Charlemagne’s Saxon Wars // Einhard’s Life of Charles the Great

by birtanpublished on August 6, 2020

Now that the war with Italy was over the one against the Saxons which had been interrupted for the time being was taken up once more no war ever undertaken by the Frankish people was more prolonged more full of atrocities or more demanding of effort the Saxons

Like almost all the people living in Germany are ferocious by nature they are much given to devil worship and they are hostile to our religion they think it no dishonor to violate and transgress the laws of God and man hardly a day passed

Without some incident or other which was well calculated to break the peace our brothers and theirs were contiguous and nearly everywhere in flat open country except indeed for a few places where great forests or mountain ranges

Interposed to separate the territories of the two people by a clear demarcation line murder robbery and arson were of constant occurrence on both sides in the end the Franks was so irritated by these incidents that they decided that the

Time had come to abandon retaliatory measures and to undertake a full-scale war against the Saxons war was duly declared against them it was waged for 33 long years and with immense hatred on both sides but the

Losses of the Saxons were greater than those of the Franks this war could have been brought to a more rapid conclusion had it not been for the faithlessness of the Saxons it was hard to say just how many times they were beaten and

Surrended as suppliants to Charlemagne promising to do all the was exalted from them giving the hostages who were demanded and this without delay and receiving the ambassador's who were sent to them sometimes they were so cowed and

Reduced that they even promised to abandon their devil-worship that submit willingly to the Christian faith but however ready they might seem from time to time to do all this they were always prepared to break the promises they had

Made I cannot really judge which of these two courses can be said to have come the more easily to the Saxons for since the very beginning of the war against them hardly a year passed in which they did not vacillate between

Surrender and defiance however the Kings mettlesome spirit and his imperturbable 'ti which remained as constant in adversity as in prosperity were not to be quelled by their ever-changing tactics or indeed to be

Wearied by a task which he had undertaken not once did he allow anyone who had offended in this way to go unpunished he took vengeance on them for their perfect and meted out suitable

Punishment either by means of an army which he led himself or by dispatching of force against them under the command of his counts in the end when all those who'd been offering resistance had been utterly defeated and subjected to his

Power he transported some 10,000 men taken from among those who lived on both side of the river elbe and across the river and dispersed them in small groups with their wives and children in various parts of Gaul and Germany at long last

This war which it dragged on for so many years came to an end on conditions imposed by the king and accepted by the Saxons these last were to give up their devil worship and the malpractice is inherited

From their forefathers and then once they had adopted the sacraments of the Christian faith or religion they were to be united with the Franks and become one people with them

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