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III.19. However, the king’s maternal cousin, Ekbert, since he was held as a hostage inside the burg, corrupted by persuasive words, became hostile to the king—since Ekbert was also enraged at him before, because he was castigated for a heedless battle where he had lost his eye.
III.23. With the king campaigning against Mainz, dux Hermann was administering Saxony. Since a new army from Saxony was supposed to be sent to reinforce the old, Thiadric and Wichmann the Younger were put in charge of it. Reaching the borders of the Franks, surrounded suddenly by Liudolf and dux Conrad, they were forced into a certain deserted fortress. When they [Liudolf and Conrad] advanced to storm it, their standardbearer lost an arm in front of the gate by a thrown wheel. With this, the battle was ended, and a truce of three days was granted for their return to Saxony.
III.24. Thiadric was tempted by Liudolf with great promises, but Wichmann was completely corrupted. From then on, he began to castigate his paternal uncle [Hermann], to declare him a thief of paternal inheritance, and to call him a plunderer of his treasures. However, [Hermann] was in no way ignorant of this plan; it is difficult to describe at all the wisdom and prudence with which he was guarding against his kinsmen and manifest enemies.
III.25. So: Ekbert is joined to Wichmann, and with the same purpose they rise up against the dux and give him no leisure for rest. But he, breaking the fury of the youths by noble patience, guards against the growth of any disturbance in those parts during the king’s absence.
III.29. With Hermann and his nephews laying their cases before the king, everyone just and firm1 praised the judgment of the dux, judging that the adolescents should be chastised. But the loving king spared them, placing Wichmann under military guard only within the palace.
III.50. Therefore, as we related above, since Wichmann failed to provide a justification against his paternal uncle, he was under guard within the palace. When the king wished to depart for Bavaria, he [Wichmann] refused the journey by feigning illness. The emperor then reminded him that, his father and mother gone, he had taken him in as a son and educated him liberally and promoted him to his father’s honor; he asked that he not cause him trouble, since he was burdened with many other things. Hearing nothing useful in reply to this, the emperor left, having entrusted him to count Ibo. After spending a considerable number of days with him, Wichmann asked permission to go into the forest for the sake of hunting. Secretly taking companions with him there, he returned to his fatherland and, having occupied some burgs and with Ekbert 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.
III.51. The dux led an army led and they were discovered in the burg called ‘Suithleiscranne’. And it almost came about that they were captured with the burg, except they were being roused by someone’s shouting and were leaping to arms. However, almost forty armed men killed before the gate of the burg. Dux Hermann departed, having obtained the spoils of those he killed. Those who were assisting him were the praeses Henry with his brother Siegfried, eminent and strong men, the best in the army and at home. These things were done at the beginning of Lent.
III.52. After the next Easter, the barbarians rushed into the region, with Wichmann only as dux in this crime, not in command. But, acting with no delay, dux Hermann himself also arrived with a military garrison. Seeing the serious army of the enemy and the very few that might arrive for battle with civil war looming, he judged more deliberately to put off battle in this doubtful state of affairs. So he ordered the crowd—which, extremely large, had flocked together in one burg while they despaired of the rest—to be calling urgently for peace by whatever agreement they were able to achieve. The soldiers took that advice most reluctantly, however, most of all Siegfried, who was the fiercest warrior. The citizens of the Cocarescemi, however, did as the dux had ordered: they obtained peace with the agreement that the free men with their wives and children would climb up onto the wall unarmed, with the servile condition and every possession left in the center of the burg for the enemy. When the barbarians were rushing into the fortress, one of them recognized his slave in the wife of a certain freeman; while trying to snatch her from the man’s hand, he received a blow of the fist and proclaimed the agreement violated by the Saxons. Thus it came about that all were turned to slaughter and they left no one behind; rather, they were giving to slaughter2 all those of adult age and leading away the mothers with their children as captives.
III.53. The emperor, eager to avenge this wickedness—and with a victory over the Hungarians now accomplished—hostilely entered the lands of the barbarians. Having deliberated regarding the Saxons who had conspired with the Slavs, it was the sentence that Wichmann and Ekbert needed to be considered public enemies but the rest should be spared, insofar as they had wished to return to their people. A legation of the barbarians then arrived, announcing: that, as allies, they wished to pay tribute according to custom and wished moreover to hold dominatio of the region; and that they wished for peace as a result of this agreement, but otherwise they would contend with arms for freedom. The emperor responded to this: indeed he by no means refused them peace, but was not able to give it of any sort, unless they purged with fitting honor and amends the injury committed. Both burning and laying waste to everything, he led an army through those regions, until finally, having pitched camp on the Raxa river, most difficult to cross on account of the swamps, it [the army] was surrounded by enemies. From the rear the road was obstructed by a stronghold of trees, and the same road was fortified by a band of armed men. From the other side, the river and the swamp bordering the river, and the Slav and a huge army were blocking the warriors both from their task and from passing. The army was also vexed by other annoyances, sickness together with hunger. While this was going on for many days, Count Gero was sent to the princeps of the barbarians, who was called Stoinef, so that he might surrender to the emperor and thereby be about to attain a friend, not experience an enemy.
