Monthly Archives: September 2017

Ziza or Zizilia

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Always thought it was curious when German (as opposed to Nordic) Gods sounded Slavic.  One such case – of Lollus – already discussed here.  Others such as Jecha or Biel might want to get to later.  But then there is the curious case that actually is attested as early as 1135 in a story – Ex Gallica Historia –  that is very unlikely to be true but whose value is threefold.

First, the story of how the Swabians defeated the Romans (attributed to Velleius Paterculus but not likely written by him) tells of the founding of the Augsburg.  It is in some ways similar to the stories written by Wincenty Kadlubek about how the Poles (or Lechites as he would have it) defeated the Romans (and others).  The fact that Augsburg sits in the old Vinde-Licia seem very suggestive.  At the very least here may be an inspiration for Kadlubek who was a travelled man.

Second, there is a name here that is clear Slavic and that appears nowhere else.  The author has Roman soldier be called Bogudis.  He seems to be an Avar.

Third, there is a report of who the Swabians relied on for their Divine Protection.  Here we have a name that is at least somewhat similar to a Goddess said to have been worshipped by the pagan Poles.  We know that Marcin Kromer’s list of Gods includes Zizililia.  This is repeated by Maciej Stryjkowski who says:

Venera they called the goddess of love Zizilia, to whom they prayed for fertility and all sorts of bodily pleasures they demanded from her.  

(Another “Z” Divinity is Zievana sive Zevonia (Kromer) about whom Stryjkowski says: “Diana the goddess of the hunt in they tongue they called Ziewonia or Dziewanna.”)

For more of these see here.

In any event, the Swabian Goddess’ name is supposedly Cisa or Zisa.  This, when one thinks of the tree cis, would already be enough to perk up Slavic ears. But in the story the name comes up slightly differently:

  • Zizarim (or Zizarana?)
  • Ziza
  • Ziznberc (mountain)
  • Zicę

Of course, already Grimm noticed the similarity of the name to that mentioned by Tacitus:

Para Suevorum et Isidi sacrificat.

In any event, the Goddess Ziza has been repeatedly cited by the learned men and women of Augsburg throughout the Middle Ages and many places are said to have been named after Her.

There is another potential connection here but about that later.

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September 21, 2017

Soulanos and Boulanes

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The cool thing about these days is that you can actually go and check some of these things that you’ve read about.  Since the Vatican library is now mostly online, thanks to the efforts of one very generous guy, you can see things for yourself.

So on the Boulanes/Soulanes question, went back to look at two codices.

The results of those three are in and Soulanes seems to be winning the day.

Here are from Book 3, Chapter 5 (Sarmatia):

Vaticanus Graecus 191
(about 1300)

this one is clearly an “s” (Souloonos).

Vaticanus Urbinas Graecus 82
(about 1300)

same.

Vaticanus Palatinus Graecus 388
(about 1450)
(the one used by Erasmus)

This one is arguably a “b” (Boulanes).

You can also see the underlined references to the Veneti.  In between the two are the Goths (arguably) and the Finns (Finnoi).

As a point of interest here are the following from 388’s Book 2, Chapter 10 (Germania):

Rivers

The three rivers in Germania, that is Suevus, Viadua and Vistula:

Calisia

(Si) lingai?

Or Lingai?

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September 19, 2017

Prussian Entreaties

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

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

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

Old Prussian fortress walls at Dzierzgoń

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

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

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

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

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

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

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September 18, 2017

We Know That We Do Not Know

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One of the readers had asked the question about the location of the “Vistula Venedi”.  This is rather complicated since, with the exception of the Tabula Peutingeriana, we don’t have any actual ancient maps of the region

Pomponius Mela says that: “Sarmatia, wider to the interior than toward the sea, is separated by the Vistula [Vistula] River from the places that follow, and where the river reaches in, it goes all the way to the Ister River. Its people are very close to the Parthians in dress and in weaponry, but the rougher the climate, the cruder their disposition.”  Which sounds about right.

Strabo does not venture that deep (he does mention the Vindilici who previous to Tiberius’ wars lived at the Bodensee).

Pliny, says that “some writers state that these regions, as far as the river Vistula, are inhabited by the Sarmati, the Venedi, the Sciri, and the Hirri.  He does not say who the Sciri and Hirri are.

Incidentally, the Codanus Sinus has also been identified with the Kattegat and not just with the Bay of Gdansk (it appears in Pomponius Mela and in Pliny).

Tacitus does not mention the Vistula and places the Veneti somewhere where Suevia ends.  Where Suevia ends, however, he declines to say.

He also contributes by noting that the Suevi and Esti are very similar except for language with the Estian language similar to that of Britain.

Ptolemy is more detailed and is worth quoting in more detail but is full of issues of his own:

“Lesser races inhabit Sarmatia near the Vistula river. Below the Venedae are the Gythones, then the Finni, then the Soulanes/Boulanes; below whom are the Phrungundiones; then the Avarini near the source of the Vistula river; below these are the Ombrones, then the Anartophracti, then the Burgiones, then the Arsietae, then the Saboci, then the Piengitae and the Biessi near the Carpathian mountains. Among those we have named to the east: below the Venedae are the Galindae, the Sudini, and the Stavani, extending as far as the Alauni; below these are the Igylliones, then the Coestoboci and the Transmontani extending as far as the Peuca mountains. Back from the Ocean, near the Venedicus bay, the Veltae dwell, above whom are the Ossi; then more toward the north the Carbones and toward the east are the Careotae and the Sali; below whom are the Gelones, the Hippopodes and the Melanchlaeni; below these are the Agathyrsi; then the Aorsi and the Pagyritae; then the Savari and the Borusci to the Ripaeos mountains; then the Acibi and the Nasci; below whom are the Vibiones and the Idrae; and below the Vibiones bordering on the Alauni are the Sturni, and between the Alauni and the Amaxobii are the Cariones and the Sargati; near the bend of the Tanis river are the Ophlones and then the Tanaitae; below whom are the Osili extending as far as Rhoxolanis; between the Amaxobii and the Rhoxolani are the Rheucanali and the Exobygitae; and between the Peucini and the Basternae are the Carpiani, above whom are the Gevini, then the Bodini; between the Basternae and the Rhoxolani are the Chuni, and below the mountains named from these are the Amadoci and the Navari.”

Regarding Ptolemy we have “several” issues:

  • The guy was writing in Egypt in pre-Internet days.  He was writing a world geography not a geography of the Vistula region meaning that he had to make sure that he was generally correct across all geographies but he did not need to be specifically correct in any given place.  I mean who was going to call him on whether the Sciri were Sarmatian or something else?
  • He was relying on multiple sources that he was compiling into one “universal” work.  Normally, the way you would do that is you would critically check each against the other and discard the chaff.  But, how could he “critically” look at anything sitting in Alexandria?  My strong suspicion is that, when I’m doubt, he included multiple data points that in reality referred to one and the same thing.  If you can’t check, it’s probably better to be overinclusive than to risk leaving things out altogether.  And he had to fit all of this on his “map”
  • How good were his sources?
  • Even where they were good, to what time periods did they pertain?  The situation north of the Empire was fluid with various watahas carving up their own “kingdoms” until a bigger guy showed up with more men and better weapons. We do not know how long precisely his work took but it was not put together over a day.  Thus, the situation could have changed while he was writing his magnum opus.
  • A very important word in all of Ptolemy is a word that was translated as “below” – what did he mean by that?  Did he mean “south” or “down river” or something else (think of Curta’s arguments about what maps Jordanes was using…).  In fact, did he mean the same thing every time he used the word?
  • The manuscripts vary greatly which means that some of them were copied incorrectly or that some monks “corrected” Ptolemy or both.
  • It is also worth noting that the so-called “Ptolemaic” maps were not his but rather were medieval maps put together as best guesses based on the numbers and names provided by Ptolemy.

