Which is the best slavic country

Today's Saxony-Anhalt was politically and ethnically divided into two parts between the 7th and 10th centuries: Slavic tribes settled in the areas east of the Elbe and Saale, and the Germanic Saxons lived west of the two rivers. The border was marked by the Elbe and Saale, which also formed the dividing line between various historical processes and different ways of life for people to the left and right of the two rivers mentioned.


In the second half of the 6th century, Slavs reached the Elbe in search of larger settlement areas. How this process took place, when exactly the first tribes reached the Saale and Elbe, whether it happened in a closed rapid advance or in waves or when individual pillars approached today's Saxony-Anhalt is no longer traceable. The immigrants probably used the rivers as natural access routes. [1] Since the Slavs only crossed the rivers in individual places and individual groups of Germanic tribes remained on the east bank, an area was created in which both peoples also settled together.

The Slavs settled widely in different tribes. The western Slavs, the Obodrites, Liutizen, Sorbs and Lusatians lived east of the Elbe and Saale. Sorbs (Saale-Mulde area) and Wilzen (area around Zerbst) settled in the Anhalt region.

Slavs lived in village communities and were mainly engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry. To enrich the food supply, they also hunted, caught fish and picked berries, clams, fruits and mushrooms. Trade and handicrafts were well developed. Due to rivalries between the individual tribes, the Slavs were prevented from developing a permanent state structure. The settlement areas of the Slavs were divided into realms, small areas with an extension of 10-20 km. These were located on lakes, rivers and valley edges. In the center of a field there was in most cases a castle complex and, depending on the fertility of the soil, 5 to 20 settlements of different sizes. Altogether there are about 40 known castles in the areas on the Saale and between the Elbe, Saale and Oder more than 100 castle complexes that were built of wood and earth.


In the 8th century the large Germanic tribal association of the Saxons was formed and consolidated. [2] Parts of the Saxon tribe supported the Franks in breaking up the Thuringian Empire (531) and, with their consent, settled in Thuringian areas. They paid tributes to the Franks and secured the borders with the Slavs. The Saxons divided their tribal territory into districts. Individual districts were subordinate to a noble district chief. Since there was no Saxon king at that time, a duke was elected leader in the event of war. The beginning social differentiation led to a stratification into nobles (Edelingen), free (Frilinge), semi-free (Liten) and unfree. From the middle of the 8th century the Franks intensified their efforts to integrate the Saxons more firmly into their empire. There were also Franconian missionary attempts, which were unsuccessful. For most of the Saxons, who did not speak the Frankish language, conversion to Christianity was initially a rather superficial act. The "acceptance of Christianity" only lasted as long as priests and Frankish power were present. [3] As a special sanctuary was the Saxon Irminsul. This wooden column standing in a consecrated beech grove was a symbol of the strength that supports the universe. The sanctuary stood in the Eresburg (Obermarsberg an der Diemel) and was destroyed by Charlemagne in 772. About the resistance of the Saxons To overcome the acceptance of the Christian faith, the preachers partly responded to existing pagan ideas: "Christ was praised as the prince of heaven, to whom the warrior swore allegiance and who, like the liege lord to his vassal, assists him in every need. Christ, whose power over heaven and earth was emphasized, triumphed over the inadequacies of the old gods and offered certainty for an L just after death. "[4]

The final integration of the Saxons into the Franconian empire was achieved through the Saxon wars of Charlemagne, which were fought between 772 and 804, which the Franconian historiography of the time described as protracted, cruel and exhausting. However, the main events did not take place in our room. Ostfalen was spared except for a few attacks (780/795), as considerable parts of the nobility cooperated with the Franks and very soon showed themselves ready to accept Christianity.

County Constitution

The county constitution issued by Charlemagne in 782 at the Diet of Lippspringe contributed to the administrative classification of Saxon territory. Counts appointed by him (Burgwarde), among whom there were also many Saxon nobles, administered a certain area in his name. As his deputies, they held court, collected taxes and supervised the construction of castles and paths. In the event of war they assembled the army and commanded it. In contrast to the nobility, the peasants continued to offer resistance even after 782 and fought against Frankish rule under Widukind. Around 4,500 captured rebels are said to have been executed in Verden an der Aller in 784 on the orders of Charlemagne. In 785, when the victory of the Franks seemed to be finally certain, Widukind accepted the Christian doctrine and, through his baptism, initiated the reconciliation of his people with the previously bitterly fought enemy.

