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The Deeds of Wiprecht


In the year of the Lord 1101. At that time, strict observance of the Rule, which laudably had begun spreading everywhere then after the custom of Hirsau, was flourishing at Corvey, a royal abbey, above all other Saxon monasteries. There, the lord Abbot Markward, a man worthy of veneration and remembrance, presided at that time. Arriving there, the lord Wiprecht laid bare to him, in sequence, all the things afflicting his mind: namely that the condition and piety of his monastery had thus far advanced less than he had hoped toward an improvement of the Rule’s observance. But the sole reason for this was the fact that, for such a great work to be begun, he did not have suitable partners in the plan. Therefore, whatever seemed best to the abbot’s prudence, Wiprecht promised himself ready to do. He promised himself wholly ready to earn it by the abundance of his compliance, if Markward would appoint from the community of that holy congregation [i.e., Corvey] whomever he judged likely to be advantageous to Pegau—with several companions in this labour alongside him. Thereupon he promised himself ready to furnish from his own estates everything needed for their use, if this alone might satisfy his request. The abbot, steadfast in piety and justice, received gladly Wiprecht’s request and desire in Christ; he asked for the advice and will of the whole community about this matter. With everyone agreeing with him on it—and in order not to disappoint such a great man in so pious a vow—that venerable monk lord Windolf was judged with their unanimous consent to be suitable and likely to be advantageous for this work. And not without merit. For, on account of his continence of life and attention to piety, he was at that time head of a certain cell belonging to the same monastery (whose heads are called priors), where he had energetically presided over the brothers entrusted to him. Previously, it is reported, he had been in charge of the students and had laudably become renowned for his knowledge of letters [i.e., at Corvey]. He had also held a canonry in the priory called Heiligenstadt. But having set it aside for Christ, conquered by the love of piety, he was received at Corvey. Therefore, since he laid the foundation for perfection from the beginning, no one doubted that he would become perfect later, advancing himself day to day by developing virtues. Concerning the rest, however, for those wanting to know, it will be set forth more clearly with light and by certain tests. Therefore, the lord Windolf was promoted as abbot, and other brothers joined with him for the easing of this great labour. And he was endowed with many necessities
. In addition, the lord Abbot Markward gave him relics of Saint Vitus the Martyr and of other saints. Bidding farewell to everyone, he dismissed them, having faithfully entrusted Windolf to the safe-keeping of the lord Wiprecht. Since not a small disagreement had arisen between royal power (regnum) and the power of the priesthood (sacerdotium) at that time, such that none of the priests of that province deigned to communicate with Emperor Henry [IV], the lord Wiprecht brought his abbot with him to Archbishop Ruothard of Mainz, who was then at Erfurt, and arranged for Windolf to be elevated by the pastoral benediction through him. At the same time on the same day an abbot of that town by the name of Burchard was consecrated with him. Afterwards, having returned home with Abbot Windolf, the lord Wiprecht handed his monastery over to Windolf’s safe-keeping, so that, in that place, he might care for his own soul to Wiprecht's advantage in all things. Windolf received the place—however undeveloped, unformed and uncultivated it had been up to this time—under his care. He was nevertheless very sure that God especially would be his partner. Like some very skilled carver of a seal, assessing the timidity of his predecessor on the basis of the very poor start to all the workshops, he consigned the previous buildings to oblivion and began to construct better ones. By the industry of his own labour and also supported through everything by the generosity of the lord Wiprecht, he brought them to perfection. Indeed, having inspected the place, Windolf had unformed and marshy places levelled and the filth from briars and other squalor eradicated. He enlarged and increased everything. And in the church commended to him—again, like on a seal—he wisely carved out an image of perfect elegance that bears witness to the accomplishment of its maker still today.
The lord Wiprecht, inspecting and attentively approving Windolf's industry and his attentiveness in the place commended to him, was a most generous partner with him in all things. He charged all his men with what most had to be done.
In the year of the Lord 1104. After this, the lord Wiprecht had certain uncultivated land in the diocese of Merseburg ploughed. Then, going to the regions of Franconia he transferred from there very many peasants of that province. He ordered them to cultivate the aforesaid district, having completely uprooted the forest, and to possess it thereafter by hereditary right. And (if we might insert something ridiculous) anyone of them, accompanied by his small household, could even name after his own name the village or the property planted by his own labour. Therefore, when a great many villages had been established between the rivers Mulde and Wyhra, the lord Wiprecht was not yet weary of his most devout intention. But in tireless labour, striving after a work of piety, he founded another monastery on the aforesaid uncultivated land in the village, namely, of Lausick. Desiring that a cell suitable for at least six brothers be created there, he arranged for this place to be the parish church of all the neighbouring villages, and he wanted it to be subject to the monastery of Pegau. Because he was not able to accomplish this—nor should he have been—without the consent or permission of the lord Albuin and the entire clergy of Merseburg, he himself went with a humble petition to address their will concerning this. These men, great in respect to piety and devotion, rightly granted the things he asked for and desired. They decided that the things they had conceded ought to be made unalterable by the authority of the whole church; they agreed that the bishop should grant a privilege concerning the tithes of all the villages pertaining to that parish church and also of others lying in the burgward of Groitzsch, below the Wyhra and Schnauder rivers.
In the year of the Lord 1106. The lord count Wiprecht saw to the favourable conditions of his monastery not only in the present but also into the future. On the advice of the lord abbot Windolf and the rest of those most loyal to him, he decreed that he was transferring that place over to the right or power of the apostolic see in perpetuity, so that it would not come to be harassed by the lordship of any secular person in the future.