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*Read Pdf á Ottonian Germany: The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg õ The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg translated here for the first time in its entirety is one of the most important sources for the history of the th and early th centuries, and especially of the Ottoman Empire Thietmar is arguably the most important witness to the early history of Poland, and his detailed descriptions of Slavic folklore are the earliest on record He offers striking portraits of his contemporaries, revealing opinions from politics to women s fashion During the night, I had seen a bishop s staff standing next to my bed and a voice had asked Do you wish to receive the church of Merseburg I responded If it is the will of God and of the archbishop who orders me to come The voice continued Take care, because whoever arouses the anger of St.Lawrence immediately losses his mind I responded May Christ, the guardian of human kind, protect me that I may not in this, or in any other way, offend the majesty of God and forfeit the interces During the night, I had seen a bishop s staff standing next to my bed and a voice had asked Do you wish to receive the church of Merseburg I responded If it is the will of God and of the archbishop who orders me to come The voice continued Take care, because whoever arouses the anger of St.Lawrence immediately losses his mind I responded May Christ, the guardian of human kind, protect me that I may not in this, or in any other way, offend the majesty of God and forfeit the intercession of the saints When I awoke, I was dazed, but immediately got up and saw the bright light of day already streaming in the window p264This is Thietmar, later Bishop of Merseburg and author of this chronicle, a Saxon nobleman, recording one of his dreams in 1009.His chronicle exists in only two copies, one of which was in the state library in Dresden and destroyed at the end of WWII fortunately a facsimile had been made in 1905 view spoiler this I saw with my own eyes in a mega Ottonian exhibition in Magdeburg in 2002, and suitably shabby it looked too hide spoiler , and at first it seems to be building on Widukind von Corvey s earlier history but the tone and variety of material is substantially different.The chronicle is divided into eight books Conventionally enough the first four Ottonian rulers each get a book devoted to their reigns With the fifth book we shift into the reign of Heinrich II, and Thietmar is describing events that happened during his own youth Book eight cuts off abruptly dealing with events in 1018 which was the year in which Thietmar died.Reading I wonder who he was writing the chronicle for, and what motivated him From early on there seemed to be a memorial function, he made a point of mentioning the deaths of his ancestors and the doings of his relatives his aunts in monasteries, his uncles captured by pirates , yet in moments such as his visit to his niece a nun to discuss the visions that a man had in Magdeburg Cathedral, there was a curious intimacy in her advice.While Thietmar mentioned his own unworthiness and shortcomings several times including his physical appearance, his broken nose and an ulcer seem to have troubled him like some mark of Cain this becamepronounced in the final two books I wondered if the chronicle was intended as a public confession of his misdeeds, some of which like simony, the failure to legally pursue cases in the interests of the diocese to victory perhaps there is an element of keeping claims open for redress at a later date rather than letting them fall into abeyance or favouring his relatives come across as the reasonable concerns of a Bishop, however it becomes really interesting when he has a dream I dreamed that I saw a large crowd of people standing near by They were urging me to ingest something from a crock which had been placed next to me I initially refused, realizing that they were hostile Finally, I replied that I would take it, but only in the name of God the Father They were most displeased with this When they saw that otherwise it would not be done, however, this hateful crowd agreed, though with much grumbling It had been decided that I would be completed destroyed If I had not then invoked the name of the Lord, any chance of eternal salvation would have been lost to me From this drink, which seemed to be a mixture of different types of herbs, I began to conceive evil thoughts They especially disturb me during celebrations of the liturgy, but with the help of God, which I always invoke, they have rarely or never led me to evil deeds p.372While I had heard before that the reason that monks got up to pray in the middle of the night was to wage spiritual warfare on the devil, who it was believed would otherwise have undefended access to prey upon the dreams of sleeping people, I have not so far come across such a personal account of this Dreams and daily life are not separate for Thietmar but a seamless and often hostile reality Just as he is very aware of being a bishop in a frontier region with the population still at times pagan Bishop Wigbert through enthusiastic preachingdrew his flock away from empty superstition He completely destroyed the wood called Schkeitbar which was venerated as holy and, from time immemorial, had never been violated, constructing a church for the martyr St Romanus in its place p.263 , there is also a sense of the physiological frontier with the good and virtuous besieged and beset by the supernatural there are some nice examples at the end of Book Four Nor shall I keep silent regarding the vision of our brother Markward He was led to the common cemetery, as he himself complained to me, where he saw a fiery grave p.198 or the following nightthe martyrs of Christ, Crispin and Crispinian, appeared to come to him and asked if he wished to receive their bishopric When he responded, If God wills it and it is pleasing to you, they pierced him with two spears Upon awakening, he was unable to rise unassisted p.199 The lives of holy men and women are recorded in the chronicle perhaps as a psychological bulwark a certain anchoress, named Sisuwas a woman of immense pietythis woman was dear to my mother and had firmly promised that she would be remembered in the prayers of future generations p.367, or the pious abbot Alfger who would cry so much during mass that the host would become wet p.369 However Thietmar s Christianity is itself not straightforward but influenced by pre Christian ideas When he visited his niece to ask her advise about some visions he had heard about, these were visions of the Christian dead worshipping in churches at night This sounds relatively nice the living using the Church during the day, the dead at night, but the story takes an unpleasant turn when a Christian who observes this is burnt to death by those dead souls for intruding on their worship Conversion here was a process that ended in syncretism.Fittingly Thietmar s border region has no clear boundaries Heinrich II makes alliances with pagans against the Christian Poles High ranking Germans are to be found with the Poles and with the pagans at times fighting against other Germans Churches are sacked by anybody and everybody Although if your church is sacked by your own side you at least get to claim compensation The middle ages approved of due legal process.Thietmar is very interested in pagan practises in a don t try this at home kind of way giving accounts of sacrifices on Zealand, the practises of the Liutizi they carefully inquire , by casting lots and consulting the horse, what their priests should offer to their godsThey make peace by offering hair cut from the top of their heads and grass, and by joining their right handsdear reader, avoid both their society and their cultp254 or the three cornered temples of the Redarii p.253.Most of the chronicle is however taken up by politics, but, and this is a Bishop s eye view of proceedings, this isn t entirely secular either The Kings move from church to church for Holy Days, Church offices are political offices and the saints are vengeful.Yet this is a world that is constantly growing wider A Saxon kingdom that encompasses Germany and Italy from Rome northwards, that interacts with the new Christian realms of Hungary, Bohemia, Poland and Denmark England and Russia feature sporadically along with Greeks and Saracens There is a sense of the dense networks of family and Clerical associates that Thietmar was a part of and which provided him with the latest news and dreams to chronicle