Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Slavs of Wipo’s Deeds of Conrad II

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We present here the full Slavic contingent from Wipo’s The Deeds of Conrad II (Gesta Chuonradi II imperatoris).  We previously featured one little component of that work but here is the full account in Karl Morrison’s translation.

Wipo of Burgundy (also Wippo circa 995 – circa 1048) was Conrad’s chaplain and served also his son Henry III so he was intimately familiar with the goings on at court.  Although he is obviously biased towards his masters, his sycophancy does not prevent him from delivering a number of interesting facts.

I. On the Assembly of Princes

“In the year 1024 from the incarnation of the Lord, the Emperor Henry II, although of sound mind, was taken with an infirmity of the body, which prevailing, he departed this life the 3rd of the Ides July [July 13]… [lists the various eminent members of the Empire]  These were the dukes, on the other hand, contemporaries of the wove-mentioned men: … Udalric, duke of Bohemia…”

II. On the Election of the King

“…While all the magnates, and, so to say, the valor and the vitals of the kingdom, had convened there, they pitched camps on this side and in the region about the Rhine.  As it [the Rhine] separated Gaul from Germany the Saxons, with their neighbors, the Slavs, the eastern Franks, the Bavarians, and the Alamanni, convened from the German side; and from Gaul, the Franks who live above the Rhine, the Ribuarians, and the Lotharingians were joined together.

IX. Of Boleslaus, Duke of the Slavs

In the same year [1025] which I have mentioned above, Boleslaus Sclavigen [of the Slavic nation], duke of the Poles, took for himself in injury to King Conrad the regal insignia and the royal name.  Death swiftly killed his temerity.”

“But his son Misico, similarly rebellious, cast his own brother Otto out into the province of Russia because he favored the partisans of the King [Conrad].  I shall tell in its proper place how King Conrad afterwards curbed the impudence of this Misico and the perfidy of a certain Udalric, duke of Bohemia.”

XXI.  That the King of Burgundy Came to meet the Emperor at Basel

“…Shortly after, Adalbero, duke of the [H]istrians or Carinthians, convicted of less majesty, was exiled  with his sons by the Emperor, and that Cuono just mentioned received from the Emperor his dukedom, which the father of this very Cuono is said to have had once.  So Duke Cuono, as long as he lived, remained faithful and one who strove well for the Emperor and also for his son, King Henry.”

XXIX.  Rudolf, King of Burgundy, Died, and Odo Invaded His Realm

“In the year of the Lord 1032, Rudolf, king of Burgundy, the uncle of the Empress Gisela, died in peace.  Count Odo Francigen, son of his sister, invaded his realm, and took certain very well-armed castles or cities by craft or battle.  Neither did he dare to make himself king nor, indeed, did he wish to lose the kingdom.  Some persons related that he had often said that he never wished to be king, yet always to be the master [magister] of a king.  In this fashion he drew away [for himself] a great part of Burgundy, although King Rudolf had already confirmed, not long ago, through a solemn oath that the kingdom of Burgundy should go to Emperor Conrad and his son, King Henry, after his death.  But while Count Odo did these things in Burgundy, Emperor Conrad was in Sclavonia with his troops.*  What he did there and how he afterwards repelled Odo from Burgundy, I shall tell in the following [passages].”

* note: In his expedition against Misico (Mesko), which was begun in 1031 and concluded with a treaty at Merseburg in 1032. [notes are Morrison’s]

“When the aforementioned Boleslaus, duke of the Poles, died, he left two sons, Misico and Otto.  Misico persecuted his brother Otto and expelled him into Russia.  While Otto lived there for some time in a miserable condition, he began to ask the favor of Emperor Conrad, in order that through his intercession and assistance he might be restored to his fatherland.  Since the Emperor was willing to do this, he decided that he himself would attack Misico with troops on one side and Otto on the other.  Since Misico was unable to withstand this attack, he fled into Bohemia to Duke Udalric, against whom at that title the Emperor was enraged.  But Udalric was willing, in order to please the Emperor, to give Misico up to him.  Caesar renounced this dishonorable pact, saying that he did not wish to buy an emery from an enemy.  Otto was restored to his fatherland and made duke by Caesar; but since, after some time, he acted wit too little caution, he was slain secretly by one of his household.**  Then Misico sought in every way the favor of the Empress Gisela, and of the othe princes, that he might be found worthy to return to the favor of the Emperor.  Caesar, moved by compassion, granted him pardon; and after the province of the Poles had been divided into three parts, he made Misico tetrarch and commended the remaining two parts to two other men.  So, with his power diminished, his temerity was reduced.  After the death of Misico,*** Casimir, his son, has served our emperors faithfully until this very time.****”

** note: 1032
*** note: 1034
**** note: From 1042 his relations with Henry II worsened, and in 1050 Henry readied an expedition against him.  The expedition was canceled however by Casimir’s voluntary submission.

XXXIII.  That King Henry Subjected the Slavs

“In the meantime, while the Emperor was doing those things in Burgundy which have been recounted above, his son, King Henry, although still in the years of boyhood, attended no less energetically the affairs of the commonwealth in Bohemia and in the other regions of the Slavs, where he vigorously subjugated Udalric, duke of Bohemia, as well as many other opponents of Caesar.  When his father returned, he met him, and thus he gave to the peoples double joy because of the double victory.”

“Then, when troops had been collected from Saxony, the Emperor came upon those who are called Liutizi and who, once semi-Christian, now are wholly pagan through the wickedness of apostasy; and there he brought to an end an implacable conflict in an astounding fashion.  For there were at that time many quarrels and border raids between the Saxons and the pagans.  And when Caesar came, he began to to inure by which side the peace, which had lon bgeen inviolate between them, had been destroyed first.  The pagans said that t peace was disturbed first by the Saxons and that this would be proven through a duel, if Caesar so commanded.  The Saxons, on the other hand, although they contended unjustly, similarly pledged before the Emperor their willingness to engage in single combat to refute the pagans.  The Emperor, even though he took the counsel of his princes, did not act cautiously enough and permitted this matter to be adjudged by a duel between them.  At once two fighters met, each elected by his own men.  The Christian began to fight boldly, confiding in that faith alone which, however, is dead without works of righteousness, and not diligently heeding the fact that God, who is Truth, disposes everything in true judgment, He who makes His sun to rise over good and evil, who causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  The pagan, however, put up a staunch resistance, having before his eyes only the consciousness of the truth for which he fought.  Finally, the Christian fell, wounded by the pagan.  Because of this outcome, the pagans became so greatly elated and bold that, if the Emperor had not been present, they would have thrown themselves upon the Christians straightaway.  But, in order to curb their incursions, the Emperor constructed the castle of Werben in which he stationed garrisons of knight,s and he constrained the princes of Saxony by solemn oath and imperial order to resist the pagans of one accord.  Then he returned to Franconia.”

“But in the following year, the same castle was taken by the pagans through craft, and many of our men who were in it were killed by them.  Disturbed by this, the Emperor again came with troops to the Elbe River.  But since the pagans prevented the crossing, the Emperor sent part of the army across under cover through another ford of the river.  When the enemies had been set to flight in that way, Emperor Conrad entered the region by the now-free bank of the river and laid them so low with immense devastations and burnings everywhere except in impregnable places that afterwards they paid to him the tax which had been imposed by emperors of old and which was now increased.”

“For both before and at that time, Emperor Conrad toiled greatly amidst the nation of the Slavs. Because of this, one of us composed a short account in verse which afterwards he presented tot he Emperor.  There one may read how the Emperor sometimes stood in h marshes up to the thighs, fighting in person and exhorting the soldiers to fight; and how, after the pagans had been conquered, he slew them with the greater ferocity because of a certain reprehensible superstition of their.  For it is said that at some time the pagans kept a wooden effigy of our crucified Lord Jesus Christ in shameful mockery and spat upon it and struck it with blows; finally they tore out the eyes and cut off the hands and feet.  To avenge these deeds, the Emperor in a similar manner mutilated a great multitude of captured pagans for one effigy of Christ and destroyed them with various deaths.  Therefore Caesar is called an avenger of the Faith in these verses and is compared with the Roman princes Titus and Vespasian, who in avenging the Lord had exchanged thirty Jews for one coin since the Jews sold Christ for that many denarii.”

