Monthly Archives: April 2015

On Königs & Koniks

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What is that below?  If you answered “Well, duh, it’s clearly the Emperor Trajan” you would be correct but missing the point.  But that is not your fault, of course (and the answer is impressive in any event!).

chair1

Now, we’ve been told that the Slavic word for “king”, i.e., “krol” or “kruhl” (Polish pronounciation) comes from Karl, i.e., Karl der Grosse, i.e., Charlemagne.  What’s that?  But the word appears throughout Slavdom and by the time of Karl (circa 800) the Slavs would have already spread out.  So, answer comes back, how about Karl Martel?  That gets us another 60 years but that is hardly enough.  But hey, you make history with the facts you have not with the facts you would like to have, we are told.

Of course, there is no evidence for any of these suggestions but they all seemed comfortable enough for everyone.  Those who chafed at this, chafed mostly at the notion of a German/Frankish king giving such a “civilizationally” basic word to the Slavs.  They suspected that there may be something wrong with this picture but they attributed the German insistence on this connection to “typical” German “arrogance.”

But there is something else here.

Let us state the point more clearly.  Underneath Trajan’s butt on the coin above there sits a chair.  That chair is called the sella curulis or the “curule seat“.  It was used by Roman emperors as well as Dagobert and later Frankish Kings.

ceasarea

The Original

So is it better to be accused of arrogance or be accused of hiding the ball on something?  Does it depend on what you are hiding?

If the Slavic kruhl or krol comes from the chair itself then it is possible that it entered Slavic much earlier than the time of Charlemagne.  Perhaps at the times of Dagobert but… perhaps earlier.  The word is apparently Roman (related to a “chariot” – perhaps).  If so, that would be a problem if you were trying to argue that the Slavs arrived in Europe only in the 6th century (you could make Dagobert work but certainly not the Roman emperors).

So let us give one back.  What if the Germanic word for King, i.e., König really comes from Slavic?  What?  How is that?  Well, as we know the German endings –ig often come from the Slavic –ik.  The Slavic –ik generally refers to a profession, e.g., in Polish bartn-ik, mieczn-ik, etc. (incidentally, there is Koppernik too, perhaps a hybrid German-Polish word).

koenigen

Germanic König on a “konik” leading his UeberGothen “To War!”

So what could it come from?  How about kon-ik?  The king is the man who rides a horse while his soldiers trudge on on foot…

And here is Emperor Macrinus on a similar throne:

chair1

 

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April 23, 2015

Polabian Gods Part V Final – Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum Book XIV (In Relevant Parts)

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We decided that it would be interesting to have the entire collection of the blog posts dealing with Saxo’s Chapter 5 of Book XIV put in one place (we kept the “subchapter” headings but not the pictures).  We supplemented it with (never before seen! (on this site)) lead in.  Of course, this is not all of Book XIV nor even all of Chapter 5 (about half of the chapter) but it contains all the relevant (to us) parts.

Since we also wanted to add something new, we give a description of the historical situation in this area at the time of the Danish invasion of Ruegen/Rugia and a discussion as to whether “they all lived happily ever after” (it’s in the eye of the beholder).

Finally, we also include a brief mention of Arkona in Saxo’s description of a Danish expedition there some thirty year earlier in 1136.  This comes from Chapter 1 of the same Book XIV.

It’s almost like our prior blogposts are given here in 3D.

Oh, and Saint Vitus was a Christian cultist/martyr (apparently left his family) of the very early 4th century.

The Situation in the Southern Baltic in the Last Days of Arkona

It is unclear when the temple at Arkona was originally built.  As early as Tacitus’ Germania we have mentions of a temple (of a goddess) on an island somewhere north among the Suevi – whether such a cult site could have later been the cult site at Redigost (also on an island) or at Rugia is, of course, something one can speculate about for eons to come.

Certain is that it was a major cultic site of both the Rani tribe which lived on Ruegen/Rugia and also of the various other local Slavic tribes of the Liutizi/Wilzi of whom the Rani were one.  As we had previously discussed, the land-based Liutizi mainly worshipped at Redegost but that temple had been destroyed in 1068.  Reports indicate (and, indeed, so does the below account) that Arkona remained a place of worship for all the Liutizi tribes (and the priesthood there required “donations” to the temple of  such neighboring tribes).

Still, even after the fall of Redegost the Rani were not the only Slavic pagans around in the area.  Just next door the Pomeranians with their city centers at Wolin and Szczecin (these were quasi-free cities) remained pagan for many years resisting attempts at conversion (and, as we shall see, had their own Gods).  Only between 1124 and 1139 (after a bloody war that the Boleslav III of Poland led against the Pomeranians) was Otto of Bamberg (Bamberg’s bishopric itself had much earlier been established to convert Slavs) finally able to convert Pomerania or at least its nobles.

(Otto was an interesting character.  He spoke Slavic or at least Polish and had plans to convert also the Polabian Slavs west of the Odra but never realized them.  It is conceivable, given his success in Pomerania, that such a conversion could have happened peacefully.  As it is the Danes eventually did the deed as described in our (or, really, Saxo’s) story below).

The Pomeranian duke Warcislaw (who was likely baptized before his people were about 1105 while a hostage with the Saxons in 1105/1106) first led wars against the Poles, then accepted their overlordship and then switched allegiance to the German Emperor.  Then, he switched sides again and allied with the Poles against the Germans and their ally, the Danish King Erik II Emune leading to raids against the Danish capital of Roskilde.  In the meantime the Pomeranians also tried to take the lands of the Liutizi/Wilzi and one of the versions of Warcislaw’s death involves him being killed by one of the Liutizi (though Warcislaw, attacked in his sleep, was able to, allegedly, rip out his attacker’s jaw before succumbing to injuries).

Warcislaw the Pomeranian died in 1135.  Power went to his brother Racibor I who seemed an eager Christian but also an opportunist having led a number of expeditions against the Danes sinking the Danish fleet (which had been setting out for Ruegen/Rugia) and, once again, utterly destroying the then Danish capital at Roskilde.  In turn, the Danes managed to land on Rugia in 1136, when Erik II Emune (that is, the “Memorable”) of Denmark forced the Rani to surrender and convert to Christianity (see below).  However, as soon as Erik left, they quickly went back to their faith.

Although the Liutizi/Wilzi and their Rugian/Rani cousins gave as good as they got, they found themselves in the middle of various factions and that is never a good place to be.  Their lands were being coveted by the Saxon margrave Albrecht the Bear (later named the patron of the NSDAP by Hitler) who had recently conquered the Slavic tribes of the Brizani and the Ukrani.   They were under a constant constant threat of a Danish invasion.  Their Christian Pomeranian brothers wanted to introduce the concept of “Pan-Slavism” to them.

And there was one other problem.  Unlike their neighbors, the Liutizi/Wilzi and Rani were hemmed in in a defensive posture and they were running out of manpower.  Their lands were relatively protected for a long while and the Rani, particularly, had excellent defensive capabilities at Arkona but all they could do was raid their enemies.  Their geography and, soon too, their demography, prevented them from leading wars of expansion.  They were able to maintain their independence for a while chiefly by reason of their good defenses and by reason of their enemies being at each others’ throats and being relatively evenly matched.  Their being non-Christian did not help their standing.

Slavic heathendom was running out of time.  What ultimately caused its collapse was the elimination of the Poles and Pomeranians from the equation.

In 1138, the Polish prince Boleslav III died.  Mindful of the incessant struggles with his brother Zbigniew and desiring to avoid the same fate for his sons, he drafted his will to partition the country.  Not only did this not prevent the fights amongst his offspring but it effectively eliminated Poland as a contender in the Baltic arena and, indeed, almost eliminated it entirely as a country.  The Poles would not be back in Szczecin until 1945.

In 1147, while most Germans were setting out on the Second Crusade, the Saxons reasoned with that that wasn’t their war.  They were right.  There were heathens much closer to home and spoils to boot.  They convinced the Pope to sanction their “crusade” against the Polabian Slavs instead.  They secured the support of the Danes (who were, of course, out to get the most for themselves).  At first, the Saxons and their allies (under the worst of the lot, Henry the Lion) headed towards Szczecin and Pomerania.  They were me there by Racibor I and Adalbert the bishop of Wolin who told the disappointed Saxons the joyful news that Pomerania was already Christian and had been so at least since the efforts Otto of Bamberg in 1124-1139.  The Saxons turned to the lands of the Liutizi/Wilzi and in the course of the next (more than) dozen years subdued most of the northern portions of today’s East Germany.  In 1160, the Slavic prince Niklot was killed (and his son Pribislav became a Saxon vassal in 1167).

Also, in 1160 Racibor died and he was succeeded by the sons of his brother Warcislaw, the dukes Boguslav and Kazimir.  Faced with the Saxons supported by the German Emperor (when he could be bothered), they turned to the Danes as allies.

The Danish throne was occupied since 1146 by Valdemar I (later judged to be the Great).  Since 1158 he was advised by the new bishop of Roskilde, bishop Absalon.  The Danes at first joined with the Saxons against the Obotrites but Valdemar seemed eager to stop the Saxons from expanding northwards (he had  already bent his knee to the German Emperor Barbarossa).  At the same time Denmark continued to suffer from the Rani pirate raids and, apparently at Absalon’s instigation, reciprocated in kind.

Then, apparently, disaster struck and the Rani fleet was destroyed by a storm somewhere close to Norway.  The  Danes seized the opportunity and, joined by their Pomeranian allies (soon to be, again, competitors) took the Rani town of Arkona and all of Ruegen/Rugia for Denmark and Christianity.  After the fall of the spiritual capital at Arkona, the Rani dukes, brothers Teslav (the so-called Svantevitstein at Altenkirchen may be the tomb of Teslav) and his brother Jaromar surrendered the administrative capital of Charenza (which by then had been filled to the rim by refugees) to the Danes presumably in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster and the extermination of their people.

The brothers managed to come out of this relatively ok.  They maintained a measure of autonomy from Denmark and kept Rugia out of the hands of the Pomeranian dukes Boguslav and Kazimir, the Danes erstwhile allies.  Jaromar is later named as the ruler of Rugia and a vassal of the Danish King.  When Canute VI of Denmark (the son of Waldemar I the Great) refused to bend the knee to Barbarossa,  the Danes made the Germans’ “list” and the Pomeranian duke Boguslav, now allied with the Emperor, tried to use this opportunity to take Rugia for the Pomeranians.  The Danish-Rani fleet destroyed the Pomeranian one and the Pomeranians subsequently lost control of Szczecin to the Danes.  In 1186 Boguslav gave homage to the Danish King and Canute VI made Jaromar regent of Boguslav’s sons (though the real power behind the Pomeranian throne was with Boguslav’s wife Anastasia, incidentally the daughter of the Polish duke, Mieszko III the Old).

As for Rugia itself, it remained a Danish vassal until the death of Wislav III in 1325 (who is also known as a minstrel and composed “God is born to us” (Bóg się nam zrodził), the oldest Pomeranian Christmas Carol (kalends).  Wislaw agreed with Warcislav IV of Pomerania that after his death the Rugian duchy should go to Pomerania.  It stayed in Pomeranian lands for approximately 300 years when it fell to the Swedes (see invasion of Rugia by the Danes in 1678) from 1679 onwards for another 100 years.  It was a site of a great Danish-Swedish naval battle in the Great Northern War (Danes won), it was occupied by Napoleon, was awarded temporarily to Denmark and then after 1815 went to Prussia where it stayed until Prussia was dissolved and in 1945 Ruegen/Rugia became part of the Communist East Germany.   The island remains currently (since the unification of Germany) under German administration and Arkona is a major tourist hotspot (as far as east German tourist hotspots go).

Finally, we should note that Saxo Grammaticus (not to, of course, be confused with Annalista Saxo) whom we have to thank for the below story was probably a clerk or assistant or secretary (take your pick) to bishop, then archbishop Absalon.  He was born sometime between 1140-1160 and would have been either a child or a young man at the time Arkona fell.  He obviously writes wonderful things about his boss Absalon but also seems relatively fair when it comes to Slavs (and does not write anything nice about Henry the Lion of the Saxons).  His Gesta Danorum (Deeds of the Danes) written during times of the Danish monarchy’s expansion is similar in purpose to Paul the Deacons, History of the Langobards, Widukind of Corvey’s, Deeds of the Saxons (in three books, no less) or, for that matter, the Anonymous Gall’s, Gesta principum Polonorum (The Deeds of the Princes of Poles).

saxogrammaticus

Book XIV – Chapter 1

(year 1136)

Preludes to an Invasion

“In these days Harald who had been expelled from Norway went to Denmark to seek Erik’s [II Emune] help.  This one received him well for his competitor sent away his wife, and happy to seize upon a good pretext which he now had to conduct war with Magnus decided to help Harald.”

“…though it was Erik’s desire to help him he could not put his plan in motion for the Slavs declared war on Denmark/  He had to leave his friend’s matters and to take up his own.  He gathered a fleet and sailed towards Rugia; and so as to even more energetically pursue this war he ordered (something that no one before him had done) that horses be placed on board of Danish ships, four on each (which strategy was thereafter diligently emulated).”

What Came of the First Conversion of Rugia

“The Danes came ashore at Rugia where they discovered the city of Arkona heavily fortified.  So as to cut it off from any aid their neighbors might send, they [the Danes] dug a channel separating this slice of land which lies among the fields of Arkona from the rest of Rugia and they built an exceedingly tall wall along it.  This was handed to the people from Halland to be guarded and Peder became their chief.  The Rugians, however, came at them from behind at night and crossed a few of the fords but after a few of them perished, the others were forced back by the rest of the warriors.”

“When the Arkonians were not strong enough to thwart their enemy and did not see any chance of getting help they gave in to inevitability and surrendered to the Danes on the condition that their lives will be spared by accepting Christianity but that they will be able to keep the statue of their God whom they venerated.”

“There was, namely, there in the city an idol which was greatly worshipped and which was constantly worshipped even by their neighbors and it was falsely called Saint Vitus.  By keeping him, the city’s inhabitants could not entirely give up worship of the old Gods.  And so when, at the beginning [of the conversion process], they were ordered to go and to solemnly baptize themselves in a pond, they were more interested in quenching their thirst than becoming Christians for under the guise of taking part in a sacred rite [i.e., the baptism] they refreshed [instead] their bodies which had grown tired during the siege.  There was a priest that was left at Arkona who was supposed to guide them towards a new and better life and teach them the basics of the new faith but as soon as Erik had left, they tossed the priest out of the city and Christianity together with him.  Not caring for the hostages [the Arkonians had to agree to give up hostages as part of this deal], the Arkonians, once again, began to worship their idol and so they showed how honestly they had accepted Christianity.”

Book XIV – Chapter 5

(year 1168)

The Rugians Refuse the Danes

“When this was happening, the Rugians left; feeling safe when the King was busy so far away, they gained courage.  When the winter was coming to an end, they learned that he had decided to now set out on an expedition against them and so they sent to him [the King] a certain particularly clever and eloquent man so that, using elaborate flatteries, he would convince him [the King] to give up his plans.  When, however, he [the emissary] could not make this happen, he decided not to return him before the Danes had set out so as not either arouse suspicion amongst his people by counseling them against war or lead them to disaster by counseling them for it.  And he asked, therefore, of Absalon that he be allowed to remain in his retinue until such time as his countrymen should turn to him for advice what to do, for stupid people prefer those counsels onto which they themselves stumble more than those that are offered them.”