There is no good English translation of Ptolemy.  The above comes from Stevenson who, ahem, may have translated from Latin (the original we think was in Greek).

With that said:

  • it is not clear what Ptolemy means by Venedicus Bay – it is safe to say that if the Venedae were really a “great” people then the suggestion that Venedicus Bay is the Bay of Gdansk is ridiculous simply because it is way too small.  A helpful hint is provided by Pomponius Mela who says “Sarmatia, wider to the interior than toward the sea”.  This is, of course true: the further East you go the “thicker” “Sarmatia becomes.  The further West you go the “thinner” it is until you reach the “Cymbrian Peninsula” that is Denmark.  The reason the west is thinner is simple – the Baltic Sea.  Of course, we know that the Baltic is a sea.  But to Ptolemy and others of his age, the north was “Ocean”, Scandinavia was an island and the Baltic Sea was just a “bay” that the Ocean must have carved up in Sarmatia to make it – at that place – thinner than it is to the East.  If you view the entire Baltic Sea as basically a giant bay then you have your Venedicus Bay.  It is the same as the Suevian Sea of Tacitus.  The fact that the Suevian Sea was also called the Sarmatian Sea puts an end to speculation here.  On a large Baltic, you could fit all the Venedi – a “greater” people. This also matches arguably what we see on the Tabula Peutingeriana.
  • There is a potential problem with this.  The “Vistula” was supposed to have separated Sarmatia from Germania.  In fact, the Gotones (assuming they are to be seen as Goths) dwelt in Sarmatia (!) below the Venedae and near the Vistula.  If the Vistula ends Sarmatia then the southern Baltic shore can’t be part of the Venedic Bay. 
  • Or can it?  The assumption that is made is that the Goths must have dwelt at the “mouth” of the Vistula but that is not what Ptolemy says (“Lesser [than the Venedae?] races inhabit Sarmatia near the Vistula river. Below the Venedae are the Gythones, then the Finni, then the Soulanes”).  Moreover, even if the Goths lived at the mouth of the Vistula, we know they moved south at some point.  But there is an even bigger issue here.  We know that the Goths came from Scandinavia (at least those who do not want to deny reality know that).  If so and if they landed on the Baltic shore then it stretches credulity to suggest that they landed in one place that neatly separated different peoples.  It is much more likely that they landed at the mouth of “a river” (will get back to that) and that their landing, in effect, separated the people who lived along that river.  That is the Goths may have simply cut into the Venedae.
  • But there is another issue.  We do not even know what the Vistula River is.  We assume that it must be the river that we call Vistula today because that prevents us from having to think but even this is not certain.  There are quite a number of good reasons to think that the Vistula was the Oder.  For example, in Ptolemy’s mind “Sarmatia is terminated in the west by the Vistula river and by that part of Germania lying between [Vistula’s] source and the Sarmatian mountains but not by the mountains themselves.”  What he is arguably describing here is the land west of the Odra/Oder which is, to the Nysa/Neisse, in Poland.
  • There are other reasons to think that the Veneti extended to the Oder.  Like the name of the river itself.  Whoever you may think the Veneti were the fact that Odra is similar to Adria where the Veneti lived has not escaped notice.
  • Moreover, have you ever thought as to why there were no Rugii at Ruegen in Tacitus’ writings?  But if we assume that Vistula is where the Goths are Vistula must be today’s Vistula, this creates a mess as the Rugii are nowhere near Rugia island.  I mean even if some Rugii marched out, there should have been some other Rugii left behind at… well, Rugia. BUT, if Vistula is the Oder and the Goths are there then the Rugii can be both close to the Goths and close to the island of Rugia/Ruegen.
  • In other words, whether the Goths landed at the Oder or at today’s Vistula has very little bearing on the question of whether there were Veneti West of (today’s) Vistula.  The fact that that whole are is called Wendland (in fact to Denmark) by King Alfred should surprise no one.  And perhaps this matches to with Aethicus Ister who lists “.. Alani, Meotae, Huns, Frisians, Danes, Vinnidi, Riphaeans, and Olches, whom the folk in those parts call orci, very filthy peoples.”  This list seems to be composed of several lists but the Frisians, Danes, Vinnidi description seems to make sense and nicely suggests that the Vinnidi dwell between the Danes and the Riphaeans (which, traditionally meant the Ural mountains or thereabouts).
  •  It is also curious that there are many tribes that Ptolemy mentions that are clearly or very likely the same as the Slavic tribes we know from medieval history.
  • Take the Lincis – all the manuscripts say Lincis – except one.  So 19th century researchers decided to make Silingae out of the poor Lincis.
  • Take the Veltae – the later Veleti who dwell next to the Ossi.  The Ossi speak “Pannonian” we are told by Tacitus.  Then we have Ossentrix be the king of the Wilzi in the Didrek Sagas.  Did the Ossi conquer the Veltae?
  • In fact, take something else… The English translation by Stevenson (corrected above) speaks as follows: “Below the Venedae are the Gythones, then the Finni, then the Sulones.  BUT the manuscripts actually vary and the alleged Sullones are Soulanes or… Boulanes.   
    • The fact that much later in the medieval day the first mentions of the Poles speak of them as Bolanes (not all but enough to ask questions) is interesting
    • the fact that Bol means “great” (Bole-slav) suggests that Boulanes may have been just a different form of Veltae – a “great” people.”
    • Here is a little excerpt from Karl Müller’s 1883 Ptolemy which also discusses the topic (including Schaffarik’s views):

 

That the Venetic name appears in Prussian and Polish is quite clear.  See this piece on the meaning of the word.  But there were also a number of villages in Poland with similar names such as, for example, near Wroclaw.

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September 14, 2017

Thietmar’s Book VIII

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Chapter 1 [1018]

In the year 1018 of the Incarnation, in the second indiction, in the sixteenth year of Lord Henry’s reign, and his fourth as emperor, the same Henry celebrated the Circumcision and Epiphany of the Lord in Frankfurt, with great solemnity (1, 6 January).  On January 25, Ezzelin the Lombard was granted his liberty.  He had been held in custody for four years.  Afterwards in January 30, Bishops Gero and Arnulf, the counts Herman and Dietrich, and the emperor’s chancellor Frederick agreed to a sworn peace at the burg Bautzen.  The agreement was are at the emperor’s order and in response Boleslav’s constant supplications.  This was not as it should have been,  however.  Rather, it was the best that could be accomplished under the circumstances.  In the company of a select group of hostages, the aforesaid lords returned.  After four days, Oda, Margrave Ekkehard’s daughter, whom Boleslav had long desired, was escorted to Zuetzen by Otto, the duke’s son.  When they arrived they were greeted by a large crowd of men and women, and by many burning lamps, since it was night-time.  Contrary to the authority of the canons, Oda married the duke over Septuagesima.  Until now, she has lived outside the law of matrimony and thus in a manner worthy of a marriage such as this one.