“After his return the Emperor imperiously cast aside whatever resistance he found in the kingdom.  In the same year, Adalbero, duke of the Carinthians lost the favor of the Emperor and was deprived dog his dukedom and sent into exile.”

40. Verses on the Death of the Emperor Conrad

[after telling how Conrad subdued the Saxons, Alemanni, Bavarians, Rome, Ravenna and Verona  (Pavia?) he comes to the Slavs]

“…The Emperor never tarried, everywhere the giver of peace.
He carried war to the pagans lest they harm Christians:
The marsh did not defend them, nor was there safety in the waters;
Well he made the barbarian Slavs and all peoples depraved feel his force.
O King God, guard the living and have mercy upon the dead.”

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March 31, 2017


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We’ve added a Strabo citation to our discussion of the Tropaeum Alpium that previously escaped our notice.  It makes for an interesting confirmation of the Tropaeum’s information.

Copyright ©2017 All Rights Reserved

March 31, 2017

Speculation Lust

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We’ve received some requests asking us to talk a little about the origins of the Slavs.  Specifically, the questions were “are they from Central Europe or from somewhere else” and were the Veneti or Suevi Slavic.  Obviously, we can only provide educated guesses and our opinions on this topic but, to the extent it isn’t obvious to the readers yet, where we (at present) stand, we can try to discussion this again.  (Incidentally, we tacked a version of this already here).

The Veneti are said to have raised mules and sacrificed horses – the horse of Arkona may be a distant relation – above are Vindelician and from Bretagne

First of all, as repeated a million times, any question can only be answered once we agree on the terms.  Otherwise we are all just speaking past each other.  What do we mean by Slavs?  People who speak a particular language?  Or blood relations?   And as of when?  As of “forever” or during the period 0AD – 500 AD or during some other period?  When we say the Veneti were Slavic, what do we mean by that?  And as of when were they Slavic (or those we call Slavs today Venetic)?  How does one account for people that were in a particular place, were then driven out for a few hundred years and then came back?  Are they autochtonous or not?  Does it matter that the people who came back were not exactly the same people as those who left?  Does it matter that historical sources indicate that even before they were driven out, they themselves were the invaders?

All of this can best be illustrated in our discussion.

There are two theoretically opposed ideas here.  One is that the Slavs migrated into Europe at some late date after the fall of the Roman Empire (512 being the earliest date typically given as attested by Procopius with the return trip of the Heruli through Slavic lands).  This is the “allochtonous” theory.  The other theory is that the Slavs were in Central Europe already during the Roman Age and likely some time before that.  This is the “autochtonous” theory.

Note that right out of the gate we run into difficulties.  Even the allochtonous theory (at least as it is stated these days) assumes that the newcomers did not entirely replace the existing population – positing some percentage as surviving and continuing on.  But what is that percentage?  As we’ve already discussed it might matter if that percentage is, say, 5% versus 95%.  It would be hard to say that the Slavs were allochtones if they composed just 5% of the overall population at the time of their arrival.  This is the case even if the newcomers brought with them their new culture, language (?) and form of government.

Assuming those populations mixed with one another, does that mean that your right hand is autochtonous but your left came from somewhere else?  How do we measure this in other words?

And as of when?  Let’s assume that the newcomers were 95% of the overall population but their offspring over the years amounts to no more than 50% of the current population with the remaining 50% being the product of the autochtonic community.  Possible?  Sure.

On the other hand, even the autochtonous theory presents its own difficulties and has to, at some point, run out of steam.  If the Slavs lived in Europe at the time of Christ, did they also live in Europe at 2000 BC?  What about 4000 BC?  Unless you believe that the Slavs arose independently as a population in Eastern Europe or that they were the first Homo Sapiens out of Africa and into Europe or that, in a variation of this, God created the Slavs already in Eastern Europe, they must have come into their present at some point in time.

So what do we think?

(WARNING: entering aree rife with speculation)

Pre-Pre History

It is striking that physiologically most northern Slavs, Balts and to some extent Finns resemble each other.  Although this resemblance is not necessarily reflected through haplogroups the overall similarities are obvious.  (The same could also be said of some Germans and many Scandinavians but on a more limited scale).  Thus, the study that indicated the genetic similarity of Poles to Veps should not be surprising.

We are willing to posit that what is today’s Central Northern Europe was inhabited in the remote past by a population that is the direct ancestor to present day populations of the same area.  It was not the only ancestor but it was the “main” component.

What language did that population speak?  This is absolutely unknown and likely unknowable.  We’d be inclined to believe that this language was akin to some Indo-European language (Baltic?) or, less likely, a “Uralic” language (Finnish?).*

* See below though on the discourse regarding potential for a pre-genetic Teutonic population.

 (Indo-Europeans would have gotten to Europe thousands of years before the Veneti so there is no way that IE came to Europe first with the Veneti (if IE had indeed been their language) if that is what you were thinking – at least not with the Veneti of the Trojan War migration – whether the Veneti had already been in Europe before that time we will not take up here – if indeed such a topic could even be discussed sensibly given the present – and likely future – lack of data).

The Veneti

The Veneti were people who lived at one time in Paphlagonia.  We know that much.

We do not know, however, where else they lived at the time.  It is quite possible, for example, that they already also lived north of the Black Sea.  The Veneti may also have lived in other parts of Anatolia and even down into Palestine (it is tempting to think that the Phoenicians may have had something to do with the Veneti – perhaps they were the Semitized Veneti or the Veneti were the Indo-Europeanized Phoenicians).  They may have bordered on the Assyrians and Lake Van in Turkey may indeed derive its name from them.  In fact, it is possible that it was the Veneti that – before the Trojan War – spread as “Arians” into India (see here on the Odras and the Wartas).  This would explain the Mount Demawend, R1a in Afghanistan and the various “Venetic” names in India (not the least being the Vindhya Range).

We can assume that the Veneti spoke a language akin to Slavic (proto-Slavic?) (certainly names of places in Anatolia that include Prusa suggest something like that).  But it is possible that they spoke their own language and got Slavicized once they crossed the Bosphorus.

At some point, let’s say after the Trojan War, the Veneti, or some portion of them, really did migrate East.  They went over the Ister and ended up spreading their “Slavic” language (or adopting the Slavic of the autochtones they encountered) and their culture all the way up to the Adriatic (perhaps into Dacia and Illyricum in the first instance).  It is for this reason that the Slovene city of Ljubljana has Jason feature in its founding myth.  It’s likely that Jason was in fact a Venetic fertility God that found His way into Greek myth (and that Iasion and Jason were the same originally).

The Veneti went further ending up in today’s Poland as well as Eastern Germany and Noricum/Vindelicia (which lic refers to the nearby River Lech – unsurprisingly, the alleged progenitor of the Poles and of the other Western Slavs – note too that Lech may mean a “white” river as in Leuco-Syrians).  They went further through France (hence the various Wendish names in France) yet, ending up in today’s northern France and, famously, Bretagne and then, eventually, crossing to Gwynedd in Wales and perhaps portions of Ireland (Dublin – Lublin).  They also may have crossed from Illyria over to southern portions of Italy (such as Messapia) and even northern Spain/Portugal.  And they may have reached present day Denmark and southern Sweden and perhaps even other portions of Britain (Picts? Apennine Range whose name seems to be constantly getting older?).

