselher, archbishop of that place, and the counts, Ekkehard, Esiko, and Bizino, along with my father and another of the same name, and with Bruno, Udo, and several others. With barely four weak bands, they set off for the region called Selpuli. While under way, they stopped by a swamp, over which a long bridge extended. On the previous day, one of Willo’s companions had been captured by the Bohemians as he was going ahead of the group to inspect his land. Now, in the silence of night, he escaped and gave Count Binizo the first news of an imminent attack. At his warning, our forced quickly roused themselves and prepared for battle. They heard mass in the grey dawn, some standing, others on horseback; and, anxious about the outcome of the coming battle, left their encampment as the sun rose.”
“Then, on 13 July, Boleslav came with troops and both sides sent out scouts. From Boleslav‘s side, a certain miles named Slopan approached to inspect our forces. After returning, his lord asked for his opinion regarding this army and whether or not he would be able do battle with it. Indeed, his milites had demanded that none of our people be permitted to depart alive. Slopan offered him the following assessment: ‘This army is small in number, but of the best quality and armed richly in iron. It is possible for you to do battle with it, but should the victory fall to you, you will be so weakened that you will have to flee your enemy Miesco and will only escape his constant harassment with great effort, or perhaps not at all. Moreover, you will acquire the Saxons as your enemy in perpetuity. If you are defeated, it will mean your end and that of your entire kingdom. There will remain no hope of resistance for you, surrounded everywhere by the enemy.’ Boleslav‘s fury was calmed by these words and, after peace had been concluded, he asked our leading men, who had come to attack him, if they would go with him to Miesco and, in the matter of restoring his property, put in a good word with that prince. Our people agreed to this and Archbishop Giselher, Ekkehard, Esiko and Benizo went with him. All the rest departed for their homes in peace. Now, with the day turning to evening, all were relieved of their arms until an oath was sworn, after which they were returned. Boleslav came with our people as far sat the Oder. There, a messenger was sent to tell Miesco that his allies were in Boleslav‘s power. If he were to return the lands he had seized, he would permit these men to depart unharmed, if not, all would die. But Miesco responded to him in these words: ‘If the king wishes to rescue his people or avenge third eats, he may do so. In any case, he would not give up anything for their sake.’ When Boleslav heard this, he plundered and burned the surrounding areas as much as he could but left all of our people unharmed.”
“Returning from there, he besieged a fortress called […] and, with no opposition from the occupants, he conquered it along with its lord, whom he ave to the Liutizi for decapitation. Without delay, this sacrificial victim was offered to their supportive Gods in front of the city and all departed for home. Boleslav knew that, without his help, our forces could not reach home without being attacked by the Liutizi. Thus, he dismissed our people at dawn on the following day and warned them to move quickly. As soon as their enemies learned of this, they were eager to go after them with a large band of chosen warriors. Boleslav was barely able to restrain them with words such as these: ‘You who came to help me, see that you complete what you have undertaken. Know that I took those men under my protection and dismissed them in peace; and, as long as I live, I will not suffer even one of them to be harmed today. It would be neither honorable nor wise for us to turn close friends into open enemies. I know of the hatred between you, but you will find much more suitable occasions for satisfying it.’ After calming the Liutizi with words such as these, he managed to detain them for two more days. Then, after taking leave of one another and renewing their ancient alliance, they departed. Now, those infidels chose two hundred warriors who followed our force which were few in number. Our forces were soon informed of this by one of Margrave Hodo’s milites. Immediately quickening their pace, they arrived in Magdeburg unharmed (thank God!), while their enemies labored in vain.”
“Meanwhile Archbishop Adaldag of Bremen died and was succeeded by Liawizo who, from his homeland between the Alps and Swabia, had followed there exiled Pope Benedict here and so had put forward a claim to this office before God and the king [29 April 988]. After there fortresses on the Elbe were restored, the Slavs were attacked and made subject to the king. In the winter, a flood and a great wind did much damage. Excessive heat did great damage to the crops and many people died from a savage pestilence…*”
* as in Annales Quedlinburgenses under 987 and 988.
“…In the fourth year, a great pestilence broke out in the eastern regions along with famine and war . Also the king attacked the Abodrites and ravaged the lands of the Wiltzi.”
“…The preceding winter  had been harsh, unhealthy, cold, windy and unusually dry. At this time, the Slavs were defeated.”
