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The Deeds of Wiprecht

Pegau Annals

In the year of the Lord 1110. Therefore, after the younger Henry [V] had gained hold of the kingdom, he deprived the son of King Vratislav of Bohemia, by the name of Bořivoj, of his kingdom and substituted for him a certain Svatopluk by name. This greatly pained Wiprecht. He earnestly begged the king with the highest devotion that Bořivoj might be restored. Nevertheless, he was unable to obtain this, and he frequently reproached the king on account of it. The king advised Svatopluk that he should behead all the leading men who were called Vršovici, and he obeyed. In the year 1111. Next Henry V proclaimed to his men an expedition against Poland, and commanded Wiprecht to set out at the same time. Taking two thousand men, he advanced. Since Svatopluk considered the king hostile [to Wiprecht] on account of Bořivoj, he secretly had much discussion with the king concerning Wiprecht—which was not concealed from Wiprecht's industry for long. In fact, Svatopluk quite often returned from counsels of this sort in the middle of the night, passing in front of Wiprecht’s tents on the way to his own. Finally, Wiprecht arranged with a certain miles of his that he might secretly slay the unsuspecting Svatopluk as he was passing by, just as he had yesterday and the day before. The same man diligently investigated his passing and, having launched a sharp spear into him, transfixed the duke between the shoulders. At his falling, the miles fled to Wiprecht’s camp. Thereafter, a clamour arose among the Czechs. When the duke’s death became known to them, they fled headlong without delay and left the king behind in a very anxious situation. Called forth by the king, Wiprecht presented himself. The king earnestly begged Wiprecht to lead him and his men away from Poland. This he gladly promised to do, if Henry would restore Bořivoj to his paternal principate. At length, unable to oppose his request, Henry agreed (since led by necessity) and commanded that Wiprecht return that man to his paternal seat. And so the king departed Poland in haste, with Wiprecht leading the way. But the young Wiprecht, Wiprecht’s son, on his father’s order, returned Bořivoj to Prague, seat of the principate. When the king arrived in the lands of Germany, at Naumburg, he learned that the younger Wiprecht had returned Bořivoj and was still tarrying in Bohemia. He preferred Vladislav, namely the brother of Svatopluk, whom he had deceitfully raised up to the principate from below in place of his brother, without Wiprecht knowing. With Vladislav goading him and working together with him, Henry entered Bohemia and pursued the younger Wiprecht and Bořivoj, without their knowing of his deceit. When they learned of his coming and his deceit, they fled to protection. The king besieged Bořivoj in Vyšehrad and Wiprecht in Prague [Castle]. After they had resisted most vigorously for seven days, Henry finally prevailed and led them away with him as captives. He put them under guard in Hammerstein. In the Year 1112. The elder Wiprecht, when he learned what had happened, was deeply pained. He was able to redeem his son by no other agreement, until he handed over to the king the town of Leisnig and the districts of Nisen and Bautzen, together with the town of Morungen. The king immediately granted all this in benefice to Count Hoier of Mansfeld, a man most familiar to him. The younger Wiprecht, not long after his release, arrived with the king in Thuringia. There, Henry enfeoffed him with a certain castle called Eckartsberga. In the Year 1113. Consequently, the king persecuted the elder Wiprecht with a hatred now manifest. He decided to attack Groitzsch, with Vladislav bringing him help. The younger Wiprecht too, hoping to be enfeoffed with the town of Naumburg, was a help to the king against his father. The elder Wiprecht, however, gathered together certain of his most select milites in the town's fortress, with military equipment and tools. Vladislav, when he had arrived there from the king’s army, strove to capture the town with his men by a sudden attack, but he lost more than 500 of his men. The king, giving up on its capture, departed from there after eight days and enfeoffed a certain familiar of his with the town of Naumburg. And so Wiprecht [the younger] deserted him and returned to his father. In the Year 1114. Therefore, taking precautions against the king’s coming again, Wiprecht [the elder] pledged friendship with Count-palatine Siegfried of Orlamünde and with Count Ludwig of Thuringia. They came together to talk at Warnstedt to agree upon some kind of pact. Hoier, having learned of their meeting against the king, arrived unexpectedly with thirty men. Because they were too weak in arms and in the number of their milites to make a stand, Ludwig escaped by fleeing, Count-palatine Siegfried was killed, and Wiprecht, injured by many wounds and captured, was carried away and delivered into custody in Leisnig. Then, brought before the king at the court held in Würzburg, in the presence of the princes, he was condemned by all to death. Wiprecht was therefore handed over for beheading to a certain miles of Plisna, by the name Conrad. He delayed in carrying