If the Veneti originally spoke Slavic then all these Veneti would have (at least initially) spoken Slavic.  If, however, that was not the case, it is possible that each grouping of the Veneti – even if springing from a common source – begun to speak the language of the local population they were absorbed into.  In Central Europe that could have been Slavic but elsewhere not so much.  It is also possible that a combination of these two cases occurred and that Slavic (or some other language) is the language of the original Veneti but that in other places the Veneti adopted the local language.

Although the same could be said about culture, there appears to be something that is the distinguishing characteristic of the Venetic culture – cremation burials.  It is curious that – in Poland – such burials in this period stop roughly on the Vistula line – as if the Venetic influence did not penetrate further east towards Prussia.  This may explain why even as late as the time of Alfred the Great, west of the Vistula we had Wendland but east of the Vistula we had Vitland.  The fact that in the West, the Rugians worshipped Svante-vit (and Rugevit and Porevit) may indicate that those populations – at least originally – were more akin to the Prussians and Lithuanians (or derived from them) and that – later – they became separated by the “Veneti”.

What happened to the “autochtons” when the Veneti arrived?

And we know there were autochtons present.  Sources tell us that even in the Venice region, the Veneti displaced a local population.  More generally, we obviously do know that there were humans in Central Europe prior to the Trojan War.

The Trojan War itself has been dated to the 13th or 12th century BC.  It is curious that the recently discovered remains of an ancient battle at Tollensee have been both dated to approximately 1250 BC and said to have contained dNA similar to that of present day Poles/Scandinavians but also southern Europeans.  Although obviously this is pure speculation, a tempting construct would see these as being the “locals” and the “Venetic” arrivals.  (Of course, we have no idea whether the battle groups were in fact divided according to today’s “geographies” or whether they had anything at all to do with the Veneti – this is all obvious speculation).

If all of the above is true then the first question we ought to be asking is what was the percentage of the Veneti among the locals?  5% or 95%?  And at what location?

We can assume that the Veneti controlled most of Central Europe but would guess that it was at this point that the “Balts” remained outside of the Venetic influence while the Balts’ autochtonous cousins became pre-Slavic “Wends” by reason of their mingling with the Veneti.  It is possible that it was at this point that Slavic was carved out of Baltic with the former either being originally a “Venetic” language or, more likely, a mixture of Venetic and Baltic.  The Veneti and the “captured Balts” became Slavs – from Trieste through Noricum, possibly Suevia and up to the Baltic.*  The remaining Balts stayed Balts – now designated Aestii.

* In fairness, it is possible that the original pre-Venetic population may have been Nordic or Teutonic even in Central Europe… As an interesting side note recall that the word Deutsch comes from the same PIE root (*teuta- “people”) as:

  • Old Irish tuoth “people,”
  • Old Lithuanian tauta “people,”
  • Old Prussian tauto “country,”
  • Oscan touto “community.” 
  • Polish tu or tutaj each meaning “here” or tutejsi “the ones from here” (Hierige) or tato “dad” (on this last point note also the Suevic – Langobardic ruler Tato – the Langobards who seem to have conquered the original Winulli also had a king named Lethuc which is just way too similar to the Polish prehistoric Leszek)

Not to mention the Germanic Ur-Gott Tuisco or Tuisto.

The Gauls

If one were to believe the ancient writers, the Gauls may have originally come into Gall and other places from Germany.  But to get to Germany they likely would have come from Scandinavia. While the La Tène culture with its cremation burials may have been Venetic, Hallstadt was likely Celtic.  This does not mean however that the Celts exterminated the Veneti (meaning – at this point – what we would call today Slavs).  In many places they melted into the local population and only maintained their “Gallic” presence in today’s France.

Perhaps at the time the invasion of the Gauls “cut off” the Veneti in Bretagne (and southern France/northern Spain) from the rest of the Veneti.  On the Veneti of Bretagne see here and here and here.

The Suevi and the Nordics

The Nordics or those what we would today call “Germans” likely came next.  They too however did not displace the local population.  The language of the Suevi who arose at this time is quite uncertain but it is interesting to note that they may have had “Indic” prisoners (as per Pliny) and that they did keep slaves –  the Latin word for whom at the time was Servi.  Whether the Servi were the same as the Veneti and whether they were ethnically different from the Suevi is, of course, uncertain.  It is certainly possible that the Suevi of Ariovistus and Veleda were Slavic speaking and no different from their servitors.  It is curious that the Suevi maintained good relations with the Rhaetians or the Norici (one of Ariovistus’ wives came from there) and that their names sound similar to those of the Dacians of the time.  This suggests a common Venetic heritage.  Note too that the very name Suevi may have derived from the River Suevus which may well have been the Eastern Saale (Solawa in Slavic and hence the later Solaviane).  These Suevi thus may well have been a combination of the original “Baltic” population, the Veneti who arrived a millennium or so earlier and, possibly, a new northern element.  Their language, however, may well have been a version of Venetic.  The fact that their garb and customs are supposed to be similar to that of the Baltic Aestii (or, really, vice versa) and just the language a little (?) different suggests that the Suevi and Aestii were not too separate.  The fact that Tacitus views them as a large assembly of nations not like the “other” German tribes also suggests that the Suevi were not just Nordics.  

But the Suevi were soon broken.  Initially, in the time of Caesar, they reached the Rhine.  But then they kept being beaten back and by the time of Tacitus the bulk of them (some Suevi – Wiltzi – may have remained in the Netherlands/Belgium– for that see here) was nowhere near the Rhine, having been driven by the Romans as well as by the continued outpouring of tribes out of Scandinavia, further East towards the Elbe.  The country of the Veneti was cut off and what we now view as Western Germany became, well, Germanized.

Other Suevi, we know, were driven towards the Danube and, later yet, into Pannonia where they allied frequently with the “Sarmatian” Jazyges.  Did the Jazyges speak Venetic as well?  They were Sarmatian as were the (Vistula) Veneti so – if that term means more than just geographic association – perhaps they had been “Venetized” already (by the forces of Antenor on the way west or even earlier?).  (The names of the individual Sarmatians (Jazyges?) do not sound Slavic and neither do the names of the, perhaps, related Alans – but then again, we are told that Germans take Roman names and Sarmatians frequently taken Germanic names).

The Vandals – to the extent they existed prior to their appearance in modern day Romania – likely skipped along the Elbe/Oder down into Czechia/Moravia bypassing Poland entirely. The notion that the so-called Przeworsk culture has anything to do with Vandals is nothing but a flight of fancy, wishful thinking or outright lying.

The Goths may have lived at the Vistula but we do not even know which river the Vistula was with the Oder being the main candidate.  It is also rather remarkable that all the tribes mentioned in the Getica as having fallen to the Goths appear to be of eastern origin.  This is true of the Spali who appear in the East and then the numerous Finnic tribes that are conquered before the Goths try their hand at taming the Veneti.  But for the seemingly earlier mention of the Vandals and Rugi, it would be tempting to suggest that the Goths came from the East – not from Scandinavia.   The fact that the Tocharian language seems to have been a centum language would support this hypothesis.

What of the Veneti at This Time? 

It would be quite simplistic and unrealistic that cultures such as Wielbark and Przeworsk were exclusively assignable to one particular group.  It would likewise be silly to suggest that a particular territory was exclusively possessed by a particular group.  And also silly to suggest that only one language must have been spoken in the same territory.

Central Europe was likely still mostly Venetic at the time, no matter who ran the show.  This is so for no other reason than the fact that invaders were far too lazy to till the soil – why would they, if they could just impose themselves upon the locals (much as the Rus did later in Russia – transferring the name onto the native Polans but otherwise becoming thoroughly assimilated).

This is not to say that the Veneti were the only people there.  In fact, if the tales of Scrithifinni (or Screrefennae) are to be believed, a Finnic or Baltic (original?) population may have remained present in the area even into that late day.  Note that skryty means hidden or reserved in Slavic.

