Monthly Archives: May 2017


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The Suevi occupied portions of Portugal for quite some time.  One might ask what their cultural influence on Portugal has been?

Take the dictionary.

If you ask what Portuguese words may be Suevic, only very few are mentioned (and then too we are told that some of these may be not Suevic but Gothic).  The words in question include:

  • britar, to break (stones),
  • lobio, vineyard [now obsolete], and
  • laverca, lark

Let’s put aside britar and lobio and ask what is the source of laverca?  We are told that it comes either from Suevic *lâwerka, or from Gothic *laiwerko.  Both of these words appear to be “reconstructions” (signaled by *) meaning they have never been actually attested in that form in Gothic or any other language.  

Of Suevic we know nothing so there is nothing to compare the word to.

Now lark appears in English and other Germanic languages.

What is a “lark”?  The Online Etymology Dictionary tells us it is a “songbird of the Old World, early 14c., earlier lauerche (c. 1200), from Old English lawerce (late Old English laferce), from Proto-Germanic *laiw(a)ikon (source also of Old Saxon lewerka, Frisian liurk, Old Norse lævirik, Dutch leeuwerik, German Lerche), a word of unknown origin.”

More noteworthy is the use of the word in Scottish – laverock.

Old English and Old Norse forms suggest a contracted compound, perhaps meaning “treason-worker,” but “nothing is known in folklore to accont for such a designation” [OED]. Noted for its early song and high flying (in contrast to its low nest). When the sky falls, we shall catch larks was an old proverb mocking foolish optimism.

Some sources are nevertheless quite certain of the word’s origin.  Here is Britannica:

Others are less certain such as this 1957 piece from the Archivum Linguisticum (volume 9):

Or this 1977 piece from the Zeitschrift fuer Romanische Philologie (volume 93):

As for English, there are actually two “larks” in English (three, if you count the obscure 18th century use of the word to mean “a small boat”). The older “lark” is a small bird (also known as both the “laverock” and the “skylark”) famed for its melodious call and its love of flying at great heights. The name “lark” comes from the Old English “lawerce,” which came in turn from Germanic roots. Oddly, some of the earlier forms of “lark,” especially those found in Old Norse, imply that the original meaning of the word “lark” was related to “treason” in some way. There may be some rationale for this to be found in some folktale somewhere (“The Tale of the Perfidious Lark”?), but so far it’s a mystery and probably nothing to worry about. After all, a batch of the little birdies has been known as “an exaltation of larks” since the 15th century, which certainly beats “a murder of crows” in the avian public-relations department.

The other sort of “lark,” the one meaning “a lighthearted adventure, a spree, an impulsive action,” is of much more recent vintage, first appearing in the 19th century (“My mother … once by way of a lark, invited her to tea,” 1857). A “lark” is a brief but daring departure from routine, a flight of fancy, a bit of forbidden fun or a harmless prank, and “to lark” since the early 18th century has meant “to frolic or play.” The generally positive tone of this “lark” fits well with one theory of its source, namely that it is simply a reference to the light, soaring flight of the “lark” bird. A related verb of the same meaning, “skylarking,” apparently originated aboard sailing ships, and was used to describe crewmen roughhousing in the upper rigging of the ship’s masts, probably by analogy to the soaring flight of actual “skylarks.”

But it’s also possible that “lark” in this “frolic” sense came from a source unrelated to the “lark” bird. Some authorities point to the English dialectical verb “lake” or “laik,” meaning “to leap, play, spring up,” dating back to Old English and derived from Germanic roots. The transition from “lake” to “lark” would, in this theory, be explained by the particularities of pronunciation in southern England, where “r” sounds tend to creep into words lacking the actual letter. Of course, the similarity of the result to the name of the “lark” bird no doubt also played a role in the spread of this “lark.”

In any event… the Portuguese/Galician word is supposed to have been derived from Suevic.  The Slavic name for a lark is skowronek meaning, literally, “what a little crow”.  (It is of a male gender.  If it were female it’d be skowronka.)

But here are the interesting things about lawerka or laverca.

First, is the suffix.  The -erca or -erka suffix is quite common in Slavic.  It is (usually) used to express a diminutive of a female word whose suffix is –ra:

  • siekiera > siekierka
  • fujara > fujarka
  • manierka, stolarka, miarka

And so forth.  In fact, you can construct new words like that that normally lack a diminutive (wiar > wiarka).  Notice that if the base suffix is -ara > -arka but if it is era > erka and lawerka would be in that second group.

No matter the source/stem of the word, the suffix looks Slavic.

Second, there was (is?) a place name in Slovenia by exactly this name.  Specifically, it seems to have been located between Ljubljana (Laibach) and Gottschee (Kočevje).  Was (is?) it of Gothic or Slavic origin?

This piece is from Karl Baedeker’s “The Eastern Alps…”

In fact the place seemed to have been well known to travelers in the region.

But maybe Portuguese/Galician also have the same -ercas?

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May 28, 2017

Lollus of the Borderlands

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It has been assumed that Germanic gods were Odin/Wotan, Thor and the like.  But their worship in Germany proper is attested only poorly.  On the other hand, during the Enlightenment, German amateur anthropologists and folklore collectors began to write down and study local folk tales, myths and superstitions.  The most well-known of this bunch are, of course, the Brothers Grimm.  However, already many years before them, folklore research was well under way in Germany.

Some of the more curious discoveries in the Main include references to old German Gods.  Many of these have been discarded as untrustworthy but they nevertheless merit mention.  This is particularly so since – whether or not they were actual Gods – their names suggest a Slavic origin and, thus, a Slavic presence far West of the Elbe.

Such names include Germanic Krodo (perhaps related to the Polish Krotoszyn/Krotoschin?), the Sorbian Flins but also, among a number of Thuringian Gods, Jecha, Ostara, Cisa and Biel (a Sun God!) and others.

Take Lollus described usually as a Frankish agricultural God.  Apparently, a statue or a figurine was discovered at some point near Schweinfurt (originally mentioned as Suinuurde in about 720 – what does it really refert to?).

The statue was of a youth with curly hair who holds his stretched out tongue in his right hand and a bucket of corn (mixed with wine?) in the left.  According to the tale, he was worshipped along with the Goddess Diana in a holy grove on the shore of the river Main.  The locals are supposed to have given him grape offerings (Dionysus?).  Saint Killian the Irish monk had the effigy of Lollus thrown into the Rhein but… after Killian perished a martyr’s death, a new statue was cast and worshipped.  The name of the God survives in the name of a square in Schweinfurt called the little Lollein.  A second effigy of the God was found in the wall of a churchyard at Lellenfeld near Eichstadt.

The first to report the figure’s discovery was Johann Laurentius in his chronologic Swinfurtensia in the 1600s (though an earlier 16th century letter may have mentioned the same).  He reported that even in his day the place where the Lollus was worshipped previously was called the Löhle or Lölle.