Chapter 2

In her husband’s kingdom, the customs are many and varied. They are also harsh, but occasionally quite praiseworthy.  The populace must be fed like cattle and punished as one would a stubborn ass.  Without severe punishment, the prince cannot put them to any useful purpose.  If anyone in this land should presume to abuse a foreign matron and thereby commit fornication, the act is immediately avenged through the following punishment.  The guilty party is led on to the market bridge, and his scrotum is affixed to it with a nail.  Then after a share knife has been  placed next to him, he is given the harsh choice between death or castration.  Furthermore, anyone found to have eaten meat after Septuegesima is severely punished, by having his teeth knocked out.  The law of God, newly introduced in these regions, gains more strength from such acts of force that from any fast imposed by the bishops.  There are also other customs, by far inferior to these, which please neither God nor the inhabitants, and are useful only as a means to inspire terror.  To some extent, I have alluded to these above.  I think that it is unnecessary fro me to say any more about this man whose name and manner of life, if it please Almighty God, might better have remained concealed from us.  That his father and he were joined to us, through marriage and great familiarity, has produced results so damaging that any good preceding them is far outweighed, and so it will remain in the future.  During false periods of peace Boleslav may temporarily regard us with affection.  Nevertheless, through all kinds of secret plots, he constatnly attempts to sow dissension, diminish our inborn freedom, and, if time and place permit rise up and destroy us.

Chapter 3

In the days of his father, when he still embraced heathenism, every woman followed her husband on to the funeral pure, after first being decapitated.* If a woman was found to be a prostitute moreover, she suffered a particularly wretched and shameful penalty.  The skin of around her genitals was cut off and this ‘foreskin,’ if we may call it that, was hung on the door so that anyone who entered would see it and be more concerned and prudent in the future.  The law of the Lord declares that such a woman should be stoned, and the rules of our ancestors would require her beheading.**  Nowadays, the freedom to sin dominates everywhere to a degree that is not right or normal.  And so it is not just a large number of frustrated girls who engage in adultery, having been driven by the desire of the flesh to harmful lust, but even some married women and, indeed, with their husbands still living.  As if this were not enough, such women then have their husbands murdered by the adulterer, inspiring the deed through furtive hints.  After this, having given a wicked example to others, they receive their lovers unite openly and sin at will.  They repudiate their legal lord in a most horrible fashion and prefer his retainer, as if the latter were sweet Abro or mild Jason.  Nowadays, because a harsh penalty is not imposed, I fear that many will fund this new custom more and more acceptable.  O you priests of the Lord, forcefully rise up and let nothing stop you!  Take a sharp ploughshare and extirpate this newly sprouted weed, down to the roots! You also, lay people, do not give aid to such as these! May those joined in Christ live innocently and, after these supplanters have been rooted out forever groan in shame.  Unless these sinners return to their senses, may our helper, Christ, destroy them with a powerful breath from his holy mouth and scatter them with the great splendor of his second coming.

* note: according to Boniface, the Wends “observed the mutual love of matrimony with such great zeal that a woman would refuse to live after her husband had died.  Among them, moreover a woman was judged praiseworthy if she chose to die by her own hand and burned together with her husband on a single pure. (Bon. Epistolae 73).

** note: John 8:5.

Chapter 4

Now, I have said enough regarding that matter, since I must still related certain things regarding Duke Boleslav’s misfortune.  The latter’s territory include a certain burg, located near the border with the Hungarians.  ITs guardian was lord Prokui, an uncle of the Hungarian king.  Both in the past and more recently, Prokui had been driven from his lands by the king and his wife had been taken captive.  When he was unable to free her, his nephew arranged for her unconditional release, even though he was Prokui’s enemy.  I have never heard of anyone who showed such restraint towards a defeated for.  Because of this, God repeatedly granted him victory, not only in the burg mentioned above, but in others as well.  HIs father, Deuvix, was very cruel and killed many people because of his quick temper.  When he became a Christian, however, he turned his rage against his reluctant subjects, in order to strengthen this faith. Thus, glowing with zeal for God, he washed away his old crimes. He sacrificed both to the omnipotent God and to various false gods.  When reproached by his priest for doing so, however, he maintained that the practice had brought him both wealth and great power.  His wife, Beleknegini – the name means beautiful lady in Slavonic – drank immoderately and rode a horse like a warrior.  Once, in a fit of anger, she killed a man.  These polluted hands would have been better employed at the spindle, and her frenzied spirit should have been restrained by patience.

Chapter 5 [1018]

The Liutizi were always united in evil.  Now, they attacked lord Mistislav who had not supported them with troops during the emperor’s expedition, the latter having taken place in the previous year.  They devastated much of Mistislav’s territory, forcing his wife and daughter-in-law to flee, and compelling him to seek protection within the burg Schwerin.  He was joined there by his best milites.  Then, the evil cunning of the populace, rebellious against both Christ and their own lord, forced him to abandon his paternal inheritance.  He barely managed to get away.  This detestable presumption occurred in the month of February which the heathen venerate with rites of purification and obligatory offerings.  The month takes its name from the god of hell, Pluto, who is also called Februus.  Then, all of the churches, dedicated to the honour and service of Christ, were wasted by fire and other forms of destruction.  Even worse, the image of the crucified Christ was mutilated and the worship of idols was preferred to that of God.  The minds of this folk called the Abodrites and Wagrii, hardened like the heart of Pharaoh.  They seized for themselves the kind of liberty possessed by the Liutizi and, following the model of that famous deception, removed their neck from the sweet yoke of Christ even as they willingly submitted to the burdensome weight of the Devil’s rule.  They did this even though they had previously had a much better father and nobler lord.  The members of Christ should lament this weakness of theirs and complain about it to their head, constantly asking, with the voice of their hearts, that this might be changed for the better.  They themselves should not allow this situation to continue, to the extent that this is possible.

Chapter 6 [1018]

As soon as he learned of these events, Bernhard, one of my brethren at Magdeburg and formerly bishop of those apostates, did not hesitate to bring the issue to the emperor’s attention.  It was not from concern over his secular losses that he did this, but rather from  a deep spiritual sadness.  After receiving the news, the emperor gave a heavy sigh.  Neverthless, he decided to delay his response until Easter, so that, with more prudent advice, what had been engendered through an unfortunate conspiracy might be utterly destroyed…

Chapter 20

Now I shall truthfully explain what provoked them to do this.  In the times of Bishop Giselher and Margrave Gunther, the generous beneficence of Otto II, smiling broadly upon everyone, granted to our church a certain forest.  It was situated between the rivers Saale and Mulde, and between the districts of Siusuli and Plisne.  After the sad destruction of our diocese, during the reign of Otto II, Margrave Ekkehard [I] acquired another forest, in a  place called Soemmering, and traded it for the one belonging to us.  Afterwards, along with most of our property, this forest was returned to us by King Henry, the restorer of our office.  This restitution was confirmed through a legal judgement in the presence of all the king’s leading men, and with the brothers Herman and Ekkehard II unable to support their claim.  This forest had been in our church’s possession for more than twelve years.  And Margrave Herman had in no way succeeded in reacquiring it by offering me sixty manses of land.  Nevertheless, he thought that he and his brother might still claim it by means of imperial diplomats relating to the possession of two burgwards, Rochlitz and Teitzig.  He hoped that the old document which confirmed our rights had been lost.  When he showed me his documents, he realized that they would do him no good.  For at Magdeburg, when our respective diplomata were presented before the emperor, it was clear that our church’s claims took precedence, in every way.  At last, in his brother’s presence and hearing, the aforesaid margrave declared: ‘Until now, whatever we have done regarding this matter has been undertaken because we hoped to have justice, and not out of recklessness.  Now let us give it all up.’