“But because I have spoken above about the destruction of the church of Brandenburg, now I will briefly explain how it was subjected to the king for a time. In our vicinity, there was a celebrated miles, named Kizo, who was treated by Margrave Dietrich in a manner that did not please him. Because of this and because no other means were available to him, he went over to our enemies. The latter, recognizing him to be entirely faithful to them in all things, commended the above-mentioned burg to him in order to harm us that much more. But after being mollified by our flattery , he surrendered it and himself into the king’s power. Thereafter, the Liutizi, burning with anger, attacked him there with every available warrior [October 995]. Meanwhile, the king was in Magdeburg. When informed of the situation, he quickly sent all the forces he had with him: Margrave Ekkehard, my three maternal uncles, Frederick the count palatine, and my paternal uncle. As they were arriving there together, along with their forces, they were dispersed by a ferocious enemy attack. After a number of millets had been killed, one part of our orcs managed to reach the fortress, the remainder had to retreat. Then, after assembling supporters from all sides, the king himself quickly went there. The enemy was severely pressing the burg’s defenders, but when they saw our forces in the distance, they quickly abandoned their camp and fled. Rejoicing in their liberation, the defenders sang Kyrie eleison, and those who were approaching responded with one voice. The king provided the burg with a a garrison and, after his departure, held it for a long time. Later, when Kizo came to Quedlinburg, he was deprived not only of his burg, but his wife and milites as well. Afterwards, he received everything back, except for the burg. The burg was placed in the power of one of his warriors called Boliliut, on whose advice all of this had been done though he was not then present. But Kizo, the best of warriors, secretly tried to exact revenge in those regions and was killed, along with his supporters.”
“In the beginning of the summer, Adalbert, bishop of the Bohemians, arrived. He had received the name Woyciech at his baptism, the other name, at his confirmation, from the archbishop of Magdeburg. He was educated in letters, in that same city, Ochtrich about whom we have already spoken. As he was unable to separate his flock from the ancient error of wickedness through godly teaching, he excommunicated them all and came to Rome to justify himself before the Pope. For a long time, wit the Pope’s permission, he lived an exemplary life according to the strict rule of Abbot Boniface. With the same Pope’s permission, he later tried to subdue the Prussians, their thoughts still estranged from Christ, with the bridle of holy preaching. On 23 April, pierced by a spear and beheaded, he alone received the best martyrdom, without a groan. This occurred just as he himself had seen it in a dream and had predicted to all the brothers, saying: ‘I thought I saw myself celebrating mass and communicating alone.’ Seeing that he had now died, the authors of this wicked crime increased both their wickedness and the vengeance of God by throwing the blessed body in the water. His head, however, they scornfully transfused with a stake. They returned home with great joy. After learning of this, Boleslav, Miesco’s son, immediately purchased both the martyr’s celebrated body and his head. In Rome, after the emperor had been informed, he humbly offered praises to God because, during his lifetime, he had taken such a servant for himself through the palm of martyrdom…”
“After departing from Romania, the emperor visited our regions and, having learned of a rebellion of the Slavs, advanced with an armed force on Stoderania which is also called the land of the Hevelli [latter half of May 997]. After wasting these lands with fire and great plundering, he returned victorious to Magdeburg [post-20 August]. Because of this, a great multitude of our enemies attacked Bardengau, but were conquered by our forces. Bishop Ramward of Minden took part in that battle. Followed by the standard-bearers, he had taken up his cross in his hands and ridden out ahead of his companions, thereby greatly encouraging them for battle. On that day, Count Gardulf died along with a few others, but among the enemy, a great number were killed. There remainder fled after abandoning their booty.”
“Let us recall to memory what wretched damage occurred to Archbishop Giselher because of his carelessness. For the protection of our homeland, the emperor had the Arneburg reinforced with necessary defensive works and policed it in Giselher’s custody for a period of four weeks [early to mid-June 997] Through some as yet unknown ruse, he was invited to a meeting with the Slavs and went out, accompanied only by a small entourage. Some went ahead, while others remind in the fortress. Suddenly, one of his companions announced that their enemies were bursting out of the woods. After milites from both sides were joined in combat, the archbishop, who had been traveling in a cart, fled on a fast horse. Only a few of his companions escaped death. Thus, the victorious Slavs plundered the belongs of the dead in complete security – it was 2 July – and complained only that the archbishop had escaped. In spite of the fact that his forces had been so severely cut up, Giselher guarded the fortress up tp the agreed upon day. While he was returning home, in great sadness, he encountered my paternal uncle, Margrave Liuthar, in whose care the aforementioned burg was now to reside. Without hesitation, he commended it to him and departed. When the margrave arrived, he saw smoke and fire coming from the fortress. A messenger was sent to request that the archbishop return, but without success and Liuthar himself tried to put out the fire, now raging in two different places. When nothing came of theism he surrendered the portal, open to the enemy, and sadly returned home. Afterwards, when complaints about him were brought before the emperor, he purged himself of any guilt by swearing an oath. Nine days after the aforementioned slaughter, on 13 July, my mother, Cunegunde, died at burg Germersleben.”
“When he arrived at Zeitz, the emperor was received in a manner appropriate to an emperor by Hugh II, third pastor of that see [circa 10 February]. Then he went by a direct route to Meissen where he was honorably received by Eid, the venerable bishop of this church, and by Margrave Ekkehard whom he regarded highly. Then, having traversed the territories of the Milzeni, he was met as he arrived at the district of Diadesi by Boleslav whose name is interpreted as ‘greater praise’ not by merit but by old custom. With great rejoicing, Boleslav offered the emperor hospitality at a place called Eulau. It would be impossible to believe or describe how the emperor was then received by him and conducted to Gniezno. Seeing the desired city from afar, he humbly approached barefoot. After being received with veneration by Bishop Unger, he was led into the church where, weeping profusely, he was moved to ask the grace of Christ for himself through the intercession of Christ’s martyr. Without delay, he established an archbishopric there, as I hope legitimately, but without the consent of the aforementioned bishop to whose diocese the whole region is subject. He committed the new foundation to Radim, the martyr’s brother, and made subject to him Bishop Reinbern of Kolobrzeg, Bishop Poppo of Krakow, and Bishop John of Wroclaw, but not Unger of Poznan. And with great solemnity, he also placed holy relics in an altar which had been established there.”