The Temple at Arkona

“The King [Valdemar I the Great of Denmark] now attacked Ruegen/Rugia in different places and won booty everywhere but did not find an occasion to fight and desiring the enemy’s blood he began to besiege Arkona.”

“This town lies on top of a tall cliff and is well fortified from the East, South and North, not by men but by nature, for the steep sides of the cliff rise, as if walls, so high that no arrow could reach the top.  From these three sides it is also protected by the sea, but from the Western side it is surrounded by a wall that is fifty elbows tall, of which the lower part is made out of earth but the top part was of wooden construction reinforced/filled in with [torfus].  On the North side there is a stream, which the locals would reach by means of a reinforced path, which Erik [II] Emune in his time blocked, so that he defeated them during the siege not just by a force of arms but also by denying them water.”

“In the middle of the town there was an open space, on which there stood a wooden temple built in an unusually intricate manner, which temple was greatly venerated, not only on account of its grandeur but also by reason of the fact that it contained a statue of a God.  From the outside the temple drew one’s gaze due to a variety of well-sculpted [pictures/effigies/statues?] which, however, were primitively and carelessly painted over.  There was only one entrance but the temple itself was divided into two separate parts, of which the external one run along the walls and had a red ceiling, whereas the internal one was supported by four pillars and in lieu of walls it had curtains and was not touching/did not have common parts with the external part save the ceiling itself and certain logs.”

The Svantevit Statue

“In the temple there stood the aforementioned statue of superhuman proportions.  It had four heads and that many necks, of which two were turned towards the front and two towards the back.  And likewise of the two heads turned front and also the two heads looking back, one looked left and the other right. [The statue’s] face was clean-shaven as regards the beard and its hair was cut indicating that the artist who sculpted the statue had in mind the custom [of shaving/hair styling] common among the Rugii.”

“In its right hand the statue held a horn crafted of different metals, which horn was filled once a year by the priest and from the behavior of the drink he foretold the quality of the next year’s harvest.  The left arm of the statue was bent and pressed against the side.  The tunic reached its legs which were made of different types of wood and so intricately/discretely attached to the knees that only a careful inspection revealed the connections.  The feet were standing entirely on the floor but that on which it [the state] stood was hidden in the ground.  Nearby one could see a bridle and a saddle as well as other insignia, of which especially astounding was an unusual huge sword, whose scabbard and hilt were made out of silver and splendidly ornamented by wonderful craftsmanship.”

Arkonic Festivals

“The worship of the God took place in the following manner: once a year, when the harvest was coming to an end, the entire people of the island assembled in front of the temple, offerings were made of cattle and a solemn meal was eaten to honor the Gods.  The priest, who, not following the usual custom of most people of this country, had a long hair and a beard and, usually on the day before the holiday went to the temple, whose doorstep only he had the right to cross, to clean and carefully prepare everything, whereby he had to hold his breath, so that every time he needed to draw air he had to rush to the door, so that the God would not be contaminated by some man breathing in his presence/near him.”

“The following day, when the people camped out by the temple doors, the priest took the horn from the statue’s hand and carefully examined it to see whether the drink in it was evaporating, which was taken to be a warning that the harvest would be poor the next year, in which case he [the priest] obligated the people to save something of their current harvest for next year.  If the drink did not disappear, that foretold a bountiful year.  Thus, depending on what the horn predicted, he ordered the people either to save their harvests or to use them till they be sated.  Next he poured the wine as an offering at the feet of the statue, filled the horn anew and pretended as if he had drunk to honor him [the God], while at the same time he asked with lofty words for success/good luck for himself and the people of the country, for riches and for victory, and after that he brought the horn to his lips and drank all of it in one gulp, and thereafter he filled the horn again and placed it in the statue’s right hand.”

“There was also there as an offering an oval-shaped honey cake which stood almost as tall as a man.  The priest would place it between himself and the people and asked thereafter whether they could see him [from behind the cake].  When they answered him, he then wished them that next year they should not see him, whereby the meaning of this was such that he did not mean death to himself or the people but rather that the next year should be bountiful [i.e., and the cake bigger].”

“Next he blessed his people in the name of their God, told them that they should honor Him with frequent offerings, which he expected as a the right payment for [their] victories on the land and sea.  And when this was done, they spent the rest of the day on a great feast, where they ate the offerings [for the God], so that that which was consecrated for the God they themselves ate.  At this feast, it was believed pleasing to the God to get drunk and as a sin to remain sober.”

Arkonian Peterspfennig

“To support the religion’s needs every man and woman had to pay annually one coin, and God also received one third of the booty that they plundered for they believed that they should thank Him for His help.  He was also given three hundred horses and that many warriors who fought for Him and who had to give to the priest all of their booty whether it was captured  with weapons or stolen; for this money that came there for that reason, he commanded the making of all kinds of precious ornaments and adornments for the temple, which he kept in locked chests, in which in addition to lots of money there were kept too rich clothes, which were entirely destroyed by passage of time, as also the many offerings, some from the people and some from individual persons, which were given to them/to the temple to obtain happiness and success.”

Respect

“All of the Slavic lands venerated this God by paying [tribute to Him], and even the neighboring kings gave offerings to Him, not paying attention to the committed sacrilege [of so doing].  Among others, the King of Denmark Svend Grathe [Sweyn III – killed by Valdemar after Sweyn attempted to kill Valdemar and others] donated a wonderfully crafted cup so as to gain the favor of the God, for which sacrilege he then paid by his unlucky demise.  This God had too other temples in the different places, but none was so venerated as the one at Arkona.”

The Horse Speaketh

“He also had his own holy white horse and it was seen as sacrilege to rip a hair from his mane or tail, and no one other than the priest was permitted to feed him or ride him, so that this divine animal should not lose its dignified appearance, by reason of it being frequently used.  The Rugii believed that on this horse, Svantovit – that is the how they named the God – would ride when he fought against the enemies of his Holiness, and they saw special proof of this in that, in spite of the fact that during the night he remained in the stables, in the morning he was often wet and sweaty, as if he had come straight from battle and rode a long way [back].”

“They also read warnings from the horse’s behaviour in the following way: when war was intended with one country or another, it was the custom of the temple attendants to stick six spears into the ground in pairs of two where the shafts of each such pair would cross and where the spear pairs would be equidistant.  When the troop was to march out, the priest gave a solemn prayer and thereafter he led the horse in a harness from the [temple] foyer and led so that he had to jump in front of [or through] the spears.  Should the horse lift the right leg ahead of the left, they took that to mean that the war will be successful.  But should he have raised only one time [i.e., once out of the three] the left leg as the first, they gave up on their expedition and would not even raise anchors until such time that they saw him [the horse] jumping three times through the spears in such a manner that they took to be a good omen [i.e., right leg ahead of the left].”

Auguries of War, Auguries of Peace

“Also when they were to set out in other matters, they took the augury from the first encountered animal.  If the augury was favorable, they rode further happy, if it were not they then quickly went back home.  It was also not unknown to them to throw lots, they threw, namely, on their lap three pieces of wood as lots, they were white on one side and black on the other and white meant luck and black meant misfortune.  Even the women did not avoid such practices.  When they sat at a fire sometimes they drew random lines in the ash and counted them together.  If the number was even they believed that that portended good fortune, when it was odd, though, they took that as a bad sign.”

The King Has a Feeling

“The [Danish] King was filled with a desire of destroying their fortifications no less than he wanted toe stroy the pagan cult which was present in this town; he believed, namely that if he were able to tame Arkona, then all of paganism  on Rugia would be destroyed for he had no doubt that so long as this statue stood, it was easier for him to conquer the country’s fortifications than to defeat the pagan cult.  In order to bring the siege to a quicker end, all of his warriors greatly labored on his orders to bring from nearby forests many a tree trunk that could be used to build siege engines.  Whereas the engineers began to build [the siege engines], he appeared among them saying that their hard labors won’t bring any benefits and that the town will fall in their hands faster than they expected.  When he was asked why he thinks this, he answered that he arrived at this conclusion for the following reason.  He said that the Rugians at one time were conquered by Charlemagne and they were then ordered to pay tribute to the Abbey (of Saint Vitus) in Corvey, who became known thanks to his martyr’s death; but when Charlemagne died, they immediately dropped the enslaving yoke and returned to paganism; they then supposedly raised at Arkona this statue that they called Saint Vitus [i.e., Svantevit] and on whose worship they used all the money that earlier had been sent to Saint Vitus at Corvey with whom/which they now wanted nothing to do, for they said, that they were satisfied with the Saint Vitus [i.e., Svantevit] that they had at home and they felt no desire to subordinate themselves to some foreign [one].  Therefore, Saint Vitus, given that his day was drawing closer [i.e., the day of the feast of Saint Vitus]  will destroy their walls as a penalty for them having portrayed him in such a barbarous way; they have earned his wrath for they have established a blasphemous cult in lieu of a holy commemoration [of his].  This was not revealed to him in a dream, said the King nor did he arrived at this conclusion from analyzing any occurrence that may have happened, but rather he only had this strong conviction/feeling that this is what had to happen.”

But His Warriors Are More Pragmatic

“Such prophesy generated more doubt than belief in it, and because the island on which Arkona stood that was called Wittow was separated from Rugia by only a thin strait that was only so wide as a small river and it was feared that the Arkonians could get reinforcements by this path, people were sent there so as to guard the ford and prevent the enemy from crossing.  With the rest of the army he [the King] besieged the city paying careful attention to pace the catapults close to the walls.  Absalon was tasked with dividing the people and telling them where they should set up camp and in order to do this he measured the country between both shores exactly.”

And the Arkonians Are More Impressed with Their Banner

“In the meantime the Arkonians filled the gate with a great quantity of earth so as to make it harder for the enemy to attack it and they blocked access to it with a wall made of turf and this filled them with such confidence that they neglected to post warriors in the tower over the gate but only hanged there several banners and pennants.  One of their insignia that stood by reason of its color and of its size was called Stanica and the Rugians venerated this banner with such great reverence as almost all of their Gods taken together, for when it was carried in front of them they believed that they had sufficient might so as to challenge both gods and men and that there was not a thing they could not [lawfully?] do then [with the banner at their front] if they so should choose to such as plunder towns, destroy altars, commit dishonorable acts and to turn houses on Rugia into ruins.  They were so tremendously supersticious when it came to this rag that they ascribed to it more authority and power than to a kingly [banner] and they venerated it as a divine standard, and even those who had been harmed [by the bearers of it] gave the banner great reverence and honor, irrespective of hoe much harm it brought them.”

[BTW Note that the Stanica banner is also mentioned by Thietmar in his description of the temple at Radogost/Redegost]

The Soldiers Prepare While the Youth Cannot Bear to Be Contained

“In the meantime the army began all kinds of works demanded by a siege; some were building sheds for the horses, others raised tents and undertook different necessary things.  While the King, by reason of the great heat that was present during the day, took quiet refuge in his tent, Danish boys, who in their excitement dared to approach the fortified wall, began to sling stones at the fortifications.”

“The Arkonians seemed rather amused by these ideas and refrained from using weapons against such play so that they preferred to look at the boys rather than to chase them away.”

“There also appeared there young men who began to compete with the boys in provoking the inhabitants in the same way [i.e., by slinging stones].  And these [the inhabitants] became bored with idly watching and forced to do so grabbed their weapons.  More of the youth now dropped their work and ran so as to relieve their companions but the knights viewed all this as children’s play.”

Playing with Fire or Things Get out of Hand

“Thus, something that in the beginning had no importance and that would not otherwise deserve mention, quickly escalated into a violent fight which could not be any longer ignored and child’s play grew into a serious battle amongst men.  The earth that filled up the gate collapsed in the meantime somewhat and there a hole or a fissure was formed therein such that there became a large opening between the tower and the turf wall.  This was noticed by an unusually brave young man, of whom truthly not much more is known, and he noticed that a good occasion arose to bring about what had been planned all along; he asked his companions that they should help him climb up and should they do that, so would the city be immediately taken and  victory achieved.  When they asked him how they could be helpful to him, he said that they should stick their spears in-between the turf patches so that he could climb up on them as if on a ladder.  When he so made his way upwards and saw that inside this hole he could be sure that the enemies could not cause him harm, then he demanded some straw that he could set on fire.”

“When they asked him whether he had something to start the fire with, he answered that he did have fire steel and flint and told them that they should help him get down once the fire starts up.  When they looked for something to start the fire with, that which they looked for just happened into their hands.  There came there someone with a wagon full of straw that was meant to be used for something entirely different.  They took this from him and tossed bundles of straw to each other and passed them on spears up to this young man and soon the entire hole was filled with straw and all this happened without any danger for the tower was entirely abandoned.  The inhabitants, namely, had no idea what was happening there and the enormous size of the tower also served to deceive them and the wide piles of earth on each side served to provide cover for the Danes.  When the fire started and the tower stood in flames, the one who had set the fire and so took the first step towards giving his companions victory, climbed, with their aid, down.”

Oh, Crap

“When the inhabitants noticed smoke they were so shocked by this unexpected danger that they did not know whether they should rush to put out the fire or to attach the enemy and when they finally calmed down then with all their strength they went to fight the fire and began to try to put it out without paying attention to the enemy, whereas the Danes tried to impede their firefighting efforts and they tried to keep the fire going with the same determination as the others were fighting it. ”

“When the Arkonians finally ran out of water, they poured milk onto the flames, but the more they poured, the more did the flames erupt and so the result of all this was that the fire was rapidly spreading.”

Absalon Takes Charge

“All these screams and yells roused the King to come out of the camp and see what was happening there and when he saw how things stood he was confused and could not judge rightly whether this fire would be of importance/helpful to taking the city and therefore he asked Absalon, what they should be doing.  He [Absalon] asked the King not to get involved in child play, and not to jump into something prematurely, before the whole matter has been examined, and asked strongly for permission for him to go and investigate closer to see if the fire could help him [the King] take the town.”

“He [Absalon] then left without delay to investigate the situation and approached the gate only wearing a helm and carrying a shield, and he called on the young men who were trying to storm the gate for them to spread the fire.  Those now fueled the fire from all sides so that the columns and supports became engulfed in flames and the floor of the tower burned down and flame rose to the top and turned all the banners of [their] God and other insignia into ash.”

The King Casually Enjoys the Slaughter From a Distance

“When Absalon reported all this to the King, he [the King] ordered, upon Absalon’s urging, to surround the city and [then] the King] sat down on a chair to outside the camp to watch the fighting.”

“A certain brave young Danish man was hellbent on reaching the earthwork first ahead of the others and when he was mortally wounded he made it seem as if he had jumped down [from storming the ramparts?] of his own volition rather than being tossed down [by the enemy] so that it is difficult to say whether he earned greater glory fighting or dying.  The Pomeranians who had the privilege to fight in front of the King also showed uncommon bravery attacking the town under the leadership [of their dukes] Kazimir and Boguslav and King looked at them with admiration and satisfaction seeing them fight so wonderfully.”

“When the Rugians were thus twice placed in danger many fell to the fire whereas others fell to the spear and no one could tell whether they should be more afraid of the fire or of the enemy, but some forsook their own welfare and defended the town with such firmness and relentlessness that they did not succumb until the burning ramparts lay in ruins and those who fell on the city’s walls were consumed by the same flames as if on a common pyre for they harbored such great love for the walls of their native city that they much preferred to fail together with them than to live through their collapse.”