Chapter 21 [1018]

Ekkehard was a young man and therefore immature.  Shortly afterwards, at the instigation of his miles Budislav, he began to erect tall enclosures in his burg ward, Rochlitz, for the purpose of capturing wild game.  When subsequently informed of his actions, I accepted the news peacefully.  Nevertheless, through my intermediary – namely his brother – I asked that he desist.  Also, I immediately complained to his brother.  In each case, I was completely unsuccessful, and so things stood until Easter had passed.  Them, because both the weather and the condition of the roads were favorable, and because I had never visited that part of my diocese, I decided to go there and carefully investigate the situation, as yet unfamiliar to me.  On May 2, a Friday, I went to Kohren and confirmed the people who gathered there.  Continuing my trip, I encountered the area, mentioned above, which had been fitted out with ropes and great nets.  I was astonished and wondered what I shod do.  Finally, because I could not take the apparatus with me, I mediately ordered that part of it to be cut down.  Afterwards, I and directly to Rochlitz. There I confirmed a few people and, under threat of the ban, forbade the withholding of my rightful tithes and use of the forest.  I declared all of  this to be property of our church, and made peace.

Chapter 22 [1018]

Then I returned to my estate at Kohren where, after seven days, I heard that Ekkehard’s millets were threatening my people.  At that time, the chancellor happened to be spending the night with me.  When I explained the situation to him, he responded favorably.  On numerous occasions, those same warriors gathered together and tried to attack me, but our guards stopped them, in timely fashion.  Meanwhile, I sent my representative to the emperor, at Mainz, and humbly sought his mediation.  Now, on his own behalf, Ekkehard agreed to a truce, and his brother, whom I had long awaited, returned from Poland and offered his own hand in peace.  Neither kept his word very well, however.  Six flogged and shave men, and as many devastated houses, prove how others must defend themselves against such lords.  In their accustomed manner, their dependents not only raged against me, but also harmed other, better men.  They attacked Archbishop Gero in Werben and Count Siegfried at Nischwitz and took whatever they wished.

Chapter 31 [1018]

We may not keep silent regarding the sad and harmful events that occurred in Russia.  For, on or advice, Boleslav attacked it with a large army and caused much destruction.  On July 22, the duke came to a certain river, where he ordered his army to set up camp and prepare the necessary bridges.  Also camped near the river, along with his army, was the king of the Russians.  He was anxiously awaiting the outcome of the upcoming battle, for which both rulers had called.  Meanwhile, the Poles provoked the enemy into fighting and, with unexpected success, drove them from the river bank which they were supposed to defend.  Elated by this news, Boleslav hastily notified his companions and quickly crossed the river although without effort.  In contrast, the hostile army, drawn up in battle formation, vainly attempted to defend its homeland.  It collapsed at the first attack, however, and failed to mount any effective resistance.  Among those who fled, many were killed, but only a few of the victors were lost.  On our side, the dead included Erich, an illustrious miles whom our emperor had long held in chains.  From that day on, with every success, Boleslav drove his scattered enemies before him, and the whole populace received and honoured him with many gifts.

Chapter 32 [1018]

Meanwhile, Jaroslav captured a city which had been subject to his brother [Sventopolk], and abducted the inhabitants.  At Boleslav’s instigation, the very strong city of Kiev was disturbed by the constant attacks of hostile Petchenegs and severely weakened by fire. It was defended by its inhabitants, but quickly surrendered to the foreign warriors, after its king fled and abandoned it.  On August 14, the city received Boleslav and Sventipolk, its long-absent lord.  Thereafter, through his favour, and from fear of us, the whole region was brought into submission.  When they arrived, the archbishop of that city received them, at the church of Saint Sophia, with relics of the saints and other kinds of ceremonial apparatus.  In the previous year, this church had been severely, but unintentionally damaged by fire.  Here were found the king’s stepmother, wife, and nine sisters, one of whom had previously been desired by Boleslav, that old fornicator.  Unmindful of her husband, the duke unlawfully took her away.  There, too , he was shown an unspeakable amount of treasure, most of high ch he distributed among his friends and supporters.  He sent some of it back to his homeland, however. Among those rendering assistance to the aforesaid duke were three hundred of our warriors, five hundred Hungarians, and one thousand Petchenegs.  Al of these were no sent home, since, as Sventipolk was happy to see, the populace flocked to him and appeared loyal.  In this great city, the centre of that kingdom, there are more than four hundred churches, eight markets, and an unknown number of inhabitants.  As in this entire land, the city gains its strength from fugitive serfs who converge on this place from everywhere, but especially from areas overrun by the fast-moving Danes.  Until now, it successfully resisted the attacks of the Petchenegs and was also victorious over other enemies.

Chapter 33 [1018]

Elated by this success, Boleslav sent the bishop of this city to Jaroslav, to ask that his daughter be sent back to him.  In return, he promised to send back Jaroslav’s wife, stepmother, and sisters.  Afterwards, he sent his beloved Abbot Tuni to our emperor, with splendid gifts that he might more firmly secure his favor and aid.  He also indicated that he would follow the emperor’s wishes in all matters. He also sent messengers to nearby Greece, who promised good things to the emperor there, if he would consider him as his faithful friend.  Otherwise, they intimated, he would be a most obdurate and invincible enemy.  Among all of these, omnipotent God stands firm., mercifully revealing what pleases him and profits us.  In those days my cousin Udo, took Herman prisoner.  This was a man equal to him in nobility and power; and he led him to his burg against his will.  I fear that another dangerous weed will sprout from this, and be exceedingly difficult or impossible to eradicate.

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September 12, 2017

Caesar on Germanic Religion

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What do we know of the religion of the Germans?  Well, you have Tacitus but… you also have an earlier account by no less an authority than Julius Caesar in Book VI of his Gallic Wars:

“The Germans differ much from these usages, for they have neither Druids to preside over sacred offices, nor do they pay great regard to sacrifices. They rank in the number of the gods those alone whom they behold, and by whose instrumentality they are obviously benefited, namely, the sun, fire, and the moon; they have not heard of the other deities even by report.”

Germani multum ab hac consuetudine differunt. Nam neque druides habent, qui rebus divinis praesint, neque sacrificiis student. Deorum numero eos solos ducunt, quos cernunt et quorum aperte opibus iuvantur, Solem et Vulcanum et Lunam, reliquos ne fama quidem acceperunt.

Of course, the worship of the sun and fire was not something that we normally think of Nordic religion.  Instead, we think of “eastern” religions like in this account of the Persians.

Of course, the same could be said of the Slavs who worship:

  • Jasion, Jutrebog, Jarowit/Gerovit or, if you want to go further east, apparently, Svarog as the “Sun”  and
  • Svarozic as the “fire”

What about the moon?  Well, that’s tougher but there is the ksiezyc which is a diminutive of ksiadz.  Ksiadz used to mean prince or ruler.  Ksiezyc would thus mean “little ruler” so that much like:

  • Svarog > Svarozyc (big fire = the Sun > little fire = actual fire) 

we have:

  • Ksiadz > ksiezyc (big prince = the Sun > little prince = the moon)

Now, many folklorists have done all kinds of gymnastics to try to claim that Caesar’s Germanic Gods were somehow just different versions of Wotan, Thor or Tyr.

