Nakon was a Slavic ruler who flourished in the 950s and 960s. While he is one of the best-attested Slavic rulers of the period, details about his life and position are nevertheless scarce. This page serves to collect the primary sources which mention Nakon, offering translations together with some brief notes as to their interpretation. We have chosen to present the Latin sources first, in chronological order, as these can be related to one another. The final and most informative source is the travelogue of Ibrāhīm ibn Ya'qūb.


Widukind of Corvey

Widukind of Corvey's Res gesta Saxonicae provides the earliest information about Nakon. The account is included within the larger depiction of the rebellions of Wichmann the Younger, accessible here. The translation is our own.

III 50: ...secretly taking companions with him there, [Wichmann] returned to his fatherland and, having occupied some burgs and with Ekbert [his brother] having joined him, took up arms against the emperor. But the diligence of dux Hermann suppressed them easily and forced them across the Elbe. Since they had perceived themselves unable to resist the duke, they allied themselves to two subreguli of the barbarians already hostile to the Saxons at that time, Nakon and his brother.

From here, the narrative progresses to Wichmann's activities across the Elbe and the Battle on the Raxa; Nakon is not mentioned again. Many historians have assumed Nakon's presence at the battle, and that the leader attested at the battle, Stoinef, is the brother of Nakon mentioned in III 50. Neither is made explicit in the text.


Thietmar of Merseburg

Thietmar's Chronicon, composed between 1012 and 1018, has gone a long way to conflate the figure of Nakon with the Battle on the Raxa; he presents Widukind III 50-55 as a single contiguous episode.  So far as we can tell, however, Thietmar was relying entirely on Widukind; his depiction here is an attempt to smooth Widukind's choppy account into a coherent narrative and does not present independent information.  The translation is by David Warner (99-100).

II 12: As these events were transpiring, the Slavs started a horrible war at the instigation of Counts Wichman and Ekbert under the leadership of Nacco and his brother Stoigniew.  Lacking confidence in his own ability to defeat them, the commander, Herman, asked the king for help.  Energetic as he was, the latter took a strong force and invaded those northern regions which, as scripture teaches, so often produce evil.  There, the king had Stoignew beheaded, after capturing him in a wood in which he had hidden as his supporters fled.  He pursued the authors of this outrage, the brothers Wichman and Ekbert, sons of his maternal aunt.


Adam of Bremen

Adam of Bremen's Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum, completed in the 1070s, is chiefly interpreted as an argument for the jurisdiction of Adam's archbishopric, Hamburg-Bremen, over the lands of the Scandinavians and the Slavs. As one of his primary sources, Adam drew on conversations with the Danish king Svein Estridsson; this represents a complex of Danish historical memory not transmitted elsewhere.  Adam credits Svein as the source for his brief account of Nakon. This translation is by Francis Tschan (72).

II 26: When he told us how Slavia was divided into eighteen districts, he assured us that all but three had been converted to the Christian faith, adding also that their princes at that time were Mistislav, Naccon, and Sederich.  He said, "there was continuous peace under them, and the Slavs served paying tribute." (sub tributo servierunt)


Ibrāhīm ibn Ya'qūb

The account of the Hispano-Arabic traveler Ibn Ya'qūb has not survived as an independent text, but only as quotations in the later works of al-Bakrī and al-Qazwīnī. In the portion that survives, Ibn Ya'qūb presents information on the Slavs, in particular the four "kings," of whom Nakon, here presented as Nāqūn (ناقون), is one. The translation is Dmitrij Mishin, ‘Ibrahim ibn-Ya‘qub at-Turtushi’s Account of the Slavs from the Middle of the Tenth Century,’ in M.B. Davis and M. Sebők, eds., Annual of Medieval Studies at the CEU 1994-1995 (Budapest, 1996), 184-199; the paragraph divisions are Mishin's as well.

Ibn Ya'qūb: Now [the Slavs] are governed by four kings: the king of the Bulgarin; Buyaslaw, the king of F.raghah, Bawaymah, and Karakwa; Mashaqqah, the king of the North; and Naqun, who rules over the extreme West. 

The country of Naqun borders in the west with Saksun and some Marman. The prices there are low, the horses are numerous, and they are exported to other lands. The [inhabitants of this country] have powerful arms consisting of coats of mail, helmets, and swords.

From to [lacuna] ma yalihi, there is a distance of ten miles; [lacuna] to the bridge there is a distance of fifty miles. It is a wooden bridge; its length is of one mile. From there to the fortress of Naqun, there is a distance of about forty miles.

The fortress of Naqun is called "Gharad," which means "a big fortress." Before Ghrad there is a castle built on a lake with sweet water. In this way most of the Slavic castles are built. [The Slavs] go to meadows abundant in water and trees, trace there a circle or a square, as they like, which marks the shape and the extension of the future fortress. Then they dig a trench around this contour and put the carved earth above. Sometimes they strengthen the walls with boards or wood as the castles are built until the walls become as high as is necessary. Then, in the wall, they make a gate of any shape they like. One can get to this gate by a wooden bridge.

From the fortress Gharad to the Surrounding Sea, there is a distance of eleven miles.

Troops can hardly move in Naqun’s country, for it abounds in marshes, woods, and mud.