Updated: Mar 29, 2022
A war raged between Christian Franks and Heathen Saxons for thirty-three years, between 772 CE and 804 CE. The war was called The Saxon Wars, and the Christian Franks recorded a year by year summary of their attacks on the Heathen Saxons in Saxony. Royal Frankish Annals state the following in their entry for the year 775 CE:
“While the king (Charlemagne) spent the winter at the villa of Quierzy, he decided to attack the treacherous and treaty-breaking tribe of the Saxons and to persist in this war until they were either defeated and forced to accept the Christian religion or be entirely exterminated." (See The Royal Frankish Annals published by Ann Arbor Paperbacks, translated by Bernhard Walter Scholz, p.51) Charlemagne, considered "the father of Europe" (and the founder of The First Reich) comes to the conclusion that the Saxons must either be completely defeated and forced to be christians, or to be wiped out with genocide. My readers, lets not hate christians because of what they did so long ago. Since Charlemagne's empire (the First Reich) lasted 1,000 years until Napoleon defeated it in 1806, there is no question of this impact on the Third Reich, who took Charlemagne's example of genocide as the basis for their Reich that they wished to also last 1,000 years. Charlemagne's genocide is forgotten because he is the Christian monarch who won his war. Everyone remembers the Holocaust today, but how many remember the Holodomor, where Stalin murdered eight million Ukranians? Genocides of the victors are often forgotten. The Saxon Wars are clearly a war of forced Christianization, and a war with a Heathen Hero: Widukind. The Saxon struggle was one of honor, a call to all Saxon Heathens to live honorably, and to continue the ways of our Ancestors, no matter the cost. In 772 CE, the Saxon nobles were offered by Charlemagne a peaceful solution: to convert, and rule in Charlemagne's name over the peasants in Saxony, ending the Heathen Althing that ruled Saxony, replacing it with monarchial christian rule. Widukind, was the only noble to decline. Widukind wished to remain Heathen far more than enriching himself with christian gold. Widukind was an ally to the Danes, the Saxon's neighbors to the North, who offered Widukind assistance in fighting the christian Franks. Widukind, a true Heathen Hero, married the daughter of the Danish king.
Myself at the Widukind Denkmal (monument) in Herford, Old Saxony, Germany
772 AD: The destruction of Thunar's Well (Thor's Well) and the Irminsul: Many scholars see Charlemagne's Reich as the beginning of hate in Germany. I agree with modern scholars that Charlemagne's ambition was the real cause of the Saxon Wars. Frankish writings, like Einhard, Charlemagne's biographer, blame the Saxons for beginning the wars, claiming they constantly raided churches in Frankia. However, these raids are not mentioned in the Royal Frankish Annals. The Royal Frankish Annals record the Franks as the first to attack in 772. While the Franks leave out their attack of Thunar's Well from their record, the archaeological record clearly proves that the Franks attacked Syburg first (modern Hohensyburg, the site of Thunar's Well). After Thunar's Well was taken, the Frank's next attacked the Irminul. For a more detailed study of the destruction of Thunar's Well, see my blog article, done on location at Hohensyburg with Saxon Heathen archaeologist Sven Schild: https://www.aldsidu.com/post/hohensyburg-a-saxon-holy-place-of-thunar-thor
The Royal Frankish Annals begin the Saxon Wars with this entry in the year 772 AD/CE: “The most gracious lord king Charles (Charlemagne) then held an assembly at Worms. From Worms he marched into Saxony. Capturing the hill-fort at Eresburg, he proceeded as far as the Irminsul, destroyed this idol and carried away the gold and silver he found. A great drought occurred so that there was no water in the place where the Irminsul stood. The glorious king wished to remain there two or three days in order to destroy the temple completely, but they had no water.”
From this passage, we learn that the Saxon Irminsul also had a temple complex that was so large, it took two or three days to destroy. After this passage, there is a story of the christian god who delivers water to the christians, proving that the christian god won the battle and gave a miracle. The Frankish writings give credit to their god for defeating the demons of the Saxons. The fall of Thunar's Well and the Irminsul, are followed by mass (forced) baptisms, and the Saxons swearing this oath, also recorded by the Franks with the words the Saxons were to state in red: Do you forsake the devil? I forsake the devil.
And all devil worship? And I forsake all devil worship.
And all devil works? And I forsake all devil works and words, Thunar and Uuoden and Sahsnoth and all demons, which are their comrades.
Do you believe in God the all-powerful father? I believe in God the all-powerful father.
Do you believe in Christ, God’s son? I believe in Christ, God’s son.
Do you believe in the holy Ghost? I believe in the Holy Ghost.