And yet that is not what the above says.

And those Germanic names!  Where are these Germanic Arios- after all?

Well, we have:

  • Ariovistus, as well as,
  • Ariamir (Suevi) , but to find another Ario- you have to look East,
  • Ariobarzanes and that one is, again, in the East (Persia).

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September 7, 2017

All the Slavs of the Miracles of Saint Demetrius – Book I

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The Miracles of Saint Demetrius come in two books.  The first one was written by Archbishop of John (the second) of Thessalonica sometime in the early 600s.  It is a collection of, what appear to be sermons, amongst which there is a description of a siege of Thessalonica undertaken by a Slavic army.  Since John describes himself as walking the battlements during the siege and since he was archbishop of the city during 603-610 and again during 617-626, the siege presumably took place at that time.  The second book of miracles was written by someone else towards the end of the seventh century.  The primary scholarly edition of both of these books was that of Paul Lemerle (Les plus anciens recueils des miracles de saint Démétrius et la pénétration des Slaves dans les Balkans – which also contains a French translation).  We begin with the first book.  Its “Slavic” passages are contained in Chapter 12, 13 and 14 (there are fifteen total “miracles”/chapters).

Chapter 12
Of the Fire of the Ciborium and the Surprise Attack by the Slavs

[At night during the celebrations of Saint Demetrius’ day, barbarians set fire to the basilica’s ciborium and everyone was called to arms]

“All the people having heard this call, rushed to their houses and armed went to man the walls.  From there they glanced in the plain in front of the sanctuary of the Holy Matron, a throng of barbarians, albeit not too large, estimated at about five thousand, but of great strength for the all were selected and battle-hardened warriors.  They would not have assaulted this city great city were they not possessed of greater might and bravery than those [denizens of the city] who had never defeated them [the barbarians].”

“It was with the coming of the dawn that the townsfolk spotted the enemy from the walls, raised a cry and many of them ran down and through the open gates stepped outside.  Aided by Christ and the Victorious Demetrius] they joined battle with the enemies who, full of battle rage, had by then already breached the sanctuary of the three holy martyrs: Chiona, Irene and Agappa, which sanctuary, as you know, was found in the vicinity of the town walls.  The sides continued in battle throughout most of the day and the hosts of Demetrius, with great risk, once chased the enemy, then gave way to it, because, as is told, the enemy brought out the elite flower of the entire Slav tribe.  Eventually, thanks to the martyr’s [Demetrius’] aid, on that day the barbarians were driven out and retreated in smaller numbers than they arrived with.  In this way ended this unexpected and wild assault.”

Chapter 13
Of the Siege of the City by the Avaro-Slavs

“It is said, that the then ruler of the Avars decided to send emissaries regarding a certain matter to Maurice who was, with God’s choice, then wielding the scepter of the Byzantines. But since his requests did not bring desired results, he fell into an uncontrollable rage, feeling that he must not refrain from causing great harm to the one who so casually listened to his demands, pondering in what manner he could cause him [Maurice] the greatest harm and concocting the most terrible things, which then, however, came to pass.  He realized that the God-honored capital of the Thessalonicans stood out from amongst all cities of Thrace and Illyricum by reason of its diverse riches and pious, wise and most humble people; that is, to put it simply, he knew that the above-mentioned city was dear to the Emperor’s heart for it shines everywhere with its accolades; so that if suddenly it found itself in some kind of danger, the Byzantine Empire would suffer for it.”

“So he called to his side the entire wild tribe of the Slavs – this nation was subordinate to him at that time – and joining with them barbarians from other tribes, ordered them all to set out against Thessalonica.  This was the greatest host that had been seen in our day.  Some estimated it at over one hundred thousand armed men, others at a little bit less, and others yet at much more.  Since the exact truth could not be ascertained due to the countless numbers [of the enemy], the people looked to the eyewitnesses [to guess the numbers of the enemy]… We heard of rivers and streams by  which these armies stopped, about all the country which they traversed and which, as in [writing] of the prophet [Joel] ‘were put out to waste.’  This numerous army was ordered to cross the lands at such a pace that we did not become aware of its arrival until the immediately prior day.”

“This [news] was relayed to us on Sunday, the 22nd of September.  While the denizens of the city were pondering whether the enemy would take the city after four days or later and for this reason the city guard were not adequately prepared, that very same night [they] silently approached the city walls.  It was then that the praiseworthy martyr, Demetrius, aided [the city] for the first time, confusing them during that night so that they spent many hours about the fortress of the praiseworthy Matron martyr, thinking that they had arrived at the city itself.  When it finally dawned and they realized that the city is nearby, they set out for it in unison, roaring like lions.  Thereafter, they attached siege ladders to the walls which ladders they had brought with them, ready to ascend them….”

[Demetrius appears under the guise of a Thessalonican soldier and defeats the barbarians climbing the siege ladders]

“…All the barbarians, who were present there in great numbers, filled with terrible dread, instantly moved away from the walls; that night there were few sentries on the walls and [many] had headed home for it was believed that the throng of barbarians would not appear until a few days from then.”


“When day finally came, these wild animals tightly surrounded the city walls so that even a bird could not fly away beyond the gates, nor enter the city from the outside.  They girded the city from the endings of the eastern wall reaching the sea to the western wall, like a deadly wreath and not a scarp of land was to be seen by virtue of the [density of the] barbarians.  In lieu of the ground, the grass and the trees all that could be seen were the heads of the enemy, one behind the other, all angry and threatening us with death by tomorrow.  And it was strange that on that day not only did they surround the city as if [they were] the sands but also many of them took up spots in the suburbs and fields surrounding the city [proper], destroying everything, consuming and pommeling all, and all that was left trampling with their feet, just as the beast did in Daniel’s vision.  They did not even need to build a stockade around the city or any trenches; rather, their shields formed an impassable palisade  one after the other and a stockade was made of their bodies tightly woven together like a fisherman’s net.”

Chapter 14
About the Recitalist Actor After the Siege by the Avaro-Slavs 

“Many of them, having lost hope of a quick victory in the next few days, went to the city masters and confessed through a translator [as follows]:  “The leader of the Avars sent us having received exact reports from many people [spies] that the city had only a few militiamen, for it had only recently been touched by a plague, and he assured us that we would take it the very next day. But when we arrived we saw many soldiers, who exceeded our armies in numbers and in bravery.  From that moment we stopped believing in our victory and decided instead to seek safety with you.”

“But that only happened later.  Instead on that day [when the Slavs arrived] when they found themselves at the walls, they busied themselves with provisions, prisoners and booty which they carried with them.  But all the grains and other crops (which agricultural produce, even if harvested in prior years, it was customary at that time to keep outside [of the city]) stolen by them would only last them through that day [and] till morning on the day following.  And thereafter, they ate fruits, tree branches and tree roots as well as all manner of vegetables, then grass, wild herbs and the so-called thistle plant – until, eventually, they were devouring dirt and they were hungry still for the Earth did not, as it is written, did not withstand their onrush.”

“In the evening of the first day they gathered brushwood and set up campfires around the city… Then, by this terrible fire there issued from them an even more terrible cry, of which it is said in the prophesies that the ‘Earth shook and the the heaven sent down rain.'”

