Germanisation of the land between the Elbe-Saale and the Oder rivers
Colonisation or assimilation ?

by Roman Zaroff


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(C) Roman Zaroff 1995


Historical background
Upper class
Rural population
Thuringian case
Other evidence
Slavic contribution
Place names
Names of lesser tribes
Primary sources
Modern works
Footnotes (you can find the footnotes from the text and vice versa, too)
Bottom (file download)


HB - Helmold's, The Chronicle Of Slavs.

TM - Thietmar's Chronicon

SG - Saxo Gramaticus



During the second half of the fifth century, as a result of the collapse of the Hunnic empire, the area between Elbe-Saale and the Oder rivers, coresponding roughly to the former East Germany, was depopulated, as the various Germanic tribes moved toward the Mediteranean world.In the course of the late fifth and seventh centuries the poplulation vacuum was filled by the Slavic people.They assimilated the remnants of the Germanic population, and the entire territory by the seventh century was Slavic speaking.Consequently by the early tenth century the Germanic-Slavic frontier, in that part of the Europe, roughly followed the line of the Elbe and Saale rivers. [001] Between the 10th and the twelfth centuries the Germans brought the Slavic territory, east of that line, as far as the Oder river, under varying degrees of control.Over the following centuries, these lands were germanized and now form an integral part of Germany.Only around the Bautzen and Cottbus in Lusatia some Slavic speakers survived, being known as Wends or as they call themselves "Serby" - the Sorbs.According to recent estimations they number less than 100,000 people. [002] As a courtesy to them, one of the smallest nations of Europe,Appendix 1 lists the German and Slavic names of many places mentioned in following essay.

The aim of the following work is to investigate the process of Germanization of the lands between the Elbe-Saale and the Oder rivers.The research will concentrate mainly on the period between the tenth and the fourteenth centuries, and will take a two-way approach. That is, looking at the colonisation of the region by the Germanic speaking settlers and germanization of the local Slavic population.It will attempt to analyse and evaluate both these factors and their contribution to this complex ethno and socio-political process.

The names used to describe the Slavic inhabitants of these region is a confusing issue due to lack of commonly accepted terminology.Recently, it has become more common to call them Polabians or Polabs, instead of Wends.There are also some problems with their division.In the following work three large tribal groups are distinguished: Obodrites in north-west, Veleti in north-east and Sorbs in the south (for their distribution see Appendix 2).


The relationship between Germanic and Slavic people in the region went through number of phases between the sixth and twelfth centuries.Prior to Charlemagne's times, Germanic and Slavic tribes coexisted in balance and were not a significant threat to each other.Some conflicts must have occurred, but in a tribal world their implications were on the local scale.On some occasions they even formed alliances against common enemies. [003] Such was the case of the Thuringian ruler Radulf who allied himself with the Slavs against the Franks in the middle of the seventh century. [004]

Since Charlemagne, from the late eighth century, the Polabian Slavs were drawn more and more into Frankish and later German political orbit.More and more tribes, especially western Sorbs became vassals of German rulers. The dependent, local Sorbian chieftains as long as they payed tribute remained in charge of their people and local affairs. At that time there was no significant Germanic settlement in the region.The presence and impact of some German merchants, craftsmen and slaves was negligible. Neither there were any real attempts to convert Slavs to Christianity. [005]

In the tenth century, when the German medieval state reached its politcal peak, the Germans made significant advance into Polabian territory.This was a result of deliberate policies of the Saxon dynasty. As easterners and Saxons they had paid much more attention to the eastern affairs.During that period, German administration, civil and ecclasiastic, was established east of the Elbe and Saale rivers, practicaly for a first time. [006] Still, the German colonisation in the region was on an insignificant scale.In Western Sorbian lands between Saale and Mulde, some Germans settled mainly in towns but they formed a fraction of the population. [007] The Slavic revolt of 983 stoped German penetration in the north, among the Veleti and Obodrites, nor in the Sorbian lands had German colonisation made any significant progress. [008]

The process of germanisation of the region did not really began until the middle of the twelfth century. It took a different form and different pace depending on the area, tribaland social group involved. [009] There were two elements involved in the germanization of newly acquired territories: colonisation by German settlers and germanization of the local Slavs.Let us discuss colonization first.


The scale of Germanic colonisation of Polabian lands presents a real difficulty.Any estimation of population movements in Middle Ages is highly speculative.This leaves a large margin for interpretation of scarce data.Estimations, of that type, are also quite often affected by the factors of political and nationalistic character, whether conscious or not.

Until the late eleventh century, although the Germans controled most of the Sorbian territory, they were practically unable to colonise conquered lands, simply due to low population.And in Saxony and Thuringia there had always been much lower population than in the western lands, not significantly higer than across the Elbe-Saale. In the north, that is in the Obodrite and Veleti lands, Germanic political control was not fully established before the middle of the twelfth century. [010]

Between the eleventh and thirteenth century, Western Europe experienced a substantial growth of population.This was a general trend,which began sometime in the tenth century, reaching its peak during the twelfth.The population stabilized at the turn of fourtenth century, not long before the Black Death. [011] To a large extent, this rapid population growth was a result of improved agricultural methods and the spread of new technologies in the Western Europe. A significant new development was a three-field rotation cultivation method that became more common.It increased the crops and allowed the introduction of new high protein leguminous plants. [012] The spread of the wheeled plough with mould-board also increased a crop yield.At the same time, a new improved shoulder harness for draught and plough animals made animal work more effective and much faster. [013] Soon some Western Germanic regions became overpopulated, and land usage was stretched to its medieval limits.As a result of population pressure many people were desperate for new arable lands and newly acquired territories became atractive for settlers.The German upper class was also attracted to the east.The medieval economy was practically entirely agriculture based.Social status was measured in wealth, and for the medieval nobles only the large estates could prvide substantial income.Many landless knights came to the east to serve in retinues of margraves or even the Slavic dukes in hope of becaming landlords. [014]

The overpopulation in the Low Countries, that is modern Holland, was even greater than in Germany, and a large proportion of a new settlers came from this region.The Low Countries provided mainly peasant settlers, very efficient and sophisticated by medival standards. [015] In some areas, Germanic colonisation was on relatively a large scale, such as in the Wagrien region, a western Obodrite land, where after 1139 many settlers were brought in by Count Adolph of Holstein.In this region, many Saxons, mainly Holzatians, settled, together with numerous Hollanders and Frisians. The Westphalian peasants came to till the soil in the Ratzeburg district, and numerous Flemings colonised Holstein. [016]

A similar large scale and organised colonisation took place in Brandenburgia, after Albrecht the Bear took full control of the region in 1157. [017] He brought there a large number of Hollanders, Zeelanders and Flemish peasants.This migration is still reflected in the name Flдming, an area of Brandenburgia. [018]

However, there is no evidence, for mass shift of population from west to the east, or at least it is not traceble anywhere else.An organised migration from Saxony, Westphalia and the Low Countries, involving a relatively large number of people, took place practically only on the two above mentioned occasions.

In the other areas, many new settlers were brought by local nobility and bishops, but it was rather on a smaller, village scale. For example, a Flemish village of eighteen families was founded in the Meisen diocese, by bishop Gerung in 1154. [019] In the Magdeburg diocese, archbishop Wichman brought a number of Flemish settlers who founded a new village of Flemmingen, near Naumburg and Grosswusteritz, in the second half of the twelfth century. [020] Similary, a nobleman Wyprecht of Groitzsch, brought some Franconian farmers into his estates, located in Mersenburg diocese. [021]

Bringing new settlers from afar had another important aspect, for German landlords and margraves.By granting the colonists better conditions, they tried to assure their loyalty. In many areas, new immigrants were granted some privileges and tax concesions in the initial phase of their settlement on the new land.Some areas had free tenure for a number of years, and overall feudal obligations were lower. [022] In some areas Flemish settlers were also granted the right to exercise a lower justice, on the village level. [023]

Overall, the German colonisation of the territory was peaceful, with exeption of the Western Obodrite lands. [024] Only there was a large proportion of Slavic population forcefully removed from the best land.Still, it appears that the Slavs formed a majority of population in the region in the second half of the twelfth century.Helmold of Bossau reported huge numbers of Slavs, in 1156, who gathered on market place at Lьbeck, to be baptised. [025] In Brandenburgia and Sorbian teritories eviction of the Slavic farmers probably took place on a much smaller scale. Many Slavs who were evicted from their land must have been resettled in newly established German estates. As a result, those displaced and uprooted people became much more prone to germanization. It comes as no surprise that Wagrien, Brandenburgia and Western Sorbian lands lost their Slavic identity much earlier then other regions.

However, inMecklenburgia and Western Pomerania it was another story. Both were defeated by the Saxon duke Henry the Lion, but neither was conquered. [026] As a result of 1166 agreement between the Saxon duke, the Obodrite prince Przybys aw and the Pomeranian princes, both principalities became Saxon vassals.As a part of the deal, Przybys aw's son, Boriwoj married Matilda, an illegitimate daughter of Henry the Lion.Soon both principalities became duchies of the Empire.So, the Slavic population there was treated as were other imperial subjects. There were no evictions there and local princes and nobility remained in charge of local affairs. [027] Consequently, the slow stream of colonists from Saxony and Flanders settled peacefully on vacant land next to the Slavs.There were some attempts to calculate the number of people that moved from west to east.One such calculation, by German scholar Walter Kuhn, puts the number of German rural settlers in the twelfth century at 200,000.According to Bartlett:

"He ( Kuhn ) based this calculation on the number of mansi or peasant farms which can be demonstrated or reasonably assumed to have been created..". [028]

It is beyond our judgement to challenge the computation, as I was unable to see its details or the data it was based on. However, this number could hardly be accepted as such. To begin with, the available documents are scarce [029] , hence the outcome of such estimation is highly speculative. But above all, the assumption that all new settlements were populated by Germanic colonists is definitely very suspect (This issue will be addressed in a following paragraph).But let us accept Kuhn's findings, purely for the sake of the argument.

Limited space does not allow us to expand on Polabian agriculture and the emergence of their towns. However, there is solid archaeological data and many written sources confirm that all the Slavs including their Polabian branch were sedentary people and their main mode of subsitence was agriculture. From the turn of the seventh century a crop rotation in a two-field system, similar to one practised in the Western Europe, became widespread. [030] Evidence of a relatively advanced agriculture among medieval Western Slavs comes from many historical accounts. Ibrahim ibn Jacub, a Jewish merchant, who travelled through Piast's principality (modern Poland) and northern Polabian lands in the middle of the tenth century, reported that the Slavs sowed twice a year. [031] This is confirmed by archaeological data from Tornow, near Calau in Lower Lusatia, where rye and barley were sown in autumn and wheat and millet in the spring. [032] Also, an English missionary from Wessex, Saint Boniface, who worked in central Germany in the eighth century, praised Baltic Slavs (most likely the Sorbs or Obodrites) for their highly developed agriculture, trade and crafts in comparison with the Eastern Germanic tribes of Saxons and Thuringians. [033] By the seventh century agriculture among all the Western Slavs was dominated by ploughing. Burning wild vegetation and shifting the fields was probably practised only in marginal areas. Fields were ploughed by wooden ards and pulled by yoked oxen. Medieval Slavic ards were usualy made of hard oak wood. Many ards were reinforced with iron tip or coulter, definitely from the eighth - nineth century. This is confirmed by the finds at Tornow, and at Platkow, near Lebus. [034]

Animal husbandry was an important part of Slavic economy, second only to agriculture. [035] The analysis of animal bones excavated from various early Slavic sites, including those in modern eastern Germany, revealed that between 90 and 100 percent of animal remains were of domesticated species, such as pigs, cattle, horses, goats, sheep, chicken and geese. [036] Archaeological data from Wolin shows that pork comprised over 60 percent and beef almost one third of all red meat consumed, while sheep and goat meat contributed to only around 5 percent of the diet. [037] It can be safely assumed that for the rest of the Polabian Slavs meat consumption was close to that of Wolin.