“After all issues nada been settled, the duke honoured Otto with rich presents and, what was even more pleasing, three hundred armored warriors. When the emperor departed, Boleslav and an illustrious entourage conducted him to Magdeburg where they celebrated Palm Sunday with great festivity [24-25 March]…”
“I cannot place in its correct order everything that ought to be treated within the context of this book. In what follows, therefore, I will not be embarrassed to add a few recollections. Indeed, I rejoice in the change of pace much as the traveller who, because of its difficult or perhaps from ignorance, leaves the course of the more direct road and sets out on some winding secondary path. Hence, I will relate the remaining deeds of Miesco, the celebrated duke of the Poles, who has already been treated in some detail in the previous books. He took a noble wife from the region of Bohemia, the sister of Boleslav the Elder. Her life corresponded to her name – she was called Dobrawa in Slavic, which, in German, means ‘the good’. For this one, faithful to Christ, and realizing that her husband was mired in various heathen errors, turned her humble spirit to the task of binding him to the faith as well. She tried in every way to conciliate him, not because of the threefold appetite of this evil world but rather for the sake of the admirable and, to all the faithful, desirable fruit of future salvation.”
“She sinned willingly for a while, that she might later be good for a long time. For during Lent, which closely followed he marriage, though she intended to offer an acceptable tithe to God by abstaining from meat and through the affliction of he body, her husband asked and tried to coax her into giving up her plan. She consented, thinking that he might therefore be more willing to listen to her on some other occasion. Some say that she only ate meat during a single Lenten period, others say three. Now, O reader, you have heard her sin, now also consider the attractive fruit of her pious will. She labored for the sake of her husband’s conversion and was heard by the Creator in his kindness; and through his infinite goodness that most zealous persecutor came to his senses. After being admonished frequently by his beloved wife, he vomited out the poison of his unbelief and, in holy baptism, wiped away the stain of his birth. Immediately, members of his hitherto reluctant people followed their beloved head and lord and, after accepting the marriage garments, were numbered among the wards of Christ. Jordan, their first bishop, labored much with them, while he diligently invited them by word and deed to the cultivation of the heavenly vineyard. Then the couple rightly rejoiced, namely the man and the noble woman, and all who were subject to them rejoiced at their marriage in Christ. After this, the good mother gave birth to a son who was very different from her and the misfortune of many mothers. She named him Boleslav, after her brother. He first revealed his innate evil to her and then raged against his own flesh and blood, as I will reveal in the following.”
Chapter 57 
“But when his mother died, his father married Margrave DIetrich’s daughter, a nun at the convent called Calbe, without the approval of the church. Oda was her name and great was her presumption. She rejected her celestial spouse in favour of a man of war, which displeased all the pastors of the church but most of all her own bishop, the venerable Hildeward. But the welfare of the land, and the need to strengthen the peace, kept this from leading to a break; rather it provided a healthy and continuous incentive for reconciliation. For she increased the service of Christ in every way: many captives were returned to their homeland, prisoners were released form their chains, and the prisons of those who had been accused were opened. O hope that God will forgive her the magnitude of her sin, since such love of pious deeds was revealed in her. We read, however, that he who does not entirely abandon the evil he has begun, will try in vain to placate the Lord. She bore her husband three sons: Miesco, Swentepulk and… She passed her life there, highly honoured, until her husband’s death. She was beloved among those with whom she lived and useful to those from whom she had come.”
“But on May 25, in the year of the Incarnation 992, the tenth year of Otto III’s kingship, the aforementioned duke, now old and feverish, went from this place of exile to his homeland, leaving his kingdom to be divided by many claimants. Yet, with fox-like cunning, his son Boleslav unified it once more in the hands of one ruler, after he had expelled his stepmother and brothers, and had their familiars Odilien and Przibiwoj blinded. That he might be able to rule alone, he ignored both human and divine law. He married the daughter of Margrave Rikdag, but later sent her away and took a Hungarian woman as his wife. She bore him a son, named Bezprym, but he also sent her away. His third wife was Emnilde, a daughter of the venerable lord, Dobromir.* Faithful to Christ, she formed her husband’s unstable character completely for the better and strove unceasingly to wash away both of her sins through the generous dispersal of alms and abstinence. She bore two sons, Miesco and another one whom the father named after his beloved lord. She also produced three daughters of whom one was an abbess, the second married Count Herman, and the third the son of King Vladimir. I will say more about them later.”
* Dobromir was probably a Milseni duke of the Lausitz (guess).
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