(Then the story appeared many other folklore works – in Johann Heinrich Bockreuß’ (or Bochris’) the Elder’s (1687-1716) Miscellanea lipsiensia, ad incrementum rei litherariæ edita volume 3 (1716) (edited by Karl Friedrich Pezold), in Johann Wilhelm Englert’s Dissertatio historico-theologica Franconiam in tenebris Ethnicismi et in luce Christianismi sistens…, in Johann Georg Sulzer’s Charaktere der vornehmsten Dichter aller Nationen, volume 7 (1803); in Heinrich Christian Beck’s the Chronik der Stadt Schweinfurt (1836) and in many other authors).

The name Lollus appears also as Lullus, Loellus and Lallus.

Whether he may have something to do with the Polish Lel (or Polel)  is an obvious question.

Another question is whether the name could have something to do with Tacitus’ Alcis.

Yet another question can be asked whether this has something to do with “dolls.”  A lalka is a doll in Polish (as also in Slovene and among some East Slavs).  Was the name “dolls” originally applied just to little idols?

In some Slavic languages a similar word indicates a familial relationship.  Thus:

  • lola means father (Polabian, portions of Ukraine/Belarus)
  • lela means aunt and lelak uncle (Bulgarian/Balkan and portions of Ukraine/Belarus)

Note also that a laluś in Polish is a boyish dandy who cares about his looks a bit too much (with all the same connotations as in English).

A more nuanced question could be asked why is it that in the Frankish dialect Loell or Lolli refers to someone who can’t speak well.  Why does that matter?  Because lulac means to try to put to sleep (and or ululac means to put to sleep).  This is, of course, in some unknown way cognate with a “lullaby” and the English “lull” as in a peaceful pause.

But, interestingly, in Polish the same meaning of “not being able to speak well” is expressed but the word ululany which just means someone who is way drunk.  That someone like that won’t speak well is, of course, obvious (it seems to be the opposite of the Latin ululare, that is, to howl).  That Lel/Polel were also described as bar drinking expressions in the Polish late Renneisance is also interesting (in fact, the much later Brueckner is on the record for claiming that these were not deity names but merely drinking shouts).  And so we may come all the way to Jas, Dionyssus or Bacchus.

About the Main and Regnitz Wends we already wrote here.  About Würzburg we wrote here.  About Bamberg here.  About the River Jossa/Jassa in the vicinity of Aschaffenburg, here.  Here is a map showing these places in relation to Schweinfurt with the terra Slavorum in rough outline.

And here is another German map of Slavic place names – the roughly same highlighted area, this time in the western portion of the map.Make of it what you want but something tells us that at least some of the Slavs did not come from the East.

Interestingly, in 1990 halfway between Bamberg and Munich, in Kemathen – which these days is  a part of the town of Kipfenberg (Landkreis Eichstätt) there was discovered a Germanic warrior grave from about 420-450.  In it was found this belt (picture from Ludwig Wamser’s book). 

While the rosette is a common symbol, this type was particularly popular as a protection symbol in Polish houses.  Check these out from the Podhale region.

Starry Detour

Incidentally, if the rosettes above remind you of the asterisk symbol, you should know that an asterisk is derived from Greek for “little star”.  On the star of Jastarnia see here.  The interesting thing about stars is that Balto-Slavic languages have a very different word for them:

  • gwiazda (Polish)
  • żwai(g)zdē (Lithuanian)

Interestingly, in Prussian swaigstan meant “light” (Polish światło). Even more interestingly, stara in Slavic means “the old one” (female gender).  Whether this goes to something meaning “stars” or has more to do with old people lacking a certain flexibility (compare “to stare” or “stiff) is another matter.

Back to Our Stary, err… Story

Finally, it is also interesting that a lelek refers to a stork in parts of Poland (lelek is also a separate type of bird – the nightjar.  The more typical name for stork (nowadays German Storch) is bocian (compare that with Latin buteo and Germanic buse and busart (!)).

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May 27, 2017

Suffice it to Say

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It is interesting that the word “he” appears in these two base forms in Indo-European languages:

  • El (Portuguese, Spanish, French)
  • On (Slavic)

Note that Germanic (other than German which seems just confused) languages are a bit different here using some form of “that” (compare Latvia ).  Also Italian, Lithuanian and Estonian slip into an “s”.

It is also curious that “El” is a Middle Eastern god and is a suffix in some of those deities’ names, whereas -on is a suffix in many Eastern and Southern European names and Deity names (Jasion,  Pieron).  Of course, -on is a suffix in other names too whose origin is uncertain (Simon) and Slavs construct new words using -on as a suffix even now (kujon).  Of course, -on as a suffix appears in other countries as well.

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May 24, 2017

On Herbert’s Recorded Miracles

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We cannot emphasize enough that telavic mythology has not been thoroughly explored.  The major studies of sources have produced plenty of material but missed some items.  Note that a lot of these items are not well known even in their respective countries of production.  This can be said of the mentions of Slavic religious practices by:

We were guided to yet another such find just recently.  A scholar of the Jagiellonian University* from Kielce – Michał Łuczyński with a translation by Małgorzata Kruszelnicka – published an article  in 2009 wherein he notes a reference to Slavic religion in  Herberti turrium sardiniae archiepiscopal De miraculis libri tres (Herbert Archbishop of Torres in Sardinia – Of the Miracles in Three Books).  The specific reference is to a confrontation between a Christian monk and a Slavic pagan “demon”.

[* Incidentally, it was also a scholar of the Jagiellonian University – Maria Kowalczyk (or Kowalczykówna) – who discovered the most ancient references to Polish Gods in in the sermons of Lucas of Great Kozmin (see “Wróżby, czary i zabobony w średniowiecznych rękopisach Biblioteki Jagiellońskiej,” 1979).  Like Szacherska’s work, this was ignored until the Leszek Kolankiewicz’s (a theatrical scholar!) book “Dziady” brought it back to light in 1999.   Łuczyński’s article came out in 2009 – ten years after Kolankiewicz’s book so it seems something is brought to light every ten years – we’ll take it.]

This story is only present in three manuscripts of the Miracles where (as Chapter 93) it is referred to as: Quomodo zabulus in scemate regio se ipsum ydalatris ostendebat or “How the devil revealed himself to idolaters in [some] unattractive country.” (elsewhere aka De converso, qui vidit ante conversionem dyabolum ydolatris se ostendere in scemate regio)

The same was previously also noted by a Danish writer in the 1930s (exact source now escapes memory), by Stella Maria Szacherska in 1968 in her work Rola klasztorów duńskich w ekspansji Danii na Pomorzu Zachodnim u schyłku XII wieku (“The role of Danish monasteries in Denmark’s expansion in Western Pomerania at the end of the 12th century”) and, more recently, in 2005 by  Gabriela Kompatscher Gufler (Herbert von Clairvaux und sein Liber miraculorum: die Kurzversion).  For other mentions of this work, you can see Łuczyński’s article in Mythologia Slavica, volume 16, 2013, page 69.