out the orders and was putting off Wiprecht's death in the field, waiting for some other, better messenger from the king. All the princes, meanwhile, suggested to the younger Wiprecht that, in order to revoke the death sentence—that is, for the redemption of his father—he, being loyal, should offer the king Groitzsch with all his father's estates. When he had done that, the king indeed gave Wiprecht his life but ordered him kept in his most fortified town of Trifels for about three years. Having learned this, the younger Wiprecht and his brother Henry joined with the Saxons against the king. On account of this, together with Count Ludwig [of Thuringia], they were judged guilty of treason. And so, while their father was placed in captivity for three years, they protected themselves and their men in the hiding places of the forests, deprived of the comforts of men, like wild animals. In the Year 1115. Meanwhile, Emperor Henry, incapable of imposing moderation on his own insolence, violently harassed all the princes of Saxony with a previously unheard-of tax imposed on everyone. Thus, after he had captured Bishop Reinhard of Halberstadt, the count-palatine of Sommerschenburg, Frederick of Arnsberg, and Rudolf of the Nordmark, he deprived each of his dignities and replaced them with others favourable to him. Like-minded men, roused by this injury, united together with Duke Lothar of Saxony, the younger Wiprecht and his brother Henry, and others equally injured by the emperor. They held many small gatherings at the same time. Finally, crowded together next to Creuzburg, they confirmed by an oath the pact they had undertaken. Setting out from there, they built the castle called Walbeck to injure the king; from it, they harassed Count Hoier by every means. The younger Wiprecht, concealing himself in a hiding place of the forest next to Gundorf, relieved his own need by frequently attacking his adversaries. Then, in the month of November, the falling leaves illuminated the forests’ shadows. Judging that the forests’ hiding places would not be at all safe for him any longer, he sent a representative to Adelgot, his cousin, then archbishop [of Magdeburg]. Wiprecht requested that Adelgot allow him to spend the winter in some fortress under his authority together with his wife Kunigunde and a few milites, for under the open sky winter would not permit him to be hidden. The bishop, feeling sympathy for his need, sent a noble man by the name of Adalbert and arranged for Wiprecht, together with his wife, a certain Suidger, another Brun, and five of his ministerials, to be put up in a town beyond the Elbe called Loburg. The prefect of this town, by the name of Přibron, was still for the most part a pagan, because beyond the Elbe in those times it was rare for a Christian to be found. As soon as this fact became known to the emperor, he summoned the archbishop to the court announced at Goslar. The archbishop did not know that he would be treated deceitfully, contrary to his own interests. [The younger] Wiprecht sent a representative from among his own men with the archbishop to court, so that if anything should be done there concerning him, he might find out through his agent. And when it was then late in the evening on the next day after that, the emperor was ready to sit with a crowd of princes and to deal with the state of the res publica. A certain familiar of the archbishop was secretly forewarned by his own nephew, who was in the king's service, that the archbishop would be surrounded by the king’s deceptions, and not only would he be deposed the next day but he would even be captured with all his men. Having learned these things, that man brought them to the attention of his lord. Without any delay, in the darkness of that very night, with his enemies unaware and horses swiftly mounted, the archbishop fled to Magdeburg with his men before midnight. Come morning, the king learned of it and bore gravely the contempt of royal majesty. Therefore, he lodged an accusation about this before the princes, by whose favour the king’s audacity was fed, and the absent archbishop was deposed. On the spot, it was also decreed that punishment be carried out against the Saxons, as men in contempt of the res publica. An expedition was announced to all his men for forty days hence, namely for the fourth Ides of February [February 10]. Meanwhile they united the king’s army at Wallhausen, while the Saxons on the other hand struggled against him to the best of their abilities. Arriving at the appointed time and at a place called Welfesholz, the battle was put off until the next day on account of the harshness of the winter and the inconvenience of the snows there. Night passed. At the time of the first rising of the dawn, during the solemnities of the Mass, Bishop Reinhard [of Halberstadt] made a speech to the people, warning them to beg for divine clemency and sufficiently assuring them that God would never be absent from those invoking his mercy in truth. After the solemnities of the Mass were completed, they steadfastly awaited the king's arrival and manfully exhorted themselves to the defence of liberty and the fatherland. Arriving, the emperor arranged his battle lines. Hoier was placed in the first group with