773 CE - 774 CE: The Heathen Saxons retake Thunar's Well and the Irminsul After Charlemagne left Saxony at the end of 772, he felt that their Gods were defeated, and he could go empire whore and attack Spain, to add it to his Reich (empire.) However, as soon as Charlemagne left Saxony, the Saxon Heathens did not keep their (forced) baptismal vows. They rose up, and retook the Irminsul and Hillfort Syburg (Thunar's Well). They also tried (in vain) to attack the church at Fritzlar, where Thor's Oak of the Chatti was destroyed. The Franks build a church on top of the Donar's Oak (Thor's Oak) site, and the Saxons failed to free the forcefully converted Chatti tribe of Christian rule. The Frankish writings record two Angels who defeated the Saxon Heathens, not the Frankish forces. Since christian prayer doesn't alter the laws of nature, this is christian propaganda.
775 CE: Charlemagne comes back to Saxony, and retakes his lost ground Royal Frankish Annals state the following in their entry for the year 775 CE:
“While the king (Charlemagne) spent the winter at the villa of Quierzy, he decided to attack the treacherous and treaty-breaking tribe of the Saxons and to persist in this war until they were either defeated and forced to accept the Christian religion or be entirely exterminated." In short, Charlemagne felt the Saxons were oath breakers, because they broke their oaths to serve christ and went back to serving their Heathen Gods. The Heathen Saxons felt that oaths made under-duress to a foreign god, could not be binding. Here is the quote from the Royal Frankish Annals (Charlemagne's court annals) for the year 775: “The pious and noble Lord king Charles (Charlemagne) held an assembly at the village of Duren. From here he launched a campaign into Saxony and captured the hill-fort Syburg, restored the hill-fort of Eresburg, and came as far as the Weser at Braunsberg.” (See The Royal Frankish Annals published by Ann Arbor Paperbacks, translated by Bernhard Walter Scholz, p.51)
Charlemagne built a church on top of the Irminsul site in Eresburg (modern Obermarsburg). Charlemagne also buried the bodies of Christian dead there (creating a Christian cemetery.) Charlemagne did the same at the Thunar's Well site in Syburg (modern Hohensyburg). This was devastating to the Heathen Saxons.
Saxony lost to Charlemagne's christian armies. The Saxons did not have a chance to win the Saxon Wars. Charlemagne had his Frankish armies, as well as the armies of other nations he defeated (from modern Italy, Austria, southern Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc). The christians in Europe simply outnumbered the Heathens in Saxony, and all Scandinavia. Please remember, northern Germany today has 25 million people, and this is more than all the today's population in Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden combined. The Saxons outnumbered the Scandinavians at this time in history too. The Danes understood that when Saxony fell, Charlemagne and Europe's christian armies would attack them next. (Sadly, the Saxons would attack the Danes after their "conversion" with Europe's christian army.)
776 CE-781 CE: Charlemagne issues laws outlawing Heathenry, and mandating conversion In 776, with Charlemagne gone again empire whoring (fighting in central and southern Italy), the Saxons retook the Irminsul site. This time they did not try to rebuild it, but they occupied the castle Charlemagne left there. Charlemagne returned to Saxony (making it to Lippe before the Saxons knew he left Italy). The Saxons were defeated and Widukind fled to the Danes. Charlemagne built a new city, Karlstadt. In 777, he called a national diet at Paderborn to integrate Saxony fully into the Frankish kingdom. Charlemagne once again had many large baptisms performed. Charlemagne brought in missionaries (monks from christian England) to carry out the task of converting all Saxony, and to build new churches. Charlemagne issued laws (the Lex Saxonum) which outlawed Heathenry with capital punishment on anyone observing heathen practices. Those refusing to be baptised and those refusing to keep the Lenten fast were beheaded. His severe and uncompromising position, which earned him the title "butcher of Saxons", caused his close adviser Alcuin of York, later abbot of Marmoutier Abbey, Tours, to object. In summer 779, Charlemagne again went into Saxony and conquered Eastphalia, Engria, and Westphalia. At a diet near Lippspringe, he divided the land into missionary districts. He assisted in several mass baptisms (780). He then returned to Italy. Nonetheless, Paderborn, doesn't have a positive early history for the Heathen Saxons. The contemporary poet of the Paderborn Epic (written circa 800 AD) praises terror as a means of conversion: "What the contrary mind and perverse soul refuse to do with persuasion, let them leap to accomplish when compelled by fear."