The Negotiations

“When all hope had left the inhabitants of the city and all that was before their eyes was death and destruction, one of them that was [fighting] at the breastwork, yelled loudly at Absalon and demanded to speak with him.  Absalon asked to go to the quietest quarter of the city, away from all the noise and spilled blood and there he asked the man what was it that he wanted.  He then called upon Absalon, adding great gesticulation to his words, for a halt to the Danes’ attack such that he inhabitants could [properly] surrender [i.e., presumably until the fire was put out].  To which Absalon answered that there could be no talk of the stopping of the attack unless they [the Arkona denizens] should first stop putting out the fire.  The Slavs agreed to this condition and thereafter Absalon immediately brought the other man’s plea to the King.”

“The King ordered all his commanders recalled from the field so as to take counsel with them in this matter; and Absalon said then that they should do what the Slavs asked for for the longer the whole thing lasted, the less likely it was that the inhabitants could put out the fire and if they won’t be able to do that then the fire will defeat them even if the Danes were not involved in that; so that even if they  did nothing, by letting the fire spread destruction they will have achieved that which they could not have achieved by their own strength.  Despite the fact that they refrained from the battle for some time, one could not call them idle for without endangering themselves, they let other forces fight on their side.”

[yes, we know this passage does not entirely make sense]

The Church Partakes of the Terms  

“This advice found general approval and the King made peace with the Arkonians on the condition that the statue should be handed over together with all of the temple’s treasury and that all the captured Christians should be set free without ransom and that the Christian rite should be adopted just as it was practiced in Denmark.  All the land that had been given to the God/idol [i.e., all of the temple’s lands] were to henceforth benefit the Christian Church [instead].  And should conditions demand it, the populace were to follow the Danes when called upon and could not refuse this military service when the King should order it so.  Furthermore, they were supposed to pay an annual tribute in the amount of forty silver coins for each pair of oxen and to deliver this many hostages to ensure that they should meet these conditions.”

The Plebes Don’t Get It

“When the warriors who were eager for blood and booty heard of this there was great commotion and bitterness among them and they began loudly complaining that their reward for victory was taken from them now when they were so close to getting it such that they received nothing for their great effort other than wounds and scars and also complaining about the fact that their right to vengeance was not given them, which [right] they thought was due them, for all the harms caused them by the enemy which enemy they now had almost defeated; now, they said, one ought to think about their welfare for they could now with harry an effort [finally] take retribution against [the Arkonians] for all of their [the Arkonians’]  raids and all the tragedies which the others [Arkonians] caused in Denmark.  They threatened to leave the King for he refused them permission to take the city and preferred a paltry sum of cash in lieu of a great victory.”

The King Makes a Strategic Withdrawal From His Own Camp While Absalon Talks 

(And Talks)

“The King who got angry at such talk, left the camp with his commanders so as to be away from all this whining and yammering and he asked them [the commanders] if they thought that they ought to accept the surrender of the city or to give it as a reward to the troops.  When these called upon Absalon that he should sayeth what he thinks, he observed that one could take the fortress though not without a lengthy siege.  For he [Absalon] knew well, and so said, that the people will take his words unkindly but that he would rather cause them displeasure by giving wise and useful advice than to endanger their welfare by foolishly agreeing with them/meeting their expectations [as to his advice].  Even were the fire kindled rather by God’s miracle than by a man’s hand [here he seems to be denying that the young Dane set the fortifications on fire but rather attributing this to a fortuitous divine judgment], should turn the tallest portion of the walls into ash which top part was made of wood and turf, so the lowest part of the wall, which was of stouter construction, will remain and that part was so tall that it would not have been easy to get at the enemy.  One needed to consider too that the inhabitants of the town had fixed almost all the places that had earlier been consumed by fir, by filling the missing pieces with clay and that the flames not only brought harm to them but also served as cover for their fury hindered the Danes in their assault inasmuch as it hindered these others in their defense.  And further he observed that should mercy not be given to the Arkonians then as a result the other towns of the Rugians – by hard necessity driven to bravery – will resist them the stronger the greater should be their desperation; if, on the other hand, they should learn that peace has been agreed to with Arkona it will be easier for [the other Rugia cities] to follow that example and they will think about survival and when one is able to have the better [outcome] of taking many cities with one battle rather than pigheadedly remaining at the siege of one, one ought not to reject the surrender proposal.  Though [he said] should a majority have a different opinion then, in any event, the hostages should be sent back unharmed so that no one could say that they were maltreated and that the Danes, contrary to their own customs, deceitfully broke their own promises.”

Absalon’s Boss Weighs In 

“With this opinion agreed to Archbishop Eskil [of Lund] for he said that the commoners should listen to their lords not the lords to the commoners and that it would not do for the high-born to take direction from the low[-born].  And, further, that one could not achieve a more desired outcome/victory than the forcing of a pagan people not only to pay tribute but also to accept Christianity.  He explained to them too that it would be better to help the Arkonians against other enemies [e.g., Saxons] than, in obstinacy, deprive them of their lives, for having your enemies bend their knees to you is better than killing them for mercy is better than cruelty.  And further that it is better to conquer many towns with one battle than to prefer the storming of one rather than the taking of all.”

“In so setting out the matter he convinced the commanders of the rightfulness of his and Absalon’s opinion and the King, thanks to them [Absalon, Eskil and, maybe, the turned commanders], grew stronger in his intention to ignore the discontentment of his warriors.  Absalon now ordered them to go and get something decent to eat while he himself began the preparations for the accepting of the hostages of whom a part was children and a part parents for they [the parents] received the right to be held hostage in the place of the children until the next day.”

A Late Night Visitor From Charenza 

“When he [Absalon] lay down and slept at the beginning of the following night, there appeared a certain Slav who, with loud cries called on Gotschalk (whom Absalon used as a translator among the Slavs), and asked to speak with him.  Gotschalk woke up and cried back to him asking what he wanted, upon which that one demanded to talk to Absalon and when he received permission  to approach, the man came up to Absalon (who had come out of his tent) and through the interpreter insisted on getting permission to [leave and] deliver news to the people of Charenza about how the Arkonians were faring and to call upon them [the inhabitants of Charenza] to accept the same terms so as to prevent their destruction and so that they should not forgo mercy for themselves and for the city; and he said that he would return with their answer the next day.”

“And he said too that his name was Granze and his father was Littog and that he had a house in Charenza and was not at all a citizen of Arkona and that he was a stranger there and did not come of his own will but rather with Charenzan reinforcements [for Arkona].  So that he [Absalon] should not think this all a lie, he showed him [Absalon] his wound that he had on his shoulder and that he could not help his fellow citizens [of Charenza] for he could not use it [his shoulder].  Absalon judged that so greatly wounded a man could not offer much help to their enemies and that it did not matter much whether he should cancel them to fight on or to surrender and he sent his request to the King to be decided and ordered that Valdemar should be awakened and told him of the matter.  The King decreed that he [Absalon] should do whatever he thought was right and he [Absalon] answered the Slav that the King agreed to his request save only about the three days of armistice that he [Granze] demanded, for he was careful not to give [their] enemies too much time in which to fortify their town; but so as not to entirely deprive them of time [to deliberate], he gave him the entire subsequent day and told him that should he not appear at the designated time on the coast of the sea nearest the town [of Charenza] together with all the Rugian commanders, so will all subsequent negotiations [be deemed] broken.”

Back to the Temple at Hand or 

the Toppling of the Svantevit Idol

“The next day the King ordered Esbern and Sine to topple the God statue and when this proved impossible without swords and axes, they ripped open the curtains which hung in the temple, and then clearly commanded the people who were to do this [cut down the statue] to be careful so that when that heavy statue fell it did not crush anyone with its weight so that people could not say that this was a punishment inflicted upon them by an angry God.  At the same time there gathered around the temple a great throng of the town’s inhabitants hoping that Svantovit, in His anger and Godly might should punish those that cause such violence upon Him.  When the statue was cut in twain by the feet, it toppled against the nearest wall.  At that Sune, in order to pull it out [of the temple], commanded his people to destroy the wall but reminded them that in their eagerness to destroy it, they should not forget the warning and that they should not carelessly put themselves in danger of being crushed by the falling statue/idol.  The idol fell to the ground with great noise.  The temple was entirely covered by purple [curtains] but they were so rotten from having been hung for so long that they did not withstand the contact [of the falling idol and walls].  There were hung there too rare horns of  wild animals which also deserved notice for their unique nature but also for the veneration given them.  There was seen at the time some sort of a monster in the form of a black animal who ran out of there but just as quickly it disappeared.  The inhabitants were now ordered to tie a rope around the idol of the God and to pull It outside of town but they lacked the courage to do this by reason of their old superstition [i.e., their faith] and ordered prisoners and visitors who had come to their town to earn some money, to do it in their stead for they thought to direct the wrath of [their] God onto the heads of such wretched people since they believed that the God that they so greatly worshipped would not hesitate to punish severely those who so humiliated Him.  While all this was happening one could hear the inhabitants chatter amongst themselves about with some of them lamenting about the suffering that was being inflicted upon their God while others laughed at Him and there could be no doubt that this wise portion of the populace felt deeply embarrassed by their gullibility in having for so many years been part of such a foolish cult.”

“The rest of the day was spent accepting hostages who had not been delivered the prior day.  The commanders’ learned men were sent too to the city so as to teach the ignorant people the Christian faith and to convert it from its paganism to the true faith.  When the evening approached all the cooks began to chop at the idol with their axes and they cut it into such little pieces as could be used as firewood.  I believe the Rugians must have [then] felt ashamed of their ancient cult when they saw the God of their fathers and grandfathers that they were accustomed to venerate so, be humiliated by being tossed into the fire then used to cook a meal for their enemies.  Thereafter, the Danes also burned down the temple and built in its place a church from the wood that had been [earlier] used to build siege engines so turning the implements of war into a house of peace and using that which was supposed to have destroyed the bodies of their enemies [instead] to save their souls. Further, on this day too the Rugians had to give up the treasure that had [earlier] been offered and set aside for Svantevit.

Onwards to Charenza

When they were satisfied with their deeds, they decided that Absalon should check the promises of Granza of Charenza and so, after telling the King to follow him at dawn, he [Absalon] sailed at night with thirty ships [to Charenza].  The news of the fall of Arkona created such fear amongst the inhabitants of Charenza that they showed up early at the location designated by Absalon. When they were quite far from land still, Granza who was on horseback yelled out asking who was commanding the fleet and when he found out it was Absalon he answered that his name was Granza and that their leader Teslav, his brother Jaromar and all the most honorable Rugian nobles were present there.”

“Absalon received them in good faith on his ship and when they had accepted all the same conditions of surrender as had the Arkonians then Absalon kept them [on his ship] until the King arrived.  This one agreed regarding all the points of the armistice and, thereupon, Absalon picked from among all the Rugian nobles only Jaromar and together with him as well as with bishop Svend from Aarhus he set out towards Charenza; as for the others, he [Absalon?] ordered his brother, Esbern to receive them as guests  and not let them leave before he came back, all this so as to guarantee a safe trip to the city [by Absalon].  He took only thirty of his companions and the majority of them he sent back upon the request of the inhabitants of Charenza so that they would not cause fights in the city; thus did he [Absalon] arrive there having greater trust [for the inhabitants] that armed force.”

Charenza

“Charenza is surrounded from all sides by marshes and bogs, and is accessible only by a single road over a ford that is also swamp like and difficult to cross, and if one carelessly goes down one of the sides, he inevitably drowns in it.  When a man has already crossed this bog, he would enter onto a path that led between the swamp and the wall to the gate.”

[note to reader: The town of Charenza was also known as Karenz/Karentia/Gharense; a connection to the Slovene duchy of Karintia/Carinthia/Carantania seems obvious; the nature of that connection, less so]

The Arrival of the Danes – All Fun & Games

“Now, so as to give their surrender a solemn character, the inhabitants of Charenza numbering six thousand came out armed through the gate and lined up with spear tips planted in the ground along both sides of the road over which the Danes were to arrive.  Bishop Svend wondered at this sight and asked what it should mean that the enemy came out so, to which Absalon answered that it was no cause for concern for it was all to show their surrender, for if their desire were to cause harm, they could have done that more easily inside the city.  What enormous bravery must have been bestowed upon this man for him to have, without further thought, trusted his life to an armed enemy!  The warriors filled with courage by his example, without blinking an eye or a nervous movement, followed him with the same decisiveness as he too had displayed for by Absalon’s side their feeling of safety was stronger than any fears in the face of the numbers of the enemy [assembled].  When the Danes went passed the marshes and emerged onto the road that led alongside the walls, the Rugians who everywhere stood in cohorts, fell on their faces, as if to honor higher beings, and, after they stood up again they followed them in a friendly way so that the entrance of Absalon was greeted with great pleasure by the inhabitants who wanted to come meet him [on the road].  He was received by them not as some sort of a special emissary but rather as a one who was bringing peace to the entire land.”

A City of Temples

“The city itself was famous by reason of three greatly venerated temples which were quipped with great artworks/splendour and riches.  This great respect which was given to their Gods resulted in them becoming an object of worship no lesser than the common God at Arkona.  During the time of peace the city would be rather empty but now it was filled to the brim with people who built themselves houses that had three stories, so that the lowest carried the middle story and the top one.  [presumably, these were refugees from other parts of Rugia fleeing the Danes] They stood so close to one another that there was no space there on the ground on which there could fall a a stone were the city to have been assaulted by catapults.  And such was the stench that rose from the houses by reason of the filth of the town that it tortured the bodies just as much as fear tortured the souls so that it became clear to the Danes that the inhabitants could not have endured a siege.  So that, knowing their unhappy lot they no longer wondered that the townspeople had so quickly surrendered.”

Rugievit & the Swallows

“The biggest of the temples had its holiest place/shrine in its middle and that place, just as the temple itself, had curtains in place of walls and the ceiling was supported only by columns..  Absolon’s men needed, therefore, only to tear down the curtain around the foyer before taking on those covering the shrine.  When they were torn down, there appeared statue made of oak embodying the God that was called Rugievit and who, in all respects, made for a disgusting and laughable sight.  Thus, swallows built nests under his face and cast a great deal of their excrement down its bosom.  Yes, indeed, this God had undoubtedly earned it that his statue should be so repulsively befouled by the birds.”

[note to reader: the Slavic word for swallow is jaskolka/jaskolec and to kill it was considered bad luck, for example, in Pomerania, as late as the early 20th century.  It is noteworthy too that jas-kolka features the prefix jas i.e., yas]

“He had seven human faces gathered under a common head, the sculptor having given him seven different swords which hung in their sheaths on one belt and the eight one he held in his outstretched right hand; he was so firmly attached with an iron rivet that it was impossible to pull it out without chopping off the arm, which is also what happened.  He [the statue] was of unnatural girth and so tall that Absalon, standing on his toes, could barely touch his chin [or beard] with the little axe that he used to hold in his hand. According to their [Rugians’] belief, this God had the strength as if of Mars, and they maintained that he governed war.  And there was nothing in this statue that one could look at with pleasure for he was unshapely and ugly.”

“The Danes began then, to the horror of the entire city, to chop their axes with all their might at his legs and when they were cut through, the whole body fell on the ground with a great crash.  When the inhabitants saw this, they spurned the powerlessness of their God and their veneration they exchanged for contempt.”