As we’ve discussed numerous times, it’s less than clear who the Lugii/Legii/Lygii were.  They were supposedly Suevic (implicit in Tacitus’ Germania) but what does that really mean if we can’t even say what language the Suevi spoke?  It is quite likely that the Lugii were the ancestors of some of the Poles and spoke some sort of Venetic (Slavic) language – but the north of Poland (including Pomerania, Mazovia and, of course, Prussia probably still spoke the language of the “Baltic” autochtones – the “Aesti”.  There may also have been some Goth outposts on the Baltic shore.

It is possible that some of the Veneti had been dragged south-eastwards by the advance of the Goths (assuming the Goths came from the North.  Perhaps some had been taken prisoner.  Hence we have the Veneti on the Danube on the Tabula who then later invade the Byzantine Empire.  It is however possible that these Veneti had been there from time immemorial – perhaps a result of Antenor’s march or perhaps a result of the presence of an even earlier, pre-Trojan War Venetic population.

So What Happened Next?

That Slavic was likely spoken in Pannonia in the 5th century is best shown by the strava reference in Jordanes’ description of Atila’s funeral.  As noted above the mixing of the Suevi and the Jazyges is likely to have been happening even before Nedao but likely accelerated thereafter.

After the Battle of Nedao (in which the Suevi – but now referred to as the Suavi – took part), it is possible that the remnants of the Suevi (previously Venetic speaking and now further mixed with the Pannonian Jazyges who, again, could have spoken the same tongue), still remembering that they came from somewhere further Northwest (Noricum) headed back North and West.  This is likely where the Suevic – now Slavic – name arose but the Slavs even later remembered that they were Noricans (as noted in Nestor) before they got to Pannonia.

(That the Slav name may have been a late addition into this mix is suggested by the fact that Jordanes explicitly names the Veneti as the progenitors of the tribe and says that the other group was the Antes which itself may be a version of the Veneti or maybe even a reference to a long-remembered memory of Antenor.)

In the North, any returning Venetic Suevi, would have found the remaining Vistula Veneti and perhaps also Balts even at the Pomeranian coast plus some Gothic remnants (hence Viti- or Vidi-varii) and over time merged with them – all now calling themselves Suavi or “Slavs”.

In the West, however, the matter was not so simple.  In Eastern Germany some remnants of the original Suevi/Veneti may have survived (Germanized?) but Western Germany was now the abode of the Saxons, Thuringians and, further West, the Frisians and Franks.

And in the East the lands would have already been held by the Veneti who now, with the Byzantine Empire weak  began to pour over the border.

Post Scriptum

Note too that the suggestion only the Eastern Danube Veneti were Slavs whereas the “Sarmatian” Veneti of the Vistula were not, is silly on its face.  It would be quite bizarre if each of these populations, on the one hand, shared a name and the fact that each became “Slavicized” in the future but, on the other hand, did not – at the time of the crafting of the Tabula – share anything else in common. 

Note further that the fact that Slavic remained mutually understandable for most Slavs at this time does not necessarily indicate that all the Slavs must have lived close to one another (though Suavic Pannonia could have been that area if we must go there).  It is indisputable that even today Slavic languages are to a large extent mutually comprehensible for all Slavs (at least if spoken slowly) and certainly more so than Germanic languages.  This seems to be a function of the complicated nature of the language.  In other words, the Germanic languages are much simpler and as such they are much simpler also to change.  This is their strength – they are easier to learn than Slavic or Chinese and, consequently are more adaptable or changeable – something that is harder to achieve with a more complicated language.

So Where Does This Leave Us?

It is thus entirely possible that the original (and largely continuing) autochtonous population of Central Europe was Venetic (as in Slavic) by Roman times.  But all of this may also mean that the Veneti – post 1250 AD – just gave such population its fire-worshipping culture and – perhaps – language (Slavic)* whereas such population was – and remains – largely “Baltic” or perhaps “Balto-Finnic” biologically (Balts are somewhat similar to Slavs on a genetic level – Finns – at least today’s Finns – are somewhat different).  Whether or not the Suevi were Venetic (Slavic) speaking originally or became so later (either after contacts with the Veneti or, much later, with the Venetized Jazyges) they may well have given their name to the Slavs.

[* It is also possible however that Slavic was spoken in Central Europe already before the Veneti and that the Veneti became Slavicized as a result of their conquest of the area.]

Thus, it is possible, that Slavs are autochtonous to Central Europe (including Slovenia) as a population and – perhaps – as a matter of language.  It is also very likely that the Vistula, Danube (and possibly the Adriatic and… maybe the Gallic) Veneti spoke some form of Slavic.  But this does not necessarily mean the Veneti – before 1250 BC – had much to do with the population that today is called Slavic (or, depending on your vies, with the Slavic language).

If you can live with that distinction then we’d say that the Vistula and Danube Veneti – by Roman times – were very likely identical with Slavs.  The Adriatic Veneti and Vindelici – even though they may have been the same “Slavic” people originally – were likely for the most part first Gallicized and then Latinized by that time in terms of language – though, perhaps, some pockets survived deep in the Alps or other forlorn places (and it may well be that it was these pockets that resuscitated the Slovenes).

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March 30, 2017

Of Marshes

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We’ve previously mentioned that the word lug/ług/łęg which means a “marshy meadow” in Slavic (but too in Lithuanian).  As the link above shows, Brueckner was aware that the same name appears in Strabo’s Geography.  Didn’t pick up on this at first but then looking over that work, we came across the following statement about the lands about Pannonia:

“In like manner, also, there is a pass which leads over Ocra from Tergeste, a Carnic village, to a marsh called Lugeum/Lugeon.”

(Strabo’s Geography (Book 7, Chapter 5))

We should also add Mount Ocra sounds vaguely Slavic (okryt “to cover” or kra meaning “ice”) and similar to names such as Uecker or Wkra (recall, for example, Ucromirus).

We’ve already pointed out a few times that it seems odd that the town of Serbinum, also known as Servitium or Servicium in province of Pannonia should have been there under that name already in Ptolemy’s time even though the Serbs are said not to have gotten to the neighborhood until the 6th century (unless the Serbs did not get that name until they got to that area which seems improbable).

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March 28, 2017

Arrian’s Veneti

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One of the more knotty assertions has been that the Paphlagonian Veneti had been driven out from their lands by the Assyrians (or by the Leuco (or white) Syrians though it may also be the case that the Veneti were the Leuco-Syrians).  This claim appears in a number of 19th centuries works – usually written by amateur historians and without citations.  We finally decided to get to the bottom of this.

Apparently, the statement was made by Arrian of Nicomedia (circa 86/89 A.D. – circa after 146/160 A.D.), the author of the Periplus of the Euxine Sea, Indica and a number of other works.  However, it does not seem to have been directly preserved in any surviving work of Arrian’s.  (we say “does not seem” because we hadn’t had a chance to look through the Arrian section in Felix Jacoby’s Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker – FGrH 156).  Instead, the assertion is made by a 12th century Greek scholar Eustathius of Thessalonica (circa 1115 – 1195/6).  Among Eustathtius’ works is a series of commentaries including one on the work of Dionysius Periegetes (Dionysius the Traveler), a Roman traveler and author of a geography book who is believed to have lived during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian (117–138 A.D.) though some say that he lived at the end of the third century.

It is in that commentary on Dionysius Periegetes (specifically, in section 378) that Eustathius cites Arrian.  We find the passage of interest to us in the German philologist Gottfried Bernhardy‘s 1828 edition of Dionysius’ work (Dionysius Periegetes : graece et latine, cum vetustis commentariis et interpretationibus) which also happens to contain Eusthathius’ commentary on  Dionysius.

Although about a millennium separates Arrian and Eustathius and fewer years than that have passed from Eustathius’ time to ours, nevertheless it is certainly possible that Eustathius did have access to one of Arrian’s lost works.