III.54. Indeed in Gero there were many good qualities:3 expertise in war, good counsel in civil matters, enough eloquence, much knowledge; he was someone who showed his prudence in deed as much as in word, energy in acquiring and generosity in giving, and—what is best—good zeal in divine worship. Therefore the praeses was greeting the barbarian beyond the swamp and the river to which the swamp was adjacent. The Slav responded to him with comparable words. To him the praeses said: “it should be enough for you, that you make war against one of us, one of the servants of my lord, but not also against my lord the king. What army do you have, what arms, that you presume so much? If there is any strength among you, or skills, or daring, give us a place to cross over to you, or vice versa, and let the valor of the fighter be visible on equal ground.” The Slav, gnashing his teeth in a barbarian manner and vomiting forth much scorn, laughed at Gero and the emperor and the whole army, knowing him to be aggravated by many troubles. Gero was provoked by this, as his spirit was very fiery. “Tomorrow,” he said, “day will prove whether you and your people are strong enough in force or not. Tomorrow without a doubt you will see us contending with you.” (Gero, although once considered renowned by many distinguished deeds, was now however proclaimed everywhere as great and celebrated because he had captured with great glory the Slavs who are called the Uchri.) Thereupon Gero, having returned to camp, reported what he had heard. The emperor, rising in the night, ordered the arrows and other machines summoned to battle, as if he wished to traverse the river and swamp by force. The Slavs, weighing nothing other than the threat of the previous day, prepared likewise for battle, defending the path with all their strength. But Gero, with his friends the Ruani, descending fully one mile from the camp, without the enemy knowing, quickly constructed three bridges and, with a messenger sent to the emperor, summoned the whole army. Once this was seen, the barbarians and they met in battle with their troops. The foot soldiers of the barbarians, because they ran the longer way, entered the battle dissipated by exhaustion and so fell more quickly to the soldiers; without delay, while they sought the aid of flight and were cut down.
III.55. But Stoinef, with horsemen, was waiting on the event’s outcome on a prominent hill. Seeing his comrades enter into flight, he himself fled too. Discovered by a military man whose name was Hosed, in a certain grove with two followers, wearied by battle and stripped of arms,4 he was beheaded. Another of his followers, captured alive, was presented to the emperor by the same soldier, together with the head and spoils of the regulus. Because of this, Hosed was considered renowned and distinguished; the reward for such a celebrated deed was an imperial gift with the revenue of twenty estates. On the same day, with the camp of the enemy invaded and many mortales killed or captured, the slaughter was drawn out well into the night. At next light, the head of the subregulus was placed in a field and around that seven hundred of the captives, beheaded; his counselor, eyes put out and stripped of his tongue, was left helpless in the midst of the corpses. Wichmann and Ekbert, aware of their wickednesses, having left for Gaul, escaped in flight to dux Hugh.
III.59. At the same time, knowing that Saxony was empty of warriors, having come secretly from Gaul, Wichmann entered Saxony, revisited his marital house, and from there immersed himself again among the foreigners. Ekbert however was received into [the emperor’s] grace through the intervention of the great bishop, Brun [of Cologne].
III.60. An army led against Wichmann for a third time barely brought it about that he was accepted into the faith of Gero and his son. They then brought it about before the emperor that he might enjoy, with imperial grace, his fatherland and the patrimony of his wife. Unbidden, he surrendered up a terrible oath: that he would never do anything hostile, in counsel or deed, against the emperor or the emperor’s kingdom. Thus, with faith given, he was dismissed in peace, and encouraged by good promises from the emperor.
III.64. Wichmann, given to his fatherland, contained himself calmly as long as he expected the arrival of the emperor. Since however his return was put off, [Wichmann] removed himself to northern parts, as if about to invent from scratch a war with Harald, king of the Danes. But that one [Harald] commanded him: if he were to have killed the dux or any other of the principes, he would know that he wished to ally with him without trickery, otherwise he would not doubt him to have done the thing deceitfully. Meanwhile his robberies were revealed by a passing merchant and some of his comrades, arrested and condemned by the dux as if acting against the res publica, lost their lives by hanging. [Wichmann] himself, however, barely escaped with his brother.