Prior to their subjugation by the Empire, many Polabian settlements grew into adminstrative, manufacturing and trade centres. The strongholds like Lьbeck, Schwerin, Ratzeburg, Demmin, Radogost, Ralswiek on Rьgen, Brandenburg, Havelsberg, Kцpenick (today a suburb of Berlin), Gana, Bautzen, and Liubu a developed into early mediaeval towns, as a result of local socio-political developments and extensive contacts of various nature with the Empire.Still, they were not of great size by modern standards.Based on the archaeological data, their average estimated size was somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 inhabitants.That is smaller then average towns in the

Empire, but not significantly.Two towns, on the Veletian-

Pomeranian border, Szczecin (GermanStettin) and Wolin, were

exceptions as they were relatively large, and both were involved in lucrative Baltic trade.They also developed a peculiar form of government, a "merchant republic", in a similar way to Novgorod in Russia.They were run by wealthy merchants and other prominent citizens of the town. [038] The memories of Wolin's greatness, sometimes exaggerated, were recorded by Adam of Bremen:

" Jumne (Wolin), a most noble city, affords a very widely known trading centre for the barbarians and Greeks wholived round about... It is truly the largest of all the cities of Europe, and there live in it Slavs and many other peoples...Rich in the wares of all the northern nations, that city lacks nothing that is either pleasingor rare". [039]

With the exception of Wolin and Szczecin, and possibly the Obodrite Lьbeck, the Polabian centres were smaller and less numerous then in Western Europe.However, the diffrence between them and eastern German towns in Saxony and Thuringia, was not really great.One more issue still has to be addressed.That is an alleged Norsemen foundation and domination of Wolin.The entire claim is based on the Jцmsviking Saga of the twelfth or thirteenth century, a rather unreliable historical source. [040] Neither, any other German written source, or archaeological data supports this fantastic claim.Wolin developed into a commercial centre during the nineth century, and declined in the twelfth as a result of Danish raids. [041] Both written records and archaeology clearly show its predominantly Slavic character in all aspects of life.Of course, some Danish and other foreign merchants, craftsmen and mercenaries lived there, but this is in no way surprising. [042]

Also, it seems reasonable to assume that agricultural changes in the Western Europe had a profound effect east of the Elbe and Saale between the tentth and thirteenth centuries. Taking into consideration close contacts with the Germanic people, it would be hard to imagine otherwise.This in turn would facilitate some population growth. This claim is supported by the analysis of land usage among the Polabian Slavs, conducted by German scholar Joachim Herrmann. The finding shows that there was a 25 percent increase in land cultivation and expansion of agriculture in the areas with heavier soils during the eleventh and twelfth century. [043] That is prior to any significant Germanic migration into the region. Hence, this suggests that there was asubstantial population growth in that period in the area east of Elbe and Saale rivers. Even if the entire population growth had been neutralised by losses during the numerous wars, which is unlikely in any case, the Polabian population would remain at the tenth century level.

The above evidence shows clearly that the Polabian Slavs were not hunter-gatherers in the sparsely populated wilderness, and that such an idea was devised and perpetuated for German political and chauvinistic purposes. Unfortunately, it is still a common assumption, due to inability or unwillingness to access other sources, and still "rattles" in many English language publications. [044] To be sure, the Polabian lands were less advanced than Germanic speaking regions of Europe, but a mode of subsistence was similar to that of the West, and the technological gap was not of great magnitude. In this context the population density east of the Elbe and Saale was not substantialy lower than in the Empire. And the difference was even smaller in comparison with eastern provinces of the Empire such as Saxony and Thuringia. In the context of the above evidence, even accepting Kuhn's doubtful estimations, his data shows that the Germanic speaking settlers, would still form a minority. As the area we are concerned with covers around 120,000 square kilometres and the population density there was almost certainly not lower than 5-6 people per square kilometre. [045] So, with non-conclusive evidence, for a large scale colonisation, a mass Germanic migration can not be whole heartly accepted. The colonisation of Polabian lands, by German speaking people, appears to have been rather a hardly traceable, constant stream of new settlers, mainly over two centuries, beginning in the middle of the twelfth century. It also indicates that, contrary to what we are often told, the Germanic speaking migrants formed a minority of the population of the region. The eastward movement of Germanic people slowed down and practically ceased in the middle of the fourteenth century. [046] The turning point was the first major outbreak of the Black Death in 1347. [047] The impact of Black Death on all European population was enormous. According to some estimates Europe lost between 33 and 50 percent of its population. The mortality rate in western Germany was lower than in the Mediterranean, but still is estimated to have been between 25 and 30 percent. The former Polabian lands, with the exception of the Baltic coast and its towns, which suffered as badly as the rest of western Germany, were affected much less. It has been estimated that those region lost only somewhere between 20 and 30 percent, while the Bohemia fared even better with between 10 and 15 percent loss. Consecutive outbreaks of epidemics in Western Europe, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, caused such depopulation, that arable land was easly available. [048] Still, more important were the changes in tenurial obligations. Labour and other services to landlord began to be replaced by rent in most of Western Europe, including Western Germany. With a shortage of labour, peasants could easly renew the tenure of land for much lower rent than in the pre-plague period. [049] Hence, taking into consideration the conditions in East and West, since the middle of the fourteenth century, emigration patterns could reverse, attracting the people from eastern provinces to migrate west. [050]


Far more important than colonisation, was a germanization of the Polabian Slavs, who, as the Empire's subjects lost their language and ethnic identity during the centuries of German domination. When the Polabian Slavs found themselves under German rule, they soon realised that the old days would never return and their situation could only be improved if they joined mainstream German life. There is no doubt that this was the most important factor which contributed to the loss of their ethnic identity in almost the entire region. Contrary to widely held opinion, the Germans did not mass exterminate indigenous Slavic population. Neither did the Slavs leave their land and migrate elsewhere.It is true that some areas were depopulated and impoverished by centuries of war, but certainly there were no deserted wastelands. The civilian Slavic population suffered mostly during the conquest and numerous rebellions. The Germans were ruthless during the war but so were the others.Such was the medieval way of waging war. Certainly after the conquest christianisation of the Polabian Slavs claimed numerous victims among the civilians. Imposition of the new religion involved destruction of pagan idols and places of worship, and it was definitely met with some resistance. No doubt, in the course of conversion, the pagan priests and defenders of old beliefs were most likely not spared.

It appears, then, that the fallacy of total extermination served its purpose as a propaganda tool for the champions of racial purity and some chauvinists, especialy during the Nazi times. It also backfired because it was sometimes used by German neighbours to portrait all the Germans as a Slav-eaters and cruel beasts. Many claims of almost total anihilation of Polabian Slavs were based on the Helmold of Bossau chronicle, which on a number of occasions, stated that the Slavs were totaly wiped out in some areas. However, Helmold contradicted himself almost as many times, when in later passages he mentioned numerous Slavic inhabitants of the same areas, still living there. [051] We will return to more evidence for Slavic presence in eastern parts of Empire later.

In this context, we may postulate that there was no extermination of Slavic inhabitants in the region. After all, ethnicity was not a main issue and the German landlords desperately needed people to work on their new estates. Labour was a much sought commodity. For the German nobility and Empire, it would be against their own interests to wipe out the Slavic population of the region. Subdue and bind them to the land: yes, but definitely not to exterminate. [052] Numerous documents indicate that lands beyond Elbe and Saale were of great economic importance for the Ottonian Empire as a source of large revenues from the first half of the tenth century. The conquered Slavs were obliged to pay a tithe equal to a tenth of their produce. It was usually extracted in honey, furs, slaves, garments, grain, and pigs, but sometimes in silver and sales tax, or in a form of a labour. [053] There are many examples supporting this claim.Just to cite afew: According to Thietmar, a Sorbian tribe of Milchane were obliged to supply labour and "decimae" for building the Meissen stronghold. [054] St. Maurice monastery at Magdeburg received a tenth from the entire region of Lusatia, and this was extended to the other lands with their conquest. [055] In the north, a substantial episcopal tithe was paid to the bishopric of Oldenburg, by at least the Western Obodrites, from the middle of the tenth century. [056] At the same time, the loyal landlords in the region as well as some based in Saxony and Thuringia, extracted substantial revenues for their own coffers. [057] All this clearly indicates that the Slavic population was well incorporated into the political and economic system of the Empire. [058]



After the subjugation of the Polabian Slavs, the social group which was assimilated in a relatively short period of time was the Slavic elite. Although, the Slavic nobility was decimated during the numerous wars and some survivors never cooperated with new authority, most of them became loyal subjects of the Empire. The pressure for germanization of Slavic upper class was strong but it was of a social nature. For the Slavic elite retention of privileges and status was only possible if they joined the mainstream of German life, and converted to Christianity. [059] Then, the Germans fully recognised Slavic princes, nobility and landlords as equal to them. The story of bishop Wago's sister's marriage to the Slavic chieftain Billug is one such example. [060] In Mecklenburgia and north-eastern Veletian lands, then part of the Pomeranian duchy, a German administration was not imposed at all. Practically all Slavic nobility there retained their status and position. Still, pressure to accept German ways was not smaller than elsewhere. The duchies were part of the Empire, and no doubt, the more sophisticated Germans made a great impression on the Slavic elite. In the situation where ethnicity was not a major issue, clear class distinction, privileges and feudal order was an attractive option. So, the dukes and nobility acted like Germans, and modelled their principalities and estates on the western examples. Over the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, many German knights joined their retinues, and many of them were granted land. Through intermarriages, in a relatively short time the Slavic upper class was absorbed by Germans, practicaly by the fourteenth century. [061] Ironically many of those nobles of Slavic origin in following centuries became a backbone of Prussian imperialism, infamous for their anti-Slavic attitudes and militarism. Possibly, the origins of the German chauvinism, so apparent in Prussia, could be attributed to subconscious denial of the partially Slavic background of many eastern Germans.