Note that the Miracles appear in Migne’s Patrologia Latina – volume 185 (starting on p. 1272) but do not contain the aforesaid adventure.  This is because the Migne version used the most common manuscript version.  Interestingly, even that version contains a reference to Slavs in Book Three, Chapter 36 (which corresponds to Chapter 94 of the version containing the Quomodo story) (though that story of the Slavs has been interpreted to refer to Prussia instead in Wiener’s work which was also accepted by Marian T.W. Łodyński).  Because the Slav portion appears right after the Quomodo story we showcase both here (For the Quomodo story we use the Łuczyński/Kruszelnicka translation with some alterations – for example, scemate regio probably refers to an unattractive country not to “regal gowns”).  

So who was Herbert?  We are talking about Herbert of Clairvaux (circa 1130 – circa 1181) Monk at Clairvaux (1153–68/9), abbot of Mores in Champagne; but later also archbishop of Sassaria or Porto Torres, Sardinia (circa 1181).  To be clear he did not perform the miracles in his “Miracles”.  Rather his book is a composition of stories regarding others’ miracles put together by Herbert.  In the case of the Quomodo story Herbert notes that it was relayed to him by Henry of Clairvaux but the name of the protagonist monk remains unknown.

How the devil revealed himself to idolaters in [some] unattractive country
[Chapter 93]

“This is [the story] that the dignified-looking Henry, once a monk of Claraevallis, now an abbot residing in Denmark for many years, told us – [a story of] a noble monk from his abbey.  The monk in question, now still wearing holy gowns, in his youthful years went to the pagan land mentioned above* for the purpose of [carrying on of] negotiations.”

[* note – if above refers to the prior Chapter 92, that would be the same as Migne’s Book III, Chapter 35 in which indeed a “ad terram paganorum” does appear.  Since nothing says that that is a Slavic country, It is also, therefore, possible that this story also does not have anything to do with Slavs though, given, the timing of composition, that is unlikely – given that in the 12th century the only openly pagan European countries would have been parts of Slavic lands and Baltic regions – but the Christianization of the Baltics did not start in earnest till the 13th century and also those lands were further from Denmark which is the residence of the abbot conveying the story]

“However, in that territory there is an unclean statue inhabited by a most frightening God, who answers many calls and who is worshipped by the local inhabitants solely out of fear.  Sometimes he made himself visible and appeared as if a tyrant with a terrifying countenance and voice and he made these unhappiest people worship him by means of threats and beatings.  Furthermore, on that God’s order, he frequently sent diseases, disasters, infertility and other plagues and aroused fear in the unfaithful.”

“[But] if it had ever appeared that he was giving up those criminal acts or that he was acting more gently, [then] he was regarded as the deliverer of blessings.  Every year, on specified days they [these people] used to arrive festively at his temple from everywhere and they used to feast together although their participation was dishonorable [from a Christian view]. They used to set up a separate table and set it lavishly with delicious dishes, and all that used to be devoured in an invisible way by the gluttonous spirit. Then, when they [the people] saw everything had been eaten, they themselves ate joyfully because they thought the tipsy deity would be favourable to them.”

“One day, when they gathered in one place, the young Christian [I] mentioned before happened to be there. Suddenly, the well-known spirit appeared, decorated with royal ornamentation, sat down on his throne and spoke to them in a proud and contemptuous way.  Yet, those lamentable people mocked at by that shameless deity stood terrified at the sight of him and worshipped him.  When the young Christian saw it, he understood that it was the devil turned into an angel of light.  He felt fear of Satan and, calling the name of Christ, he secretly made a sign of the cross . He did not dare, however, to make the sign of the cross openly on his forehead due to a great number of people being there.  Having noticed what he did secretly, the wild deity spoke to him in his native language: ‘Hey, you deceitful Christian, tell me what you are plotting in secrecy.  Hiding under the cloak, you have made the hateful sign of the cross on your chest.  Are you also making an attempt to throw me out of my temple?  I had left the place from which you came to [come to?] my land.  I hid in the sea escaping from your cross and now that I have returned, you do not allow me to find shelter from your cross in my own temples.  You have eaten my food, you have armed against me with your signs and once again you are expelling me against my will from my domicile like an ungodly traitor’.”

“When the pagans heard the demon’s voice, they hardly understood the conversation and they were very surprised at who participated in the conversation and what it was about.  The alarmed young Christian who heard and who understood the speech, hid in the crowd because he was weak and inexperienced in his faith to such a degree that he was afraid he would be captured by the infidels and punished with death.  However, once the demon disappeared, the crowd dispersed, the young man’s wonderment diminished and [instead] what he saw and heard helped him to deepen his Christian faith.  Soon, when he returned to his native land, he went to the abbey mentioned above, where he [continued] in the service of God, and he revealed to the abbot and to the other monks what had happened to him, in order to strengthen them spiritually.”

“What else can be said: if the power of the Cross is so great that a Christian of small faith furtively and fearfully made the sign of cross [and that] caused the rulers of darkness to escape, what do you think [then] happens when men of virtue and missionaries strong in faith arrive with what is the word of God?  How many piles of corpses they created, what great multitudes of pagans they gained [for the faith] in a short time, they discovered it [all] in the words of truth which are in the Psalm: ‘A thousand fall by your side, and ten thousand to your right. And in the Ministerial Book: Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred will chase ten thousand. God wishes this kind of [bountiful] harvest in order to send harvesters to reap. Harvest is plentiful, but [there are] very few harvesters.  However, those very few harvesters who came from all over are blessed profusely and they reap the harvest of souls for God.  As a result, thousands of pagans only just baptized, in a short time grow in number more and more to such a degree that the bishops and metropolitans are appointed in many cities and God’s grapevine is spread far and wide among barbaric people, who [previously] may have heard the name of wine but [until then]  did not taste [that] wine.”

