Wichmann the Younger

Wichmann "the Younger" was a Saxon rebel active from 953 to roughly 967, known to us primarily from Widukind of Corvey's Deeds of the Saxons.  The Deeds, though mainly an account of the reigns of the Saxon kings Henry I and Otto I, increasingly focuses on Wichmann as a secondary protagonist in the second half of its third and final book.  The stories told of Wichmann there are important for the range of individuals, peoples, and places he encounters along and across the Elbe frontier:  from the Abodrites and Wagrians to the kings of the Danes and the Poles and to Gero and Hermann Billung, leading Saxon nobles.  For this reason, Wichmann stands among the more interesting and useful figures through which to investigate and understand the transelbian region in the mid-tenth century.

We here present both a translation of Widukind's account of Wichmann's activities, together with commentary, and a collection of other texts referencing him.  These are available at left.

Many of the details of Wichmann's life and rebellions against Otto the Great are unknown or uncertain.  This results in part from confusing aspects of Widukind's text, which often jumps geographically or chronologically without explanation.  At times it seems to be a composite, interlacing Wichmann's deeds with other other stories about the Slavic frontier.  Widukind may have been drawing upon written texts no longer extant or from oral reports circulating among contemporaries in Germany.  We do not claim to have definitively answered questions regarding composition and chronology, actual events and distorted reporting; rather, we offer suggestions and pose questions we think vital to raise.

In the future, we hope to provide information concerning the many individuals mentioned in connection with Wichmann.