Widukind - Life

Life

Very little is known about Widukind's life. All sources about him stem from his enemies, the Franks, who painted a negative picture of Widukind, calling him an "insurgent" and a "traitor". He was mentioned first in 777, when he was the only one of the Saxon nobles not to appear at Charlemagne's court in Paderborn. Instead, he stayed with the Danish king Siegfried (possibly Sigurd Ring).

In 778, Widukind led battles against the Franks, while Charlemagne was busy in Spain. From 782 through 784, annual battles between Saxons and Franks occurred. While Widukind was considered the leader of the Saxon resistance by the Franks, his exact role in the military campaigns is unknown. Even though Widukind allied himself with the Frisians, Charlemagne's winter attacks of 784/785 were successful, and Widukind and his allies were pushed back beyond the River Elbe.

In the Bardengau in 785, Widukind agreed to surrender in return for a guarantee that no bodily harm would be done to him. Widukind and his allies were then baptized in Attigny in 785, with Charlemagne as his godfather.

There are no sources about Widukind's life or death after his baptism. It is assumed that he was imprisoned at a monastery — a fate that happened to other rulers deposed by Charlemagne. Reichenau Abbey has been identified as a likely location where Widukind may have spent the rest of his life. Alternatively, Widukind may have received a position in the administration of occupied Saxony.

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