Quomodo zabulus in scemate regio se ipsum ydalatris ostendebat
aka De converso, qui vidit ante conversionem dyabolum ydolatris se ostendere in scemate regio

Vir venerabilis Hainricus, quondam monachus Claraeuallis et nunc iam per annos plurimos abbatizans in regione Danensi, de quodam honesto monasterii sui converso tale aliquid nobis significavit.  Predictus itaque frater dum adhuc secularem habitum gereret, in iuvenili aetate perrexit ad negociandum in supradictam terram paganorum.  Est autem in illis locis symulacrum inmundum, in quo demon atrocissimus habitans et responsa plurima prestans pro solo timore ab illis incolis excolebatur. Siquidem interdum visibiliter seipsum ostendens, quasi tyrannus aliquis vultu et voce terribilis apparebat atque miserrimos homines illos minis ac verberibus illatis ad suam reverenciam imperiose cogebat. Preterea morbos, clades, sterilitates atque similia ex divina permissione inducens frequenter, terrorem suum super infidelibus populis incuciebat. Si quando vero ab huiusmodi malignacionibus cessare aut micius agere videbatur, magni beneficii largitor tenebatur.  Statutis quoque diebus in anno soliti erant undique ad phanum ipsius sollempniter convenire et pollutis sacrificiis participando convirare. Aliam vero e regione mensam laucioribus epulis copiose refertam seorsum apponebant, que videlicet omnia spiritus ille gulosus plerumque adveniens avida voracitate invisibiliter absorbebat. Cumque universa consumpta conspicerent, tunc et ipsi letanter epulabantur, quia crapulanti numinis gratiam iam secure prestolabantur.  Quadam itaque die, convenientibus in unum, contigit et interesse prefatum illum iuvenem christianum. Et ecce repente apparuit ibi notifer ille spiritus imperialibus ornamentis fantastice redimitus, qui residens in throno suo in superbia et in abusione concionabatur ad illos. Porro miserandi homines illi tanta demonis impudencia ludificati in aspectu eius obstupescebant et execrando prodigio divinitatis honorem impendebant. At vero iuvenis christianus cum talia cerneret, intelligens esse diabolum in angelum lucis transfiguratum, exhorruit a facie maligni et invocans nomen Christi adhibita pectori suo manu signum crucis latenter impressit. Neque enim audebat se propter gentilium multitudinem in fronte signare. Ferum tamten spiritus nequam quae facta fuerant in abscondito linceis oculis deprehendens materna iuvenis lingua allocutus est eum dicens: Eia, perfide christiane, decito mihi, quid est, quod in abscondito machinaris? Ut quid nunc in pectore tuo operiente te pallio crucem illam idibilem figurasti? Numquid etiam de phano meo eicere me queris? Ex quo venisti ad terram meam, ego inde exivi ac fugiendo crucem tuam usque nunc in pelago latitavi et nunc tandem sero reversus, ne pateris me a facie crucis tue saltem in delubris meis habere refugium? Nunc enim saturatus epulis meis armatus es contra me signaculis tuis iterumque me de statione mea tanquam proditor impius violenter expellis. Cum ergo barbari illi homines hanc vocem demonis audirent et minime loquelam intelligerent, satis superque mirabantur, quid diceret aut cui loqueretur. At vero iuvenis audiens et intelligens pavidus in turba latitabat, quia fragilis adhuc et fide tenellus teneri ab infidelibus atque ad supplicium protrahi metuebat. Disparente autem demone solutoque conventu cum grandi admiracione recessit et ex hiis, quae viderat et audierat, multum in fide christiana profecit. Postmodum autem cum ad natalem patriam repedasset, in supradicto monasterio se convertit, ubi religiose conversando domino militare curavit et ea, quae sibi acciderant, ad multorum edificacionem abbati et fratribus indicavit. Si quid nos ad ista dicemus: Si tanta est virtus et gloria crucifixi, ut ante pusillanimem et modice fidei christianum propter signum crucis et trepide et latenter inpressit, principes tenebrarum ita diffugerent, quid putamus fieret, si viri virtutum et fortes in fide predicatores cum gladio spiritus, quid est verbum Dei, accederent. Et quantas hostium strages darent, quantas gentilium turbas in brevi acquirerent, vere cito cognoscerent de verbo veritatis, quid legitur in psalmo: Cadent a latere tuo mille et d[ecem] m[ilia] a[d] d[exteris] tuis. Et in Levitico: Persequentur quinque de vobis – centum alienos, et centum ex vobis – decem milia. Pro huiusmodi ergo rogandus est dominus messis, ut mittat operarios in messem suam. Messis est enim multa et operarii autem pauci. Verum tamen ipsi pauci, immo ut verius dicam, paucissimi, qui in partibus illis reperiuntur in missis undique; falcibus predicationis cum tanta benedictionis habundantia et animarum fruges Domino colligunt et ut nimia paganorum milia nuper in brevi tempore baptizata cottidie magis ac magis multiplicentur et adeo ut episcopi atque metropolitani in civitatibus plurimis nunc de novo creentur et vinea domini Sabbaoth in populis barbaris, qui vini forsitan nomen antea audierant, vinum tamen non biberant, hodie longe lateque propagetur.

The Introduction of the Christian faith in Slavonia, demons scatter from it with horrible noise, as if defeated in battle by an army, and they are routed and put to flight
Chapter 94 (also Migne, Book 3, Chapter 36)

“In the country of Slavonia, the greater part of which has only recently been converted to Christianity, many Cistercian monasteries have already been founded.  Furthermore, the monks who toil daily there for the Lord on converting the heathens received the power to baptize [them] from the Supreme Pontiff.”

“It happened that some of these brothers, who were invited from certain of the faithful, one day came to one of the neighboring villages, baptizing a multitude of pagans in it, [a village] which had recently received the faith and which and which required a regeneration of grace.”

“And the prior night, before they reached this [village], there is a huge noise to be heard from [that place] and a great roar, as if [made] by a great army resonating during the entire night time in the streets and squares of that town; seemingly, as if another army made a powerful assault and finally defeated [the first] from the back and left in a great upheaval.  Moreover, the locals fleeing heard the noise and flights sounds [but] not seeing anyone became dismayed and greatly frightened not knowing what this new thing was or what malice [?] it portended.”

“The next day the monks who arrived at the village baptized there throngs [of people] of [men and women].  But at this time it was made known to the faithful that the noises of the prior night were nothing other than legions of demons complaining and fleeing the Lord for they were not able to withstand the angels and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Truly many are consoled in the presence of the Lord and especially so the newly-baptized who were saved from eternal damnation.”

Christiana fide in Sclavoniam inducta, diffugiunt ex ea daemones cum horrendo strepitu, velut exercitus praelio victi, et fusi ac fugati

In regione Sclavoniae, quae noviter est ad fidem Christianam conversa magna ex parte, plurima jam Cisterciensis Ordinis monasteria constat esse fundata.  Porro monachi illi qui ibidem Domino serviunt, ob quotidianam conversionem gentilium baptizandi potestatem a sumno pontifice acceperunt.  Factum est autem ut aliqui. de fratribus illis, a quibusdam fidelibus invitati, statuta die venirent ad unam de proximis viltis, paganorum multitudinem in ea baptizaturi, quae nuper fide recepta regenerationis gratiam flagitabat.  Praecedenti ita que nocte, antequam illuc pervenissent, auditus est ibi sonus et fremitus ingens, quasi exercitus grandis, toto tempore noctis per vicos et plateas ejusdem villae perstrepentis, qui velut ab alio exercitu forteter impugnatus, tandemque superatus, terga vertere, atque cum magna turbulentia exire videbatur.  Porro homines loci, recedentium strepitum et fugam communiter audientes, et personam aliquam non videntes, stupebant ac metuebant, nimirum ignorantes quae ista novitas esset aut quid boni malive portenderet.  In crastinum autem venientes monachi ad eamdem villam, baptizaverunt ibi promiscui sexus turbam copiosam.  Tunc vero cunctis fidelibus manifeste innotuit quod tumultus ille nocturnus nihil aliud exstitit, nisi daemonum legiones, ab obsessis hominibus increpante Domino fugientes; qui beatorum angelorum praesentiam, et sancti Spiritus adventum sustinere non poterant.  De qua videlicet re multum in Domino consolatu sunt universi, praecipue vero neophyti illi qui ab immunda damnatione fuerant liberati.