The Franks made great efforts to integrate the West Elbe and West Hall areas more administratively and militarily into the greater empire. “In the 8th century, the Franks began building royal courts and palaces; so on the southern edge of the Harz against the Saxons, to secure the Südharzweg (places on -hausen like Sangerhausen), against the Slavs border fortresses like Magdeburg (around 800) and Halle (805/6). They secured roads, river crossings and passes, lay on rocks (Weißenfels), river spurs (Zerbst), at river mouths (Salzwedel), on river terraces (Schönebeck) or were originally moated castles (Staßfurt). Entire castle systems were erected on (border) rivers such as the Saale - Naumburg, Merseburg, Halle, Giebichenstein or Wettin - to secure certain areas. The castles became dominant parts of the settlement image, often multi-part: lower and upper castle with ring walls and towers, keep, gate and drawbridge, palas, bower, chapel and farm buildings. "[5] The historically most important system of the castle district systems was Merseburg, its Saxon environs could be Christianized earliest. [6] In 802 the "Lex Saxonum" was enacted for the Saxons, a law based on the Franconian model, which also took into account Old Saxon popular law. This was an important step for the integration of the West Elbe and West Hall areas into the Franconian empire.

Christianization of the Saxons and foundation of the Halberstadt diocese

At the Reichstag in Paderborn (777), under the chairmanship of Charlemagne, the missionary work of the Saxon area between the Harz and Elbe was discussed. The Bishop of Chalons-sur-Marne was assigned the area of ​​Osterwieck and Halberstadt as a mission area, while the Mansfeld and Quedlinburg area was looked after from Hersfeld. [7]

Large secular and spiritual manors, which gradually developed in the western Elbe areas, meant a boost for the economic development of the area. The most important landowners were the imperial monasteries in Hersfeld, Fulda, Corvey and Verden. Together with the Archdiocese of Mainz, whose archdiocese included the West Elbe and West Hall area, attempts were made to Christianize the population. A missionary foundation was established in Osterwieck, but it was short-lived because the Saxons continued to offer military resistance. Only when no new uprising was to be feared could the mission work be resumed in 803. In 804 the monastery was relocated further east to the Low German settlement Alfurtested-Halberstadt, named after a ford in the Holtemme. The reason for this was certainly the more favorable strategic location: intersecting traffic routes, the existence of a ford and the good peripheral location in the Harz foreland: Halberstadt had a direct road connection to Münster, Osnabrück, Minden, Hildesheim and Corvey. [8]

In addition, the population density around Halberstadt was higher than in Seligenstadt. In addition, the place on which the cathedral was to be built allowed a better defense, as it had steep slopes on three sides.

Archaeological investigations have shown that the Domburg received a fortification ditch as early as the year 800. Since the founding deed of the diocese was lost, it is not possible to say exactly when this event took place. The establishment of the diocese around 804 is certainly due to Halberstadt's first missionaries, Luidger and Hildegrim, both sons of one of the most influential families in Friesland. The choice fell among others. therefore on Hildegrim, as he was sufficiently familiar with the language and customs of the Saxons and had gained the favor of the emperor through his previous work.

With the formation of the Diocese of Halberstadt, the incorporation of the Saxon area into the Franconian Empire was sealed, so that the feudal order was further consolidated and the entire area between Ohre and Unstrut / Helme, Harz and Elbe / Saale was in one place in terms of church and organization. Around 850, the Osterwieck-Halberstadt mission area and the Mansfeld-Quedlinburg mission area were merged to form a unified Halberstadt diocese area. At an early stage, it brought together crucial parts of what is today Saxony-Anhalt and thus created a closed cultural area in what is now Saxony-Anhalt for the first time.

Christianization of the Slavs

A systematic missionary work of the Slavs on the eastern side of the Elbe and Saale in Franconian times cannot be proven, which was primarily connected with the still inadequately developed church structure in Saxony. The breakthrough could only be achieved with the establishment of the Archdiocese of Magdeburg, although the Slavs practiced their religion in secret for a long time on the flat land. In 1108, Archbishop Adalgot of Magdeburg complained about the widespread use of paganism in his diocese and called for action to be taken against it. [9]

The border between the Germanic and Slavic territories cannot be seen as a sharp line between the 6th and 9th centuries. Slavic settlements were located on both sides of the Saale and Elbe in a mixture with Germanic villages, and the coexistence of Teutons and Slavs in one village can be proven. "The border organization of the Elbe / Saale area, however, remains in the dark." [10]

It is certain that over the centuries since the settlement there have repeatedly been armed conflicts between Teutons (Thuringians, Saxons, Franks) and the Slavic tribes, which originated from both sides. The Slavs were, at least temporarily, dependent on the Franks.