Onto Porevit & Porenut

“Those  warriors who were not satisfied to merely cast him [Rugievit] down took on the statue of Porevit, whose worship took place in the next temple, with an even greater enthusiasm.  This one had five heads but no weapons.  When he had been cut to pieces, they then went to the temple of Porenut.  This God had four faces and one additional one that was placed on his breast.  He held it [that face] by the forehead with his left hand, while with the right he held up its [the face’s] chin.  This one too fell under the axe blows  of the servants of Absalon.”

Righteous Fury & Local Concerns

“Absalon now ordered the inhabitants to burn down these statues but they begged him to free them from this task and that he should have mercy for the overcrowded city and did not put them at risk of dying in a fire just as he had spared them from death by the sword for if the fire were to spread and if any house were to catch on fire then, without a doubt, the whole city would turn to ashes for the houses were standing so close to one another.  So he ordered them to pull it out of the city but they [the townsfolk] were not eager and they justified their lack of enthusiasm by superstition for they feared that the God will want to punish them with infirmity of those limbs that they would have used to carry out such an order.  Absalon explained to them that the power of [this] God was in fact not great if he could not have helped himself and they became hopeful that they could avoid punishment and they rushed to fulfill his order.”

“Indeed, it was no wonder that they were afraid of the might of these Gods for they only had to think of how often they were punished for their licentiousness/debauchery.  For when men of the town had been with women, it chanced that, as with dogs, that they could not again separate and one found them sometimes hung on a pole [this may be a reference to not being withdraw from a (sinful) coitus] to the amusement of others.  By reason of this repulsive sign, that in reality is of the satan’s making, did they venerate these pathetic statues and believed that it was a sign of their might.”

Bishop Svend Takes it Up a Notch

“So as to even better demonstrate to them how worthy of contempt were these statues, Bishop Svend stood on one of them when the inhabitants were pulling it out of the city whereby he not only added to the weight that they had to pull but also increased the disgrace.  Not only did he give these people more to pull but also he increased their shame being a foreign priest and trampling on the Gods of their ancestors.”

While Absalon is Doing Christ’s Work

“While Svend took on this task, Absalon sanctified three cemeteries in nearby fields and came back only in the evening to Charenza.  When the idols/statues had been burned down, he went together with Jaromir and reached the fleet late at night where he urged [them] to supper together.  Absalon had not slept three nights in a row and all this wakefulness was showing in his eyes such that he saw virtually nothing.”

Baptisms, Pomeranian Downers and Cold-Hard Cash

“On the morrow of the next day, there gathered learned men and chaplains of all the commanders in their holy robes and baptized the people of the country and likewise in many places they erected churches and so the houses of the lord were created in place of these abandoned ruins.  On the same day too the remaining hostages were accepted.”

“At the same time the Pomeranian dukes demanded to be released home and, after they had been friends of the King, they left in anger for they counted on Teslav being dethroned and that they should themselves rule Rugia in recognition of their war service.  Thereafter, this became the source of a long running war between them and the Danes.”

“In the evening, the Danes raised anchor and they sailed to that island which was closest to land.  Here the Rugians delivered to the King seven chests of the same great size full of money which [previously] were offerings to their Gods.  When this was done, the King ordered it be announced that now people could return home.”

Absalon’s Thoughts Are Always with the People of Rugia 

“When Absalon returned to Denmark, he sent new priests to Rugia and those who he had left there, he ordered to be recalled.  These new ones took with them not only priestly garb but also foodstuffs so that they should not burden those whom they were to teach Christianity by ordering them to provide for them [the priests].  And miracles were not lacking there to confirm their teachings, for many of the Rugians that were feeble and ailing were brought back to health by their fervent prayers which, I believe, God caused more to convince the people than by reason of any holiness of the priests.  But those that rejected Christianity were punished with great feebleness so that it was clear that God rewarded those who accepted his word and punished those that made light of it.”

On Ordeals of Iron

“There happened there too a famous miracle that has never till then been heard of.  A certain woman unjustly accused by her husband of adultery was a required to undertake a trial of iron and then the iron that he was supposed to have carried, suddenly hovered on it own in the air as if it tried to avoid touching her innocent arm and it followed her in the distance wherever she went and when she came close to the altar where she was supposed to have dropped in [in the trial of iron], it fell on its own to the ground to the reverent wonderment of all those present.  This occurrence not only brought honor back to the accused woman but also those who saw this happen were fortified in their faith and truly one cannot say that this woman – who must have had an unusually great faith in the purity of her spirit and body – acted recklessly by submitting to this trial so as to establish her innocence.”

Old Men Do Not Go To War

“When, even after Rugia had been conquered, all the waters of the [Danish] Kingdom continued to be harassed by pirates, the Danes wisely decided that they should count the entire fleet and that every fourth boat should patrol the waters for so long as the season allowed it and those that did this all the time saved work for all the others who would have had to instead perform it.  The Danes, namely, were able to achieve now with fewer people [the patrollers] who were constantly at sea, the same as previously in their great but sporadic expeditions.  It was decided that for this task there should be chosen young men, without wives yet, so that their longing for their wives did not weaken their war bravery and zeal.  They received Absalon and Christoffer as  commanders and they were not satisfied merely to patrol the internal waters but also visited the coasts of Rugia and the various bays of the land of the Liutizi.”

Shaettner Rickover & Borg Corporation – Copyright ©2015, All Rights Reserved

April 22, 2015

On the Polabian Gods Part Vg – Happy Endings

Published Post author

We come at last to our journey’s (almost) end with Saxo’s description of the bittersweet partings of the best of friends:

Baptisms, Pomeranian Downers and Cold-Hard Cash

“On the morrow of the next day, there gathered learned men and chaplains of all the commanders in their holy robes and baptized the people of the country and likewise in many places they erected churches and so the houses of the lord were created in place of these abandoned ruins.  On the same day too the remaining hostages were accepted.”

“At the same time the Pomeranian dukes demanded to be released home and, after they had been friends of the King, they left in anger for they counted on Tetzlav being dethroned and that they should themselves rule Rugia in recognition of their war service.  Thereafter, this became the source of a long running war between them and the Danes.”

“In the evening, the Danes raised anchor and they sailed to that island which was closest to land.  Here the Rugians delivered to the King seven chests of the same great size full of money which [previously] were offerings to their Gods.  When this was done, the King ordered it be announced that now people could return home.”

rugians

Rugian Nobles are sad to see Absalon return to Denmark

Absalon’s Thoughts Are Always with the People of Rugia 

“When Absalon returned to Denmark, he sent new priests to Rugia and those who he had left there, he ordered to be recalled.  These new ones took with them not only priestly garb but also foodstuffs so that they should not burden those whom they were to teach Christianity by ordering them to provide for them [the priests].  And miracles were not lacking there to confirm their teachings, for many of the Rugians that were feeble and ailing were brought back to health by their fervent prayers which, I believe, God caused more to convince the people than by reason of any holiness of the priests.  But those that rejected Christianity were punished with great feebleness so that it was clear that God rewarded those who accepted his word and punished those that made light of it.”

On Ordeals of Iron

“There happened there too a famous miracle that has never till then been heard of.  A certain woman unjustly accused by her husband of adultery was a required to undertake a trial of iron and then the iron that he was supposed to have carried, suddenly hovered on it own in the air as if it tried to avoid touching her innocent arm and it followed her in the distance wherever she went and when she came close to the altar where she was supposed to have dropped in [in the trial of iron], it fell on its own to the ground to the reverent wonderment of all those present.  This occurrence not only brought honor back to the accused woman but also those who saw this happen were fortified in their faith and truly one cannot say that this woman – who must have had an unusually great faith in the purity of her spirit and body – acted recklessly by submitting to this trial so as to establish her innocence.”

Old Men Do Not Go To War

“When, even after Rugia had been conquered, all the waters of the [Danish] Kingdom continued to be harassed by pirates, the Danes wisely decided that they should count the entire fleet and that every fourth boat should patrol the waters for so long as the season allowed it and those that did this all the time saved work for all the others who would have had to instead perform it.  The Danes, namely, were able to achieve now with fewer people [the patrollers] who were constantly at sea, the same as previously in their great but sporadic expeditions.  It was decided that for this task there should be chosen young men, without wives yet, so that their longing for their wives did not weaken their war bravery and zeal.  They received Absalon and Christoffer as  commanders and they were not satisfied merely to patrol the internal waters but also visited the coasts of Rugia and the various bays of the land of the Liutizi.”

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April 21, 2015

Polabian Gods Part Vf – The Taking of Charenza

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Here is Saxo with some more great news:

Charenza

“Charenza is surrounded from all sides by marshes and bogs, and is accessible only by a single road over a ford that is also swamp like and difficult to cross, and if one carelessly goes down one of the sides, he inevitably drowns in it.  When a man has already crossed this bog, he would enter onto a path that led between the swamp and the wall to the gate.”

[note to reader: The town of Charenza was also known as Karenz/Karentia/Gharense; a connection to the Slovene duchy of Karintia/Carinthia/Carantania seems obvious; the nature of that connection, less so]

The Arrival of the Danes – All Fun & Games

“Now, so as to give their surrender a solemn character, the inhabitants of Charenza numbering six thousand came out armed through the gate and lined up with spear tips planted in the ground along both sides of the road over which the Danes were to arrive.  Bishop Svend wondered at this sight and asked what it should mean that the enemy came out so, to which Absalon answered that it was no cause for concern for it was all to show their surrender, for if their desire were to cause harm, they could have done that more easily inside the city.  What enormous bravery must have been bestowed upon this man for him to have, without further thought, trusted his life to an armed enemy!  The warriors filled with courage by his example, without blinking an eye or a nervous movement, followed him with the same decisiveness as he too had displayed for by Absalon’s side their feeling of safety was stronger than any fears in the face of the numbers of the enemy [assembled].  When the Danes went passed the marshes and emerged onto the road that led alongside the walls, the Rugians who everywhere stood in cohorts, fell on their faces, as if to honor higher beings, and, after they stood up again they followed them in a friendly way so that the entrance of Absalon was greeted with great pleasure by the inhabitants who wanted to come meet him [on the road].  He was received by them not as some sort of a special emissary but rather as a one who was bringing peace to the entire land.”

A City of Temples

“The city itself was famous by reason of three greatly venerated temples which were quipped with great artworks/splendour and riches.  This great respect which was given to their Gods resulted in them becoming an object of worship no lesser than the common God at Arkona.  During the time of peace the city would be rather empty but now it was filled to the brim with people who built themselves houses that had three stories, so that the lowest carried the middle story and the top one.  [presumably, these were refugees from other parts of Rugia fleeing the Danes] They stood so close to one another that there was no space there on the ground on which there could fall a a stone were the city to have been assaulted by catapults.  And such was the stench that rose from the houses by reason of the filth of the town that it tortured the bodies just as much as fear tortured the souls so that it became clear to the Danes that the inhabitants could not have endured a siege.  So that, knowing their unhappy lot they no longer wondered that the townspeople had so quickly surrendered.”

charenzakaaarentia

Rugievit & the Swallows

“The biggest of the temples had its holiest place/shrine in its middle and that place, just as the temple itself, had curtains in place of walls and the ceiling was supported only by columns..  Absolon’s men needed, therefore, only to tear down the curtain around the foyer before taking on those covering the shrine.  When they were torn down, there appeared statue made of oak embodying the God that was called Rugievit and who, in all respects, made for a disgusting and laughable sight.  Thus, swallows built nests under his face and cast a great deal of their excrement down its bosom.  Yes, indeed, this God had undoubtedly earned it that his statue should be so repulsively befouled by the birds.”

[note to reader: the Slavic word for swallow is jaskolka/jaskolec and to kill it was considered bad luck, for example, in Pomerania, as late as the early 20th century.  It is noteworthy too that jas-kolka features the prefix jas i.e., yas]

“He had seven human faces gathered under a common head, the sculptor having given him seven different swords which hung in their sheaths on one belt and the eight one he held in his outstretched right hand; he was so firmly attached with an iron rivet that it was impossible to pull it out without chopping off the arm, which is also what happened.  He [the statue] was of unnatural girth and so tall that Absalon, standing on his toes, could barely touch his chin [or beard] with the little axe that he used to hold in his hand. According to their [Rugians’] belief, this God had the strength as if of Mars, and they maintained that he governed war.  And there was nothing in this statue that one could look at with pleasure for he was unshapely and ugly.”

“The Danes began then, to the horror of the entire city, to chop their axes with all their might at his legs and when they were cut through, the whole body fell on the ground with a great crash.  When the inhabitants saw this, they spurned the powerlessness of their God and their veneration they exchanged for contempt.”

Onto Porevit & Porenut

“Those  warriors who were not satisfied to merely cast him [Rugievit] down took on the statue of Porevit, whose worship took place in the next temple, with an even greater enthusiasm.  This one had five heads but no weapons.  When he had been cut to pieces, they then went to the temple of Porenut.  This God had four faces and one additional one that was placed on his breast.  He held it [that face] by the forehead with his left hand, while with the right he held up its [the face’s] chin.  This one too fell under the axe blows  of the servants of Absalon.”

Righteous Fury & Local Concerns

“Absalon now ordered the inhabitants to burn down these statues but they begged him to free them from this task and that he should have mercy for the overcrowded city and did not put them at risk of dying in a fire just as he had spared them from death by the sword for if the fire were to spread and if any house were to catch on fire then, without a doubt, the whole city would turn to ashes for the houses were standing so close to one another.  So he ordered them to pull it out of the city but they [the townsfolk] were not eager and they justified their lack of enthusiasm by superstition for they feared that the God will want to punish them with infirmity of those limbs that they would have used to carry out such an order.  Absalon explained to them that the power of [this] God was in fact not great if he could not have helped himself and they became hopeful that they could avoid punishment and they rushed to fulfill his order.”

“Indeed, it was no wonder that they were afraid of the might of these Gods for they only had to think of how often they were punished for their licentiousness/debauchery.  For when men of the town had been with women, it chanced that, as with dogs, that they could not again separate and one found them sometimes hung on a pole [this may be a reference to not being withdraw from a (sinful) coitus] to the amusement of others.  By reason of this repulsive sign, that in reality is of the satan’s making, did they venerate these pathetic statues and believed that it was a sign of their might.”

Bishop Svend Takes it Up a Notch

“So as to even better demonstrate to them how worthy of contempt were these statues, Bishop Svend stood on one of them when the inhabitants were pulling it out of the city whereby he not only added to the weight that they had to pull but also increased the disgrace.  Not only did he give these people more to pull but also he increased their shame being a foreign priest and trampling on the Gods of their ancestors.”

While Absalon is Doing Christ’s Work

“While Svend took on this task, Absalon sanctified three cemeteries in nearby fields and came back only in the evening to Charenza.  When the idols/statues had been burned down, he went together with Jaromir and reached the fleet late at night where he urged [them] to supper together.  Absalon had not slept three nights in a row and all this wakefulness was showing in his eyes such that he saw virtually nothing.”

Shaettner Rickover & Borg Corporation – Copyright ©2015, All Rights Reserved

April 20, 2015

On the -ins and the -yns

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While we wait for something more interesting to post we thought it would be fun to have our interns perform a few hundred hours of mind-bogglingly boring work. It turns out it was fun and while the interns are now sleeping it off, we will demonstrate to you a map of Europe that they worked on day & night during the last week.