The following is the excerpt from the “Arrian” section of the commentary which section refers to the Veneti:

“[378] …The Eneti, who are now called the Veneti, as Arrian writes saying that the Eneti struggled hard in the fight against the Assyrians and passing into Europe lived by the river Po and the native language of these [people] is still called Venetian by reason of the Eneti and the land they dwell in [is called] Venetia.  The old [people] truly say that some of those who come from the Eneti, people of Asia, brought their kind, those who struggled in that war (as it is said) fleeing to Europe.  Others say that from the Eneti, who at one time inhabited Paphlagonia, they brought forth an exceptional nation, that after the attack on it was left wandering.  Their leader Pylamenes went to Thracia and the Veneti wondered about and retreated to the Adriatic.   This poet [Strabo] recalls such Venetian Paphlagonians saying: ‘from the [land] of the Veneti, whence comes the breed of wild mules.’  Many of the Veneti who are close to Aquileia, have colonies there by the same name.  The ocean is called home not only by the Veneti but also by the Belgae.  The Belgae are a Celtic nation.  The geographer [Strabo] also writes that clearly the cities of the Veneti who live by the ocean were founded by those who live on the Adriatic.  In a naval encounter they fought against Caesar such that they might prevent him from crossing to Britain.  Nor is it an accident that the Veneti are those Paphlagonians that arrived safe from the Trojan War with Antenor the Trojan, as this is demonstrated by the fact that they excelled in raising horses, as reported by Homer.  [Thus,] the training of horse is among the Greek called Venetica [?]  It was from these that Diomedes was given an offering of a white horse.  Moreover, they say their sea is similar to the Ocean [both] returning and flowing.  And these lakes are filled by channels (as old historians recount), just as the Egyptian lakes are derived/filled [?].  It should also be noted that the entire region beyond the Calabrians was called Apulia and the people there Apulians.  Note also that just as the wind that blows through Thracia is called the Thracian, and the Locrician the one that blows through Locris, so does the one that blows through Iapygia is called the Iapygian.*”

* This is confusing but Iapygia is the same as Apulia and as Messapia at the back heel of Italy (also the home to a town Sybar present apparently at the Trojan War before it was renamed Lecce by the Romans – given as Lipiae or Lippiae by Strabo and Ptolemy).  Whether the Iapyges could have something to do with the Iazyges is a question at least worth asking.  Why this passage should be thrown in here is uncertain – perhaps the author thought the Messapians/Apullians/Iapyges had something to do with the Veneti.  Perhaps because of the city of Pula now in Croatia (Colonia Pietas Iulia Pola Pollentia Herculanea).  What Locris has to do with any of this is even more unclear.  Afterwards, the author continues with the description of the northern Adriatic turning his gaze to Triest so it seems that some connection is being drawn by Eustathius (or by Arrian?).

“[382] Also Tegaestrae, an Illyrian city, which is located in the innermost part of the Adriatic: its other name is Tergest as it is [written?] in the book of the Gentiles/[heathens?].”

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March 28, 2017

Alamannic Rivers

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The Alamanni were the inheritors of the Suevi or Suavi (or, in West Flemish, Sueevn or Sueeven, in German also Sueben, Sueven or Suawen) and the relationship between the two peoples has been a source of debate and contention.  What is interesting, however, is that they are described as being “nature” worshippers – much like the Sclavi (Sclaveni/Suovianie/Slavianie).  Here is an excerpt from Agathias and the better known one from Procopius writing about the same time.

Agathias: The Histories (1.6.3, 1.7.1)

“The Alamanni, if we are to take the word of Asinius Quadratus, an Italian who wrote an accurate account of German affairs, are a mixed and mongrel people, and their name signifies this…They have their own traditional way of life too, but in matters of government and public administration they follow the Frankish system, religious observance being the only exception.  They worship certain trees, the waters of rivers, hills and mountain valleys, in whose honour they sacrifice horses, cattle and countless other animals by beheading them, and imagine that they are performing an act of piety thereby.”

Procopius, History of Wars Book 7, 14

“They reverence, however, both rivers and nymphs and some other spirits, and they sacrifice to all these also, and they make their divinations in connection with these sacrifices.”

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March 24, 2017

Thietmar (Book V)

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We presented the Slavs and Slavic place names in the first four books of Thietmar’s Chronicle here.  We now continue with Book V (translation is David Warner’s).

Chapter 7 [year 1002]

“…The course of Ekkehard’s life loas so worthy that his lord allowed him to hold the greater part of his benefice as personal property.  He forced the free-born Milzeni under the yoke of servitude.  With flattery and threats, he won Duke Boleslav [III] of Bohemia, called the ‘Red”, for  his military service and turned the other Boleslav [Chrobry of Poland] into a personal ally.  He acquired the office of duke over all of Thuringia by the election of the whole populace.  With only a few exceptions, he reckoned on the support of the eastern counts and therefore of the duchy.  All of this came to such a miserable end.”

Chapter 9 [1002]

“Meanwhile, Boleslav [Chrobry of Poland] , a son far inferior to his father Miesco, rejoiced over the death of Margrave Ekkehard.  Shortly after this, he assembled an army and seized Margrave Gero’s march as far as the river Elbe.  Then, with siege troops sent ahead, he captured the burg Bautzen [Budisin], with all its possessions,and immediately thereafter attacked Strehla.  Secretly, he also tried to bribe the residents of Meissen who were always happy for something new.  One day, when they realized that most of the garrison had left to find fodder for the horses, Duke Gunzelin of Kuchenburg led them in an assault on the east door, in that part of the city inhabited by ministeriales known in Slavic as Withasen [witeź].”

“After killing Bezeko, one of Count Herman’s ministeriales, they took up arms and met at the count’s chamber where they threw large rocks at the window and loudly demanded that Ozer, the lord of the city, be handed over to them for execution.  But the miles Thietmar, having no other protection that the room itself, asked them: ‘Why are you doing this?  What madness so seduced you that, forgetful of the benefits bestowed by Margrave Ekkehard and your willing invitation, you rise up to destroy his son?  If you wish to reveal the reason for such an outrage, either publicly or secretly to one of us, on behalf of my lords and all of us, I firmly promise you an agreeable settlement of the offence and security regarding your future concerns.  As for the man you seek to have handed over, namely so that he can be killed, you will not received him as long as we are living.  We are few and you should know for certain that we will either die together or leave this city unharmed.’  After they had heard this and consulted among themselves, the attackers granted the garrison freedom to leave.  Then, they sent messengers to summon Duke Boleslav and received him with open doors.  Hence, the words of the scriptures were fulfilled: ‘They may rejoice when they act wickedly, and exult in evil things and again.  Their beginnings are as honey and their end as absinthe.'”

Chapter 10 [1002]

“Elated by this success, Boleslav occupied the entire region up to the Elster and secured it with a garrison.  Then, when our people gathered together to resist him, that deceitful man sent a messenger who announced to them that these things had been done with the favour and permission of Duke Henry.  He added that Boleslav would in no way injure the inhabitants and, if Henry came to power in the realm, he would assen  to his will in all things, but if otherwise, he would willingly do whatever pleased them,.  Considering this, our people believed the beautiful words and shamefully advanced to him as if to their lord, thereby exchanging their inborn honour for supplication and unjust servitude.  Hoe unequally are our ancestors and our contemporaries compared!  In the days of the illustrious Hodo, this man’s father Miesco, would not have dared to wear furs when entering a house in which he knew him to be or to sit while he was standing.  May God forgive the emperor for making a lord out of a tributary and raising him to the point that, forgetful of his father’s customs, he might dare to gradually drag his superiors into subjection and seize those caught with the shameful hook of temporal wealth to the detriment of both slaves and free.”