Despite or through the armed conflicts, the Slavic tribes were able to consolidate their position and further develop their social and political order.

At that time the economic life and intellectual culture of the Slavs were far behind those of the western parts of the Franconian Empire. It was not until the 9th century that the country to the left of the Elbe and Saale was experiencing relatively rapid economic development. “This found its expression among other things. in the Diedenhof chapter of Charlemagne from the year 805, in which the principles of Franconian border and trade policy with the Slavs were fixed. The following were defined as border trading points with the Slavs: Bardowick on the Lower Elbe, Schezla (exact location unknown) in the Altmark, Magdeburg, Erfurt and Hallstadt near Bamberg. "[11] Franconian border counts were employed in these places to conduct trade with the Slavs had to monitor.

Meaning of Magdeburg

The fact that Magdeburg was a border trading point is significant for the history of Saxony-Anhalt. When Charlemagne made it an important border trading place in 805, it was not due to the existence of a flourishing place, but solely to its location. Here came the "Hellweg" coming from the west, a trade route that led from Gandersheim via Goslar and Halberstadt. There was also the "Hellweg vor dem Sandforde", which led via Hildesheim, Ohrum an der Oker and Seehausen. The "Lüneburger Strasse" via Braunschweig and Helmstedt also led to Magdeburg. East of the Elbe, on Slavic territory, the trade routes continued, e.g. via Burg and Genthin to Brandenburg and Havelberg. Traders who targeted the Leipzig area used the route via Leitzkau, Zerbst, Jüterbog, Dessau or Wittenberg. There was also a north-south connection from Erfurt via Aschersleben and Egeln, which led via Tangermünde and Havelberg to the Baltic Sea. Last but not least, the Elbe itself was an important trade route. [ 12] Preferred goods were in the Germanic-Slavic direction salt, cloth and weapons and in the opposite direction furs, honey and slaves.

[1] Cf. Neuss, Erich: Settlement history of the Saalkreis and the Mansfelder Land, Weimar 1995, p. 167 f.

[2] The Saxons have been proven since the middle of the 2nd century. Around 600 they settled in four provinces: Westphalia (between the Rhine and Weser), Engern (middle course of the Elbe), Northern Albingia (north of the Elbe estuary), and Ostfalen (between the Weser and Elbe). Ostfalen lived with it in our area.

[3] Cf. Reinecke, Albert: The introduction of Christianity in the Harzgau in the eighth century. Osterwieck 1888, p. 29

[4] Epperlein, Siegfried: Karl der Große, Berlin 1971, p. 36

[5] Möller, Helmut: settlement history. In Heckmann, Hermann (ed.): Saxony-Anhalt. Historical regional studies of Central Germany. Würzburg 1991, p. 75f.

[6] Cf. Wagner, Claudia: From the periphery to the center - the Ottonian royal landscape emerges. In: Brüggemeier, Franz-Josef / Korff, Gottfried / Steiner, Jürg (eds.): In the middle. Saxony-Anhalt in History, Dessau 1998, p. 72

[7] The founding of the Halberstadt diocese is described in detail and provided with methodological suggestions in: Rathsack, Anke / Stech, Cornelia: Halberstadt - discovering a forgotten diocese (= "ProLoG", handouts for teachers, issue 13), Halle 1997 .

[8] Cf. Schrader, Franz: Shape and origin of the medieval parish organization of the city of Halberstadt and the establishment of the Diocese of Halberstadt. In: Publications of the Städtisches Museum Halberstadt, Nordharzer Jahrbuch, Volume 14, 1989, pp. 74ff.

[9] Cf.: From Pagus to District - Stations in the 1000-Year History of the Saalkreis, Saalkreiskurier of June 30, 1995, p. 3

[10] Römer, Christof: History. in Heckmann, Hermann (ed.): Saxony-Anhalt. Historical regional studies of Central Germany, Würzburg 1991, p. 8

[11] Müller, Walter: The early Middle Ages. In: Landesheimatbund von Sachsen-Anhalt (ed.): History of Saxony-Anhalt, Volume I, Berlin / Munich 1993, p. 53

[12] See teaching and learning history. Using the example of the history of the city of Magdeburg, Magdeburg 1994, p. 6