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May 15, 2017

Modelski & the Franks

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You ask where is the rest of the Teofil Modelski’s article (parts 1 & 2 being here) on the Opusculum‘s Lechia?  (No translation… too much of a pain in the ass).

Well, here is part 3 of 5:

Here is part 4:

And finally part 5:

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May 12, 2017

On the Illyrian Veneti of Herodotus’ Book I

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In addition to the passage in Book V, 9, 2 that we discussed here, Herodotus also mentions the Veneti (Eneti) in Book I, 196, 1.  Here is that passage (Godley edition) which comes in the context of a discussion of Babylonians:

“This is the equipment of their persons. I will now speak of their established customs. The wisest of these, in our judgment, is one which I have learned by inquiry is also a custom of the Eneti in Illyria. It is this: once a year in every village all the maidens as they attained marriageable age were collected and brought together into one place, with a crowd of men standing around.”

“Then a crier would display and offer them for sale one by one, first the fairest of all; and then, when she had fetched a great price, he put up for sale the next most attractive, selling all the maidens as lawful wives. Rich men of Assyria who desired to marry would outbid each other for the fairest; the ordinary people, who desired to marry and had no use for beauty, could take the ugly ones and money besides;”

“for when the crier had sold all the most attractive, he would put up the one that was least beautiful, or crippled, and offer her to whoever would take her to wife for the least amount, until she fell to one who promised to accept least; the money came from the sale of the attractive ones, who thus paid the dowry of the ugly and the crippled. But a man could not give his daughter in marriage to whomever he liked, nor could one that bought a girl take her away without giving security that he would in fact make her his wife.”

“And if the couple could not agree, it was a law that the money be returned. Men might also come from other villages to buy if they so desired.”

“This, then, was their best custom; but it does not continue at this time; they have invented a new one lately [so that the women not be wronged or taken to another city]; since the conquest of Babylon made them afflicted and poor, everyone of the people that lacks a livelihood prostitutes his daughters.”

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May 10, 2017

The Legend of Walther and Wisuav

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We have previously presented some of the legendary tales from the various chronicles of the Slavs.  These included the legends of:

Another legend is that of Walther of Tyniec (and Wisuav of Wislica) found in the Greater Poland Chronicle (also known as Boguphal’s Chronicle).

Tyniec is a former village about seven miles southwest of Cracow center (it’s now been incorporated into Cracow).

Tyniec Benedictine Abbey

Wislica is a town on the River Nida northeast of Cracow on the road to Sandomierz.

Wislica fort – courtesy of the local museum and of Google

This story bears a resemblance to the various Walther sagas of Western Europe.  In most Polish versions the protagonist is referred to as Walgierz.  The curious fact that this should have been Walcerz but may have been influenced by a reference in the Chronicle of Regino of Pruem speaking of a certain Walager we’ve already discussed here – where we also pointed out the identification of that Walager with Theodoric the Great.

That last one’s “adventures” became the adventures of  Didrik af Bern (Dietrich of Verona) and also happen to contain a bridal drama.  Curiously, the Dietrich von Bern saga contains references to Osantrix the king of the Wilzen (Wilzenkoenig) or Osantrix von Wilzenland which is clearly a reference to the Veleti.  The fact that we know from Ptolemy that: “Back from the Ocean, near the Venedicus bay, the Veltae dwell, above whom are the Ossi” makes these references all the more curious.

Another curious fact is that Thomas Nugent in his “The History of Vandalia” mentions no less than three Vandalic king by the name Wisislaus (an idea of uncertain provenance). This is the same name as Wisuav or Wislaw.

Some Slavs, some Germans

About some of the similarities between all these tales you can read in “Origin and Development of the Walther Saga” by Marion Dexter Learned PMLA Vol. 7, No. 1, The Saga of Walther of Aquitaine (1892), pp. 131-195 (published by the Modern Language Association).

Here is the tale – for ease of use we use the name spelling Walther and Wisuav.

The Legend of Walther and Wisuav
Or Of the Betrayal of the Town of Wislica

“In those days there was in the kingdom of the Lechites a very famous town, surrounded by tall walls, called Wislica.  Back then, in heathen times, its lord was Wisuav the Fair who was descended from the clan of King Pompilius [Popiel].  A certain lord, who also came from the same family, great in strength, by the name of Walther the Strong, who in Polish was called Walther the Comely and who held the town of Tyniec in the vicinity of Cracow where these days there is the abbey of Saint Benedict founded by Casimir the Monk [Kazimierz Mnich or Casimir the Restorer – Odnowiciel] the king of Poles, that is of Lechites, took him [that is Walther took Wisuav captive] in some campaign, threw him into prison and ordered that he be held under close guard in the depths of the Tyniec tower.”

Wisuav was in the one on the right

“This Walther had for his wife a certain noble lady, by the name of Helgunda, the betrothed of the son of a certain duke of the Alemans and who was also the daughter of the king of the Franks; whom, as they say, he secretly spirited away to Poland at great personal danger.”

“For when the son of that certain duke of the Alemans – in order to learn good manners – was being raised at the court of the Frankish king – the father of the aforesaid Helgunda – Walther, a man who was clever and crafty, seeing that the princess Helgunda returned the feelings of the son of the duke of Alemannia, on a certain night climbed the walls of the town, paid off the guard such that this one should not reveal him [or his name] and sang so loud and sweet that the princess awoke and hearing the sweet sound of his voice, came out of bed and, together with other maidens, forgetting about her nightly rest, she listened for as long as the singer intoned his melodious voice.”

Walther’s serenades were irresistible

“And when morning came, Helgunda ordered to bring in front of her the guard and urgently queried him who it had been [that gave the concert].  This one, did not dare to name Walther, assuring her that he knew not who the singer was.  But when the young Walther during the two subsequent nights, from a hidden place proceeded as before [to serenade], Helgunda unable to withstand this, with threats and intimidation tried to force the guard to reveal the singer[‘s name].  And because he nevertheless refused to do so, she ordered him put to death.  Thus, when the guard confessed that it had been Walther signing, she burning with hot love, succumbed completely to his [Walther’s] wishes, completely spurning the Aleman prince.”