There are numerous examples of Polabian Slavs who accepted their defeat and tried to find themselves in the new situation. The best known are germanized descendants of prince Niklot, in Mecklenburgia, who became dukes and princes of the Empire. Until the twentieth century they were one of the leading and oldest German and European houses. And the last Mecklenburgian duke abdicated formally in 1918. [062]

On the Rьgen island, descendants of prince Jaromir retained power as Danish vassals for a long time after conquest. Prince Witysіaw I was mentioned in some documents from 1225 and Witysіaw II in 1276, in relation to some estates donated to bishopric of Ratzeburg. In 1296 he founded a Cisterian convent of St Nicholas at Kloster on Hiddensee Island, north-west of Rьgen. [063] His successor Witysіaw III was renowned for his poetic ambitions and support for the poets and wandering minstrels at his court. [064]

In other areas, where land grants were made to the German nobles and the German settlers were brought in, there is evidence that numerous Slavic landlords retained their privileged social position. In the middle of the twelfth century, in already conquered Wagrien, an Obodrite prince Rochel was still called by Helmold: "The prince of that land". [065] In 1156, bishop Gerold of Oldenburg, accompanied by Helmold of Bossau, visited, dined with, and slept in the residence of Przybysіaw of Lьbeck, near Oldenburg. [066] By that time the Eastern Obodrite lands were incorporated into Saxony, and seventeen years after Przybysіaw was deposed. On the same trip, they also accepted the invitation of another Obodrite nobleman, named Cieszymir. He must have been a respectable person as Helmold of Bossau, called him an "influential man", and worthy to receive a bishop. [067]

The Thietmar's "Chronicon" described an incident in 971 when a respected imperial knight Kuchawica, a Sorb, was called to Mersenburg for ordeal with another German nobleman. [068] In another passage, a Slavic knight ¬elenta was mentioned. He saved the life of emperor Otto II after his defeat in Calabria during his abortive Italian campaign of 982. ¬elenta was most likely one of the Emperor's Sorbian subjects. He was definetely a Christian as he was also called Henry. [069] Another two Slavic knights in imperial service, Boris and Wyszomir, who were tried at Werben, were called "optimos". This clearly indicates their privileged social status and recognition. [070] Another good example, is a knight Scich, a commander of German garrison in Lebus retaken by Bolesіaw the Brave in 1012, who fought bravely and to the end remained loyal to the Empire. [071] Another knight Budisіaw from the Rochlitz on Mulde river, was mentioned in 1017 in relation to some property disagreement between a local margrave and Merseburg bishopric. [072] It is worth notting that king Henry II used to hold regular meetings with the Slavic magnates in Werben, located on the left bank of the Elbe river. [073] The records from the bishopric of Meissen show that in 1071 a Sorbian nobleman and landlord, named Bor, gave five villages in the Dresden district to this bishopric. In return he received five church owned villages in other areas. The signatures on document shows that some other nobles in the March of Meissen were also of Slavic origin. [074] Another church record from the early thirteenth century mentioned a wealthy Sorbian landlord named Mojko in Bautzen region. [075] In late twelfth century when Bohemia took control of Lusatia a German noble, Wyprecht of Groitzsch, married the daughter of Czech king Vratislav II.He received as a dowry teritories of Milchane and Nizhane and became a governor of this region. [076] Wiprecht himself had some Polabian background, as his mother was from a noble Sorbian family. [077] There is also more evidence for inter-marriage between the German and Slavic upper class. The descendants of Albrecht the Bear, a founder of the Brandenburgian March, married freely with local Slavic nobility.Between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, out of sixteen females that married into the Ascanian dynasty, eight were of Slavic ancestry. [078] The already cited marriage of Henry the Lion dauther with son of an Obodrite prince is another example.The Saxon duke, Henry the Fowler, was married to a Slavic woman named Haithaburg, before marriage to Matilda, the daughter of the count of Westphalia.They had at least one child, a son named Thankmar.Henry's marriage with Haithaburg was dissolved, most likely for political reasons.An official excuse was that shemade a vow not to remarry and become a nun after her first husband's death.Nothing is known about Haithaburg's background and her first marriage.Only her Germanic and Christian name is known and what she was called in Slavic.Nevertheless, it is certain that Henry the Fowler, the duke of Saxony, would not marry a commoner, and she must have been from the Slavic upper class, if not from a princely family.Being most likely from an Obodrite ruling house.Thankmar, who on the annulment of his parents' marriage suddenly become illegitimate, lost the rights to the throne. [079] Finally it is worthwhile to mention Wilhelm an archbishop of Mainz between 954 and 968.He was an illegitimate son of Otto I and a Slavic captive woman. [080] The archbishopric of Mainz was the most important among all five archdioceses existing on German territory at that time.German kings were crowned there and this shows Wilhelm was not neglected by his father. According to Thietmar, his mother was of princely origin but it can not be really confirmed.It is possible that the chronicler tried to make archbishop Wilhelm of noble origin on his mother side as well.

Besides the formal alliances, like the Germano-Veletian in the early eleventh century, there is evidence of Polabian troops forming a part of the Imperial or Saxon armies on many occasions. For, example, according to Widukind, at the battle of Lechfeld, Slavic troops served in Otto's army. [081] They were not from Bohemia, as Czechs were mentioned by chronicler separately, hence they must have been Polabians, most likely Sorbs.During the Polish-German war of 1002-1018, some Sorbs were supporting Germans against the Poles, although many fought also on the Polish side. [082] In 1164, during the expedition of Henry the Lion against the Obodrite prince Przybysіaw, son of Niklot, some of the Western Obodrites from Oldenburg district were in the Saxon army.As Saxon subjects they were obliged to participate in the campaign.AlthoughtHelmold of Bossau stated they were not really trusted, the majority remained loyal to the duke of Saxony. [083] This again shows that they were treated as every other subject, provided they fullfilled their obligations.All this clearly indicates that the Slavs did not vanish into thin air, soon after conquest.

Another way to enter the mainstream of German life, was probably open through particular service to the landlords.From the first half of the eleventh century many German landlords employed administrative and military servicemen called ministeriales.It is alos known, that those people often came from the unfree population.In the course of time many of them must have joined the ranks of the lower nobility. [084] It is very likely, that in the eastern provinces, some ministeriales who formed feudal retinues, were of Slavic descent. Such as Burchardus Slavi, a ministerialis of von Arnstein family, at Arnstein, who appeared on a documents from 1248 and 1264. [085] A similar, but distinct form of service by Slavic warriors known as "vitezi", to German lords or margraves, was reported during Polish-German conflict, in the early eleventh century. [086] They usually served under the German command in garrisons and strongholds of Eastern March.Sorbian vitezi were mentioned as defenders of Meissen in 1015, against Polish siege. [087] Vitezi called"Slavonici milites" were reported in estates of Corvey monastery, in the early twelfth century, most likely in the Altmark region. [088] As a distinct social group, they were still reported in some German documents as late as the early fifteenth century.Although, by that time they were reduced to peasantry, they still remained free. [089] Taking into consideration, that in the eleventh and twelfth century Empire, social boundaries were not clearly defined [090] , some vitezi must have been absorbed into German lower nobility.The rest, probably a majority of them, joined the townsfolk in growing cities or were reduced to dependent peasantry.

The process of germanisation and adoption of "German Ways" by Polabian upper class, could be observed by usage of German and Christian first names.Already since the eleventh century

many Polabians had adopted double names, such as Udo-Przybigniew, Henry-Przybysіaw, Henry-Boriwoj and others.Initialy, those Polabians who became Christians added their Christian to the Slavonic names.It has to be remembered that in medieval times only the names of recognised saint could have been given on baptism.With time, purely Slavic names disappeared from the records.Most likely for a while double names were still in usage but only in private life. [091] Good example are the sons of previously mentioned knight Bor, who both bore Germanic names of Wichard and Lutiger. [092] The process of germanization and christianisation of first names has yet another implication.In the context of Polabian region, a non-Slavic name did not necessary indicate a person of Germanic origin.A fine example is Johannes Parum Schulze, one of the last speakers of Northern Polabian dialect, who lived in the late eighteenth century in the Hanowerian Wendland region.How much more German would the name be than Hans Schultze ?. [093] And today, German given names and surnames are very common among many modern Sorbs who still live in Lusatia, and do not identify themselves with Germans [094]


The next social group which became germanised after the nobility were people who lived in urban centres. There is no doubt that by the twelfth century the Germans were more advanced than Polabian Slavs in all aspects of civilisation.They had relatively sophisticated administration, sound agriculture supported by new technologies, skilled craftsmen and a well organised trade system.This, for example is reflected in High Sorbian language, with a number of words borrowed from German.Examples are: "hмbl", a plane ( tool ) from German "hebel"; " №mirgl", emery ( stone used for polishing) from "schmergel", " №rub", a screw, from "schraube", etc. [095]

Since the middle of the twelfth century, Germanic speaking colonists such as merchants, artisans and clergy settled in the old Slavic strongholds and centres, andsome new towns were founded.In two centuries that followed, they experienced a rapid growth and turned into major German commercial, manufacturing and administrative centres. [096] An important development was that such towns were chartered according to the Magdeburg Law.A town charter was a set of regulations defining autonomy, privileges, municipal adminstration, town setting and planning of further development.In the following centuries Magdeburg Law became a cornerstone of urbanisation not only of German but also other Central and Eastern European states. [097] But it has to be stressed again, that the overhelming majority of newly chartered towns were old Slavic centres existing before the conquest, with predominantly Slavic population.Over time, an influx of Germanic settlers and germanization of the locals transformed a linguistic balance in the towns of the East.

A good example is Brandenburg where new German settlement "Neustadt" was founded on the northern bank of the Havel river, opposite the old Slavic quarter of "Altstadt". [098] The new town of Lьbeck was founded in 1143 nearby the old Slavic settlement of the same name.From the thirteenth century the port became a center of political and mercantile union of northern German towns known as the Hanseatic League. [099] Also, at Meissen, Slav inhabitants, mainly craftsmen, formed a significant proportion of the population. [100]

The chartered towns provided certain freedoms not available for ordinary people elsewhere, hence were attractive for many new settlers.However, they were attractive not only for Germanic people, but no doubt for the Slavs as well.And in many cases urbanisation of the region was carried out by Slavic princes or nobility.

In 1218, Rostock was chartered and given Lьbeck Law, by the Mecklenburgian prince Henry-Boriwoj, a grandson of Obodrite ruler Niklot. [101] Lьbeck Law was a basis of urban foundation in the region.However, its variations, known as Schwerin and Parchim Laws, were also common. [102] Till the late thirteenth century as many as thirty towns were chartered in the principality. [103] It is also worth notting that in Mecklenburgia a certain peculiar pattern emerged.Only Rostock and Wismar grew into a large urban centres, while a relatively large number of much smaller towns appeared inland. [104] This phenomenon was never researched and fully explained. It may well be that an old network of Slavic strongholds, "vicinatus" centres, became nuclei for later town developments. Whatever the case, it would be a topic worthy of investigation.

