The Saxon Wars: prologue

In the last post we looked at Saxon society, insofar as a non-written culture can be explored. In this post I’ll examine relations between Saxons and Franks. For reasons both cultural and geographic, there was always friction between the two peoples, and the historical record is filled with skirmishes. But don’t forget that war is always more interesting than peace, and stories about goodwill between Saxon and Frank weren’t recorded. Nonetheless it does become apparent that there was no love lost across the Rhine.

The Liber Historiae Francorum (the anonymous Book of the Franks) recounts a Saxon “rebellion” in 555, and the Merovingian King Chlotar’s subsequent expedition to levy Frankish punishment. What is not clear is what the Saxons were rebelling against. About fifteen years later “King Chilperic went with his brother with an army against the Saxons…” Around the year 623 the Saxon Bertoald and King Dagobert I of Austrasia fought to a standstill, until Dagobert’s father arrived with another army which tipped the scales. The king then “devastated the entire land of the Saxons and killed their people. He did not leave alive there any man who stood taller than his sword which is called a long sword.”1.Liber Historiae Francorum, trans. Bachrach, pp. 69, 78, 97-99.

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Liber Historiae Francorum, trans. Bachrach, pp. 69, 78, 97-99.