III.66. Therefore Count Gero, not unmindful of the oath, since he had seen Wichmann be accused and had recognized his guilt, restored him to the barbarians from whom he had received him. Received by them gladly, he ground down with frequent battles the barbarians living further away. He twice overcame king Mieszko, in whose power were the Slavs who are called Licicaviki and killed his brother, and wrenched great booty from him.
III.68. There were two subreguli under dux Hermann, who inherited mutual enmity from their fathers; one was called Selibur, the other Mistav. Selibur was ruling the Wagrians, Mistav the Abodrites. While they accused each other equally often, Selibur, finally conquered by reason, was condemned by the dux for fifteen talents of silver. Taking this condemnation badly, he thought about taking up arms against the dux. But since his forces were not sufficient for war, he sent a legation sent and requested aid from Wichmann against the dux. He [Wichmann], considering nothing more pleasant than if he might be able to inflict some trouble on his uncle, quickly went to the Slav with comrades. However, just as Wichmann was received into the burg, the burg was immediately surrounded by the enemy in a siege. An army led by the dux also besieged the burg. Meanwhile, I do not know whether by chance or prudent counsel, Wichmann left the burg with a few men, as if for the purpose of extracting aid for himself from the Danes. A few days passed, and meanwhile the provisions for the warriors and the fodder for the animals had run out. There were also those who were saying that the Slav had in fact carried out a pretense of war, not a true war. It was unbelievable to every sort of person that a man accustomed to war5 from boyhood would have prepared so badly for warlike matters; but [they said that] the dux devised a plan, so that he might be able to conquer his nephew by some agreement, so that he might at least restore him to safety in his fatherland, rather than for him to have perished inwardly among the pagans. And so the burgers, weighed down by hunger and the stench of cattle, were forced to leave the burg. The dux, addressing the Slav sharply, accused him of treachery and being wretched in his actions, and received from him this in response: “Why do you accuse me of treachery?” he said; “Look, where neither you nor your lord emperor were able to conquer, they stand unarmed because of my treachery.” At this the dux was silent, depriving him of the region of his authority and handing all his power over to his son, whom he had earlier accepted as a hostage. He punished Wichmann’s soldiers with various penalties, and granted the booty of the burg to his own soldiers. The image of Saturn cast from bronze, which he had found there among the other spoils of the burg, he displayed as a great spectacle for the people. And he returned a victor to his fatherland.
III.69. Hearing that the burg had been captured and his comrades punished, Wichmann turned toward the east, again immersed himself among the pagans, and spent time with the Slavs who are called Vuloini.6 How they had been provoking the emperor’s friend Mieszko to war, that was by no means hidden from him. He [Mieszko] sent to Boleslav, king of the Bohemians—for he was his son-in-law—and recieved from him two units of cavalry. When Wichmann had led an army against him, he first sent in foot soldiers against him. And when, by order of the dux, they were gradually fleeing before Wichmann, he was drawn further from his encampment; then, with the cavalry having been sent in from the rear, [Mieszko] gave those fleeing a sign to reverse against the enemy. Since he was being pressed from the rear and the front, Wichmann attempted to enter into flight. But he was accused of wickedness by his comrades, because he himself had urged them to the fight, and then, trusting his horse,7 he easily entered into flight, when it became necessary. Thus compelled, he gave up his horse, entered the battle with his comrades on foot and, fighting courageously that day, was defended by [his] arms. But now exhausted with hunger and the long way, on which he fought armed through the whole night, in the early morning, with just a few men, he entered the place of a certain man. When leading men of the enemy discovered him, they recognized from his arms that he might be a distinguished man. Asked by them who he might be, he acknowledged himself to be Wichmann. They encouraged him to lay down his arms. Next they gave their faith that he would be presented safe to their lord and that, at his place, he would bring it about that he would restore him uninjured to the emperor. He, though he might be situated in his final need, was not unmindful of his former nobility and strength and disdained to give his hand to such men. But he nevertheless asked that they relate this to Mieszko from him: that he wished to lay down his arms to him, that he wished to give him his hand. While they were going to Mieszko, an innumerable crowd surrounded him and assailed him violently. But, although exhausted, having vanquished many of them, nevertheless he grasped his sword and gave it, with these words, to one of the enemy more capable: “Take,” he said, “this sword and bring it to your lord, so that he may hold it as a sign of victory and send word to his friend the emperor, so that he [the emperor] might know for sure to mock a dead enemy or lament a dead kinsman.” Having said these words, turned toward the east, insofar as he was able, he prayed to the Lord in the speech of his fatherland and poured out his soul, replete with many miseries and troubles, to the mercy of the Creator of all things. This was the end for Wichmann, and so it might be for all those who took up arms against your father the emperor.