Also the growth of towns can not be entirely attributed to Germanic immigration. It is reasonable to assume, that the freedoms and opportunities offered by towns must have appealed to many Polabian Slavs who wanted avoid feudal servitude.The following accounts suggest both internal and external immigration, at least in Mecklenburgia. First is a fragment of the foundation of Parchim in 1225/6, by prince Henry-Boriwoj II, a Niklot's great-grandson:

"..we have commited the land of Parchim - aninhospitable, empty and trackless land- to Christiancolonists, inviting them from far and near". [105]

Second, the foundation charter of Salzwedel in 1247:

"we wish that whoever flocks to this new town, German peasants or Slavs, our tenants or those of anyone else, shall come before the judge of that town to answer..." [106]

This evidence not only shows that the Polabian Slavs participated actively or passively in the process of economic and cultural transformation of the entire region, but also that in the case of the towns Kuhn's estimation has not much value at all.

In towns across the Elbe and Saale, again the process of germanization was of a socio-economic nature.In growing towns of the east, the Germans formed a significant part of population and were a leading force of progress.For local Slavic craftsmen and merchants they were an example to follow.To advance and to be recognised by guilds in growing urban centres, Slavic townsfolk had to conduct their lives and work the German way.In the towns germanization pressure became more and more apparent from the late thirteenth century onward.The formalised discrimination appeared in the areas conquered first, that is western and central Sorbian lands.Special legislations were passed to speed up germanization and integration of the urban Slavs.The usage of the Slavic language in town courts was banned in Anhalt region in 1293, in Altenburg, Leipzig and Zwickau in 1327 and in Meissen in 1424. [107] Since the middle of the thirteenth century many guilds prohibited addmission of Slavs into their ranks.In Brandenburgia 28 out of 120 known guild statutes, from between the 13th and the middle of the seventeenth century, discriminated in such a way against the Polabians. [108] In the Lusatian town of Beeskow, since the fourteenth century, a cobbler guild was not admitting sons of barbers, linen-weavers, shepherds, Slavs, clergy or any person born out of wedlock. A baker guild, in the same town, required proof of Germanic descent. [109] A similar legislation was passed in Dresden in 1472 forbidding entry into trade guilds for non-Germans. [110] In reality such a law did not prevent Slavs from joining the guilds, as the examples from town of Bautzen show [111] ,but forced them to hide their Slavic background and this became a vital factor in the germanization process. By the fifteenth-sixteenth century, with exception of Lusatia (Sorbs), the urban Slavs in other towns ceased to be mentioned by historical sources and documents. This indicates that around that time they must have been assimilated by Germans. On the other hand, all those restrictive measures clearly indicate that the Slavic element formed a significant part of urban population long after the German conquest of the land.Otherwise such restrictive steps would not be necessary.

It appears that there was no discriminatory policy on the imperial or ducal level.And not all lands and towns had discriminatory laws.For example, the weight of testiomony before the court of town of Wismar, in the thirteenth century, was dependent on wealth and status, not on the language spoken by the witness or accuser. [112] Sachsenspiegel, a compilation of customary Saxon laws from the thirteenth century, included provision for the non-German speaking people on the annexed Slavic lands. According to the document, a defendant, had to be accused in his or her own language.And the answer must be interpreted by accused representative, if it was not understood by judges. [113] For certain local cases there were two separate courts for the Saxons and Slavs, and in some legal cases the Slavs and Germans could not judge or testify against each other. [114] Such a dual lower jurisdiction in Saxony, was not necessarily a discrimination measure. To the contrary, it might have prevented the outcome of the case being affected by prejudice or interpretation mistakes.This duality, may appear strange for modern people, but in the Middle Ages, it existed not only in eastern Germany.In Castile and Aragon, in certain cases brought against Muslim person, Christians were not allowed to bear witness, but testimony of a respected Muslim was sought. [115]

In some areas where the Germanic speaking population formed a small minority, some concessions to Slavic population were given in the religious sphere.In the early thirteenth century, in Szczecin, the Slavic speaking inhabitants of the city were assigned to St. Peter's, Germans to St. James Church.The division was not a strict rule and nearby villagers attended both churches. [116] In Upper Lusatia during the late thirteenth century in the Bautzen parish of St. Mary, it was prescribed that priest should be bi-lingual, or at least have a Slavic speaking cleric.Still the Church was German dominated, and the service, as elsewhere in Western Europe, conducted in Latin.The knowledge of Slavic was needed purely for sermons and for normal functioning of the parish, especially in contacts with parishioners. [117]



The whole teritory east of the Elbe and Saale underwent a rapid political and economic transformation since the middle of the twelfth century. In economic terms the area was "feudalised" in a relatively short period. It was carried out in an orderly manner by new landlords and Church.There were a large number of new settlements founded and many old ones were re-organised on the western pattern. [118] However, here again it would be a mistake to attribute all the new settlements as being populated by Germanic immigrants, unless clearly stated. On the other hand, it would be reasonable to assume that it was much easier to re-settle local population and displaced people, rather than bring new colonists from far away.There is some evidence supporting this claim.For example, the village of Brьsewitz in Schwerin district of Mecklenburgia, was inhabited by Slavs, but founded or rather granted a "German Law", in the early thirteenth century. [119] It would be very unlikely, that it was an isolated incident. Hence, the economic transformation of the region could have been accomplished, to large extent, by re-structuring rather then immigration.Besides, mass migration must have posed a tremendous difficulties for a logistical reasons.

The issue is more complicated, if we take into consideration that Slavic dukes of Mecklenburgia and Pomerania, as well as Slavic nobility elsewhere in the region, were re-organising their estates in the same fashion as Germanic landlords.They both were after labourers for their estates either Germanic or Slavic. [120]

The majority of Slavic population, that is farmers, ended up at the bottom of the social ladder.Initialy free small landholders, they suddenly ceased to work their own land which became someone else estate.Although feudal obligations toward the lord and Church in the east were initialy smaller than in the west, for many Polabians itwas their first contact with "feudal" Europe. There was also a growing number of un-free people who worked on secular and Church properties. The bondsmen were recruited from prisoners of war, displaced people and those who lost their land.Many free people ended up in this category when on bad crop years they were evicted from land, because they were unable to pay their tenure. The ratio of free people to bondsmen in the twelfth century is hard to estimate.It probably varied greatly depending on the region. The areas conquered earlier, like the western and central Sorbian and Western Obodrite lands must have had a greater proportion of bondsmen than other regions.Nevertheless, the uniform trend was toward an increased ratio of un-free people in society, the same as in other parts of the Europe. [121] It was in the interest of landlords and Church to have more labourers on their own land.There is no doubt, that they did what they could to get any extra hands to work their fields.Still, it has to be understood, that in the twelfth and thirteenth century not only Polabians were affected by spread of serfdom. In other regions of the Empire heavy feudal burdens also affected a Germanic peasantry.Helmold of Bossau mentions that the Saxon Holzatians in the twelfth century were brought almost torebellion as a result of increased episcopal tax. [122]

Overall, the conquest or subjugation by the Empire, had a devastating and demoralising impact on the majority of the Polabians. Their leaders were dead or had joined Germans.Their social structures, institutions and religion were gone.A new faith, forced upon them, was not only alien and difficult to understand but also identified with their oppressors.Many people lost their freedom and were forced into serfdom, often under the new German landlords.They were no better off under the Slavic landlords, who in relatively short time were germanized, anyway.Even those who remained nominally free lost their status as equals in the society.It could be argued that even if the Polabian Slavs would retain their independence they could not escape the "feudalisation" under their own rulers.There is no doubt, however, that "feudalisation" and conversion from within would cause far fewer casualties, like in Poland or Bohemia, and would not be seen as a total collapse of their world by majority of the people.

Nevertheless, it was rural areas where the Polabian Slavs survived as an ethnic minority for the longest time.Despite the heavy economic burdens, germanization pressure was not felt strongly in the country.The German landlords were not much interested in their subjects as long as their land was cultivated and provided income.The peasant communities in mediaeval times had nothing to lose and nothing to gain.As a result theywere less prone to the outside influences.The numerous Slavs, still to large extent pagan, were reported to live in Bamberg diocese in Bavaria in the eleventh century [123] , and by many other documents from the following century. [124] It appears that they were germanized not long after that.But it needs to be remembered that eastern Bavaria was a south-western limit of the Slavic settlement, and the area was never fully slavized.

Another two documents from the twelfth century show that the Slavs were still numerous in the areas between the Saale and the middle Elbe.This is the area which had been in a German political orbit since the late nineth century and had fallen into the German hands in the early tenth century.Both tribes suffered heavy losses during the conquest and were subject to German rule from that time. In year 1143 Conrad III made a "grant of forest in Khuditsy land" [125] and in 1163 Frederick Barbarossa another "grant of forest in Glomache land" to some monasteries. [126] It is unlikely that the tribal territorial names would be used if those people were gone and forgotten.

In the northern half of east Germany, the Polabian heartland,Slavic settlements were still numerous and were mentioned in many historical documents and chronicles until the fifteenthcentury. John Dantiscus, a Polish bishop, diplomat and poet, wrote in 1525 in a letter to Sigmund The Old of Poland, that peasants near Lьbeck are still speaking a Slavic language. [127] In central Mecklemburgia Slavic speaking descendants of Obodrites were reported in the seventeenth century around the time of Thirty Years war. [128] In the region called Mittlemark, a part of Brandenburgia, the Slavs also survived until the fifteenth century. [129] In the sixteenth century the region of Prignitz and south-western Mecklenburgia was still a Slavic enclave, where descendants of Veletian Brezhane and Stodorane lived. [130] At the same time large parts of Altmark (Old March) north of the Magdeburg were inhabited by descendants of Obodrite Lipyane [131] Similary, the Veletian part of Pomeranian duchy west of the Oder river, was also not fully germanized before the end of the fifteenth century. [132] The area known as Hanowerian Wendland (The Land of Wends), south of Hamburg, alongside western bank of the Elbe river, was for a long predominantely inhabited by Drevyane, an Obodrite lesser tribe. [133] In 1725, Johannes Parum Schulze, an owner of local inn, wrote:

" I'm a man of fourty-seven years of age. When I and threeother people in our village have gone, then no one will rightly know what a dog is called in Wendish". [134]

In fact, the last Slavic speaker died there at the close of the eighteenth century. [135] Today, only the Sorbs form a small, but distinct linguistic group in Lusatia.The survival of the Sorbs could be attributed to number of factors.They were the most eastern Polabian Slavs, and until the seventeenth century, the Germans did not established their full control over them. [136] Althought this territory changed hands many times and was a part of Bohemian crown for most of the time, under the Czechs the socio-political pressure for germanization was not very strong. [137] Nevertheless, it only slowed the process.After all, most of the Czech nobility and upper class was also germanized, under the Habsburgs.The other reason may be, that the area is known for its relativly poor soil and probably did not attract as many Germanic settlers as some other lands. [138] According to some modern Sorbian estimations in the middle of the twelfth century, the Sorbs formed an overwhelming majority of the population of Lusatia,and until the fourteenth century, even some new Sorbian settlements were founded in the region. [139] Finally, the Upper Saxony dynasty, the Wettins, were known for their cosmopolitan and liberal attitudes and germanisation pressure on the local Slavic population was not as strong as elsewhere. [140]

A legal document from 1293, from the abbey of Nienburg in Anhalt region, is witness to germanization process in progress, and being already half way through.It abolishes the use of Slavic language in local court,apparently because it is not well understood by the local peasants, who by the same document are still recognised as a Slavs. Other numerous East German law codes mention people legally subject to local German or Wendish (Slavic) laws, but also, many people of mixed origin or German speaking Slavs who obtained a German law. [141]


An interesting case study of Slavic past and survival was conducted by Polish historian Jerzy Strzelczyk, for Thuringia, west of Elbe River.This apears a sole systematic regional study on the subject, for entire eastern Germany.