The map shows most (not all – blame the interns) towns and geographic names in Europe that contain the suffix -in.  We went by the spelling except where the name clearly was to be read as an -in, such as -yn or -een.  We did not include place names that had a clear personal name in them such as Augustine, Quentin, etc.

In the first version we did not include any -inos or -inas or -inis (-inos are very popular in Russia but there are plenty of -ins there too) .  Speaking of suffixes with an “n” and a vowel, we also did not include the -ens which are more often than not Germanic.

We thought this may be interesting because, at least in Central and East Europe the suffix -in is typically associated with Slavs (e.g., Berlin).

iniini

If you are wondering about all those dots in northern France by Calais, they may be of the Morini.  Morin is obviously also a name ending in -in and refers to people who dwell by the sea.  The name for sea, i.e., Latin mare is Indo-European but only in Celtic and Slavic is it expressed with an “o” – compare old Slavic morje or today’s morze or Welsh môr or Breton and Cornish mor with the Germanic mar, marsh or Latin mare.

BTW the Morini participated together with other coastal people and certain tribes from Britain, in the uprising of the Gallic Veneti (see Caesar’s Gallic War Book III, 9 & 10).

Here is another run with the -inos, -ynos, -inas and -ynas.

together

We note that this is entirely unscientific since it does not take into account the etymological background of the prefixes and for a whole host of other reasons.  Nevertheless, we thought it would be fun to torture the interns this way and, it turns out, it was.  Now let us all enjoy the fruits of their labours while they recover in preparation for more backbreaking work.

Shaettner Rickover & Borg Corporation – Copyright ©2015, All Rights Reserved

April 19, 2015

On the Moinu-Winidi & the Ratanz-Winidi & the Vindelici

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It is true that we have not posted all the early reference to Slavs as Wends/ Winids/Windische.  We’ve got to keep you coming back after all.  For the earlier version of this topic see here.  And now back to the Wends:

Part I

From the year 846 (a document from the time of Louis the German) we have the following information (regarding an earlier time around the year 793-794 or so):

Qualiter… domnus Karolus… episcopis praecepisset, ut in terra Sclavorum, qui sedent inter Moinum et Radantiam fluvios, qui vocantur Moinuwinidi et Ratanzwinidi [or Radanzwinidi] una cum comitibus, qui super eosdem sclavos constituit erant, procurrassent, ut inibi sicut in ceteris christianorum locis ecclesiae construerentur, quatenus ille populus noviter ad christianitatem conversus habere potuisset, ubi et baptismum perciperet et praedicationem audiret….

(Moinum/Moinu refers to the River Main.  Radantiam/Ratanz refers to Radęca or, as it is called these days, River Regnitz/Rednitz).

It tells of how “Charlemagne sent his bishops into the “terra Sclavorum”, i.e., the land of the Slavs who live between the Main and the Regnitz and who were, therefore, called the Main-Wends and the Regenz-Wends.”  It is part of an order by Charlemagne to the Würzburg Bishop Bernwelf (768 or769 – 800) to build fourteen missionary churches among these Slavs.

Wilhelm Obermüllerʼs Deutsch-Keltisches, geschichtlich-geographisches Wörterbuch explains their placement by asserting that they arrived there as conquerors after Samo’s victory over Dagobert in the year 630 but this seems an anticipatory argument as no source, including Fredegar’s Chronicle, says anything of the sort – the Chronicle merely notes that there were raids into Frankish lands following the Wendish victory at Wogastisburg – the suggestion of a permanent settlement seems to have been made up by Obermüller.

What’s more other sources such as the Annales Mettenses Priores seem to indicate vaguely Slavic names with -in endings such as:

  • Mohin (the name for the River Main!); and
  • Wirzin-burg (or Wirsin-burg)mohinmohim

We include here a map showing the presumed location of this land with the red line showing the River Main, the blue line the River Regnitz and the slightly darker blue line showing its tributary the River Rednitz.  The pins point to various “Wind” towns in the area: Burgwindheim, Bad Windsheim, Windsfeld, Windsbach and Windelsbach.  We let you find Pommersfelden (probably in someways tied to Pomerania but maybe not) by yourself.  Perhaps the area is just very windy?

moinwiniti

 Part II

So that is that – but now take a look at this map which we put together thinking of those other Vindi or rather Vinde-lici discussed by Strabo.

picturez

a l m o s t there

Vindelici were supposedly a Celtic tribe – the Celtic designation often seemingly being that dumping place where you put things that are clearly not Germanic but that – or so you think – cannot possibly be Slavic (their city was  Kambodunon a rather Celtic name though!).  Yet in his Vergilii Aeneidem commentary (Commentaries on Virgil’s Aeneid), we are told by Marcus Servius Honoratus that the Vindelici were Liburnians.  He says at paragraph 243:

illyricos penetrare sinus Antenor non Illyricum, non Liburniam, sed Venetiam tenuit.  ideo autem Vergilius dicit ‘Illyricos sinus’, quod inde venit quidam Henetus rex, qui Venetiam tenuit, a cuius nomine Henetiam dictam posteri Venetiam nominaverunt. tutus ideo tutus, quia Raeti Vindelici ipsi sunt Liburni, saevissimi admodum populi, contra quos missus est Drusus.  hi autem ab Amazonibus originem ducunt, ut etiam Horatius dicit “quibus mos unde deductus per omne tempus Amazonia securi dextras obarmet, quaerere distuli” . hoc ergo nunc ad augmentum pertinet, quod tutus est etiam inter saevos populos.

illiricosMaurus Servius Honoratus. In Vergilii carmina comentarii. Servii Grammatici qui feruntur in Vergilii carmina commentarii; recensuerunt Georgius Thilo et Hermannus Hagen. Georgius Thilo. Leipzig. B. G. Teubner. 1881.

A number of things are of interest here:

  • we’ve got another Vind tribe in its own area of Vindelicia (previously discussed);
  • the Vind tribe’s (or tribes’) area of settlement includes the town of Bregenz (shown in red above) on the shore (breg) of Lake Venetus (previously discussed);
  • all of those are remarkably close to the area of the Veneti (previously discussed);

Now what was not previously discussed (in detail) are the following facts:

  • all of those places/peoples are incredibly close to the seats of the Moinu-winidi and Ratanz-winidi;
  • the river that runs nearby the seats of the Vindelici towards the Danube is the Lech (shown in red above); and
  • the Liburnians are a people of unclear ethnicity who were later “absorbed” by the Croats.

liburnia

Specifically, Liburnia is in Croatia and it was here that the Croats were supposedly invited at the beginning of the 7th century as per Constantine Porphyrogenitus’ De Administrando Imperio.  More interesting, however, is that the Polish chronicler, Jan Dlugosz stated that the founder of the Poles – Lech – came from this area – specifically the mysterious Psary castle.  In fact, there is even an island here that is named Krk – somewhat like Cracow.  Krk is the former Roman Curicta but the city itself was Liburnian before being conquered by the Romans.  It also later fell to the Avars.  Interestingly, the allegedly Slavic R1a1 Y-dna was found at the highest concentrations in Croatia (except for Osijek) exactly at Krk.

Whether it matters that Cornelius Tacitus also wrote as follows:

“… some of the Suevi sacrifice to Isis [Yassa? Remember, in the statutes Cunradi it is written ysaya].  Whence the cause and origin of the foreign rite I have not ascertained, except that the symbol itself, in the shape of a Liburnian ship, indicates that the religion was brought from abroad.”

Is another question.

Part III

Finally, we ought to point something else out.  No one denies that the Germans (whoever they were back then) called their neighboring Slavs Wenden or Winden.  It has been suggested that this was a carryover from the Sarmatian Veneti whose name was “transferred” to the Slavs by the Germans.  Others have suggested that the Sarmatian Veneti were Slavs.  We have had a number of posts on this topic and we will not regurgitate that here.

However, now we have said “let us not forget the Vindelici” who usually are not identified with Slavs.  After all here you have a case of a “d” without anyone having to do any d>t and/or t>d transformations.  These people were Vinde and the Slavs were Windishe (the “v” and “w”, to state the obvious, are pronounced the same – there was no “w” in the time of the Vinde-lici).

And you got your -lici as in, maybe, lechy.

But there is something else.  If you look at the map below you will notice that the actual Vindelici are placed West of the River Lech (originally written by Latin writers as Liccus, i.e., Licc plus the Latin -us suffix).  That territory is now known as (Eastern) Swabia and on the connections (?) between Slavs, i.e., Suoveeane and the Suevi who are identified with the Schwaben of Swabia we’ve already spilt much ink on this website.

videlicia

In fact, these days the Bodesee whose Obersee portion was previously referred to as Lacus Venetus is referred to, on occasion, as the Suevian Sea.

So were the Vinde-lici the ancestors of Lechs/Lechites/Lachs, i.e., Poles?  Were they simply Winds called Lici? Was the fact that Mieszko is described by Widukind of Corvey as leader of the Licikaviki somehow relevant here?  Were the Windi-lici driven down the Lech river North by Tiberius after their defeat on Lake Constance.

(Speaking of which there is also this curious reference).

Others have suggested that the Veneti were the Eastern Slavs, the name being Finnish or Ugrian (the White (?) Ugrians having driven deep into what is today Belarus and Ukraine).  The same people claimed that the Suevi were the Western Slavs.

But here we now have a connection between these Western Slavs (who were referred to as Wenden but not Veneti, the former name being German, the latter not) and their self-given name of Lechites.

In other words, all agree that Wends were a type of Slavs in the 600s but the connection between the Vinde-lici as a type of Suevi at the turn of the millennium is seemingly ignored.  If you were willing to admit that connection there would, of course, be a second question to ask, as to whether Vinde-lici really are the future Wends and the Suevi, the future Suoveanne or Slavs (we say “future” in a historiographic sense; obviously these people may already have been referred to as Wends and may have referred to themselves as Slavs but writers of that time only pick up Vindelici and Suevi).

Finally, recall that Nestor mentioned not only that the Slavs came from the Danube area but that, specifically, they were Noricans.  Noricum is right next to Vindelicia (see above map).  Of course, everyone assumes that when he says the Vlachs attacked/harassed the Slavs he is referring to the 600s.  But what if he was referring to the war on the Vinde-lici and their allies 600 years earlier?  Those too would have been Vlachs as in Italians.

Curious – those Pripet Marshes just do not look so convincing anymore.

So are we on to something or are we just pulling a Däniken?

Shaettner Rickover & Borg Corporation – Copyright ©2015, All Rights Reserved

April 13, 2015

On the Gallic Veneti

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We return now to the Gallic Veneti whom we discussed earlier here.  Those indomitable Veneti that, in the end, were dominated, perhaps for lack of a magic potion possessed by the more fortunate Gauls (But were those Gauls? the zoom location suggests that they may have been Veneti!  Well, maybe not).  There are several sources on the Gallic Veneti.

villagee

The first is Ceasar in his Commentaries on the Gallic War.  In particular, his third commentary (or Book 3) contains, in part II, the  description of the Venetic War.  We present those chapters (7-16) here and include too chapter 17 which contains some of the aftermath and the figure of Viridovix.  Also, the fourth commentary (or Book 4 if you will) contains a minor reference to the Veneti as well in the context of the invasion of Britain.  Finally, there is a mention of the Veneti in Book 7.  The source translation is W. A. McDevitte’s (in W. S. Bohn, 1st Edition, New York. Harper & Brothers. 1869. Harper’s New Classical Library).

Thereafter, we move on to Pliny the Elder and description of Gallia Aquitanica in his Natural History and to Cassius Dio in his Rome.

cesaros

C o m m e n t a r i i   d e  b e l l o   G a l l i c o
By C. Julius Caesar

Book III

Chapter 7

These things being achieved, while Caesar had every reason to suppose that Gaul was reduced to a state of tranquillity, the Belgae being overcome, the Germans expelled, the Seduni among the Alps defeated, and when he had, therefore, in the beginning of winter, set out for Illyricum , as he wished to visit those nations, and acquire a knowledge of their countries, a sudden war sprang up in Gaul. The occasion of that war was this: P. Crassus, a young man, had taken up his winter quarters with the seventh legion among the Andes, who border upon the [Atlantic] ocean. He, as there was a scarcity of corn in those parts, sent out some officers of cavalry, and several military tribunes among the neighbouring states, for the purpose of procuring corn and provision; in which number T. Terrasidius was sent among the Esubii; M. Trebius Gallus among the Curiosolitae; Q. Velanius, T. Silius, amongst the Veneti.

(His rebus gestis cum omnibus de causis Caesar pacatam Galliam existimaret, superatis Belgis, expulsis Germanis, victis in Alpibus Sedunis, atque ita inita hieme in Illyricum profectus esset, quod eas quoque nationes adire et regiones cognoscere volebat, subitum bellum in Gallia coortum est. eius belli haec fuit causa: P. Crassus adulescens cum legione septima proximus mari in Andibus hiemarat. is quod in his locis inopia frumenti erat, praefectos tribunosque militum complures in finitimas civitates frumenti commeatusque petendi causa dimisit; (4) quo in numero est T. Terrasidius missus in Unellos Essuviosque, M. Trebius Gallus in Coriosolitas, Q. Velanius cum T. Sillio in Venetos.)

Chapter 8

The influence of this state is by far the most considerable of any of the countries on the whole sea coast, because the Veneti both have a very great number of ships, with which they have been accustomed to sail to Britain, and [thus] excel the rest in their knowledge and experience of nautical affairs; and as only a few ports lie scattered along that stormy and open sea, of which they are in possession, they hold as tributaries almost all those who are accustomed to traffic in that sea. With them arose the beginning [of the revolt] by their detaining Silius and Velanius; for they thought that they should recover by their means the hostages which they had given to Crassus. The neighboring people led on by their influence (as the measures of the Gauls are sudden and hasty), detain Trebius and Terrasidius for the same motive; and quickly sending embassadors, by means of their leading men, they enter into a mutual compact to do nothing except by general consent, and abide the same issue of fortune; and they solicit the other states to choose rather to continue in that liberty which they had received from their ancestors, than endure slavery under the Romans. All the sea coast being quickly brought over to their sentiments, they send a common embassy to P. Crassus [to say], “If he wished to receive back his officers, let him send back to them their hostages.”

(Huius est civitatis longe amplissima auctoritas omnis orae maritimae regionum earum, quod et naves habent Veneti plurimas, quibus in Britanniam navigare consuerunt, et scientia atque usu rerum nauticarum ceteros antecedunt et in magno impetu maris atque aperto Oceano paucis portibus interiectis, quos tenent ipsi, omnes fere, qui eo mari uti consuerunt, habent vectigales. ab his fit initium retinendi Sillii atque Velanii et si quos intercipere potuerunt, quod per eos suos se obsides, quos Crasso dedissent, recuperaturos existimabant. horum auctoritate finitimi adducti, ut sunt Gallorum subita et repentina consilia, eadem de causa Trebium Terrasidiumque retinent et celeriter missis legatis per suos principes inter se coniurant nihil nisi communi consilio acturos eundemque omnes fortunae exitum esse laturos, reliquasque civitates sollicitant, ut in ea libertate, quam a maioribus acceperint, permanere quam Romanorum servitutem perferre malint. omni ora maritima celeriter ad suam sententiam perducta communem legationem ad P. Crassum mittunt, si velit suos recuperare, obsides sibi remittat.)