“Throughout the whole night we heard around us much rumble and on the next morrow we saw that they set up siege engines, iron battering rams, huge stone throwers and the so-called turtle shields which they along with the stone throwers covered with hard leather.  Then, they covered them with the skins of freshly killed cattle and camels so as to protect them from fire and hot tar [of the defenders].  And in this matter they came closer to the city walls and starting on the third day they began to gather on the other side [of the city walls] stones which in their size were reminiscent of mountain boulders and their bowmen were issuing hails of arrows so that no one from the city could stick themselves out or to look outside.* They attached [protective] lids/covers on the other side of the walls while they used rods and war axes ceaselessly trying to break through the [wall] foundations….”

* note: presumably while the stone gatherers were picking them up at the outside of the city walls.

“We have said already that during the first and second day of the siege, the enemy was gathering provisions and getting ready all kinds of terrible machines against the city.  Between the third and the seventh day (for the blessed martyr did not suffer the siege to last longer) they brought to the city walls siege towers, battering rams, stone throwing catapults and wooden mantlets.  First they brought out a battering ram with a head of iron and set it in front of Cassandra’s gate but when they saw a grappling iron hanging over the gate that’d been put up there by the citizens, though it was small and harmless as a child’s toy, they were filled with dread and they spurned their great contraption – I speak of the ram – and burning it down as well as other similar ones and not having achieved their goals, they departed for the day to their tents…”

“Later, under cover of leather covers they tried, like vicious snakes, to destroy the ramparts, they say with axes and wooden poles.  And perhaps they would have achieved their desired goal, had not Providence shone down upon the inhabitants, armed their hearts with bravery and sent them out beyond the walls so as to terrify those, who shielded by the covers had almost manage to destroy all [ramparts].  For it had been [until then] not possible to toss anything at those protected below hidden by the walls so that they remained unseen from above.  Thus, armed men, filled with God-ignited fervor, came in front of the gate using a lowered so-called gangway, that had been damaged earlier.  When they approached the exterior walls, they caused panic among the enemies.  Filled with unspeakable fear, they left all their gear with which they had intended to destroy the exterior walls and escaped; this, even though the men who came out to the did not wield anything other than spears and shields…”

“When the enemy, by reason of a single divine decree escaped, leaving behind mantlets, poles, and pickaxes, no one gave chase after them; [and] on the next day they used stone throwers.These were rectangular, set on broad platforms, with their ends set with sharp tips on which sat broad cylinders covered at the ends with iron; to these there were nailed beams as in a palisade.  At the back they had suspended projectiles and in the front strong ropes, which, when pulled downwards, rumbled as they lifted the catapults. Those, in turn, when lifted high, tossed giant, massive stones, such that neither the ground nor city houses could withstand their fall.   Three sides of these rectangular stone throwers were secured with beams [designed] so that projectiles tossed from the walls would not injure those who were pulling on the [catapult ropes] inside [the contraption].  And if one of them were hit by [our] fire projectiles and burned down together with the beams, the [barbarians inside] were sent escaping together with their equipment.  The next day, they again brought these stone throwers, protected, as we said, with new skins and beams, and setting [the stone throwers] very close to the city walls, they tossed at us heaps of stones…”

[only one projectile hit the walls and on the very same day the barbarians departed to their camp]

“There came Sunday, the seventh and last day of the siege when [our] enemies were resting after the exhaustion of the preceding days.  They wanted to force a life and death battle on the very next day, aiming to surround the walls tightly from all sides and thereupon to frighten the battlement guards with a sudden onrush so as to cause them to abandon the walls so that none of them watching from the top could [see what was going on in front of the gates] and could not come out and try to undertake any effort to help the others futilely fighting [in front of the gates?], upon their [the enemy’s] appearance.  When they were talking among themselves – of which we were made aware by their deserters – all our [men] were terribly frightened awaiting for the assault planned for the next day.  Surprisingly though, that very day, around eight in the evening, all of the barbarians escaped as one man with a great cry onto a [nearby] hill, having abandoned [their] tents with their supplies.  They had been so frightened that some were running away unarmed and without clothes.  They spent the next three hours or so in the nearby hills, seeing that of which we learned only later [the figure of Saint Demetrius].  Finally, at the setting of the sun they returned to their tents, though by order of the triumphant [Christ], now robbing [and fighting] each other so that there were many wounded and some had even fallen.”

“When that night had passed in a great calm, quite different from the prior [night], then at dawn a rather large number of the enemy appeared at the gates, though from that uncounted multitude there remained not one [man].  The inhabitants, suspecting [some new] trick and treachery, neither opened the gates nor accepted any enemy deserters.  However, many of them loudly professed that all the enemies had quietly escaped during the night so that [finally] about five o’clock in the morning they were let in.  The [inhabitants immediately] queried them and demanded that [the men that had been let in] honestly reveal the enemies’ intentions and they confessed why they had escaped [to the city]: ‘We escaped to you so as not to starve but also knowing that you have won [this] war.  We realized that you had been hiding your armies in the city up until now and that only yesterday about eight did you have them issue forth against us in all their numbers at all the gates and so then you saw us escape into the hills.  When in the evening we found out then that the same army had come out of the gates, we abandoned [the hills].  The others argued amongst themselves robbing one another and when they eventually settled down then they [decided to and] escaped quietly throughout the night.  For they said that at dawn [your] armies would once again set out against them.  Thus, those others escaped while we remained behind.'”

[there follows here the explanation as to the nature of the mysterious army as also thanksgiving prayers]

“The inhabitants sent out riders and discovered that the enemies did in fact escape and that during the night they covered a great distance, fleeing in such terror and fear that they dropped/left behind them [their] clothes, equipment, animals and people.”

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September 5, 2017

Polemon’s Veneti

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Here are some fragments from Polemon of Athens (or of Ilium or Ilion in Epirus) that discuss or touch upon the Veneti from the Fragmenta historicorum graecorum, Volume 3:

POLEMONIS ILIENSIS FRAGMENTA
Polemon of Athens (2nd century BC)

Fragment 22

Schol. Eurip. Hippolyt. v. 230
Scholion ante oculos habuit Eustath. Ad II. II, 851, p. 361, 10. In Λακωνικοῖς fragmentum collocare maluit Preller

πώλους Ἐνέτας] Ταῦτα ἀνακεχρόνισται· οὐδέπω γὰρ Ἕλληνες Ἐνέταιςἐχρῶντο ἵπποις· οἱ γὰρ Ἐνέται Παφλαγονίαν προτερον οἰκοῦντες ὕστερονἐπὶ τὸν Ἀδρίαν διέβησαν, Λέων δὲ πρῶτος Λακεδαιμόνιος πθ’ (πε’Eustath.) ὀλυμπιάδι ἐνίκησεν Ἐνέταις ἵπποις, ὡς Πολέμων ἱστορεῖ, καὶἐπέγραψε τῇ εἰκόνι· «Λέων Λακεδαιμόνοις ἵπποισι νικῶν Ἐνέταις,Ἀντικλείδα πατήρ (πατρόν? Prell.).»

Pullos Venetos] In his contra temporum rationes peccavit Euripides. Nam Hippolyti temporibus nondum usi Graeci Venetis equis sunt. Veneti olim Paphlagoniam incolentes postea in Adriam transmigrarunt; primus vero Venetis equis vicit Olympiade octogesima nona Leo Lacedaemonius, ut Polemo narrat; signo autem Leontis inscriptum legitur: «Leo Lacedoemonius equis victor Venetis, Anticlidae pater.»