The Slavs began to penetrate the territory west of Saale river, most likely around middle of the seventh century, possibly during the times of Radulf. [142] The Slavic presence there is well atested by the written sources.A Codex Eberhardi from Fulda monastery, written around 1160, reffering to the estates from around year 1000, mentions numerous Slavs in 39 entries. [143] Records from a Hersfeld monastery mentioned Slavic population in 14 documents (142), while a collection of documents from Magdemburg archbishopric reported Slavs on at least 12 occasions. [144] An interesting document from the Erfurt monastery shows that Slavs in Thuringia had some property rights.In 1136, four Slavic peasants donated a property to the monastery in exchange for a hereditary right to cultivate some other fields. It is worthwhile listing their names: Luzicho, Herolt, Odalrich and Kuno; as only the first one is Slavic. [145] This again supports the claim that German personal names are not clear indication of ethnicity. Also, Slavic place names were recorded in the region on number of occasions.For example, a record of "tenth" collected by Friesenfeld monastery, shows that out of 283 places 27 had a Slavic names, while another 6 contained a root "winden", indicating its former Slavic affiliations. [146] Aarchaeology also provides strong evidence for Slavic presence in the region, and according to Strzelczyk 284 finds, of various nature, are classified as Slavic. [147]

A number of other documents show that Slavs formed some part of urban population of the region.For example, in 961 Otto I donated some villages to Magdeburg monastery.The document stated, that Slavs who moved to towns from those estates are still obliged to pay the tenth to the monastery. [148] Slavs were reported in town of Frienstedt, near Erfurt, in 1227 [149] , and at Neuhaldensleben, in the second half of the thirteenth century. [150] At least on five other documents urban Slavs were witnesses to business transaction or court cases in the Erfurt district, as late as the second half of the fourteenth century, being probably a burghers or ministerialis.They bore the names such as Burchard, Sifridus, Sigehart, Johaness and Heinrich; and their Slavic background is only known, because it was explicitly stated. [151] Also, in number of towns some streets or place names indicated a former Slavic presence there. For example, "Windische Gasse - Wendish Street", are known from towns like Heiligenstadt, Weimar and Grossbrembach. [152]

It has to be remembered that the areas west of the Saale river were settled by the Slavs relatively late; that Thuringia was never fully slavized, and always remained predominantly a Germanic region; and that Slavs there never formed a separate political entity and remained subjects to Thuringians, Franks and later Empire.The Slavic survival there until the fourteenth century, existence of Slavic burghers, etc. has significant implications.It clearly shows that in areas further to the east, exclusively occupied by Slavs and subjugated much later, the forces of germanization were much weaker and the Slavic contribution to the emergence of German nation must have been much greater.


Besides the large number of records and documents indicating the strong Slavic presence east of the Elbe and Saale, there is some indirect evidence that germanization of the local population was predominantly a result of loss of ethnic and cultural identity rather than mass population movements. A very large proportion of modern Eastern German surnames are of a Slavic origin.In particular, all those ending with "itz", "etz", "chke" and "schke" or "ow" [153] , like for example, the last premier of East Germany, Hans Modrow.This suggests substantial Polabian contribution to the formation of the German nation.This is especially evident in the former Eastern Germany.Also, the map of eastern Germany is covered by enormous number of places with Slavic etymology.In some parts of Lusatia, only one-third of the place names are German, the rest being Sorbian.In some areas of Mecklenburgia, the German names are hard to find at all. [154] Practically all large or medium size cities in the east, probably with the exception of the town of Neuebrandenburg,are known to be former Polabian tribal or commercial centres which usually retained their Slavic names, although often badly corrupted [155] (see Appendix 1). It is reasonable to assume that migrants who would settle an empty land would tend to call the new settlements with the names in their own language.So, as eastern Germany is totally the opposite case, it strongly suggests continiuos inhabitation of the majority of settlements without much disturbance of its ethnic composition. In turn, this contradicts the claim of mass Germanic immigration to the east.

It is worth notting that numerous German folk-dances in some areas are of Slavic origin.Besides many Sorbian folkdances known from Lusatia, there are some regarded as German which are in fact of Polabian Slavic origin.Many dances from Lьneburger Wendland, Mecklenburgia, Vogtland, Altenburg, Brandenburgia and even Thuringia fall into that category. Many retained their Slavic names, which had no meaning to German speaking people who dance them.Such is the"Wulka", a dance fromMecklenburgia.The survival of Slavic folklore suggests that over the centuries people slowly lost their Slavic identitity but retained some of the old traditions. [156]

Also, an interesting development took place in Germany around the late thirteenth century.West of the Elbe - Saale line, serfdom was slowly replaced by land tenure and rent paid by peasants.On the other hand, east of that line, serfdom dominated the area well into the eighteenth century. [157] It is commonly accepted that serfdom was imposed on a predominantly Slavic population of the area after the conquest.So, if free Germanic peasants would came to the region on mass scale, either serfdom would be difficult to re-introduce or it would not be as attractive idea to migrate east at all.Hence, this indirect evidence suggests that Germanic migration into the Polabian lands was not as great as sometimes postulated.

So, the strong presence of Polabian Slavs in various sources as well as their survival as a distinct linguistic group is cumulatively convincing that germanization of the region was not a result of mass colonization, but rather large scale loss of the ethnic identity.


Christianity was another key factor in germanization of the Polabian Slavs.It is an irony that conversion, which was one of the prerequisites for Polabian political survival turned out to be a vital element ofgermanization.Only Christianity with an independent Church and with numerous native clergy could play this role. Such as it was in case of Poland and to some extent that of Bohemia.

The whole Polabian teritory was brought under ecclesiastical authority of two German archbishoprics.The Sorbs and central districts were part of Magdeburg archdiocese, while the Obodrites and northern Veleti came under Hamburg-Bremen. [158] After German authority was imposed upon the Polabian Slavs, the Church was granted a relatively large number of estates.The German dominated Church administration worked hand in hand with civilian authorities to strengthen the German hold in the territories. Christianity in its medieval and frontier form sanctioned a "feudal" system with the Church being a large feudal lord itself. [159]

The numerous Christian orders established themselves east of the Elbe and Saale soon after the conquest.Early Christian orders were not always German and in some cases were introduced into the region by Slavic rulers. Let's just list some of the most important religious orders that spread into the region.In the middle of the twelfth century a Benedictine monastery was founded at Stolp on a Peene river [160] ; and Cistercians at Dargun in Mecklenburgia were brought from Denmark in 1171-1172, by the Pomeranian prince Kazimir I. [161] The Cistercians were also established at Bad Doberan, in Mecklenburgia. west of Rostock in the old Obodrite teritories.In this case German monks were brought from Amelungsborn in 1170 - 1171 by the Obodrite prince Przybysіaw. [162] Other monks of the same order from Volkenrode in Thuringia were introducedin Deberlug, by Dietrich von Landsberg, margrave of Lusatia. [163] In Berg, on the Rьgen island, in 1197, a Ranove prince Jaromir founded a Benedictine convent which soon changed to the Cistercian order.Nuns were brought there from Roskilde in Denmark. [164] The first Premonserian monastery was founded in 1138/9 at Leitzkau, near Magdeburg [165] , and soon after that by Pomeranian princes on Usedom island. [166]

The enforcment of foreign religion upon the Polabians played a big part in their total subjugation and humiliation, but above all their germanization. The old social order was forcefully being replaced by alien ideology, doctrines and morality. As it was already stated, in its initial phase the conversion was conducted by force with the destruction of Slavic temples and places of worship, extermination of pagan priests and any sort of resistance.The eradication of organised cult and priests also eliminated leadership for potential revolts. The new religion was universal in the sense that it promoted and emphasised on all-Christian unity. This element must have also speeded up assimilation and integration of the Slavic population into the mainstream of German society.Also, an overhelming majority of clergy were German, and associated all aspects of Slavic culture and traditions with the pagan cults.Hence, they opposed and tried to supress any forms and expressions of the native culture.

The numerous Church estates positively contributed to the regional economy, but they also sped up germanization, even in cases when new estates were not founded or entirely settled by Germanic speaking colonists, but Slavs.This was so, because Slavic settlers were forcefully uprooted from their social context.Hence they were much more prone to germanization than those who could maintain their cultural, social and family bonds.Besides, they were forced to live in a mixed environment and under strong pressure from their monk-masters to convert and adopt the "German ways" and speech. [167]



There is no doubt that the Polabian Slavssubstantially contributed to the growth and development of the German state and culture.It was a silent contribution of merchants, craftsmen, builders, artisans and peasants who remained nameless or whose Slavic origins never came to the attention. One of the subjects worth further investigation is the Baltic Slavs' contribution to German expansion into the Baltic trade. Until the end of the twelfth century German merchants were rather insignificant force on the Baltic Sea.It changed rapidly during the following century.It is very likely that not only Scandinavian but also Slavic experience in sea-faring and sea-trade in the region had substancial impact on the growth of Lьbeck [168] , a major German town, port and commercial centre from the thirteenth century, and later a leading force in Hanseatic League. [169] However, such research would encounter a major obstacle, as the later sources rarely provide ethinic background of many person.And as has been shown above, personal names are not much help.This to some extend was a result of certain social and political pressure. The Polabian Slavs were conquered people and generaly were not much respected by Germans.In some sections of German society association with them might undermine someone position or social status.As a result, Slavic background must have been hidden by many prominent people. In many families it must have been played down for a sake of the children's future careers and consequently was forgotten in one or two generations. [170] A fine example is the famous nineteenth century German explorer Leichhardt who vanished during one of his Australian expeditions. It is hardly known today, that his mother was a Slav from Lower Lusatia, and he himself spoke Sorbian. [171]


It appears that althought the process of germanization took centuries, politically the Polabian Slavs were fully incorporated into the Empire by the middle of the thirteenth century.If that had not been a case they would have no doubt tried to rebel again.And the best opportunity to struggle for independence was between 1250 and 1378. During that period, Germany went into decline and the imperial power and authority practically collapsed.The local German rulers and margraves were virtualy independent and fighting among themselves.Ruling houses of Hohenstauf, Habsburg and Luxemburg themselves, for more than a century, struggled for the imperial crown. [172] Such a revolt would probably have been popular among many Slavs, but they would have needed a strong leadership and organisation.It could be postulated that non-germanized Slavic nobility, which was already integrated into the Empire, was unwilling to lead the rebellion.With their position within the Empire secured they probably would not risk their priviliges for uncertain and doubtful gains.