Chapter 9

Caesar, being informed of these things by Crassus, since he was so far distant himself, orders ships of war to be built in the mean time on the river Loire , which flows into the ocean; rowers to be raised from the province; sailors and pilots to be provided. These matters being quickly executed, he himself, as soon as the season of the year permits, hastens to the army. The Veneti, and the other states also, being informed of Caesar’s arrival, when they reflected how great a crime they had committed, in that, the embassadors (a character which had among all nations ever been sacred and inviolable) had by them been detained and thrown into prison, resolve to prepare for a war in proportion to the greatness of their danger, and especially to provide those things which appertain to the service of a navy, with the greater confidence, inasmuch as they greatly relied on the nature of their situation. They knew that the passes by land were cut off by estuaries, that the approach by sea was most difficult, by reason of our ignorance of the localities, [and] the small number of the harbors, and they trusted that our army would not be able to stay very long among them, on account of the insufficiency of corn; and again, even if all these things should turn out contrary to their expectation, yet they were very powerful in their navy. They well understood that the Romans neither had any number of ships, nor were acquainted with the shallows, the harbors, or the islands of those parts where they would have to carry on the war; and the navigation was very different in a narrow sea from what it was in the vast and open ocean. Having come to this resolution, they fortify their towns, convey corn into them from the country parts, bring together as many ships as possible to Venetia , where it appeared Caesar would at first carry on the war. They unite to themselves as allies for that war, the Osismii, the Lexovii, the Nannetes, the Ambiliati, the Morini, the Diablintes, and the Menapii; and send for auxiliaries from Britain, which is situated over against those regions.

(Quibus de rebus Caesar a Crasso certior factus, quod ipse aberat longius, naves interim longas aedificari in flumine Ligeri quod influit in Oceanum, remiges ex provincia institui, nautas gubernatoresque comparari iubet. his rebus celeriter administratis ipse, cum primum per anni tempus potuit, ad exercitum contendit. Veneti reliquaeque item civitates cognito Caesaris adventu, et de recipiendis obsidibus spem se fefellisse> certiores facti, simul quod quantum in se facinus admisissent intellegebant – legatos, quod nomen apud omnes nationes sanctum inviolatumque semper fuisset, retentos ab se et in vincula coniectos -, pro magnitudine periculi bellum parare et maxime ea quae ad usum navium pertinent providere instituunt, hoc maiore spe quod multum natura loci confidebant. pedestria esse itinera concisa aestuariis, navigationem impeditam propter inscientiam locorum paucitatemque portuum sciebant; neque nostros exercitus propter frumenti inopiam diutius apud se morari posse confidebant; ac iam ut omnia contra opinionem acciderent, tamen se plurimum navibus posse, [quam] Romanos neque ullam facultatem habere navium neque eorum locorum, ubi bellum gesturi essent, vada portus insulas novisse; ac longe aliam esse navigationem in concluso mari atque in vastissimo atque apertissimo Oceano perspiciebant. his initis consiliis oppida muniunt, frumenta ex agris in oppida comportant, naves in Venetiam, ubi Caesarem primum bellum gesturum constabat, quam plurimas possunt, cogunt. socios sibi ad id bellum Osismos Lexovios Namnetes Ambiliatos Morinos Diablintes Menapios adsciscunt; auxilia ex Britannia, quae contra eas regiones posita est, arcessunt.)

Chapter 10

There were these difficulties which we have mentioned above, in carrying on the war, but many things, nevertheless, urged Caesar to that war;-the open insult offered to the state in the detention of the Roman knights, the rebellion raised after surrendering, the revolt after hostages were given, the confederacy of so many states, but principally, lest if, [the conduct of] this part was overlooked, the other nations should think that the same thing was permitted them. Wherefore, since he reflected that almost all the Gauls were fond of revolution, and easily and quickly excited to war; that all men likewise, by nature, love liberty and hate the condition of slavery, he thought he ought to divide and more widely distribute his army, before more states should join the confederation.

(Erant hae difficultates belli gerendi, quas supra ostendimus, sed multa tamen Caesarem ad id bellum incitabant: iniuria retentorum equitum Romanorum, rebellio facta post deditionem, defectio datis obsidibus, tot civitatum coniuratio, in primis ne hac parte neglecta reliquae nationes sibi idem licere arbitrarentur. itaque cum intellegeret omnes fere Gallos novis rebus studere et ad bellum mobiliter celeriterque excitari, omnes autem homines natura libertatis studio incitari et condicionem servitutis odisse, priusquam plures civitates conspirarent, partiendum sibi ac latius distribuendum exercitum putavit.)

Chapter 11

He therefore sends T. Labienus, his lieutenant, with the cavalry to the Treviri , who are nearest to the river Rhine . He charges him to visit the Remi and the other Belgians, and to keep them in their allegiance and repel the Germans (who were said to have been summoned by the Belgae to their aid,) if they attempted to cross the river by force in their ships. He orders P. Crassus to proceed into Aquitania with twelve legionary cohorts and a great number of the cavalry, lest auxiliaries should be sent into Gaul by these states, and such great nations be united. He sends Q. Titurius Sabinus his lieutenant, with three legions, among the Unelli, the Curiosolitae, and the Lexovii, to take care that their forces should be kept separate from the rest. He appoints D. Brutus, a young man, over the fleet and those Gallic vessels which he had ordered to be furnished by the Pictones and the Santoni, and the other provinces which remained at peace; and commands him to proceed toward the Veneti, as soon as he could. He himself hastens thither with the land forces.

(Itaque T. Labienum legatum in Treveros, qui proximi flumini Rheno sunt, cum equitatu mittit. huic mandat, Remos reliquosque Belgas adeat atque in officio contineat Germanosque, qui auxilio a Gallis arcessiti dicebantur, si per vim navibus flumen transire conentur, prohibeat. P. Crassum cum cohortibus legionariis duodecim et magno numero equitatus in Aquitaniam proficisci iubet, ne ex his nationibus auxilia in Galliam mittantur ac tantae nationes coniungantur. Q. Titurium Sabinum legatum cum legionibus tribus in Unellos, Coriosolitas Lexoviosque mittit, qui eam manum distinendam curet. D. Brutum adulescentem classi Gallicisque navibus, quas ex Pictonibus et Santonis reliquisque pacatis regionibus convenire iusserat, praeficit et, cum primum posset, in Venetos proficisci iubet. ipse eo pedestribus copiis contendit.)

Chapter 12

The sites of their towns were generally such that, being placed on extreme points [of land] and on promontories, they neither had an approach by land when the tide had rushed in from the main ocean, which always happens twice in the space of twelve hours; nor by ships, because, upon the tide ebbing again, the ships were likely to be dashed upon the shoals. Thus, by either circumstance, was the storming of their towns rendered difficult; and if at any time perchance the Veneti overpowered by the greatness of our works, (the sea having been excluded by a mound and large dams, and the latter being made almost equal in height to the walls of the town) had begun to despair of their fortunes; bringing up a large number of ships, of which they had a very great quantity, they carried off all their property and betook themselves to the nearest towns; there they again defended themselves by the same advantages of situation. They did this the more easily during a great part of the summer, because our ships were kept back by storms, and the difficulty of sailing was very great in that vast and open sea, with its strong tides and its harbors far apart and exceedingly few in number.

(Erant eiusmodi fere situs oppidorum, ut posita in extremis lingulis promunturiisque neque pedibus aditum haberent, cum ex alto se aestus incitavisset, quod bis accidit semper horarum duodenarum spatio, neque navibus, quod rursus minuente aestu naves in vadis adflictarentur. ita utraque re oppidorum oppugnatio impediebatur. ac si quando magnitudine operis forte superati extruso mari aggere ac molibus atque his oppidi moenibus adaequatis suis fortunis desperare coeperant, magno numero navium adpulso, cuius rei summam facultatem habebant, sua deportabant omnia seque in proxima oppida recipiebant; ibi se rursus isdem loci opportunitatibus defendebant. haec eo facilius magnam partem aestatis faciebant, quod nostrae naves tempestatibus detinebantur summaque erat vasto atque aperto mari, magnis aestibus, raris ac prope nullis portibus difficultas navigandi.)

Chapter 13

For their ships were built and equipped after this manner. The keels were somewhat flatter than those of our ships, whereby they could more easily encounter the shallows and the ebbing of the tide: the prows were raised very high, and, in like manner the sterns were adapted to the force of the waves and storms [which they were formed to sustain]. The ships were built wholly of oak, and designed to endure any force and violence whatever; the benches which were made of planks a foot in breadth, were fastened by iron spikes of the thickness of a man’s thumb; the anchors were secured fast by iron chains instead of cables, and for sails they used skins and thin dressed leather. These [were used] either through their want of canvas and their ignorance of its application, or for this reason, which is more probable, that they thought that such storms of the ocean, and such violent gales of wind could not be resisted by sails, nor ships of such great burden be conveniently enough managed by them. The encounter of our fleet with these ships’ was of such a nature that our fleet excelled in speed alone, and the plying of the oars; other things, considering the nature of the place [and] the violence of the storms, were more suitable and better adapted on their side; for neither could our ships injure theirs with their beaks (so great was their strength), nor on account of their height was a weapon easily cast up to them; and for the same reason they were less readily locked in by rocks. To this was added, that whenever a storm began to rage and they ran before the wind, they both could weather the storm more easily and heave to securely in the shallows, and when left by the tide feared nothing from rocks and shelves: the risk of all which things was much to be dreaded by our ships.

(Namque ipsorum naves ad hunc modum factae armataeque erant: carinae aliquanto planiores quam nostrarum navium, quo facilius vada ac decessum aestus excipere possent; prorae admodum erectae atque item puppes, ad magnitudinem fluctuum tempestatumque adcommodatae; naves totae factae ex robore ad quamvis vim et contumeliam perferendam; transtra ex pedalibus in altitudinem trabibus confixa clavis ferreis digiti pollicis crassitudine; ancorae pro funibus ferreis catenis revinctae; pelles pro velis alutaeque tenuiter confectae,  sive propter lini inopiam atque eius usus inscientiam, sive – quod est magis veri simile – quod tantas tempestates Oceani tantosque impetus ventorum sustineri ac tanta onera navium regi velis non satis commode posse arbitrabantur.  cum his navibus nostrae classi eiusmodi congressus erat, ut una celeritate et pulsu remorum praestaret, reliqua pro loci natura, pro vi tempestatum illis essent aptiora et adcommodatiora.  neque enim his nostrae rostro nocere poterant – tanta in iis erat firmitudo -, neque propter altitudinem facile telum adigebatur, et eadem de causa minus commode copulis continebantur. accedebat, ut, cum se vento dedissent, tempestatem ferrent facilius et in vadis consisterent tutius et ab aestu relictae nihil saxa et cotes timerent; quarum rerum omnium nostris navibus casus erant extimescendi.)

Chapter 14

Caesar, after taking many of their towns, perceiving that so much labor was spent in vain and that the flight of the enemy could not be prevented on the capture of their towns, and that injury could not be done them, he determined to wait for his fleet. As soon as it came up and was first seen by the enemy, about 220 of their ships, fully equipped and appointed with every kind of [naval] implement, sailed forth from the harbor, and drew up opposite to ours; nor did it appear clear to Brutus, who commanded the fleet, or to the tribunes of the soldiers and the centurions, to whom the several ships were assigned, what to do, or what system of tactics to adopt; for they knew that damage could not be done by their beaks; and that, although turrets were built [on their decks], yet the height of the stems of the barbarian ships exceeded these; so that weapons could not be cast up from [our] lower position with sufficient effect, and those cast by the Gauls fell the more forcibly upon us. One thing provided by our men was of great service, [viz.] sharp hooks inserted into and fastened upon poles, of a form not unlike the hooks used in attacking town walls. When the ropes which fastened the sail-yards to the masts were caught by them and pulled, and our vessel vigorously impelled with the oars, they [the ropes] were severed; and when they were cut away, the yards necessarily fell down; so that as all the hope of the Gallic vessels depended on their sails and rigging, upon these being cut away, the entire management of the ships was taken from them at the same time. The rest of the contest depended on courage; in which our men decidedly had the advantage; and the more so, because the whole action was carried on in the sight of Caesar and the entire army; so that no act, a little more valiant than ordinary, could pass unobserved, for all the hills and higher grounds, from which there was a near prospect of the sea were occupied by our army.

(Compluribus expugnatis oppidis Caesar ubi intellexit frustra tantum laborem sumi neque hostium fugam captis oppidis reprimi neque iis noceri posse, statuit exspectandam classem. quae ubi convenit ac primum ab hostibus visa est, circiter CCXX naves eorum paratissimae atque omni genere armorum ornatissimae ex portu profectae nostris adversae constiterunt. neque satis Bruto, qui classi praeerat, vel tribunis militum centurionibusque, quibus singulae naves erant attributae, constabat quid agerent aut quam rationem pugnae insisterent. rostro enim noceri non posse cognoverant; turribus autem excitatis tamen has altitudo puppium ex barbaris navibus superabat, ut neque ex inferiore loco satis commode tela adigi possent et missa a Gallis gravius acciderent. una erat magno usui res praeparata ab nostris, falces praeacutae insertae adfixaeque longuriis, non absimili forma muralium falcium. his cum funes qui antemnas ad malos destinabant, comprehensi adductique erant, navigio remis incitato praerumpebantur. quibus abscisis antemnae necessario concidebant, ut cum omnis Gallicis navibus spes in velis armamentisque consisteret, his ereptis omnis usus navium uno tempore eriperetur. reliquum erat certamen positum in virtute, qua nostri milites facile superabant, atque eo magis quod in conspectu Caesaris atque omnis exercitus res gerebatur, ut nullum paulo fortius factum latere posset. omnes enim colles ac loca superiora, unde erat propinquus despectus in mare, ab exercitu tenebantur.)

Chapter 15

The sail yards [of the enemy], as we have said, being brought down, although two and [in some cases] three ships [of theirs] surrounded each one [of ours], the soldiers strove with the greatest energy to board the ships of the enemy; and, after the barbarians observed this taking place, as a great many of their ships were beaten, and as no relief for that evil could be discovered, they hastened to seek safety in flight. And, having now turned their vessels to that quarter in which the wind blew, so great a calm and lull suddenly arose, that they could not move out of their place, which circumstance, truly, was exceedingly opportune for finishing the business; for our men gave chase and took them one by one, so that very few out of all the number, [and those] by the intervention of night, arrived at the land, after the battle had lasted almost from the fourth hour till sun-set.

(Deiectis ut diximus antemnis, cum singulas binae ac ternae naves circumsisterent, milites summa vi transcendere in hostium naves contendebant.  quod postquam fieri barbari animadverterunt, expugnatis compluribus navibus, cum ei rei nullum reperiretur auxilium, fuga salutem petere contendebant.  ac iam conversis in eam partem navibus quo ventus ferebat, tanta subito malacia ac tranquillitas exstitit, ut se ex loco movere non possent. quae quidem res ad negotium conficiendum maximae fuit opportunitati. nam singulas nostri consectati expugnaverunt, ut perpaucae ex omni numero noctis interventu ad terram pervenirent, cum ab hora fere quarta usque ad solis occasum pugnaretur.)

