In the spring of 772 Charlemagne held the yearly gathering of the great in the town of Worms, on the Rhine river. From there he gathered an army and traveled north, to the Saxon fortress of Eresburg. After taking the fortress he pushed deeper into Saxon territory. He must have had good intelligence or local guides, for he “came to the Irminsul, destroying that sanctuary and carrying off the gold and silver which he found there.”1.RFA, year 772. The Annals, as always so terse, have little else to say about a skirmish that kicked off a war that would last more than thirty years.
What was it that Charlemagne had done? It is difficult to say, exactly. Irminsul is a Germanic word that roughly translates as “large pillar.” Other uses of the word over the centuries indicate a pillar or column, made of stone or wood. In and of itself a trifle, but this Irminsul had great spiritual meaning.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↑||RFA, year 772.|