Contrary to common belief, a main factor in the process of germanisation of lands beyond the Elbe and Saale was not German colonisation, but rather slow germanisation of the Polabian Slavs.There is no hard evidence for mass Germanic migration into the region, except in Wagrien and Brandenburgia. [173] Nor could the economic re-structuring of the region could be attributed entirely to the migrants, although, the Germans were a driving force in those developments. At the same time there is evidence of Slavic nobility being fully accepted by the Germans, while the Slavic townsfolk participated in development of the cities.The Polabian Slavs were reported in many rural areas for centuries after the conquest.Some indirect evidence, like the survival of place and personal names, retention of serfdom in the east,also points to the germanization rather than migration.

So, in the light of the above evidence, the main factor in germanization of the region east of the Elbe and Saale, was not a Germanic colonisation but long process of assimilation of local Slavic population.Taking into consideration the survival of Lusatian Sorbs, the process is still not completed.Hence, the modern German population has a substantial Slavic component.And in the case of the Lands that once formed East Germany, the population there is a Slavo-Germanic mixture, most likely with the Slavic elements being dominant [174] , a fact that probably many Germans would not wish to admit. Nevertheless, a modern German is not less German regardless of some of his ancestors beingSlavic. Neither would anysane person question the right of Germans to the territory east of Elbe and Saale where 98 percent of population feels they are German.

It has to be admitted, that the precise estimation for Polabian contribution to the emergence of German nation appears to be extremely difficult if not impossible.This is so because to set up precise criteria in such a research is unfeasible.The mixing of population in Central Europe was ongoing process for almost a millennium and genetic criteria are unapplicable. The linguistic and cultural criteria could be applied only at the time of migration, andthe written records are incomplete and often inconclusive.It also should be stressed, that since the Middle Ages, besides the relatively large scale germanization, a process of slavization was also taking place in Central Europe.Numerous Germans settled in Bohemia, Poland and Hungary; and for centuries they all lived and worked peacefully side by side.In the course of time many Germans were assimilated by local populations. Not surprisingly the German surnames are not uncommon among todays Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians. [175] Although the whole germanization issue seems to be of no great importance, there are reasons why it should be addressed. For generations, many German historians tried to convince themeselves and everyone else, that the Polabian Slavs vanished from the land entirely soon after the conquest, or better, yet they never existed.To large extent they were successful.For example, while the Celtic heritage of Britain is widely acknowledged, the Polabian Slavs are hardly known outside academic circles.Also, a common understanding of the shared ethnic and cultural heritage in this part of Europe might have a wider implications.If the people of Central Europe had been always aware of that, such terrible things as happened there this century, might not have taken place at all.


A P P E N D I X 1 [Index]

List of the place names in the modern Germany, appearing in the text,and their original Slavic names.All being still used by the Sorbs of Lusatia.

Altenburg - Starohrod

Bad Doberan - Doberan

Berlin - Berlin

Bautzen - Budy№in

Berg on Rьgen - Gуra

Brandenburg - Branibor

Calau - Kalawa

Cottbus - Chocebuѕ

Dargun - Dargun

Deberlug - Dobryіug

Demmin - Dymin

Dresden - Drjeѕdјany

Elbe river - Јobjo

Erfurt - Jarobrod

Groitzsch - Grodјi№жo

Havel river - Hobola

Havelsberg - Hobolin

Jahna - Gana ( doesn't exist anymore )

Kцpenick - Kopjenik

Lebus - Lubu№

Leipzig - Lipsk

Leitzkau - Leska

Lьbeck - Lubice

Magdeburg - Dјмwin

Mersenburg - Mjezybor

Meissen - Mi№no

Mulde river - Modіa

Naumburg - Namgrad

Oder river - Wodra

Oldenburg - Starigrad

Peene river - Piana

Platkow - Bіoto

Prignitz - Przegnica

Rethra - Radegosж ( doesn't exist anymore )

Ratzeburg - Ratibor

Rochlitz - Rochelice

Rostock - Roztoka

Rьgen island - Rugia ( this is slavization of old Germanic name )

Saale river - Soіawa

Schwerin - Swaryс

Stolp - Stoіp

Tornow - Tornow

Usedom island - Uznoim

Werben - Wjerbno

Wismar - Wy№omir

Zwickau - ¦wikawa


J. Brankaиk & F. Mмt№k, Stawizny Serbow, Vol. 1 W. Czapliсski & T. Јadogуrski, Atlas Historyczny Polski

A P P E N D I X 2 [Index]

The map shows the division of Polabian Slavs into the Obodrite, Veleti and Sorbs. Some smaller tribal groups, relevant to the text, are also included. Others are omitted to preserve the clarity of picture.For the same reason a former border between East and West Germany was retained.The following lesser tribes are shown, in their English phonetic form and in Sorbian, if applicable. Bavarian Slavs (Moinvinidi and Radanzvinidi )

Brezhane- sorb. Breѕenjo

Drevyane- sorb. Drjewjenjo

Glomache- sorb. Gіomaиenjo( also called Dalemintsi )

Khuditsy- sorb. Chudicenjo

Lipyane - Sorb. Lipjenjo

Milchane- Sorb. Milиenjo

Nizhane - sorb. Niѕany

Stodorane - sorb. Stodoranojo


[Top] [Index] [Abbreviations] [Introduction] [Historical background] [Colonization] [Germanization] [Upper class] [Townsfolk] [Rural population] [Thuringian case] [Other evidence] [Christianity] [Slavic contribution] [Conclusions] [Place names] [Names of lesser tribes] [Bibliography] [Primary sources] [Modern works] [Footnotes] [Bottom]

B I B L I O G R A P H Y [Index]



  • Bartlett, R, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonisation and Cultural Change, 950-1350 (London: Allen Lane - The Penguin Press, 1993)
  • Bosl, K., 'Political Relations Between East and West', in G. Barraclough, ed., Eastern And Western Europe in the Middle Ages (London: Thames And Hudson, 1970)
  • Brankaиk, J.,
  • Mмt№k, F.,Stawizny Serbow, Vol. 1 (History of the Sorbs) (Bautzen/Budy№in, Germany: Ludowe Nakіadnistwo Domowina, 1977)
  • Cross, S.H., Slavic Civilisation through the Ages (New York:Russell & Russell Inc., 1963)Czapliсski, W. &Јadogуrski, T.,Atlas Historyczny Polski (The Historical Atlas of Poland),(Warszawa, Wrocі aw; Poland:P.P.W.K., 1967)
  • De Bray, R.G.A., Guide to the Slavonic Languages (London:J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1963)
  • Dvornik, F., The Slavs: Their Early History and Civilisation (Boston: American Academy of Arts and Science,1959)
  • Dvornik, F., The Slavs in European History and Civilisation(New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1962)
  • Dvornik, F., The Making of Central and Eastern Europe (Florida: Academic International Press, 1974)
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica (London & New York: EncyclopaediaBritannica Inc., 1982 ed.)
  • Fleckenstein, J., Early Medieval Germany (Amsterdam: North- Holland Publishing Co., 1982)
  • Fuhrmann, H., Germany in the High Middle Ages, c. 1050 -1200 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)
  • Gimbuts, M., The Slavs (London: Thames & Hudson, 1971)
  • Gottfried, R. S., The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe (London: Robert Hale Ltd., 1983)
  • Grigg, D.B., Population Growth and Agrarian Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980)
  • Haverkamp, A., Medieval Germany, 1056 - 1273 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988)
  • Hensel, W., Sіowiaсszczyzna Wczesno№redniowieczna (The EarlyMedieval Slavdom),(Warszawa; Poland: Paсstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1987)
  • Herrmann, J., 'The Northern Slavs', in D. M. Wilson, ed., The Northern World: The History and Heritage of Northern Europe, AD 400 - 1100 (London: Thames And Hudson, 1980)
  • Hill, Jr., B.A., Medieval Monarchy in Action (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1972)
  • Jasienica, P., Polska Piastуw (Poland of the Piast Dynasty), (Warszawa; Poland.; Paсstwowy InstytutWydawniczy, 1983)
  • Jasienica, P., Polska Jagiellonуw (Poland of the Jagiellonian Dynasty),(Warszawa; Poland.; Paс stwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1986)Kurnatowski, S., 'Przemiany Gospodarki Zywno¶ciowej Sіowian Poіabskich' (Changes in the Food Production Among the Polabian Slavs ), in J. Strzelczyk, Sіowiaсszczyzna Poі abska (The PolabianSlavdom),(Poznaс, Poland: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza, 1981)
  • Labuda, G., 'Ustrуj Spoіeczny' (Social Structure), in L. Leciejewicz. ed., Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian (Almanac of the Ancient Slavic Culture), (Warszawa: Poland: Wiedza Powszechna, 1990)
  • Leciejewicz, L., Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian (Almanac of the Ancient Slavic Culture),(Warszawa;Poland: Wiedza Powszechna, 1990)
  • Leciejewicz, L., 'Pocz tki Miast' (The Beginnigs of Towns), in L. Leciejewicz, ed., Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian (Almanac of the Ancient SlavicCulture), (Warszawa; Poland: Wiedza Powszechna, 1990).
  • Le Goff, J., Medieval Civilisation, 400-1500 (Oxford: BasilBlackwell Ltd., 1988)
  • Leyser, K.J., Medieval Germany and its Neighbours, 900-1250 (London: The Hambledon Press, 1982)Јowmiaсski, H., Poczatki Polski (The Beginings of Poland),(Warszawa; Poland: Paсstwowe WydawnictwoNaukowe, 1967)
  • McKitterick, R., The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751-987 (London: Longman Group Ltd., 1983)
  • ? ? ? ? ? ? . &
  • ? ? ? ? ? . , ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? (Upper Sorbian Handbook),(Bautzen/Budy№in, Germany: Ludowe Nakіadnistwo Domowina, 1983)
  • Munz P.,Life in the Age of Charlemagne (London: B.T.Batsford, 1969)
  • Nalepa, J., 'Characterystyka Jezykowa' (Linguistic Characteristics), in L. Leciejewicz, Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian (Almanac of the Ancient Slavic Culture),(Warszawa, Poland: Wiedza Powszechna, 1990)
  • Nicholas, D., The Evolution of the Medieval World, 312-1500 (London: Longman Group UK Limited, 1992)Nielsen, G.R., In Search of a Home: The Wends (Sorbs) on the Australian and Texas Frontier (Birmingham: Birmingham Slavonic Monographs, 1977)
  • Polanski, K. &
  • Sehnert, J.A., Polabian - English Dictionary (The Hague: Mouton & Company, 1967)
  • Poole, A.L., 'Germany: Henry I and Otto The Great', in J. B. Bury, ed., The Cambridge Medieval History,Vol III (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926)
  • Postan, M. M., 'Economic Relations Between Eastern And Western Europe', in G. Barraclough, ed., Eastern and Western Europe in the Middle Ages (London:Thames And Hudson, 1970)
  • Roderick, C., 'New Light on Leichhard', Journal of Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 72, Part 3, December 1986, pp. 166-190.
  • Rybakov, B., Early Centuries of Russian History (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1965)
  • Schreiber, H., Teutons and Slavs - The Struggle for EasternEurope (London: Constable & Co. Ltd., 1965)
  • Seibt, F., 'The Religious Problems', in G. Barraclough, ed., Eastern and Western Europe in the Middle Ages (London: Thames and Hudson, 1970)
  • Senff, H.D., &
  • Senff, N., &
  • Senff, N.D., Folkdances of the Sorbs-Wends (Swansea, NSW, Australia: Sumptibus Publications, 1992)
  • Stone, G., The Smallest Slavonic Nation: The Sorbs of Lusatia (London: Athalone Press, 1972)
  • Strzelczyk, J., Sіowiaсie i Germanie w Niemczech ¦rodkowych weWczesnym¦redniowieczu (The Slavs and Germans in the Central Germany in the Early MiddleAges),(Poznaс, Poland: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza, 1976)
  • Strzelczyk, J., 'Problemy Badaс nad Zachodnia Peryferia Osadnictwa Sіowiaсskiego w Niemczech' (TheResearch Issues of Western Periphery of the Slavic Settlement in Germany), in J.Strzelczyk, Sіowiaсszczyzna Poіabska (The Polabian Slavdom),(Poznaс, Poland: WydawnictwoUniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza, 1981)
  • (c)oіta, J. &
  • Kunze, P. &
  • (c)мn F., Nowy Biografiski Sіownik k Stawiznam a Kulturje Serbow (The New Biographical Almanac of the Sorbian Culture and History),(Bautzen/Budy№in,Germany: Ludowe Nakіadnistwo Domowina, 1984)
  • Suіowski, Z., 'Sporne Problemy Dziejуw Zwiazku Wieletуw - Lucicуw' (The Controvercial Issues from the History of the Veletian-Lutitian Union), in J. Strzelczyk, Sіowiaсszczyzna Poіabska (The Polabian Slavdom),(Poznaс, Poland: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza, 1981)
  • Vбсa, Z., The World of the Ancient Slavs (London: Orbis Publishing Co., 1977).
  • Wasilewski, T., Historia Sіowian Poіudniowych i Zachodnich(History of the Southern and Western Slavs),(Warszawa; Poland: Paсstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1977)
  • Woloch, I., Eighteen Century Europe. Tradition and Progress, 1715-1789 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1982) Wyrozumski, J.L., Historia Polski do Roku 1505 (History of Poland Till 1505),(Warszawa; Poland: Paсstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1984