Chapter 16

By this battle the war with the Veneti and the whole of the sea coast was finished; for both all the youth, and all, too, of more advanced age, in whom there was any discretion or rank, had assembled in that battle; and they had collected in that one place whatever naval forces they had anywhere; and when these were lost, the survivors had no place to retreat to, nor means of defending their towns. They accordingly surrendered themselves and all their possessions to Caesar, on whom Caesar thought that punishment should be inflicted the more severely, in order that for the future the rights of embassadors might be more carefully respected by barbarians; having, therefore, put to death all their senate, he sold the rest for slaves.

(Quo proelio bellum Venetorum totiusque orae maritimae confectum est. nam cum omnis iuventus, omnes etiam gravioris aetatis, in quibus aliquid consilii aut dignitatis fuit, eo convenerant, tum navium quod ubique fuerat unum in locum coegerant. quibus amissis reliqui neque quo se reciperent neque quemadmodum oppida defenderent habebant. itaque se suaque omnia Caesari dediderunt. in quos eo gravius Caesar vindicandum statuit quo diligentius in reliquum tempus a barbaris ius legatorum conservaretur. itaque omni senatu necato reliquos sub corona vendidit.)

Chapter 17

While these things are going on among the Veneti, Q. Titurius Sabinus with those troops which he had received from Caesar, arrives in the territories of the Unelli. Over these people Viridovix ruled, and held the chief command of all those states which had revolted; from which he had collected a large and powerful army. And in those few days, the Aulerci and the Sexovii, having slain their senate because they would not consent to be promoters of the war, shut their gates [against us] and united themselves to Viridovix; a great multitude besides of desperate men and robbers assembled out of Gaul from all quarters, whom the hope of plundering and the love of fighting had called away from husbandry and their daily labor. Sabinus kept himself within his camp, which was in a position convenient for everything; while Viridovix encamped over against him at a distance of two miles, and daily bringing out his forces, gave him an opportunity of fighting; so that Sabinus had now not only come into contempt with the enemy, but also was somewhat taunted by the speeches of our soldiers; and furnished so great a suspicion of his cowardice that the enemy presumed to approach even to the very rampart of our camp. He adopted this conduct for the following reason: because he did not think that a lieutenant ought to engage in battle with so great a force, especially while he who held the chief command was absent, except on advantageous ground or some favorable circumstance presented itself.

(Dum haec in Venetis geruntur, Q. Titurius Sabinus cum iis copiis, quas a Caesare acceperat, in fines Unellorum pervenit. his praeerat Viridovix ac summam imperii tenebat earum omnium civitatum, quae defecerant, ex quibus exercitum magnasque copias coegerat; atque his paucis diebus Aulerci Eburovices Lexoviique senatu suo interfecto, quod auctores belli esse nolebant, portas clauserunt seseque cum Viridovice coniunxerunt. magnaque praeterea multitudo undique ex Gallia perditorum hominum latronumque convenerat, quos spes praedandi studiumque bellandi ab agri cultura et cotidiano labore revocabat. Sabinus idoneo omnibus rebus loco castris se tenebat, cum Viridovix contra eum duorum milium spatio consedisset cotidieque productis copiis pugnandi potestatem faceret, ut iam non solum hostibus in contemptionem Sabinus veniret, sed etiam nostrorum militum vocibus nonnihil carperetur; tantamque opinionem timoris praebuit, ut iam ad vallum castrorum hostes accedere auderent. id ea de causa faciebat quod cum tanta multitudine hostium, praesertim eo absente qui summam imperii teneret, nisi aequo loco aut opportunitate aliqua data legato dimicandum non existimabat.)

belges1en

Book IV

Chapter 21

He sends before him Caius Volusenus with a ship of war, to acquire a knowledge of these particulars before he in person should make a descent into the island, as he was convinced that this was a judicious measure. He commissioned him to thoroughly examine into all matters, and then return to him as soon as possible. He himself proceeds to the Morini with all his forces. He orders ships from all parts of the neighboring countries, and the fleet which the preceding summer he had built for the war with the Veneti, to assemble in this place.

(Ad haec cognoscenda, prius quam periculum faceret, idoneum esse arbitratus C. Volusenum cum navi longa praemittit. Huic mandat ut exploratis omnibus rebus ad se quam primum revertatur. Ipse cum omnibus copiis in Morinos proficiscitur, quod inde erat brevissimus in Britanniam traiectus. Huc naves undique ex finitimis regionibus et quam superiore aestate ad Veneticum bellum fecerat classem iubet convenire.).

Book VII 

Chapter 75

While those things are carried on at Alesia , the Gauls, having convened a council of their chief nobility, determine that all who could bear arms should not be called out, which was the opinion of Vercingetorix, but that a fixed number should be levied from each state; lest, when so great a multitude assembled together, they could neither govern nor distinguish their men, nor have the means of supplying them with corn. They demand thirty-five thousand men from the Aedui and their dependents, the Segusiani, Ambivareti, and Aulerci Brannovices; an equal number from the Arverni in conjunction with the Eleuteti Cadurci, Gabali, and Velauni, who were accustomed to be under the command of the Arverni; twelve thousand each from the Senones , Sequani, Bituriges, Sentones, Ruteni, and Carnutes; ten thousand from the Bellovaci; the same number from the Lemovici; eight thousand each from the Pictones, and Turoni , and Parisii , and Helvii; five thousand each from the Suessiones, Ambiani, Mediomatrici, Petrocorii, Nervii, Morini, and Nitiobriges; the same number from the Aulerci Cenomani; four thousand from the Atrebates; three thousand each from the Bellocassi, Lexovii, and Aulerci Eburovices; thirty thousand from the Rauraci, and Boii; six thousand from all the states together, which border on the Atlantic, and which in their dialect are called Armoricae (in which number are comprehended the Curisolites, Rhedones, Ambibari, Caltes, Osismii, Lemovices, Veneti, and Unelli). Of these the Bellovaci did not contribute their number, as they said that they would wage war against the Romans on their own account, and at their own discretion, and would not obey the order of any one: however, at the request of Commius, they sent two thousand, in consideration of a tie of hospitality which subsisted between him and them.

(Dum haec apud Alesiam geruntur, Galli concilio principum indicto non omnes eos qui arma ferre possent, ut censuit Vercingetorix, convocandos statuunt, sed certum numerum cuique ex civitate imperandum, ne tanta multitudine confusa nec moderari nec discernere suos nec frumentandi rationem habere possent.  Imperant Aeduis atque eorum clientibus, Segusiavis, Ambivaretis, Aulercis Brannovicibus, Blannoviis, milia XXXV; parem numerum Arvernis adiunctis Eleutetis, Cadurcis, Gabalis, Vellaviis, qui sub imperio Arvernorum esse consuerunt; Sequanis,  Senonibus, Biturigibus, Santonis, Rutenis, Carnutibus duodena milia; Bellovacis X; totidem Lemovicibus; octona Pictonibus et Turonis et Parisiis et Helvetiis; [Suessionibus,] Ambianis, Mediomatricis, Petrocoriis, Nerviis, Morinis, Nitiobrigibus quina milia; Aulercis Cenomanis totidem; Atrebatibus [IIII milibus]; Veliocassis, Lexoviis et Aulercis Eburovicibus terna; Rauracis et Boiis bina;  [XXX milia] universis civitatibus, quae Oceanum attingunt quaeque eorum consuetudine Armoricae appellantur, quo sunt in numero Curiosolites, Redones, Ambibarii, Caletes, Osismi, Veneti, Lemovices, Venelli. Ex his Bellovaci suum numerum non compleverunt, quod se suo nomine atque arbitrio cum Romanis bellum gesturos dicebant neque cuiusquam imperio obtemperaturos; rogati tamen ab Commio pro eius hospitio duo milia una miserunt.)

N a t u r a l  H i s t o r y
by Pliny the Elder

Book 4, Chapter 32
(or Book 4, 107)

(Gallia Lugdunensis)

That part of Gaul which is known as Lugdunensis contains the Lexovii, the Vellocasses, the Galeti, the Veneti, the Abrincatui, the Ossismi, and the celebrated river Ligeris, as also a most remarkable peninsula, which extends into the ocean at the extremity of the territory of the Ossismi, the circumference of which is 625 miles, and its breadth at the neck 125. Beyond this are the Nannetes, and in the interior are the Ædui, a federal people, the Carnuti, a federal people, the Boii, the Senones, the Aulerci, both those surnamed Eburovices and those called Cenomanni, the Meldi, a free people, the Parisii, the Tricasses, the Andecavi, the Viducasses, the Bodiocasses, the Venelli, the Cariosvelites, the Diablinti, the Rhedones, the Turones, the Atesui, and the Secusiani, a free people, in whose territory is the colony of Lugdunum.

(Lugdunensis Gallia habet Lexovios, Veliocasses, Caletos, Venetos, Abrincatuos, Ossismos, flumen clarum Ligerem, sed paeninsulam spectatiorem excurrentem in oceanum a fine Ossismorum circuituDCXXV, cervice in latitudinem CXXV. ultra eum Namnetes, intus autem Aedui foederati, Carnuteni foederati, Boi, Senones, Aulerci qui cognominantur Eburovices et qui Cenomani, Meldi liberi, Parisi, Tricasses, Andecavi, Viducasses, Bodiocasses, Venelli, Coriosvelites, Diablinti, Riedones, Turones, Atesui, Segusiavi liberi, in quorum agro colonia Lugudunum.)

Book 4, Chapter 33
(or Book 4, 108 & 109)

(Gallia Aquitanica)

In Aquitanica are the Ambilatri, the Anagnutes, the Pictones, the Santoni, a free people, the Bituriges, surnamed Vivisci, the Aquitani, from whom the province derives its name, the Sediboviates, the Convenæ, who together form one town, the Begerri, the Tarbelli Quatuorsignani, the Cocosates Sexsignani, the Venami, the Onobrisates, the Belendi, and then the Pyrenæan range. Below these are the Monesi, the Oscidates a mountain race, the Sibyllates, the Camponi, the Bercorcates, the Pindedunni, the Lassunni, the Vellates, the Tornates, the Consoranni, the Ausci, the Elusates, the Sottiates, the Oscidates Campestres, the Succasses, the Tarusates, the Basabocates, the Vassei, the Sennates, and the Cambolectri Agessinates.  Joining up to the Pictones are the Bituriges, a free people, who are also known as the Cubi, and then the Lemovices, the Arverni, a free people, and the Gabales.

(Aquitanicae sunt Ambilatri, Anagnutes, Pictones, Santoni liberi, Bituriges liberi cognomine Vivisci, Aquitani, unde nomen provinciae, Sediboviates. mox in oppidum contributi Convenae, Begerri, Tarbelli Quattuorsignani, Cocosates Sexsignani, Venami, Onobrisates, Belendi, saltus Pyrenaeus infraque Monesi, Oscidates Montani, Sybillates, Camponi, Bercorcates, Pinpedunni, Lassunni, Vellates, Toruates, Consoranni, Ausci, Elusates, Sottiates, Oscidates Campestres, Succasses, Latusates, Basaboiates, Vassei, Sennates, Cambolectri Agessinates.  Pictonibus iuncti autem Bituriges liberi qui Cubi appellantur, dein Lemovices, Arverni liberi, Vellavi liberi, Gabales.)

Again, adjoining the province of Narbonensis are the Ruteni, the Cadurci, the Nitiobriges, and the Petrocori, separated by the river Tarnis from the Tolosani. The seas around the coast are the Northern Ocean, flowing up to the mouth of the Rhine, the Britannic Ocean between the Rhine and the Sequana, and, between it and the Pyrenees, the Gallic Ocean. There are many islands belonging to the Veneti, which bear the name of “Veneticæ,” as also in the Aquitanic Gulf, that of Uliarus.

(rursus Narbonensi provinciae contermini Ruteni, Cadurci, Nitiobroges Tarneque amne discreti a Tolosanis Petrocori.  Maria circa oram ad Rhenum septentrionalis oceanus, inter Rhenum et Sequanam Britannicus, inter id et Pyrenaeum Gallicus. insulae conplures Venestorum et quae Veneticae appellantur et in Aquitanico sinu Uliaros.)

 G e o g r a p h y
by Ptolemy

Book 2, chapter 7 (Gallia Lugdunensis)

[first mentions the Vidana harbor, Aregenua of the Venelli, Crociatonnum, Olina River and the Lexubi before proceeding as follows:]

The Caletae inhabit the north coast from the Sequana river, whose town is Iuliobana 20 15 51 20.  Next to these are the Lexubi, then the Venelli, after these the Biducasi and the Osismi extending as far as the Gabaeum promontory, whose town is Vorganium 17 40 50 10.  The Veneti occupy the western coast below the Osismi, whose town is Darioritum 17 20 49 15.  Below these are the Samnites who extend as far as the Liger river.  In the interior toward the east from the Veneti are the Aulircii Diablitae, whose town is Noedunum 18 50.

[Later also mentions the Aulirci Cenomani whose town is Vindinum; then mentions the Namnetae]

E p i t o m e  o f  H i s t o r y
by Lucius Annaeus Florus

Book 3, Chapter 10 (The Gallic War)

“When Asia was subdued by the efforts of Pompey, Fortune conferred what remained to be done in Europe upon Caesar. There were still left the most savage of all nations, the Gauls and Germans; and Britain, though separated from the whole world, had yet one to conquer it. The first commotion in Gaul arose from the Helvetii, who, lying between the Rhone and the Rhine, and finding their country insufficient for them, came forth, after setting fire to their cities, (an act equivalent to an oath that they would not return,) to ask of us new settlements. But Caesar, having asked for time to consider of their application, prevented them, meanwhile, from getting off, by breaking down the bridge over the Rhone, and straightway drove back this warlike nation to their former abodes, as a shepherd drives his flocks into the fold. The next affair was a war with the Belgae, which was attended with far more bloodshed, as being a struggle with men fighting for their liberty. In the course of it were displayed many brave acts among the soldiery, and a remarkable one of the general himself, who, when his troops were on the point of flight, having snatched a buckler from a retreating soldier, hurried to the front of the army, and restored the battle by his own extertions. Then followed a naval war with the Veneti, but there was a greater struggle in it with the Ocean than with the ships of the enemy; for the vessels were rude and ill-shaped, and were shattered as soon as they felt our beaks; but the contest was obstructed by the shallows, as the Ocean, retiring by its usual ebbs during the engagement, seemed disposed to put a stop to the war.”

“There were also other diversities of operation, according to the nature of the people and the ground. The Aquitani, a crafty nation, betook themselves to their caverns; Caesar ordered them to be shut up in them. The Morini dispersed themselves among their woods; he ordered the woods to be set on fire.”

“Let no one say that the Gauls are mere senseless warriors; for they act with cunning. Indutiomarus called together the Treviri, Ambiorix the Eburones; and the two, in the absence of Caesar, having entered into a conspiracy, fell upon his lieutenant-generals. Indutiomarus was valiantly repulsed by Dolabella, and his head carried from the field. Ambiorix, however, placing an ambuscade in a valley, gave us by that contrivance a defeat, so that our camp was plundered, and our treasure carried off. Then we lost Cotta, and Titurius Sabinus, one of the legates. Nor was any revenge afterwards taken on Ambiorix, as he lay in peretual concealment beyond the Rhine…”

R o m e
by Cassius Dio

The following is contained in the Thirty-ninth Book of Dio’s Rome:—

How Decimus Brutus, Caesar’s lieutenant, conquered the Veneti in a sea-fight (chapters 40‑43)

Chapter 40

Caesar in the consulship of Marcellinus and Philippus made an expedition against the Veneti, who live near the ocean. They had seized some Roman soldiers sent out for grain and afterward detained the envoys who came in their behalf, in order that in exchange for these they might get back their own hostages. Caesar, instead of giving these back, sent out different bodies of troops in various directions, some to waste the possessions of those who had joined the revolt and thus to prevent the two bands from aiding each other, and others to guard the possessions of those who were under treaty, for fear they too might cause some disturbance; he himself proceeded against the Veneti. He constructed in the interior the kind of boats which he heard were of advantage for the tides of the ocean, and conveyed them down the river Liger, but in so doing used up almost the entire summer to no purpose. For their cities, established in strong positions, were inaccessible, and the ocean surging around practically all of them rendered an infantry attack out of the question, and a naval attack equally so in the midst of the ebb and flow of the tide. Consequently Caesar was in despair until Decimus Brutus came to him with swift ships from the Mediterranean. And he was inclined to believe he would be unable to accomplish anything with those either, but the barbarians through their contempt for the small size and frailty of the boats incurred defeat.