Walther & Helgunda’s escape

“The Aleman prince seeing thus that Helgunda had foully rejected him and that in his place in the game of love she chose Walther, burning with great wrath at Walther returned to his father, and had all the crossings over the river Rhine be held and guarded such that no one should traverse it without paying a gold price for the ferrying across.  And when some time had passed, Walther and Helgunda see an opportunity to flee and escape upon the long-awaited day.  But when, in accordance with their plans, they arrive at the Rhine shore, the boat masters demand a golden price for the crossing but receiving it, they refuse the crossing until the Aleman prince should arrive.  Seeing that the delay brings danger, [Walther] gets on a mighty horse, orders Helgunda to sit behind him and spurring the horse into the river, crosses it faster than an arrow.  And when he had left Rhine somewhat behind, he hears behind him the pursuing Aleman’s voice: ‘Foul traitor!  So, you have skulked away with the king’s daughter and crossed the Rhine without paying the duties!  Halt now and stand so that I can duel you – and he that should triumph shall keep the horse, the arms and too Helgunda.'”

“Walther, fearlessly answers as follows: ‘Tis a lie, what you say, for I have given the boatmen their gold and the princess i did not take by force but made her my companion for she willingly wanted to come with me.’  And after these words they boldly strike each other with spears.  And when these shatter, they fight with swords testing their manly prowess.  The Aleman seeing Helgunda stand in front of him, aroused by her glances, forced Walther backwards until, that is,  this one retreating cast his eyes on Helgunda.”

The Aleman proved more of an annoyance than any serious challenge to Walther

“And seeing her he halted, filled both with the greatest shame as well as with limitless love for her.  Regaining his strength he boldly charged at the Aleman and immediately killed him.  Then, taking his horse and arms, he set out home to his fatherland, twice honoured by the happy and  praiseworthy victory [that is, the winning of Helgunda and the defeat of the prince of the Alemani].  Arriving at the town of Tyniec after successfully navigating many adventures in his travels, he spent some time in rest so as to regain his strength.”

“It was there that he learned from the complaints of his people that Wisuav the Fair the duke of Wislica during his [Walther’s] absence caused them certain wrongs.  Having become aware of these, with great regret he challenges Wisuav to avenge them [the wrongs] and eventually he fights him, wins and then, as already, he puts him in chains to be guarded in the dungeon of the Tyniec Castle tower.”

“After some time has passed, he crosses far away lands on military campaigns as is the knightly custom.  And when two years have passed of his absence, Helgunda greatly disturbed by her husband’s absence, felt forced to confide in a certain girl, her confidante, announcing with a downcast face that they are ‘neither wives nor widows’; and by that she meant those [women] who are bound in matrimony with men of an entrepreneurial spirit who seek opportunities for military skirmishes. And her confidante, trying to ease her lady’s miserable wretchedness which she endured so long a time, immediately set aside the shame which comes with betrayal, states that Wisuav, the duke of Wislica [and a man] of a refined appearance and a comely body, beautiful to the eye, sits imprisoned in the tower.”

Usually Helgunda was not so easily impressed but this time was a little different

“And the wretch urges her [Helgunda] to order him removed from the tower during the silence of the night and having satiated herself with the much coveted embraces then to send him back carefully to the tower dungeon.  This one [Helgunda] applauds her confidante’s persuasions, and though frightened of the perilous consequences nevertheless not fearing to wager her life and good name, orders that Wisuav be brought out of the depths of the prison; and upon seeing him she delights in his beauty, filled with great admiration.  And she did not order that he be sent back to the prison dungeon but rather she chose entirely to leave the bed of her own husband and to flee to the town of Wislica with that one with whom she had bonded in friendship and united in an inseparable knot of love. In this manner Wisuav returns to his own town thinking that he had achieved a double victory – though this [victory] in the course of dangerous events was to bring both of them a deadly end.”

“After a short time the returning Walther is asked by his townspeople why is it that, in this moment of [his] joyful return, does Helgunda not rush to his side at the very least to the castle gates.  [It is] from them that he learns how Wisuav, trusting in the help of the guards, carried Helgunda with him.  Himself imbued with terrible wrath, he immediately hurries to Wislica and without fear for himself or his fate in unexpected adventures, he suddenly enters the town of Wislica at a time when Wisuav outside the town was busy on a hunt.”

“Helgunda seeing him in the city rushes quickly towards him and falling face down in front of him she complains that Wisuav kidnapped her by force.  She urges Walther to enter an out of the way part of the dwelling promising that if he so desires, she will forthwith bring Wisuav there so that he [Walther] should seize him.  Trusting this fraudster and ensnared by the deceptive persuasions he enters a fortified chamber, where, due to trickster’s efforts, he falls into Wisuav’s hands.  Joyful are Wisuav and Helgunda, happily applauding this auspicious result which now for the third time brought fortune; they do not ponder how this happiness may come to an end though ones such as these often do happen to be taken by a sad death.  He [Wisuav] did not wish to keep him [Walther] under prison guard but rather he wanted to oppress him with something worse than prison muck.  Instead, he ordered to have him bound in irons to the dining hall’s wall, with arms outstretched, with his neck and feet completely straight.  To the same hall he ordered be brought a bed in which during summer time he and Helgunda would lie devoting themselves to love’s pleasures.”

Walther’s anguish knew no limit

“[But] Wisuav had a sister of his own blood whom no one wanted to take as wife by reason of her ugly looks.  Her watchfulness did Wisuav trust more than that of Walther’s other guards.  But this one greatly sympathizing with Walther’s sufferings, [and] entirely casting aside a maiden’s timidity, asks whether Walther would have her as his wife should she come to his aid in his misfortune by freeing him from his chains.  He solemnly swears and confirms the same with a promise that so long as he should live, he will give her marital love and will not fight with his sword against her brother Wisuav, as per her wishes; and asks her to take his sword from her brother’s bedchamber and to bring it here forth so as to cut away his fetters with it.  [And] she, bringing the sword, then in accordance with Walther’s command cut away the peg at the very end on each of the iron cuffs and the sword she placed between Walther’s back and the wall so that he could remove himself at an opportune moment.  And he waits till noontime of the next day.”

Wisuav’s sister with friends

“And when Wisuav with Helgunda reveled in their embraces in the dining hall bed, Walther, uncustomary, speaks to them with these words: ‘How would you feel, should you gaze upon me in front of your bed, freed from my binds, holding my melodious sword in my hands and threatening to take revenge for [your] crimes?’  At his words, Helgunda’s heart stopped and shivering she spoke to Wisuav: ‘Oh woe my lord!  I had not seen your sword in the bedroom but engrossed by your kisses I forgot to mention this to you.’  At this Wisuav replied: ‘Even had he ten swords to aid him, without the adroitness of smiths he would not be able to rip apart his irons.’  When they so spoke with one another, they note that Walther, free of his chains, jumps forth and brandishing his sword stands by their bed; and soon tossing curses at them, raises his sword hand high and drops WIsuav’s own sword onto them both; this falling cuts both in the middle.  And so each of them ended their miserable life in an even more miserable manner.  And this Helgunda’s tomb, forged in a rock is to this day shown in Wislica town to all those who wish to see it.”