    [Top] [Index] [Abbreviations] [Introduction] [Historical background] [Colonization] [Germanization] [Upper class] [Townsfolk] [Rural population] [Thuringian case] [Other evidence] [Christianity] [Slavic contribution] [Conclusions] [Place names] [Names of lesser tribes] [Bibliography] [Primary sources] [Modern works] [Footnotes] [Bottom]

    FOOTNOTES [Index]


    [001] M. Gimbuts, The Slavs (London: Thames & Hudson, 1971),pp. 124-129.

    [002] Sorbs of Lusatia: R. G. A. De Bray, Guide to the Slavonic Languages (London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1963), pp. 673-676.

    [003] H.Schreiber, Teutons and Slavs - The Struggle for Eastern Europe (London: Constable & Co. Ltd., 1965), p. 51; and K.J. Leyser, Medieval Germany and its Neighbours, 900-1250 (London: The Hambledon Press,1982), p. 41.

    [004] Fredegarius, Chronicle, in J.M. Wallace-Hadrill. ed., The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar London: Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd., 1960), Book IV.87.

    [005] On Slavo-Germanic relationship in Carolingian period; Charlemagne: J. Brankaиk & F. Mмt№k, Stawizny Serbow, Vol. 1 (Bautzen/Budy№in, Germany: Ludowe Nakіadnistwo Domowina, 1977), p. 62, and in: J. №olta & P. Kunze & F.Sмn, Nowy Biografiski Sіownik k Stawiznam a Kulturje Serbow (Bautzen/Budy№in, Germany: Ludowe Nakіadnistwo Domowina, 1984), p. 379; and T. Wasilewski, Historia Sіowian Poіudniowych i Zachodnich (Warszawa; Poland:Paсstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1977), p. 60; and in the times of Louis the German: R. McKitterick, The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751-987 (London: Longman Group Ltd., 1983), pp. 176-177.

    [006] F. Dvornik, The Making of Central and Eastern Europe(Florida: Academic International Press, 1974), pp. 28,30.

    [007] S.H. Cross, Slavic Civilisation through the Ages (New York: Russell & Russell Inc., 1963), p. 129; and in: H. Schreiber, Teutons and Slavs, p. 62.

    [008] TM, Book III.16-20; and HB, Book I.16; and F. Dvornik,The Making.., pp. 60-61; and F. J. Tschan in, HB, pp. 81-85.

    [009] F. Dvornik, The Slavs: Their Early History andCivilisation (Boston: American Academy of Arts andScience, 1959), p. 309.

    [010] F. Dvornik, The Slavs..., p. 308; and M.Z. Jedlicki,in TM, p. LX; and H. Schreiber, Teutons and Slavs, p. 55.

    [011] D. B. Grigg, Population Growth and Agrarian Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980 ), pp. 7,281 and in: F. Dvornik, The Slavs...,p. 308.

    [012] J. Le Goff, Medieval Civilisation, 400-1500 (Oxford:Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1988), p. 59; and in: H.Fuhrmann, Germany in the High Middle Ages, c. 1050- 1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ed.1989), p. 13.

    [013] J. Le Goff, Medieval Civilisation, p. 59; and in: H.Fuhrmann, Germany in the High Middle Ages, p. 13.

    [014] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe: Conquest,Colonisation and Cultural Change, 950-1350 (London: Allen Lane - The Penguin Press, 1993), pp. 90-93.

    [015] F. Dvornik, The Slavs..., p. 308.

    [016] F. Dvornik, The Slavs..., p. 306.

    [017] HB, Book I.89(88).

    [018] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 115; and F. Dvornik, The Slavs..., p. 309.

    [019] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 115.

    [020] ibid., pp. 121-122, 213.


    [021] ibid., p. 136; and H. Fuhrmann, Germany in the High Middle Ages, p. 124.

    [022] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 127.

    [023] ibid., p. 131.

    [024] ibid., p. 31; and K. Bosl, 'Political Relations Between East and West', in G. Barraclough, ed., Eastern And Western Europe in the Middle Ages (London:Thames And Hudson, 1970), p. 65.

    [025] HB, Book I.84(83) & II.105(9).

    [026] K. Bosl, 'Political Relations Between East and West', p. 65.

    [027] 1166, Henry The Lion agreement with Przybysіaw: HB, Book II. 103(7); and on Matilda, daugther of Henry the Lion, see: E. Christiansen in SG, p. 911.

    [028] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 144.

    [029] ibid., p. 137.

    [030] H.Јowmiaсski, Pocz tki Polski (Warszawa; Poland: Paсstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1967), p. 237.


    [031] for Ibrahim ibn Jacub account, see: ibid., pp. 238-239.

    [032] W. Hensel, Sіowiaсszczyzna Wczesno¶redniowieczna(Warszawa; Poland: Paсstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1987), pp. 42-43.

    [033] for St. Boniface account, see: R. G. A. De Bray, Guide to the Slavonic Languages, p. 674.

    [034] W. Hensel, Sіowiaсszczyzna..., pp. 39-41, 48-49; also in: Z. Vбсa, The World of the Ancient Slavs (London:Orbis Publishing Co., 1977), p. 152.

    [035] W. Hensel, Sіowiaсszczyzna..., pp. 99-128.

    [036] S. Kurnatowski, 'Przemiany Gospodarki¬ywno¶ciowejSіowian Poіabskich',in J. Strzelczyk, Sіowiaсszczyzna Poіabska (Poznaс , Poland: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza, 1981), pp. 83-84.

    [037] J. Brankaиk & F. Mмt№k, Stawizny Serbow, pp. 30, 33;and W. Hensel, Sіowiaсszczyzna..., p.135.

    [038] L. Leciejewicz, 'Pocz tki Miast', in L. Leciejewicz,ed., Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian (Warszawa, Poland: Wiedza Powszechna, 1990), pp. 546-559., alsoin: H. Schreiber, Teutons And Slavs, pp. 43-46.

    [039] AOB, Book II.XXII(19).

    [040] On Jцmsviking Saga, see: L. Leciejewicz, SіownikKultury Dawnych Sіowian, p. 159.


    [041] L. Leciejewicz, Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian, p.411.

    [042] AOB, Book II.XXII(19).

    [043] Joachim Herrmann's analysis: S. Kurnatowski,'Przemiany Gospodarki...', pp. 71, 85.

    [044] For some claims of no towns in the Western Slavdom, see: A. Haverkamp, Medieval Germany, 1056-1273(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988) p. 296; for claim of a primitive subsistance mode among the Slavs,see: G. R. Nielsen, In Search of a Home: The Wends(Sorbs) on the Australian And Texas Frontier(Birmingham: Birmingham Slavonic Monographs, 1977), p. 7; and R.L. Poole, 'Germany: Henry I and Otto the Great', in J. B. Bury, ed., The Cambridge Medieval History, Vol III (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964), p. 183.

    [045] W. Czapli ski & T.Јadogуrski, Atlas HistorycznyPolski (Warszawa, Poland: P.P.W.K., 1967), p.5; and Hensel, Sіowiaсszczyzna..., p. 393n; and:L.Leciejewicz, Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian, p. 420; and: H.Јowmiaсski, Poczatki Polski, pp. 311, 312n.

    [046] M. M. Postan, 'Economic Relations Between Eastern and Western Europe', in G. Barraclough, ed., Eastern andWestern Europe in the Middle Ages (London: Thames And Hudson, 1970), pp. 169-170.

    [047] Black Death stoppintg immigration: ibid., pp. 169-170.

    [048] 1347 Black Death effects on Europe: R. S. Gottfried, The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe (London: Robert Hale Ltd., 1983), pp. 68, 75,133-135.

    [049] On shift to tenure system in the West, see: Nicholas, The Evolution of the Medieval World, 312-1500 (London: Longman Group UK Limited, 1992) p. 157; and: R. S. Gottfried, The Black Death, pp. 133-135; and in: M. M. Postan, 'Economic Relations...,' pp. 169-170; and: I. Woloch, Eighteen Century Europe. Tradition and Progress, 1715-1789 (NewYork: W.W. Norton & Co., 1982), pp. 60-64.

      [050] R. S. Gottfried, The Black Death, p. 136.


    [051] HB, Book I.84(83) & II.105(9).