Chapter 41

For these boats had been built rather light in the interest of speed, after the manner of our naval construction, whereas those of the barbarians surpassed them very greatly both in size and stoutness, since amid the ever-shifting tides of the ocean they often needed to rest on dry ground and to hold out against the succession of ebb and flow. Accordingly, the barbarians, who had never had any experience of such a fleet, despised the ships as useless in view of their appearance; and as soon as they were lying in the harbour they set sail against them, thinking to sink them speedily by means of their boat-hooks. They were swept on by a great and violent wind, for their sails were of leather and so carried easily the full force of the wind.

Chapter 42

Now Brutus, as long as the wind raged, dared not sail out against them because of the number and size of the ships, the force with which they were driven by the wind, and their own attack, but he prepared to repel their attack near the land and to abandon the boats altogether. When, however, the wind suddenly fell, the waves were stilled, and the boats could no longer be propelled as they had been with the oars but because of their great bulk stopped motionless, as it were, then he took courage and sailed out to meet them. And falling upon them, he caused them many serious injuries with impunity, delivering both broadside and rear attacks, now ramming one of them, now backing water, in whatever way and as often as he liked, sometimes with many vessels against one and again with equal numbers opposed, occasionally even approaching safely with a few against many. At whatever point he was superior to them in . . . he stuck to them closely; he sank some by ripping them open, and boarding others from all sides, he engaged in a hand-to‑hand conflict with the crews and slew many. If he found himself inferior anywhere, he very easily retired, so that the advantage rested with him in any case.

Chapter 43

For the barbarians did not use archery and had not provided themselves beforehand with stones, not expecting to have any need of them; hence, if any one came into close quarters with them, they fought him off after a fashion, but with those who stood at a little distance from them they knew not how to cope. So the men were being wounded and killed, even those who were unable to repel any one, while the boats were unable to repel any one, while the boats were in some cases rammed and ripped open, in other cases were set on fire and burned; still others were towed away, as if empty of men. When the remaining crews saw this, some killed themselves to avoid being captured alive and others leapt into the sea with the idea that they would thus either board the hostile ships or in any event not perish at the hands of the Romans.  For in zeal and daring they were not at all behind their opponents, but they were terribly angry at finding themselves betrayed by the sluggishness of their vessels. The Romans, to make sure that the wind when it sprang up again should not move the ships, employed from a distance long poles fitted with knives, by means of which they cut the ropes and split the sails. And since the barbarians were compelled to fight in their boats as if on land, while the foes could use his ships as at sea, great numbers perished then and there, and all the remainder were captured. Of these Caesar slew the most prominent and sold the rest.

cesar

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April 10, 2015

Polabian Gods Part Ve – Destruction of the Temple and On To Charenza

Published Post author

We continue with Saxo and his excellent chronicle:

A Late Night Visitor From Charenza 

“When he [Absalon] lay down and slept at the beginning of the following night, there appeared a certain Slav who, with loud cries called on Gotschalk (whom Absalon used as a translator among the Slavs), and asked to speak with him.  Gotschalk woke up and cried back to him asking what he wanted, upon which that one demanded to talk to Absalon and when he received permission  to approach, the man came up to Absalon (who had come out of his tent) and through the interpreter insisted on getting permission to [leave and] deliver news to the people of Charenza about how the Arkonians were faring and to call upon them [the inhabitants of Charenza] to accept the same terms so as to prevent their destruction and so that they should not forgo mercy for themselves and for the city; and he said that he would return with their answer the next day.”

Granze

Granza brought a continental breakfast as a sign of good faith

“And he said too that his name was Granze and his father was Littog and that he had a house in Charenza and was not at all a citizen of Arkona and that he was a stranger there and did not come of his own will but rather with Charenzan reinforcements [for Arkona].  So that he [Absalon] should not think this all a lie, he showed him [Absalon] his wound that he had on his shoulder and that he could not help his fellow citizens [of Charenza] for he could not use it [his shoulder].  Absalon judged that so greatly wounded a man could not offer much help to their enemies and that it did not matter much whether he should cancel them to fight on or to surrender and he sent his request to the King to be decided and ordered that Valdemar should be awakened and told him of the matter.  The King decreed that he [Absalon] should do whatever he thought was right and he [Absalon] answered the Slav that the King agreed to his request save only about the three days of armistice that he [Granze] demanded, for he was careful not to give [their] enemies too much time in which to fortify their town; but so as not to entirely deprive them of time [to deliberate], he gave him the entire subsequent day and told him that should he not appear at the designated time on the coast of the sea nearest the town [of Charenza] together with all the Rugian commanders, so will all subsequent negotiations [be deemed] broken.”

Back to the Temple at Hand or

the Toppling of the Svantevit Idol

“The next day the King ordered Esbern and Sine to topple the God statue and when this proved impossible without swords and axes, they ripped open the curtains which hung in the temple, and then clearly commanded the people who were to do this [cut down the statue] to be careful so that when that heavy statue fell it did not crush anyone with its weight so that people could not say that this was a punishment inflicted upon them by an angry God.  At the same time there gathered around the temple a great throng of the town’s inhabitants hoping that Svantovit, in His anger and Godly might should punish those that cause such violence upon Him.  When the statue was cut in twain by the feet, it toppled against the nearest wall.  At that Sune, in order to pull it out [of the temple], commanded his people to destroy the wall but reminded them that in their eagerness to destroy it, they should not forget the warning and that they should not carelessly put themselves in danger of being crushed by the falling statue/idol.  The idol fell to the ground with great noise.  The temple was entirely covered by purple [curtains] but they were so rotten from having been hung for so long that they did not withstand the contact [of the falling idol and walls].  There were hung there too rare horns of  wild animals which also deserved notice for their unique nature but also for the veneration given them.  There was seen at the time some sort of a monster in the form of a black animal who ran out of there but just as quickly it disappeared.  The inhabitants were now ordered to tie a rope around the idol of the God and to pull It outside of town but they lacked the courage to do this by reason of their old superstition [i.e., their faith] and ordered prisoners and visitors who had come to their town to earn some money, to do it in their stead for they thought to direct the wrath of [their] God onto the heads of such wretched people since they believed that the God that they so greatly worshipped would not hesitate to punish severely those who so humiliated Him.  While all this was happening one could hear the inhabitants chatter amongst themselves about with some of them lamenting about the suffering that was being inflicted upon their God while others laughed at Him and there could be no doubt that this wise portion of the populace felt deeply embarrassed by their gullibility in having for so many years been part of such a foolish cult.”

absaloninaction

The real thing or as real as we get

“The rest of the day was spent accepting hostages who had not been delivered the prior day.  The commanders’ learned men were sent too to the city so as to teach the ignorant people the Christian faith and to convert it from its paganism to the true faith.  When the evening approached all the cooks began to chop at the idol with their axes and they cut it into such little pieces as could be used as firewood.  I believe the Rugians must have [then] felt ashamed of their ancient cult when they saw the God of their fathers and grandfathers that they were accustomed to venerate so, be humiliated by being tossed into the fire then used to cook a meal for their enemies.  Thereafter, the Danes also burned down the temple and built in its place a church from the wood that had been [earlier] used to build siege engines so turning the implements of war into a house of peace and using that which was supposed to have destroyed the bodies of their enemies [instead] to save their souls. Further, on this day too the Rugians had to give up the treasure that had [earlier] been offered and set aside for Svantevit.

Onwards to Charenza

When they were satisfied with their deeds, they decided that Absalon should check the promises of Granza of Charenza and so, after telling the King to follow him at dawn, he [Absalon] sailed at night with thirty ships [to Charenza].  The news of the fall of Arkona created such fear amongst the inhabitants of Charenza that they showed up early at the location designated by Absalon. When they were quite far from land still, Granza who was on horseback yelled out asking who was commanding the fleet and when he found out it was Absalon he answered that his name was Granza and that their leader Tetzlav, his brother Jaromar and all the most honorable Rugian nobles were present there.”

MacArthur Shigemitsu

Charenza’s on deck surrender was an original at the time

“Absalon received them in good faith on his ship and when they had accepted all the same conditions of surrender as had the Arkonians then Absalon kept them [on his ship] until the King arrived.  This one agreed regarding all the points of the armistice and, thereupon, Absalon picked from among all the Rugian nobles only Jaromar and together with him as eel as with bishop Svend from Aarhus he set out towards Charenza; as for the others, he [Absalon?] ordered his brother, Esbern to receive them as guests  and not let them leave before he came back, all this so as to guarantee a safe trip to the city [by Absalon].  He took only thirty of his companions and the majority of them he sent back upon the request of the inhabitants of Charenza so that they would not cause fights in the city; thus did he [Absalon] arrive there having greater trust [for the inhabitants] that armed force.”

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April 7, 2015

Polabian Gods Part Vd – Peace Comes to Arkona

Published Post author

We continue with Saxo’s narrative:

The Negotiations

“When all hope had left the inhabitants of the city and all that was before their eyes was death and destruction, one of them that was [fighting] at the breastwork, yelled loudly at Absalon and demanded to speak with him.  Absalon asked to go to the quietest quarter of the city, away from all the noise and spilled blood and there he asked the man what was it that he wanted.  He then called upon Absalon, adding great gesticulation to his words, for a halt to the Danes’ attack such that he inhabitants could [properly] surrender [i.e., presumably until the fire was put out].  To which Absalon answered that there could be no talk of the stopping of the attack unless they [the Arkona denizens] should first stop putting out the fire.  The Slavs agreed to this condition and thereafter Absalon immediately brought the other man’s plea to the King.”

absalonpeaceful

Absalon offering peace

“The King ordered all his commanders recalled from the field so as to take counsel with them in this matter; and Absalon said then that they should do what the Slavs asked for for the longer the whole thing lasted, the less likely it was that the inhabitants could put out the fire and if they won’t be able to do that then the fire will defeat them even if the Danes were not involved in that; so that even if they  did nothing, by letting the fire spread destruction they will have achieved that which they could not have achieved by their own strength.  Despite the fact that they refrained from the battle for some time, one could not call them idle for without endangering themselves, they let other forces fight on their side.”

arkoniaacceptance

Arkonian commander agreeing with the peace proposal “in concept”

[yes, we know this passage does not entirely make sense]

The Church Partakes of the Terms  

“This advice found general approval and the King made peace with the Arkonians on the condition that the statue should be handed over together with all of the temple’s treasury and that all the captured Christians should be set free without ransom and that the Christian rite should be adopted just as it was practiced in Denmark.  All the land that had been given to the God/idol [i.e., all of the temple’s lands] were to henceforth benefit the Christian Church [instead].  And should conditions demand it, the populace were to follow the Danes when called upon and could not refuse this military service when the King should order it so.  Furthermore, they were supposed to pay an annual tribute in the amount of forty silver coins for each pair of oxen and to deliver this many hostages to ensure that they should meet these conditions.”

The Plebes Don’t Get It

“When the warriors who were eager for blood and booty heard of this there was great commotion and bitterness among them and they began loudly complaining that their reward for victory was taken from them now when they were so close to getting it such that they received nothing for their great effort other than wounds and scars and also complaining about the fact that their right to vengeance was not given them, which [right] they thought was due them, for all the harms caused them by the enemy which enemy they now had almost defeated; now, they said, one ought to think about their welfare for they could now with harry an effort [finally] take retribution against [the Arkonians] for all of their [the Arkonians’]  raids and all the tragedies which the others [Arkonians] caused in Denmark.  They threatened to leave the King for he refused them permission to take the city and preferred a paltry sum of cash in lieu of a great victory.”

The King Makes a Strategic Withdrawal From His Own Camp While Absalon Talks

(And Talks)

“The King who got angry at such talk, left the camp with his commanders so as to be away from all this whining and yammering and he asked them [the commanders] if they thought that they ought to accept the surrender of the city or to give it as a reward to the troops.  When these called upon Absalon that he should sayeth what he thinks, he observed that one could take the fortress though not without a lengthy siege.  For he [Absalon] knew well, and so said, that the people will take his words unkindly but that he would rather cause them displeasure by giving wise and useful advice than to endanger their welfare by foolishly agreeing with them/meeting their expectations [as to his advice].  Even were the fire kindled rather by God’s miracle than by a man’s hand [here he seems to be denying that the young Dane set the fortifications on fire but rather attributing this to a fortuitous divine judgment], should turn the tallest portion of the walls into ash which top part was made of wood and turf, so the lowest part of the wall, which was of stouter construction, will remain and that part was so tall that it would not have been easy to get at the enemy.  One needed to consider too that the inhabitants of the town had fixed almost all the places that had earlier been consumed by fir, by filling the missing pieces with clay and that the flames not only brought harm to them but also served as cover for their fury hindered the Danes in their assault inasmuch as it hindered these others in their defense.  And further he observed that should mercy not be given to the Arkonians then as a result the other towns of the Rugians – by hard necessity driven to bravery – will resist them the stronger the greater should be their desperation; if, on the other hand, they should learn that peace has been agreed to with Arkona it will be easier for [the other Rugia cities] to follow that example and they will think about survival and when one is able to have the better [outcome] of taking many cities with one battle rather than pigheadedly remaining at the siege of one, one ought not to reject the surrender proposal.  Though [he said] should a majority have a different opinion then, in any event, the hostages should be sent back unharmed so that no one could say that they were maltreated and that the Danes, contrary to their own customs, deceitfully broke their own promises.”

Absalon’s Boss Weighs In 

“With this opinion agreed to Archbishop Eskil [of Lund] for he said that the commoners should listen to their lords not the lords to the commoners and that it would not do for the high-born to take direction from the low[-born].  And, further, that one could not achieve a more desired outcome/victory than the forcing of a pagan people not only to pay tribute but also to accept Christianity.  He explained to them too that it would be better to help the Arkonians against other enemies [e.g., Saxons] than, in obstinacy, deprive them of their lives, for having your enemies bend their knees to you is better than killing them for mercy is better than cruelty.  And further that it is better to conquer many towns with one battle than to prefer the storming of one rather than the taking of all.”

“In so setting out the matter he convinced the commanders of the rightfulness of his and Absalon’s opinion and the King, thanks to them [Absalon, Eskil and, maybe, the turned commanders], grew stronger in his intention to ignore the discontentment of his warriors.  Absalon now ordered them to go and get something decent to eat while he himself began the preparations for the accepting of the hostages of whom a part was children and a part parents for they [the parents] received the right to be held hostage in the place of the children until the next day.”

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April 3, 2015