Chapter 11 [1002]

“Also the other Boleslav [III], the Bohemian ruler nicknamed ‘the Red’ and generally a source of the worst impiety, departed from his usual custom and supported Duke Henry…”

Chapter 15 [1002]

“From there [Thuringia], Henry went to Merseburg where he was received by Abbot Heimo and by his faithful count Esiko [24 July].  Esiko had manfully held this city along with Allstedt, Dornburg and all their possessions until his lord arrived, though this had greatly angered Ekkehard while he lived.  Here also were Archbishop Liawizo of Bremen and Giselher of Magdeburg with other colleagues: Rethar of Paderborn, Bernward of Hildesheim, Arnulf of Halberstadt, Ramward of Minden, Eid of Meissen, Bernhar of Verden, Hugh [II] of Zeitz.  Also present were dukes Bernhard and Boleslav with the margraves Liuthar and Gero and the count palatine Frederick.  Many others were also there, both bishops and counts, but it would take too long to give their names individually.  All of these received the king with humble devotion.

Chapter 18 [1002]

Except for Liudger, everyone who had served the previous emperor offered his hand to the king and swore to aid him faithfully.  Meanwhile, Boleslav schemed to acquire the burg Meissen at whatever cost.  Because it was not advantageous to the realm, he got nowhere with the king and only barely succeeded in securing it for his brother-in-law Gunzelin.  He himself received the regions of Lausitz and the Milzeni.  Margrave Henry, my cousin, held Boleslav in great esteem and aided him freely and amicably in whatever way he could.  As he prepared to escort Boleslav, departing well rewarded and with the king’s permission, he saw an armed multitude gathering and moving to attack them.  May God be my witness, this was without the involvement or knowledge of the king!  When he wanted to discover the cause of this great tumult, and resolve it so that more damage might not arise, he was barely able to get away and lead his companion out by breaking the exterior door.  Out of his entourage, some warriors were plundered by the surging mob while others though severely wounded escaped death with the help of Duke Bernhard.  Because they had entered the royal court armed and refused to leave when ordered, the penalty they paid was justified by their own offense.  Boleslav saw this as part of an evil plot and, deeply disturbed, blamed the king although unjustly.  After bidding farewell to Henry and firmly promising his aid, should it ever be required, he quickly returned to his own lands.  When he arrived at the city of Strehla, he immediately set fire to it and abducted a large part of the populace. At the same time, he sent back representatives through whom he tried to attract as many of the king’s supporters as possible.  Soon afterwards, when this came to the king’s ears, he asked his dependents to inquire about the secret plots of the Slav and, if possible, to capture his spies.”

Chapter 23 [1002]

Meanwhile, because the power of a consort and successor always inspires fear, the duke of the Bohemians, Boleslav [III], castrated his brother Jaromir and wanted to suffocate the younger brother in his bath.  Then he sent both brothers and their mother into exile.  Then, ruling alone like the noxious basilisk, he oppressed the people unspeakably.  When they could no longer bear the weight of this outrage, they secretly called Wlodowej [Duke of Bohemia 1002 – 1003] from Poland, whose name means power of the army.  He was a poisonous snake who treated his people without any respect for the law.  After Boleslav the basilisk had been deposed, this one was unanimously elected in his place because of his consanguinity and because of the people’s affection.  I can say one thing about him that is incredible and not to be copied by any Christian, namely that he could not endure even one hour without drink.  As this was the only path of escape open to him, Boleslav fled to Margrave Henry, then his neighbor, who seized him as an enemy because of past injuries.  Afterwards, because he had arrived as a guest, he was set free and, being fond of his life, he went to the like-named son of his aunt who was his equal in shamefulness though unequal in ability.  Inclined to better advice, the other one went to the king, then residing oat Regensburg, and recognized him as his lord with humble subjection and the promise of loyalty.  He received what he sought from him as a benefice and, after being treated warmly in all matters, returned in peace.

Chapter 24 [1002]

“…In the expectation of receiving the abundant support promised by the Italians, the king sent Duke Otto of Carinthia and Verona, Otto the son of Count Heribert, Ernst the son of Margrave Leopold, and a few others to resolve the situation [December 1002 to beginning of January 1003].

Chapter 29 [1003]

Meanwhile Duke Wlodowej died and the brothers who had been expelled along with their mother were recalled by the repentant Bohemians.  But Boleslav, the ruler of the Poles, collected an army and expelled them again.  He then restored his exiled namesake to his previous dignity and went home, with his plots deeply concealed.  He knew that his cousin would be too vindictive towards those who had supported his expulsion and hoped that at a more auspicious moment he might himself intervene.  And so it actually happened.  When Boleslav [III] of Bohemia perceived that his people dedicated themselves to paganism in all security, his own impiety was fortified for breaking the peace treaty which he had confirmed by oath.  Thus, when all the great men had been assembled before him in one house, he himself killed his brother in law by striking him in the head with a sword and then, with his evil supporters, this bloody and deceitful man who was unworthy of half the days conceded to him, killed the others although they were unarmed and it was the holy season of Lent.

Chapter 30 [1003]

The rest of the people, in great fear because of this, secretly sent representatives to Boleslav of Poland who revealed the magnitude of the shameful deed and asked him to rescue them from fear of the future.  He heard these things with pleasure and immediately asked the other Boleslav, through a faithful representative, to come to him at a certain citadel for a personal discussion regarding matters of mutual interest.  The younger Boleslav agreed to this, came to the agreed-upon place, and was affectionately received by him.  The following night he was blinded by the other’s henchmen thereby ensuring that hew would never treat his people in that manner again or even be able to rule there.  He was also sent into a long exile.  On the following day, the elder Boleslav travelled quickly to Prague where he was introduced and unanimously acclaimed as lord by the inhabitants who were always happy to have a new ruler.  As his world power increased, his willfulness became much greater than is normal in a restrained mind.  Note this well, dear reader: he who becomes too proud in prosperity will often be brought lower in adversity.  It is affirmed by scripture that a wise man does not do this.”

Chapter 31 [1003]

“The king learned all of these things from hearsay, and accepted them with the due seriousness of a patient mind.  At least, he imputed to his sins whatever misfortune occurred in the kingdom in his time.  Therefore, as seemed most opportune to him, he ignored everything that had happened to the Bohemians, and sent representatives to Boleslav with the following demand: if he wished to retain the land he had recently occupied, by the king’s grace, as the ancient law requires, and serve him in all things faithfully, the king would agree to his requests.  If otherwise, he would oppose him with arms.  Boleslav received this legation unworthily, though it was just and well composed, and therefore deservedly brought revenge on himself in the future.  When the Lenten fast was finished, as I have mentioned, the king followed the custom of his predecessors by celebrating Easter, in an appropriate manner, at Quedlinburg [28 March].  There, as befits such a great feast, he ignored both Boleslav‘s evil presumption and Henry’s ambitions and enjoyed the company of his familiars.  On the same occasion, the king bestowed royal gifts on Dukes Otto and Ernst, recently returned after their disastrous defeat, and consoled them with fatherly encouragement.  He also received representatives of the Redarii and the people known as the Liutizi and, claiming these rebels with the sweetness of gifts and the joy of promises, turned them from enemies into friends.”*

* Warner’s note: this refers to “Henry II’s controversial decision to form an alliance against Boleslav Chrobry with the pagan confederation of the Liutizi.”