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May 9, 2017

Willibald’s Life Of Saint Boniface

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And speaking of Würzburg.

We have previously discussed Boniface’s comments on Slav matters here, here and here.  Boniface died in 754 but Slavs managed to follow him and make it (once) into the “Life of Boniface” when that work was penned by Willibald about the year 768:

“…Burghardo verotionis parrochiam commendavit in loco qui vocatur Wirzaburg dignitatis officium delegavit, et ecclesias in confiniis Francorum et Saxonum atque Sclavorum suo officio deputavit…”

According to the translator of that work, this WIllibald was not the Willibald of Eichstätt whose own “Life” we already discussed here.  Rather, the author of Saint Boniface’s “Life” (incidentally, the first of such works regarding Boniface) was “a simple priest who had never come into direct contact with Boniface and what he says is based upon the facts that he was able to collect from those who had been Boniface’s disciples.”

Here is that Slavic mention (from Talbot, C. H., trans., The Anglo-Saxon missionaries in Germany; being the lives of SS. Willibrord, Boniface, Sturm, Leoba, and Libuin, together with the Hodoeporicon of St. Willibald and a selection from the correspondence of St. Boniface)

Chapter 8

How throughout his whole life he preached with zeal and how he departed from this world

“During the rule of Carloman all the bishops, priests, deacons, and clerics and everyone of ecclesiastical rank gathered together at the ruler’s instance and held four synodal councils. At these Archbishop Boniface presided, with the consent and support of Carloman and of the metropolitan of the see and city of Mainz. And being a legate of the Roman Church and the Apostolic See, sent as he was by the saintly and venerable Gregory II and later by Gregory III, he urged that the numerous canons and ordinances decreed by these four important and early councils should be preserved in order to ensure the healthy development of Christian doctrine. For as at the Council of Nicaea, held under Constantine Augustus, the errors and blasphemies of Arius were rejected; as under Theodosius the Elder an assembly of one hundred and fifty bishops condemned Macedonius, who denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit; as in the city of Ephesus under Theodosius [II] two hundred bishops excommunicated Nestorius for declaring that there are two Persons in Christ; and as at the Council of Chalcedon an assembly of six hundred and thirty bishops, basing their decision on an earlier one of the fathers, pronounced an anathema against Eutyches, an abbot of Constantinople, and Dioscorus, who defended him, for attacking the foundations of the Catholic faith – So in the Frankish territories, after the eradication of heresy and the destruction of wicked conspirators, he urged that later developments of Christian doctrine and the decrees of the general councils should be received. With this in view there should be a meeting of the bishops in synod each year in accordance with the decree of the aforesaid council of bishops. This holding of synods had fallen into desuetude through the constant fear of war and the hostility and attacks of the surrounding barbarian tribes and through the attempts of hostile enemies to destroy the Frankish realm by violence. They had been forgotten so completely that no one could recall such an assembly’s having taken place within living memory. For it is in the nature of the world to fall into ruin even though it is daily restored, while if no attempt is made to reform it it quickly disintegrates and rushes headlong to its predestined doom. Therefore if in the course of this mortal life means have been discovered to remedy such evils they should be preserved and strongly defended by Catholics and fixed indelibly in the mind. Otherwise human forgetfulness and the enticement of pleasure, both of them instigated by the devil, will prove a stumbling block. For this reason the holy bishop, in his anxiety to deliver his people from the baleful influence of the devil, repeatedly urged Carloman to summon the episcopal synods already mentioned in order that both present and later generations should learn spiritual wisdom and should make the knowledge of Christianity available to all. Only in this way could unsuspecting souls escape being ensnared.”

“After he had set before all ranks of society the accepted norm of the Christian life and made known to them the way of truth, Boniface, now weak and decrepit, showed great foresight both as regards himself and his people by appointing a successor to his see, as ecclesiastical law demands. So, whether he lived or whether he died, the people would not be left without pastors and their ministration. He promoted two men of good repute to the episcopate, Willibald and Burchard, dividing between them the churches that were under his jurisdiction in the land of eastern Franks and on the Bavarian marches. To Willibald he entrusted the diocese of Eichstätt, to Burchard that of Würzburg, putting under his care all the churches within the borders of the Franks, Saxons, and Slavs. Nevertheless, even to the day of his death he did not fail to instruct the people in the way of life.”

“Then Pepin, with the help of the Lord, took over the rule of the kingdom of the Franks as the happy successor to his above-mentioned brother [i.e. Carloman]. When disorders among the people had subsided, he was elevated to the kingship. From the outset he conscientiously carried out the vows he had sworn to the Lord, to put into effect without delay the synodal decrees, and he renewed the canonical institutions which his brother, following the advice of the holy archbishop Boniface, had so dutifully set on foot. He showed the saint every mark of veneration and friendship and obeyed his spiritual precepts. But because the holy man, owing to his physical infirmities, was not able to attend the synodal assemblies, he decided, with the king’s approval and advice, to appoint a suitable person to minister to his flock. To his purpose he appointed Lull, a disciple of outstanding ability, whose duty it would be to continue his instruction to the people. He consecrated him bishop, and committed to his care the inheritance that he had won for Christ by his zealous efforts. Lull was the man who had been his trusted companion on his journeys and who had been closely connected with him both in his sufferings and his consolations…”

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May 6, 2017

Würzburg’s Roots

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The city of Würzburg is perhaps first listed in the Ravenna Cosmography under the name Uburzis.

A bit later (?) (704) the city is mentioned as castellum Virteburch.

Incidentally Solist (which some connect to Hohenzollern) looks much like Soest of which Quazwini says later:

“Schuschit [Soest] is a town in the land of the Slavs.  There lies a salty spring, while there otherwise is no salt in that area.  When the people need salt, they take water from this source, fill with it a pot and set it on a stone oven and make a great fire underneath so that it becomes thick and turbid.  Then it sits until it becomes cold and turns into hard, white salt.  In this way is salt made in all the lands of the Slavs.”