“In these reckonings against time, Euripides sins/offends/errs.  In fact, in the time of Hippolitus, the Greeks did not yet use Venetian horses.  Veneti who formerly inhabited Paphlagonia, later migrate to Adria.  In fact, as Polemon tells, [it was] Leo the Spartan who was the first to win [Tethrippon or the chariot race of] the 89th Olympiad using Venetian horses.  Leo’s name was inscribed on a sign to read: ‘Leo the Spartan, victor at Venetian horses, father [or sponsor?] of Anticlidae.'”

Euripides (c. 480 – c. 406 BC).  In his play “Hippolytus” about 428 BC Euripides refers to the Veneti.   Hippolytus refers to Hippolytus son of Theseus on whose story, Euripides based his play. Hippolytus was a forest horse rider (unleasher of horses?) identified also with the later Roman forest god Virbius.  The 89th Olympiad was circa 424 BC.

Fragment 23

Schol. Vet. Pind. Nem. X. 12

Καὶ ἔστι περὶ τὸν Ἀδρίαν Διομήδεια νῆσος ἱερὰ, ἐν ᾗ τιμᾶται ὡς θεός (sc. Διομήδης) … Καὶ Πολέμων ἱστορεῖ· «Ἐν μὲν γὰρ Ἀργυρίπποις ἅγιόν ἐστιναὐτοῦ ἱερόν, »καὶ ἐν Μεταποντίῳ δὲ διὰ πολλῆς αὐτὸν αἴτὸν αἴρεσθαιτιμῆς ὡς θεὸν, καὶ ἐν Θουρίοις εἰκόνας αὐτοῦ καθιδρύσθαι ὡς θεοῦ.

Ad Adriam est Diomedea insula sacra, in qua Diomedes ut deus colitur. . . Polemo dicit: «Argyrippis sacrum ejus templum est, »et Metaponti quoque magnopere eum utpote deum honorari, Thuriisque ei tamquam deo statuas positas esse.

“At Adria/Adriatic Sea is the holy island of Diomedea which Diomedes inhabited as a God.  Polemon says: Argyrippis is his sacred temple. Metapontum also greatly honors him as a God.  In Thurii his statues have also been placed.”

“Adjecimus hunc locum quia Venetorum equorum commemoratio cum Diomedeae religionis conjuncta esse solet.”  We include this place where the Venetian horses were remembered with Diomedan religion.

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September 4, 2017

Sings of Lada Part VI – Better Explanations

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What is the etymology of the word “lady” – According to the ver useful Online Etymology Dictionary:

“circa 1200, lafdilavede, from Old English hlæfdige (Northumbrian hlafdia, Mercian hlafdie), “mistress of a household, wife of a lord,” apparently literally “one who kneads bread,” from hlaf “bread” (see loaf (n.)) + -dige “maid,” which is related to dæge “maker of dough” (which is the first element in dairy; see dey (n.1)). Also compare lord (n.)). Century Dictionary finds this etymology “improbable,” and OEDictionary rates it “not very plausible with regard to sense,” but no one seems to have a better explanation.

Here is a better explanation:

  • the bread kneader has nothing to do with “lady”
  • lafdilavede have something to do with “lady” but nothing to do with hlæfdige, bread and dough
  • lafdi comes from lavede
  • lavede is flipped from velade
  • velade is the same as Wald = ruler (Slavic Vlad)
  • velade probably is also reflected in the name of Veleda
  • Veleda > Lada = Polish Goddess
  • Compare Walada in Thuringia
  • Grimm points out too the Gothic name Valadomarca

Now, here is the really interesting stuff.  As we already mentioned:

  • lada in Slavic languages also meant “my love” or “my dearest” or “wife”  (lado meant the same but for males)
  • lada means “wife” or “spouse” in Lycian!
  • lady in English means?

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September 3, 2017

On Checking Your Dutch Privilege

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Was reading about the whole brouhaha about the words of Franz Timmermans shows how emotion can sabotage a rational response.

What he said was the following:

“The Poland today is more sovereign, free, has borders that are more secure than for centuries in the past.  It has been perhaps a thousand years [that] the Polish people have been as free to decide about their destiny.  Poland was pushed around on the European map.  If Germany was powerful Poland would be 300 kilometers to the East.  If Russia was powerful Poland would be 300 kilometers to the West but Polish people did not get to decide where the country was.  Now it does.”

Putting aside his sloppy English (he is Dutch), it is quite clear what he said (there was apparently a translation error – the translator was doing this on the fly obviously).  He was not directly threatening Poland.

But… as they say, on the other hand:

  • right afterwards, he says that the EU creates sovereignty for Poland.  I think I understand what he meant but still the idea that someone else gives you sovereignty is bizarre to say the least and Orwellian at worst
  • talk of “border” changes does contain a veiled threat (one made recently by Anne Applebaum (who still manages to keep her recently acquired Polish citizenship)) and if Timmermans did not mean to utter it, then he is clearly rather tone deaf
  • to state that the borders of Poland are secure is absurd to say the least – after Schengen they are as secure as the borders of the EU as a whole and how secure those are, I think need not be explained
  • the statements he made are, of course, untrue and, likely, represent a rather shallow understanding of Eastern European history which should be disturbing to anyone concerned about personnel standards at the EU Commission.  Obviously Poland was free in 2004 when it joined the EU.  If it was not then the whole accession process is bullshit and we ought to start over again.

What is most silly about all of this is the Commission’s rhetoric which basically comes down to this: if you do not agree to what we want then you are not a European, you do not share our values, etc.  In the next step, if you cannot be shamed then we will start the talk of penalties and implied threats of border changes or leaving you out in the lurch.  This would, if displayed by a toddler (or a Trump), be called a tantrum.  

When the EU came together it came together with the idea of economic cooperation within a broadly defined democratic consensus.  Yes, there was movement of goods and people but only from within the EU and subject to various limits.  And the size of a banana was only relevant to porn producers.

But why should the EU decide whether the death penalty should be legal or not? One can be for or against the death penalty but it is preposterous to state that being for it is being anti-European.  Unless, of course, you believe that the history of Europe began with the EU and before that it was all dark ages.  The so-called “European values” are a fiction and no more European than the various prescribed values of Europe’s past – both good and bad.

In the years since the EU Commission, as all bureaucracies, with the aid of organizations that have nothing to do with the EU, has expanded its prerogatives.  It now can apparently rule on a whole plethora of internal laws and scrutinize the most minute details of internal politics.  If you look at its statements, it clearly even feels that it can define who is and who is not European and, more relevantly, who is and who is not an Englishman, Czech or German.

These are extraordinary power claims.  Under EU rule, countries might end up with less power versus the central government than US states versus the US federal government.  If that is not a loss of sovereignty then I do not know what is.  To be sovereign is to be able to make these kinds of decisions on your own – right or wrong – not to have, like a child, someone else decide for you.

To be fair, there are many in Eastern Europe that, for one reason or another, honestly do want their countries to lose sovereignty.  They want the cultural-economic package that Brussels is offering.  They feel closer to the Western European elites than to their own people.  This is a value choice and not an unreasonable one – for them.  But, they should not have the power to make that decision for everyone else.  That is, of course, not democracy.

Which is also why this whole fight about the rule of law is BS.  It has nothing to do with that.  It is an attempt to stamp out national separatism in Eastern Europe.  To show who the alpha dog is on the question of refugees. (To see how true that is, it’s only necessary to observe that no one has punished Germany for having a very similar judge selection system as Poland is trying to put in place).