Chapter 32 [1003]

“After this, the king celebrated the Rogation days, which should be observed by all the faithful of Christ, at Merseburg [3-5 May].  There he learned of the open rebellion of Duke Boleslav and Margrave Henry.  Then he celebrated the feast of Pentecost at Halberstadt [16 May].  After this, he travelled to Bavaria where he initially tried to defeat Henry, who was offering resistance with the help of Boleslav but afterwards concentrated on quashing conspiracies instigated elsewhere.  In this regard, he learned that Ernst whom he had recently honoured and Bruno [Henry II’s brother, later the bishop of Augsburg] , his own brother, had also joined the conspiracy.  They were heedless of what has been written: ‘Virtue lacking council fails of its own weight.’  To restrain their arrogance, the king gathered his supporters from all sides and, at the beginning of August, wasted the lands of Margrave Henry, thereby forcing him to abandon his residence and hide wherever he could.  Anyone aware of the cause of the margrave’s stubbornness would say that his actions were necessary: the higher powers may not withdraw something firmly promised to a faithful servant without alienating the devotion of others,  Tho those, I respond, every dominion in this world derives from God and whoever rises against it offends the divine majesty.  One must weather the sudden burst of injustice with the rudder of patience and, with humble supplication await a consolation which will be truly useful.  I think it better to ascend the heights gradually rather than incur a sudden and insurmountable ruin.  I admit that I would defend my cousin in some other way, if I did not fear to violate that truth which must be honoured by all faithful people.”

Chapter 33 [1003]

“In many ways, the proverbs of the ancients have been confirmed: the old crimes of humankind bring forth new acts of evil and shame.  For Margrave Henry’s father had often opposed the father of the king, as if an enemy rather than one of his milites, and himself admitted that he had supported the emperor’s side because of a boon promised under oath.  In similar fashion, Margrave Henry had been faithful to Otto III until the latter’s death and serve King Henry strenuously up to this unhappy time.  The king was still intensely aware of their fathers’ rivalry, but I believe that the love of Christ would have moved him to let it go entirely unpunished, if only he had not seen Margrave Henry in the company of his other enemies, opposing him so cruelly and openly.  Although Margrave Henry alone might appear guilty in this crime, it was not undertaken without the advice of others from the very beginning.  Because betrayal is deemed particularly shameful in this world, however, he preferred to pursue the matter, with his conscience groaning, rather than increase his own blame by endangering others.  Thus, he who once zealously defended the realm from the enemy now opened it to pillaging.  He secretly received aid from Boleslav though it did him no good.”

Chapter 34 [1003]

“When the king was traveling to a place called Hersbuck, the royal treasure, having been sent ahead, was seized by the margrave’s miles Maganus and his band.  Dividing the booty among themselves, they returned happily to the burg at Ammerthal.  The king followed and, after preparing for a siege, forced them to ask only for their lives., through intercessors, and to return both the burg and booty.  Then, after the burg had been virtually destroyed and the many Poles divided among his men, he set forth for the castle at Creussen where Margrave Henry’s brother, Bukko, was supposed to be guarding the Margrave’s wife, Gerberga, and his children.  From outside, Margrave Henry and his supporters fought the army which had surrounded the burg on all sides…”

Chapter 36 [1003]

“Meanwhile, as the king was besieging Margrave Henry’s burg at Creussen, Boleslav was straining with every effort to injure him in some way.  Secretly collecting an army, he sent representatives to demand that his brother-in-law, Gunzelin, surrender the burg of Meissen into his power and renew their old alliance as he had promised.  Gunzelin knew, however, that with Boleslav’s entry he would virtually be excluded from the king’s favour and from his own domain.  Thus, he offered the following response: ‘Everything you ask from me other than this, dear brother-in-law, I will freely provide and, if ever the opportunity arises for doing what you ask, I will not refuse.  But my lords retainers are with me and they would not suffer such things [senioris mei satellites(!)].  And, if this were revealed, my life and all that I possess would be endangered.’  When Boleslav heard this message, he put the messengers under guard and ordered his army to hasten to the Elbe.  He hollowed them, the next morning, after the character of the fords had been determined.  At the burg Strehla, because it was his daughter’s morning gift, he declared that the occupants had nothing to fear from him but that they should not try to warn their neighbors by crying out.  Without delay, the duke ordered the army to divide into four parts and reconvene in the evening at the burg Zehren.  Two detachments were sent ahead to ensure that they would not be troubled by the margrave.  In one day, the whole fertile region of Lommatzsch was ravaged with fuire and sword and had its inhabitants abducted.”

Chapter 37 [1003]

“Here, it might be recalled how Boleslav Chrobry who was so often accustomed to deceive others was himself fooled by the garrison of the citadel of Muegeln.  When they were besieged by the detachment sent against them they asked: ‘Why are you doing this?  We know your lord to be the best and hold him above us.  Just go on, and have no doubt that we will follow with our families and possessions.’  After they said these things their enemies ceased to harass them and reported to their lord that the garrison would arrive shortly.  Nevertheless, when Duke Boleslav saw that his retainers arrived late at the agreed-upon spot, and that the garrison stayed at home, was very angry and threatened to punish this false allies.  The next morning, at sun-up, a huge amount of booty was sent ahead.  A large part of the enemy drowned in the Elbe, but the rest returned home uninjured and divided the booty, assigning the best parts to God and their lord.  There were at least three thousand captives and eye witnesses have said that the actual number was still larger.”

Chapter 38 [1003]

“Margrave Henry, now perceiving that he had failed, hurried to the burg Kronach where he found Siegfried, the young son of Count Siegfried, who awaited him with aid.  Siegfried saw no hope of a rebellion in those parts, whether at his own or Henry’s instigation.  At last, after they had talked for a long time, Henry set the burg on fire and, together with lord Bruno and his remaining supporters, went to Boleslav the invader of Bohemia.  Siegfried, his hope of open resistance frustrated, did not go with them, but instead returned, intent on making amends fro what he had done.  The king had followed his enemy to Kronach and was pleased to see that he had taken the trouble to destroy everything.  Then he sent Bishop Henry of Wuerzburg and Erkanbald, abbot of Fulda, to burn and destroy the burg Schweinfurt.  When they arrived, Margrave Henry’s illustrious mother, Eila, received and greeted them, as was proper for such persons.  As soon as she understood the nature of the king’s orders, she became agitated and hurried to the church, declaring that she would rather die in the flames than cooperate in the burning of this building by departing alive.  Hence, the previously mentioned lords, putting aside secular concerns in favour of the love of Crhist, modified the punishment and merely pulled down the walls and outbuildings.  They also mollified the sorrowful woman with the promise that they would themselves restore everything, whenever the king’s favour permitted.”

“After he had restated all the count’s property and distribute it along with his benefice, the king went to Bamberg where he dismissed his army and celebrated the birth of the Mother of God with joyful festivities [8 September].  From thence he went to the forest of Spessart and relaxed from the labour of the expedition with the pleasure of the hunt.  Having passed a pleasant autumn there, he travelled through Franconia to Saxony where he announced that he would undertake an expedition against the Milzeni during the upcoming winter.  After this, he celebrated the birth of the Lord at Poehlde with spiritual and secular splendor, according to the custom of his predecessors.”

Chapter 39 [1004]

“…The king granted this and the prelate, traveling in a wagon as was his cutom, went to his estate at Trebra where he departed from this world after two days, on 25 January.”

Chapter 44 [1004]

“…Whatever he demanded from his most beloved Tagino, he received as a gift from his abundant good will.  Concerning the bishoprics of Meissen and Zeitz, he ordered a complete restoration, by royal power, because in this instance the earlier situation could justify the removal.  Therefore, I will compose a reface and sing songs of Christ with these verses.”

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March 19, 2017

Writing Your Own History

Published Post author

We have received some emails bemoaning the lack of quality English language works regarding Central European history that are also not woefully out of date.  While it’s true that the offering here is not as rich as it could be, there are some decent books that fit the bill.

For example, regarding Poland, we have the “eminently readable” newly updated version of Adam Zamoyski’s The Polish Way, now retitled “Poland, a History.”  We don’t agree with everything in the book (how about a history of Poles as opposed to of Poland) but, hey, we don’t have to.

So, if you fear being rendered comatose by the lifeless print of internationalist ideologues like Norman Davies (and don’t want to fill the coffers of putschistic twiteratti like Paul Barford), buy Zamoyski’s book.