So what is Uburzis?  Oddly, the Polish house spirits Uboże come to mind…

Apparently, when the bishopric at Würzburg was founded (which happened a few decades later in 741) it was permitted to collect taxes from the Franks and the Slavs.  This grant was later reconfirmed in Arnulf of Carinthia’s 889 confirmation of Würzburg’s rights), it was mentioned that it should collect taxes (steora vel osterstuopha) from the Slavs:

decimam tributi, quae de partibus orientalium Franchorum vel de Sclavis ad fiscum dominicum annuatim persolvere solebant, quae secundum illorum linguam steora vel ostarstuopha vocatur, ut de illo tributo sive reditu annis singulis pars decima ad preductum locum persolvatur, sive in melle sive in paltenis seu in alia qualibet redibutione, quae, ut diximus, prius e pagis orientalium Franchorum persolvebatur.  Id est de pago uualdsazzi. et de pago thubargouue. et vuingartuueiba. et iagasgeuui. mulahgeui. necchargeuui. et chochangeuui et rangeuui et gollahgeuui. et iphgevui. hasagevui. et grapfeld. et dullifeld. salageuvi. uueringeuui. gozfeld. et badanahgeuui. et decimam de fiscis dominicis. Id est de ingulunheim. reotfeld in rangevue. roudeshof in folhfeldon. ad chruzinaha et neristein. et omuntesstat. et albsteti. et chuningeshofa et sundrunhofa. et gollahofa. et berenheim. et ikilenheim, et uuielantesheim. et roumfeld. Gouvmheim in gozfeldon. et drozoltesheimhalazesstat in ratenzgovue, chungeshofe. et item chuningeshofe. et salz. et hamulunburcg. et iphahofa et thetilabach. et in blaihfeld. et heiligbrunno. et louisin.  In his fiscis et uillis dominicis. seu in predictis pagis….

Pippin is presumably Pepin the Short who would have been around in 741.  What secundum illorum lingua means we will let you guess. Maybe, it means German – as opposed to Latin – but the Latin language would not have been the language of the illorum

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May 3, 2017

On the Errors of the Franks

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A reader asked a question about the so-called Opusculum contra Francos: is it true that the word Lechia appears there (meaning Poland) and is true that this is dated to the ninth century?  Or, as someone told him, was this really written in 1101?

Ok… so the answer is “no one really knows”.  Satisfied?

Well, there is one thing that is probably not true.  It’s very unlikely that we can pinpoint the Opusculum to 1101 (any such precising dating should be immediately suspect).

But let’s start at the beginning…

The Opusculum is a Byzantine polemic against the version of Christianity practiced by the Roman Latin Church that is, the “Franks” (since the Franks had by then taken over what was left of the Latins and the Popes were anointing Frankish emperors).  It is one of a number of such works and similar works also exist on the Catholic side directed against the Byzantines, of course.

Photius enjoying some morning foot kissing

The Opusculum has traditionally been ascribed to Photius and, if you believe that, then it is a work of Photius.  If you do not, then it is a work of Pseudo-Photius (meaning “we don’t know who wrote it but it wasn’t Photius but may as well refer to Photius since people think he wrote it”).

Photius or Phōtios or Φώτιος (circa 810 – circa 893) was the Patriarch of Constantinople (who had a hand in a schism now called by his own name (!) the “Photian Schism” of 863-867.

Apparently, the Opusculum was translated from Greek to Latin by Hugo Etherianus in 1178 and again in 1252 by the Dominican Bartholomew of Constantinople, who appended it to his Tractatus contra Graecos.  Presumably, the Latins needed to know what the Greeks’ arguments were in order to counter them effectively (the level of the polemic in the document itself is rather low with bitching about dress and hairstyle mascara ding as theological arguments).

In any event, this means that the Opusculum was written before 1178.

The “recent fame” of the Opusculum is due to Zachariae‘s edition of 1839 and then to Joseph Cardinal Hergenröther (1824 – 1890), Cardinal-Prefect of the Vatican Archives who was also, in addition to being an archivist, a church historian and canonist.  Hergenröther was interested in the Schism with the Byzantine Church and in the role played in that by Photius.  In addition to a number of articles he published the following on Photius:

  • Photii Constantinopolitani Liber de Spiritus Sancti mystagogia (Regensburg (Ratisbonae), 1857)
  • Photius Patriarch von Constantinopel, sein Leben, seine Schriften, und das griechische Schisma (3 volumes, Regensburg, 1867-69)
  • Monumenta Græca ad Photium ejusque historiam pertinentia (Regensburg, 1869)

His work was also instrumental in helping Migne put together his version of Photius (P.G., CI-CIV) (1860).

So here is the Hergenröther version of the Opusculum from his Monumenta Græca ad Photium ejusque historian pertinentia:

As can be seen, Lechia does appear in argument 24 (dealing with how long one ought to fast – in the East they do better than in the West, etc.).  What this actually says is:

“The forty day fast is undertaken in their countries and among the surrounding peoples unevenly: thus, Lechia fasts for nine weeks and among the others, some fast for eight and some for more whereas others fewer [weeks].  The Italians only six.”

(presumably their dolce vita puts limits on their piety)

Note also the mention of the Venetians/Veneti/Slavs? at the beginning of the Opusculumgermanikoi, molphinoi, benetikoi

In volume 3 of Photius Patriarch von Constantinopel Hergenröther discusses the Opusculum and concludes that it is not a work of Photius because (among other reasons) Lechia must mean Poland and Poland was not Christianized until the second half of the tenth century so people in Poles can’t possibly have kept a Christian fast in the ninth century.  Of course, we can’t use the same logic if the question on the table is instead when did Poland begin to be called Lechia without running into circular reasoning problems.

But we can say that Hergenröther’s logic is based on two crucial assumptions, of course:

  • that Lechia must refer to Poland (likely but not entirely certain) or, for that matter, to all of Poland (that is very unclear), and
  • that a country is either Christian or it is not (this is doubtful and, as we know from the “Life of Methodius” that the Byzantine Christians (Photius’ buddy Methodius) were already threatening conversion of the “duke in Visla” just as the Franks were threatening Slavic lands to the West).

Following Hergenröther a pamphlet was issued on the work by the Czech priest František Snopek (1853-1921) in 1908 and then a more extensive article was written by Teofil Modelski (1881-1967) under the title of “Pseudo-Photius’ Lechia” (Lechia Pseudo-Focyusza)  in 1914.

parts 1 & 2 (of 5)

You can read all the arguments in those works (no, we won’t translate it all – too much work).  In the end, no one really knows.  It’s certainly possible that Lechia had been used in the ninth century.  But even if not, the use of the term (assuming it refers to Poland) is still one of the earliest uses of the term for Poland (predating Kadlubek).

The one thing that can be said is that the Opusculum probably started out in Photius’ “intellectual circle” – perhaps with Photius himself – and that it was likely not written in 1101.  1101 is an error by someone who misread the number to mean a year – instead it is the number of one of the manuscripts housing the Opusculum – Vat. gr. 1101.

First page of the Opusculum from Vat. gr. 1101 (note Benetikoi three lines down from the “1”)

Note that Hergenröther himself dated the Opusculum to somewhere in 1054-1100.

As regards the word lach the best idea on this that we’ve seen was Piotr Czarkowski’s and later Jan Karłowicz’s who said it just  means a “large forest” (and so it more apt than pole meaning “field” since Poland was covered by forests back in the 10th century.  For other examples of s > ch (or vice versa?):

  • piasek > piach
  • las(ek) > lach
  • pas(ek) > pach
  • laska > lacha

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May 1, 2017