his men. Then, ahead of everyone, he moved a little away from his men with a certain Lutolf and, adding vainglory to audacity, leaped alone from his horse and ran headlong against the Saxons, wielding his unsheathed sword in his hand. The younger Wiprecht, accompanied by two most excellent men, the brothers Conrad and Herman, approached Hoier without delay and with a strong effort hurled a spear into his chest. Lutolf immediately extracted the spear, and Hoier, roused, attacked Wiprecht with his sword; but Wiprecht's shield protected him, and the blow was brought to naught. Immediately, Wiprecht knocked Hoier down, bouncing his sword off the centre of his head. As Hoier struggled to rise, he was left exposed at the edge of his coat of mail, and Wiprecht pierced him through with his sword. Consequently, a war cry was offered up, and the wedges of both sides' armies joined together in battle. The Saxons acted manfully for themselves and their fatherland. They approached their enemies—who were struggling without hope or fear, like sheep—with such fury that twenty or thirty died from one of the Saxons. The battle was fought all day; intervening night broke it off. And so, vanquished, the king was put to flight by the Saxons, who held out all night in that same place in dread of ambush. When the victors learned the next day that the king had fled to Bavaria, they returned home. In the Year 1116. A monastery, called Neuwerk, was founded at Halle by the venerable Archbishop Adelgot of Magdeburg. Count Erwin was made a monk. In the city of Mainz, when the citizens assembled together with Arnold, the count of the same city, the king was compelled to release [Arch]bishop Adalbert of Mainz from chains. In the Year 1117.
The younger Wiprecht earnestly asked Dedo of Krosigk,1 who sympathized with his misery, to receive him with his men into some fortress of his. But Dedo declared himself wary of the insolence of Wiprecht’s milites, so Wiprecht urged that at least a churchyard be granted to him. Dedo agreed, and after everyone in the vicinity gathered an abundance of trees and stones for him, Wiprecht built a secure refuge for himself and his men within fourteen days. And after he had violently attacked everything all around, he divided it all among his milites in benefice. Then, almost nine weeks having passed, he occupied the town of Devin through ambushes, and he plundered such a great abundance of gold and silver, clothes, horses and other things that each of his milites relieved his poverty in that place. Accordingly, having gained control of this town, he subjugated twenty-four castles around it in a short time. Then, with Archbishop Adelgot of Magdeburg bringing help and Margravine Gertrude (that is, the mother of Queen Richinza) assisting, he besieged and obtained Groitzsch with 2,000 milites. Archbishop Adelgot, together with the bishop of Halberstadt and Count-palatine Frederick, with Wiprecht too and Ludwig [of Thuringia], surrounded Naumburg by siege and laid waste to a large part of the adjacent province of Thuringia. And because the army was running to and fro all around to plunder fodder, Henry, nicknamed 'Big Head,' inflicted many misfortunes on them through ambushes. For this reason, Wiprecht and Ludwig with other of the more noble men decided to take care of plundering fodder themselves, in order to be able to lay an ambush for that man. They encountered him, and after following the fleeing man into the castle of Arnsburg, they captured him and led him to the archbishop and the others princes. Having heard this, the townsmen handed over Naumburg. Also, when the emperor learned these things, he was finally compelled then to release from captivity the elder Wiprecht and Ludwig, as well as Burchard of Meissen, in return for the release of Henry 'Big Head.' Dismissed, therefore, [the elder] Wiprecht returned to Groitzsch. But he was kept at a distance from it by the townsmen until the emperor, having sent a legate, ordered that it be restored to him. From there, [the elder] Wiprecht fell upon Leisnig with an army. But the garrison resisted him; after he had spent much labour and much time, he finally obtained it and expelled the townsmen. At the same time, he received in benefice from Archbishop Adelgot of Magdeburg a prefecture endowed with 1,000 shields and 500 talents. Therefore, with everything of his restored, he proceeded to the court announced for Worms and rendered thanks to the emperor for the recovery of his possessions. And, having promised 2,000 talents, he begged that the emperor might distinguish him with the Lusatian march. The emperor reckoned it would be safe for him to admit a man of such great strength to the company of his familiars by means of such a benefice; so he distinguished Wiprecht with the dignity he desired. And thereafter, among the rest of the princes, the emperor considered him equal both in honour and in familiarity. But before he granted Wiprecht permission to return home, the emperor presented him with an ecclesiastical cloak, dalmatic and tunic, all quite seemly; the bishop of Münster, Burchard 'the Red,' had offered these vestments to the emperor. Thus, with prosperity following him, Wiprecht returned to his own lands, distinguished by royal largesse.