782 CE-785 CE: The Massacre of Verden In 782, the peace ended, Charlemagne re-issued the Lex Saxonum, and even asked for Saxon soothsayers (who accurately predicted the future) to be given over to the church. Saxon Heathens were forced to give to the church one out of every sixty people as a slave. This outraged the (still) Heathen Saxons, who called upon Widukind to return from hiding in Denmark, and to lead an uprising. Charlemagne was away again empire whorring, and Widukind led a well planned guerilla style attack on two Frankish armies at night in the Suntel Mountains. Widukind's attack was so successful, few Franks were able to escape, and the rest were killed. Charlemagne lost a total of 20 nobles, which was something that Charlemagne could not tolerate, as nobles would no longer wish to fight for Charlemagne unless he reacted strongly.
The Royal Frankish Annals, the Frankish history written in Latin, states the following: “When the king heard of this disaster he decided not to delay, but made haste to gather an army, and marched into Saxony. There he called to his presence the chiefs of the Saxons and inquired who had induced the people to rebel. They all declared that Widukind was the author of the treason but said that they could not produce him because after the deed was done he had fled to Nordmannia (Denmark.) But the others who had carried out his will and committed the crime they delivered up to the king to the number of four thousand and five hundred; and by the king's command they were all beheaded in one day upon the river Aller in the place called Verden.”
4,500 Saxons were beheaded for leaving their (forced) baptismal vows, and defeating the Franks with Widukind. As usual, when the large christian armies of Europe returned with Charlemagne, the Saxons were no match, and Widukind would find safety with his in-laws, the Danish King. After 4,500 Saxons were beheaded, this had the opposite result that Charlemagne intended. While the Saxon nobles were still loyal to Charlemagne, all the Saxon Heathen peasants revolted. The Massacre of Verden had the same impact on the Saxon Heathen people as September 11th had on the American people: outrage.
In 785, the Royal Frankish Annals claim that Widukind surrended and chose to be baptised. Widukind is never mentioned again in the historical record. (Excluding christian legends about St. Widukind which appeared three hundred years later. Obviously, if Widukind really converted, the Frankish sources would have mentioned this. The Saxon Wars would continue for another 19 years, therefore, we must realize that Widukind's fate did not disuade Saxons for continuing to fight christianity. This is a clue to me that Widukind was killed.) Some believe Widukind was imprisoned in a monastery for the remainder of his life, a fate that happened to all other rulers Charlemagne defeated (if he let them live.) My personal belief, is that Widukind was killed in battle in 785. The Frankish sources claim he surrendered. Scholar Gerd Althoff has suggested that Widukind was imprisoned in the Bavarian monastery of Reichenau. His suggestion is based on a ninth-century confraternity list from Reichenau that mentions an unordained monk named Uuituchind, who entered the monastery somewhere in the 780s and died after the list was drawn up in 825. Considering that the name Widukind was uncommon in the ninth century, this list could well have referred to the famous rebel leader, though it would mean that he lived to an exceptionally old age. [Flierman, Robert. Saxon Identities, AD 150–900 (Studies in Early Medieval History) (pp. 150-151). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.)]
We will never truly know the fate of Widukind. Did he surrender and get imprisoned the rest of his life? Or did he die in battle for the freedom of the Saxons? Either option is not a good one for him personally, though he will be remembered in Saxon Heathen halls forever gaining Saxon Heathen immortality. 786 CE-804CE: The End of Heathen Saxony- Saxony is swallowed by the First Reich The Saxons continued to fight. The last rebellion in Westphalia, Saxony was in 792, and the Saxons there were crushed. There are four separate deportations of 10,000 Saxons recorded in the Frankish sources between the years 792 and 804, as the other Saxon regions continued to resist. Einhard wrote circa 820 CE the following in his Vita Karoli Magni: "The war that had lasted so many years was at length ended by their acceding to the terms offered by the King; which were renunciation of their national religious customs and the worship of devils, acceptance of the sacraments of the christian faith and religion, and union with the Franks to form one people." In the end, the Lex Saxonum was still in force. Written in the year 785 and re-written a few times with the laws easing up only slightly, the harsh capital punishments remained. The fact that Charlemagne ruthlessly killed Saxons, and imposed the death penalty for not obeying the Lenten fast (Lex Saxonum 4), death to any Saxon for burying ashes of a body in the Heathen pyre (Lex Saxonum 7), death to any Saxon who scorns baptism and remains a Heathen (Lex Saxonum 8), forced tithes on all Saxons in money, land, and humans as slaves to work the church land (Lex Saxonum 17), forced church attendance to all Saxons on the Lord’s Day (Lex Saxonum 18), forcing all Saxon infants to be baptized (Lex Saxonum 19), forced Saxon burials in christian cemeteries (Lex Saxonum 22) etc. These laws clearly show how evil Charlemagne was, and the christian nature of the Saxon Wars. Please join us on Facebook in the group Aldsidu: Saxon Heathenry. Also, please visit the Robert Sass Aldsidu YouTube channel for excellent videos.