    [052] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 118; and in: D. Nicholas, The Evolution of the Medieval World, 312-1500, p. 157.

    [053] K.J. Leyser, Medieval Germany..., pp. 82-83, 88-90.

    [054] TM, Book I.16.

    [055] K.J. Leyser, Medieval Germany..., pp. 88-89.

    [056] HB, BookI.12.

    [057] K.J. Leyser, Medieval Germany..., pp. 89-90.

    [058] On the integration of the Slavs into Empire's economy:K.J. Leyser, Medieval Germany..., pp. 82-85.

    [059] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 295; and H. Schreiber, Teutons And Slavs, pp. 243-244.

    [060] HB, Book I.13-14.


    [061] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 295; and H. Schreiber, Teutons And Slavs, pp. 243-244.

    [062] E. Christiansen, in SG, p. 788; and: Z. Vбсa, The World of the Ancient Slavs, p. 212.

    [063] H.Јowmiaсski, Poczatki Polski, p. 404.

    [064] H. Schreiber, Teutons and Slavs, p. 242.

    [065] HB, Book I.69.

    [066] HB, Book I.83(82).

    [067] HB, Book I.84(83).

    [068] TM, Book II.38.

    [069] TM, Book III.21.

    [070] TM, Book VI.28.


    [071] TM, Book VI.80.

    [072] TM, Book VIII.21.

    [073] TM, Book VI.28.

    [074] L. Leciejewicz, Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian, p. 42; and: H.Јowmiaсski, Poczatki Polski, pp. 494-495.

    [075] J.(c)oіta & P. Kunze & F.(c)мn, Nowy Biografiski..., p. 391.

    [076] ibid., 604.

    [077] ibid., 604.

    [078] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 56.

    [079] B.A. Hill, Jr., Medieval Monarchy in Action (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1972), pp. 25-27, 29 & 25n.

    [080] TM, Book II.35.


    [081] K.J. Leyser, Medieval Germany..., pp. 59, 59n.

    [082] TM, Book VII.23; also in: J. Brankaиk & F. Mмt№k, Stawizny Serbow, p. 90.

    [083] HB, Book II. 100(4).

    [084] H. Fuhrmann, Germany in the High Middle Ages, c.1050 - 1200, pp. 36-37.

    [085] J. Strzelczyk, Sіowiaсie i Germanie w Niemczech(c)rodkowych we Wczesnym(c)redniowieczu (Poznaс , Poland: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza, 1976), p. 226.

    [086] H.Јowmiaсski, Poczatki Polski, pp. 453, 453n.

    [087] M.Z. Jedlicki, in TM, p. 301n.

    [088] J. Strzelczyk, Sіowiaсie i Germanie..., p. 220.

    [089] H.Јowmiaсski, Poczatki Polski, p. 454.

    [090] A. Haverkamp, Medieval Germany, p. 335.


    [091] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, pp. 274-278.

    [092] H .Јowmiaсski, Poczatki Polski, p. 495.

    [093] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 204.

    [094] For modern Sorbian first names & surnames, see: J.(c)oіta & P. Kunze & F.(c)мn, Nowy Biografiski Sіownik kStawiznam A Kulturje Serbow.

    [095] For technical borrowings in Sorbian, see: ? ? ? ? ? ? . & ? ? ? ? ? . , ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ( Bautzen/ Budy№in, Germany: Ludowe Nakіadnistwo Domowina, 1983).

    [096] H. Schreiber, Teutons and Slavs, pp. 61-62.and in:R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 172. On chartering existing towns, see: ibid., p. 169.

    [097] F. Dvornik, The Slavs..., p. 309.

    [098] Encyclopaedia Britannica (London & New York:Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 1982 ed.), Vol. II, p. 233.

    [099] HB, Book I.57.

    [100] L. Leciejewicz, Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian, p. 236.


    [101] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 180.

    [102] ibid., p. 180.

    [103] ibid., p. 180.

    [104] Z. Vбсa, The World of the Ancient Slavs, p. 220.

    [105] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 181.

    [106] ibid., p. 206.

    [107] Stone, The Smallest Slavonic Nation: The Sorbs of Lusatia (London: Athalone Press, 1972), p. 12.

    [108] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 238.

    [109] ibid., p. 238.

    [110] G. Stone, The Smallest Slavonic Nation, p. 39.


    [111] J. Brankaиk & F. Mмt№k, Stawizny Serbow, pp. 123-126.

    [112] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 211.

    [113] ibid., pp. 212-214, 218-219.

    [114] ibid., p. 210, 218-219.

    [115] ibid., p. 210.

    [116] ibid., p. 223.

    [117] ibid., p. 223.

    [118] A. Haverkamp, Medieval Germany, pp. 294-298.

    [119] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 219.

    [120] K. Bosl, 'Political Relations Between East And West', p. 62.


    [121] J. Brankaиk & F. Mмt№k, Stawizny Serbow, pp. 90-91; and H.Јowmiaсski, Poczatki Polski, p. 420.

    [122] HB, Book I.92(91).

    [123] Bamberg diocese document: B.A. Hill, Jr., MedievalMonarchy in Action, p. 185.

    [124] J. Strzelczyk, 'Problemy Badaс nad ZachodniaPeryferia Osadnictwa Sіowiaсskiego w Niemczech', J. Strzelczyk, Sіowiaсszczyzna Poіabska (Poznaс,Poland: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu im. Aama Mickiewicza, 1981), pp. 195-197.

    [125] J. Brankaиk & F. Mмt№k, Stawizny Serbow, p. 98.

    [126] ibidem.

    [127] P. Jasienica, Polska Jagiellonуw (Warszawa; Poland.;Paсstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1986), p. 298.

    [128] T. Wasilewski, Historia Sіowian Poіudniowych iZachodnich, p. 72.

    [129] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 299.

    [130] T. Wasilewski, Historia Sіowian Poіudniowych iZachodnich, p. 72.


    [131] ibid., p. 73.

    [132] J. L. Wyrozumski, Historia Polski do Roku 1505(Warszawa; Poland: Paсstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1984), p. 218.

    [133] J. Nalepa, 'Characterystyka J zykowa', in L.Leciejewicz, Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian (Warszawa, Poland: Wiedza Powszechna, 1990), p. 455.

    [134] Johanes Schulze statement: R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 204.

    [135] K. Polanski & J. A. Sehnert, Polabian - English Dictionary (The Hague: Mouton & Company, 1967), pp. 7-9.

      [136] F. Dvornik, The Slavs..., p. 311.

    [137] ibid., pp. 290-291; and T. Wasilewski, Historia Sіowian Poіudniowych i Zachodnich, p. 152.

    [138] R. G. A. De Bray, Guide to the Slavonic Languages, p. 674.

    [139] J. Brankaиk & F. Mмt№k, Stawizny Serbow, p. 96.

    [140] R. G. A. De Bray, Guide to the Slavonic Languages, p. 675.


    [141] R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, pp. 213-214.

    [142] J. Strzelczyk, Sіowianie i Germanie..., p. 158.

    [143] ibid., pp. 187-191.

    [144] ibid., pp. 191-198.

    [145] ibid., pp. 199-207.

    [146] ibid., pp. 223-224.

    [147] ibid., pp. 196-198.

    [148] ibid., pp. 249-273.

    [149] ibid., p. 203.

    [150] ibid., p. 225.


    [151] ibid, p. 226.

    [152] ibid., pp. 226-227.

    [153] Windische Gasse: ibid., pp. 229-230.

    [154] For Slavic surnames in Germany, see: J. (c)oіta & P. Kunze & F. (c)мn, Nowy Biografiski....

    [155] On Slavic places names in Germany, see: J. Brankaиk & F. Mмt№k, Stawizny Serbow, p. 95; and J. Herrmann, 'The Northern Slavs', in D. M. Wilson, ed., The Northern World: The History and Heritage of Northern Europe, AD 400-1100 (London: Thames And Hudson, 1980), p. 206; and H. Јowmiaсski, Poczatki Polski, 22-23, 97; and R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe, p. 169.

    [156] H. D. Senff & N. Senff & N. D. Senff, Folkdances of the Sorbs-Wends (Swansea, Australia: SumptibusPublications, 1992), pp. 5-24.

    [157] I. Woloch, Eighteen Century Europe, pp. 60-64.

    [158] Magdeburg archdiocese: J. Fleckenstein, Early Medieval Germany (Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Co., 1982), pp. 137-138; and on Hamburg-Bremenarchdiocese: Z. Suіowski, 'Sporne Problemy DziejуwZwiazku Wieletуw - Lucicуw', J. Strzelczyk, Sіowiaсszczyzna Poіabska (Poznaс, Poland: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza, 1981), p. 164.

    [159] On medieval Christianity as a feudal faith: S.H.Cross, Slavic Civilisation through the Ages, p. 65; and F. Dvornik, The Slavs..., pp. 293-295; and B. Rybakov, Early Centuries of Russian History (Moscow:Progress Publishers, 1965), p. 52; and also in: H.Schreiber, Teutons and Slavs, p. 56.

    [160] L. Leciejewicz, Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian, p. 30.


    [161] Cisterians at Dargun: ibid., p. 73.

    [162] Cisterians at Bad Doberan: ibid., pp. 87, 88.

    [163] ibid., pp. 87, 88.

    [164] Benedictine on Rьgen: ibid., p. 125.

    [165] ibid., p. 207.

    [166] Premonserians at Usedom: ibid., p. 394.

    [167] F. Dvornik, The Slavs..., p. 311; and L. Leciejewicz, Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian, p. 310; and F. Seibt, 'The Religious Problems', in G. Barraclough, ed., Eastern and Western Europe in the Middle Ages(London: Thames and Hudson, 1970), p. 107.

    [168] H. Schreiber, Teutons and Slavs, p. 62.

    [169] F. Dvornik, The Slavs..., p. 309; and L. Leciejewicz, Sіownik Kultury Dawnych Sіowian, p. 213.

    [170] G. R. Nielsen, In Search of a Home, p. 9.


    [171] C. Roderick, 'New Light On Leichhard', Journal of Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 72, Part 3, December 1986, p. 168-169.

    [172] F. Dvornik, The Slavs in European History and Civilisation (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1962), p. 9; and P. Jasienica, Polska Piastуw(Warszawa; Poland.; Paсstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy,1983), p. 206.

    [173] D. B. Grigg, Population Growth and Agrarian Change, p. 80.

    [174] On the large Slavic admixture in the German population: K. Bosl, 'Political Relations Between East And West', pp. 68-69; and: H. Schreiber, Teutons and Slavs, p. 67.

    [175] K. Bosl, 'Political Relations Between East and West',pp. 66, 68.

    [Top] [Index] [Abbreviations] [Introduction] [Historical background] [Colonization] [Germanization] [Upper class] [Townsfolk] [Rural population] [Thuringian case] [Other evidence] [Christianity] [Slavic contribution] [Conclusions] [Place names] [Names of lesser tribes] [Bibliography] [Primary sources] [Modern works] [Footnotes] [Bottom]

    (C) Roman Zaroff

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