Of course, Poland is not a stand in for the entire region (though given the country’s changing borders the above manages to touch a bit upon Ukrainians, Belarussians, Lithuanians and others) and we still await similar books about the histories of other Central European nations.

The one thing that we are still waiting for is a serious work regarding the early history of the peoples of Central Europe.  Certainly, that terrain ought not to be left to off the cuff nonsense (Schenker) or purposeful confabulations (Wolfram, Pohl & others).

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March 16, 2017

Agatho and the Slavs

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We have previously discussed the letters of Pope Gregory the Great.  But a less known and yet interesting seventh century source on the history of the Slavs is the following letter from Pope Agatho (Pope from June 26, 678 till his death on January 10, 681).  The letter was addressed to the Sixth Ecumenical Council (aka the Third Council of Constantinople) which took place on November 7, 680 (and whose topic was the “Monothelite” heresy).

Agatho – looking good circa 1000

The council was the result of efforts by Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV to restore relations with Rome (the context being that the Byzantines had just survived the Arab siege of Constantinople in 678).   The emperor sent a letter to Pope Donus but this one died in the meantime.  Agatho who became his successor sent representatives  to the council.  They also carried a letter from the Pope which was then read to the attending patriarchs.

The letter was first published by Gian (Giovanni) Domenico Mansi (see here if you can’t get enough of Mansi) an Italian theologian in 1765 as part of volume 11 of his Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio.

In the letter Agatho mentions that he is relying on the consensus of synodical assent (based on prior councils held in the West in preparation for the Constatinople council) from bishops and missionaries working among “the Langobards, Slavs, Franks, Gauls, Goths and Britons.”

The Letter

“In the first place, a great number of us are spread over a vast extent of country even to the sea coast, and the length of their journey necessarily took much time. Moreover we were in hopes of being able to join to our humility our fellow-servant and brother bishop, Theodore, the archbishop and philosopher of the island of Great Britain, with others who have been kept there even till today; and to add to these various bishops of this council who have their sees in different parts, that our humble suggestion [i.e., the doctrinal definition contained in the letters] might proceed from a council of wide-spread influence, lest if only a part were cognizant of what was being done, it might escape the notice of a part; and especially because among the peoples, as the Longobards, and the Slavs, as also the Franks, the French, the Goths, and the Britons, there are known to be very many of our fellow-servants who do not cease curiously to enquire on the subject, that they may know what is being done in the cause of the Apostolic faith…”

“Primum quidem, quod numerosa multitudo nostrorum usque ad oceani regiones extenditur, cujus itineris longinquitas in multi temporis cursum protelatur.  Sperabamus deinde de Britannia Theodorum consamulum atque coepiscopum nostrum, magnae insulae Britanniae archiepiscopum et philosophum, cum aliis qui ibidem usque hactenus demorantur, exinde ad nostram humilitatem conjungere, atque diversos hujus concilii servilis nostra suggestio fierer, ne si tantum pars, quod agebatur, cognosceret, partem lateret: et maxime, quia in medio gentium, tam Langobardorum, quamque Slavorum, nec non Francorum, Gallorum, et Gothorum, atque Britannorum, plurimi consamulorum nostrorum esse noscuntur…”

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March 11, 2017

Ptolemy’s Secrets

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Ptolemy’s Geography is a rather extensive work and we have only began to scratch its surface.  In order, to dig a little deeper, we asked ourselves whether or not there are places listed in Geography that could conceivably be Slavic or related to the Veneti.  We went through the entire book starting with the East (Books V, VI and VII).  Most of these are likely simply Indoeuropean but since the exercise is fun, bear with us.  We start with Book V.  The others we leave for later if there is interest.

Book V

Chapter 1
(Pontus and Bithynia)

  • Prusias (in Bithynia)
  • Bogdomanis region
  • Libyssa
  • Prusa on the Hypius river
  • Prusa near Mount Olympus

Chapter 2

  • Assus
  • Lebedus
  • Lycus river
  • Iasus
  • Juliogordus (town in Lydia)
  • Nysa (town in Lydia)
  • Sala

Chapter 3

  • Cragus Mountains
  • Podalia
  • Nysa
  • Megiste island

Chapter 4

  • Zagorum
  • Olgassys mountains
  • Zagira (Paphlagonian town)
  • Sacora (Paphlagonian town)
  • Germanicopolis (!)

Here it is also worth mentioning that “[i]n the interior of Paphalgonia toward the west are the Tolistobogi, whose towns are” among others:

  • Germa colonia
  • Vindia
  • Tolastochora

Chapter 5

  • Syedra
  • Lysinia
  • Milyas
  • Prostama
  • Adada
  • Olbasa
  • Dyrzela

Chapter 6

  • Iasonium promontory
  • Cotyora
  • Ischopolis
  • Scordiscus [Scordisci were supposedly Celts that lived in modern day Serbia]
  • Piala
  • Zela
  • Sarvena
  • Odoga [think Ladoga]
  • Maroga
  • Siva
  • Sobara
  • Olbasa
  • Siala
  • Ladana
  • Zimara
  • Orsa [think Orsza]
  • Iassus
  • Nyssa

Chapter 7

  • Issicus bay
  • Cydnus river
  • Issus
  • Olbasa
  • Castabala

Chapter 8
(Asiatic Sarmatia)

on the Pontus:

  • Sinda village
  • Oenathia [Venethia?]
  • Udon river [Don? Odin?]

“Its cattle feed in the Sarmatian meadow lands in the region near the unknown land of Hyperborean Sarmatia; and below these are the Basilici Sarmatians; and the Modoca race; and the Hippophagi Sarmatians; and below these are the Zacatae Sarmatians; the Suardeni and the Asaei; then next to the northern bend of the Tanais river are the Perierbidi, a great race near the southern race of the Iaxamatae.”

Other tribes listed:

  • Nesioti
  • Siraceni
  • Psessi

“Between the Rha river and the Hippici mountains is the Mithridatis region; below which are Melanchlani, then the Amazones; and between the Hippici mountains and the Cerauni mountains are the Suani and the Sacani; moreover between the Cerauni mountains and the Rha river are the Orinei, the Vali, and the Serbi; between the Caucasus mountains and the Cerauni mountains are the Tusci and the Diduri; and near the Caspioan sea are the Udae, the Alontae, the Isondae, and the Gerri… and the Suanocolchi.  The towns and villages on the lesser Rhombitus river are: Axaraba… Suruba… Nasunia”

Chapter 9

“The Lazi occupy the maritime coast of Colchis”

Chapter 10

  • Lubium village
  • Varica
  • Zalissa

Chapter 11

  • Adiabla
  • Ablana
  • Osica
  • Baruca
  • Chabala
  • Chobota
  • Boziata

Chapter 12
(Armenia Major)

  • Gordyaei mountains
  • Lychnitis lake
  • Lala
  • Ptusa
  • Choluata
  • Thalina
  • Sana
  • Brizaca
  • Cubina
  • Codana
  • Cachura
  • Zaruana
  • Babila
  • Gordyene
  • Cholimma
  • Sardeva [unusual outside of Dacia]

Chapter 13

  • Chytrus [:-)]

Chapter 14

  • Germanicia [!]
  • Deba
  • Pagrae
  • Batna
  • Iabruda
  • Lysinia
  • Saana
  • Adra
  • Danaba
  • Atera
  • Gerrha

Chapter 15
(Palestina or Judaea)

  • Ascalon
  • Iamnia
  • Lydda
  • Sebaste
  • Bedoro

Chapter 16
(Arabia Petraea)

  • Lysa
  • Gubba
  • Auara [Avara?]
  • Adru
  • Ziza
  • Adra

Chapter 17

  • Chabora
  • Zitha
  • Deba
  • Bithias
  • Edessa
  • Sinna
  • Gorbatha

Chapter 18
(Arabia Deserta)

  • Addara
  • Save

Chapter 19

  • Duraba
  • Volgaesia

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March 9, 2017