As regards Timmermans, he’s said plenty of things in the past that should have alerted any rational person to that man’s views of Eastern Europe as an object of both history and future such as this patronizing gem:

“Any society, anywhere in the world, will be diverse in the future — that’s the future of the world… “So [Central European countries] will have to get used to that. They need political leaders who have the courage to explain that to their population instead of playing into the fears as I’ve seen Mr Orbán doing in the last couple of months.”

Given this statement, who are these “Polish people” that Timmermans speaks of above?  Can he define them?  Does it mean  anyone who lives in Poland?  What if we replaced the entire population of Poland with people from somewhere else.  Would these somewhere elsers still be the Polish people to Timmermans?  Does he really believe what he says?  Because if he does then we have a much bigger problem.

Timmermans speaks (like many others) of nationalism as the cause of all wars.  But this is bullshit – plain and simple and he knows it or should know it.  What of the all the religious wars?  What of all the petty dynastic  squabbles?  What of the wars between nominally Communist states?  What “nation” murdered a million people in Cambodia?

The trope of WWI is also false.  World War I was not a war between nation-states.  Austria-Hungary was as diverse as it got back then.   So was the “Russian” empire and even Imperial Germany had legions of Poles within its borders.  The war was not a product of “nationalisms” – it was a product of elites fighting other elites (often from the same family).  It was a family squabble that dragged Europe’s nations into it.  The nations were tools but not actors.  The resentment of that fact is partly what elevated various disturbing figures into power after WWI.  The other was Communist agitation.  There would have been no Nazis, had there been no Communists.  That’s why the Communists, correctly, called them (and anyone else who opposed the Communists) “reactionaries”.  Some people conveniently forget this.  If you fuck with people, you tend to get a reaction.

Nor is it clear that “wars” are the thing that causes the most suffering – at least in a war you get to fight.  But what about all the victims of the Holodomor?  Or of Soviet military tactics? Or Mao’s victims?  Their numbers are in the tens of millions.  And what about those nationalities that fell victim to the whims of a dictator who ruled over a multinational, “diverse” empire?  Just think of the Crimean Tatars, the Volga Germans, the Jewish doctor’s plot accusations or, more prominently, the NKVD’s “Polish operation” or the Holodomor perpetrated on the Ukrainians.

If you think that “nationalism” causes the most suffering just check out these books for a start (there are many others):

But, the Eurocrats say, the answer is democracy!  Except that that is not really what they want and the idea that democracy can withstand the bringing together into a cauldron of so many diverse peoples is, to put it gently, untested.

But, the Eurocrats say, the answer is America! Yes, except in America, dollar is king and that is what drives everyone to put aside their petty squabbles and brings them together.  Crass commercialism is a wonderful equalizer and destroyer of prejudices.  Except that the European ruling classes do not want crass commercialism, they want a boring social economy whose paychecks excite just about no one.

So if Timmermans and his ilk get their way, they won’t get democracy, they won’t get economic growth but they will get a lot of disenchanted, young people from various cultures living next to one another.

Finally, if you want to know why learning history is useful, note that the various aid programs that Merkel has invented or the various extortionist payments to be made to Turkey are nothing more than what the Roman and Byzantine Empires ended up paying to the Goths, the Huns or the Avars – they are tribute to be left alone – pure and simple.

The strong do not make payments.  Which is also why Poland’s claims against Germany may actually stand a chance.  If Namibians can make them for 50 years of occupation then surely the  a millennium and a half of Frankish occupation of all the lands east of the Saale should produce a settlement too.  And the price tag for the Frankish occupation will be much higher.

Charlemagne – the original Eurocrat

Let’s see, Poles could sue the Franks for:

  • tacit support for the Communist regimes (50 years worth)
  • WWII (of, course)
  • the economic war between WWI and WWII
  • creation of Communism (Marx, Engels &, of course, the fact that they put Lenin on that train)
  • WWI and German conduct of war operations on Polish soil
  • 123 years of partitions’ occupation (Germanization, land theft and so on)
  • Prussian conduct of war operations on Polish soil before that
  • Prussian betrayal during the Swedish Deluge
  • land theft and various exterminational operations of the Teutonic Knights
  • the Rape of Gdansk in 1308
  • occupation of Brandenburg and Pomerania
  • occupation of the Elbe-Saale lands
  • and, if we are correct, the theft of Suavic lands to the Rhine and beyond all the way through the Morini and Osti to the Veneti of Bretagne.

With interest this might exceed their ability to pay short of surrendering northern France, Germany and chunks of the Netherlands (Belgium’d be gone, of course, too).

And don’t forget the Saxon claims!

Incidentally, according to the sponsors of the Charlemagne Prize the prize “reaches into the future, and at the same time it embodies an obligation – an obligation of the highest ethical value. It is directed at a voluntary union of the European peoples without constraint, so that in their newfound strength they may defend the highest earthly goods – freedom, humanity and peace – and safeguard the future of their children and children’s children.”

It should be called the Terrible Irony Prize.

Hey, don’t forget the Slavs!

As Timmermans claims he is Dutch he should be the first to start paying – after all much of the Slavic east Germany was colonized by settlers from the Netherlands – who knows if Timmermans’ ancestors were not Slav slave holders.

PS If you want to know where this is going, all you have to do is read the Economist – which is a frequent platform for people like Anne Applebaum – see here – this plan for Britain reads like material from a neo-Nazi recruiting pamphlet.  The folly of forcibly creating a Homo Europaeus is no lesser than the folly of forcing the creation of a Homo Sovieticus or a Homo Yugoslaviensis but, hey, repeated failure is only proof of impending success.  Just need more government edicts and all will be all right next time.

We get the arrogant Brussels pronouncements that are both offensive and counterproductive.  People grow together if they want to.  Yugoslavia failed but both the Croats and the Serbs then wanted to join the EU.  What does that tell you?

And for all of its problems, the state of ethnic relations in the US is much much better than in Europe and at least part of the reason is that intermarriage and associations of various peoples are developing naturally – not at the point of a Eurocrat’s umbrella.

In Europe, the danger is that we will eventually end up either in a Soviet-like (albeit capitalist) society where – as in many such countries – ethnic peace is maintained at the barrel of the gun – or in a reactionary, violent state.  Or in a state of internal conflict.  The European Community was, as originally conceived, a pretty decent idea.  Who benefits if it falls apart?

It should also be clear that while other powers may want to limit Eastern European sovereignty, the EU wants to actually end the Eastern European nations as we’ve known them for a millennium and a half.

There is no reason to bring hot coals for Timmermans to walk on.  He brings them himself.  In his world people are passive – things just have to be explained to them.

No one likes to be talked down to.  And nothing is inevitable. We should not pretend we have no choice in any of this.  Though we should also understand the consequences of any choice made on this topic.

And the various “eurosceptics” should finally stop pretending that they can reshape the EU. They are too weak for that and they will only get weaker (see economist article link above).  Moreover, were they actually given power, what would they do?  They should say so so we’re all clear.

Why does this matter for our history?  Well, if you want to know why Slavic history is being falsified (now as opposed to before – the why before was different), the answer is right here.  Apparently, we’re all immigrants because the Slavs too came to Eastern Europe 1,500 years ago…  If that is the standard of the discussion then we cannot even agree on the meaning of the most simple of words.

And, what if the Slavs did not actually come from anywhere but were always here?  What does that do to their narrative?  Don’t tell me that history was politicized by the Communists or before WWII.  In Europe it is always politicized.

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September 2, 2017