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Old June 10th, 2015, 12:11 PM   #1
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The Wends/Vinds or Vandals - land and sea raiders who were raiding Vikings


There are so many people here on the forum who have heard about Vikings and are fascinated by their exploits but only few who knows that on their backyard those brave Scandinavian sea raiders were harrased by .... slavic vikings So this is lecture for those who has never heard about Wends.

Quote:
In the book The Viking Art Of War (Chapter 'The Vikings and their neighbours), Paddy Griffith writes:
"To the south-east of Denmark lay the Wends (Vends) or the Slav tribes, who were in many ways just as effective raiders and traders as the Vikings themselves".
"The Slavs were always under threat of attack from the Vikings as well as the Franks."
"They also gave as good as they got , in military terms, sacking Hedeby in 1000 and harrying Denmark, Gotland , Oland and southern Sweden to such an extent that the Western Baltic was sometimes called Mare Rugianorum after the Slavic pirates of Rugen.
The prevalence of treasure-hoarding in southern Sweden during the 1000s has led modern archeologists to believe that the threat was indeed a very serious one, and the Icelandic sagas themselves often seem to assume that "Vikings" in the purely piratical sense were almost as likely to be Wends (Vends) as Scandinavians.
All the western slavic tribes were on the begining called Wends, Vinds or even Vandals because lived on the territories on which earlier lived germanic tribe Vandals (however there are theories that Vandals were not germanic but proto-slavic tribes).
Before the 10th century part of them formed new european states and early nations of Bohemians and Poles what was the effect of christianisation of their rulers while the rest which was living between the rivers Elbe/Łaba and Oder/Odra remained pagan until their final conquest by all their neighbours: Germans, Danes and Poles.
For many centuries the wendish tribes were able to scucesfuly resist all the attempts of conquests and christianisation attempted by neighbouring states until the 13th century when their own civil wars made them unable to defend themselves anymore.

The Wends were eager raiders who were the nightmare to all their neighbours especially to Germans and Scandinavians, to less extent to the Poles with whom the shared both language, customs and for long also the same religion. They were also making alliances with all their enemies against other enemies (with Germans against Poles, with Danes against Germans, with Poles against Germans, with Poles against Czechs, with Czechs against Poles, with Czechs against Germans).

Their tribes were sometimes forming federations and confederations which acted together but usually when one of the tribes was winning dominating position in their federation the rest was revolting against it and this what could have ended in the formation of new state and new european nation was ending in bloody civil war.

It looks like that Wends were neglecting agriculture and because of that were forced to raid their neighbours both on land and on the sea for plunder. In fact they have dominated baltic sea and their wendish long boats were looking for the Scandinavian vikings returning home with boats full of loots and slaves. If it wasnt enough they were also raiding Denmark and Sweden to such extent that many areas on the scandinavian shores were completelly depopulated. For long time the whole baltic sea was called Wendish Sea or Rugian Sea (Mare Rugianorum) after pirate slavic tribe of Rugii who lived on the island Rugen.
For the Wends the good leader was a such who was sucesfuly plundering other countries. Chronicler Saxo Grammaticus complained about Wendish pirates raiding Denmark and for long time to the Danes the good king was a such who could have defend the country from Wendish raids.
When the Wends couldnt find better loot they were taking prisoners into slavery and selling such slaves on their own but also foreign markets (eg. Truso, Hedeby, Birka).

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truso"]Truso - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedeby"]Hedeby - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birka"]Birka - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]


Their raids were never attempting to conquer raided territory but only to plunder and also often to completelly destroy it. They were burning fields, ruining buildings and especially christian churches.

They were also sucesfull in raiding Saxony and other German states. In the 11th century they have raided and completelly destroyed the biggest scandinavian trading center - Hedeby in Jutland.

Their main cities and centers of pagan religion were Arkona and Rethra.

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rethra"]Rethra - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaromarsburg"]Jaromarsburg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

For long time they caused fear all around them and the vikings were for them nothing else but the source of loot and slaves.

In the half of 10th century Danish king Harald Bluetooth married Wendish princess what allowed him to make strong alliance with the Wends. New archeologic research proved that even half of his Vikings were actually Wends and Poles.

Here is an article of Aarhus University:

Harold Bluetooth?s Vikings were Polish mercenaries

This new Danish-Slavic alliance resulted in raising the army which invaded Germany and for few years roamed unchallenged on German territories until was defeated. The Wends escaped to their forests while Danes to Jutland, however the Germans followed Danes, obliterated their country and forced to pay tribute.

Even in icelandic saga's there are many mentions about Wends and Wendish vikings, for example:

King Svein made a magnificent feast, to which he invited all the chiefs in his dominions; for he would give the succession-feast,or the heirship-ale, after his father Harald....(..)...The Jomsborg vikings came to the festival with their bravest men, forty ships of them from Vindland, and twenty ships from Skane."

What means that according to scandinavian source - "Jomsviking saga" from the 60 ships on which came Jomsvikings 40 were Wendish and only 20 scandinavian!

Last edited by Mosquito; June 10th, 2015 at 12:56 PM.
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Old June 10th, 2015, 02:16 PM   #2

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I believe the islands of Lolland and Zealand were especially targeted.
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Old June 10th, 2015, 03:31 PM   #3
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One of the greatest and most successful enemies of Wends was markgrave Gero of the German empire. He became markgrave of Merserburg which became known as
Marca Geronis ("march of Gero"),the biggest march in empire. Being not able to defeat Wends when they were united, he invited 30 their chieftains to a banquet where he has poisoned all of them except one who managed to escape. After that when between the Wends was a struggle for power he defeated them. In next years he was also able to divide them and fight against some of them with others as his allies weakening greatly all wendish tribes and enlarging his own mark at the expense of Wends. Finaly he has also defeated Polish ruler Mieszko (who was that time still pagan) and forced him to pay tribute from his lands west of Warta river. Because of his succeses against Wends he became one of the most important people in the German empire. But after his death the emperor divided his march on 5 smaller and weaker what allowed many subjected Wendish tribes to raise again and free themselves from Germans. Gero died from wounds in 965 AD.

On the picture markgrave Gero:

Click the image to open in full size.

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Old June 11th, 2015, 02:19 AM   #4

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The situation changed drastically when the Scandinavian countries became Christian and the Wends stayed pagan. From then on there was a constant interest in crusades, especially by the Danish kings, in the Wendish lands. These are describes in some detail in the work of contemporary Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus called Gesta Danorum (The deeds of the Danes).

About 1135 Eric II of Denmark invaded the island of Rügen and captured the capital fortress of Arkona, forcing the Wend inhabitants to convert to christianity. However, unsurprisingly, as soon as Eric left with his invading force, the Wends renounced their conversion.

Rather than prevent further crusades this actually sealed the fate of the Wends, because they then technically became apostates, which allowed Christian nations to unrelentlessly use all means to regain the lost flock.

The following decades Danish kings kept up the raids against the Wends, eventually turning the raids into conquests and in 1168 or 1169 Valdemar the First of Denmark conqured Rügen and Arkona once more. The warriorbishop Absalon who followed Valdemar on his conquest ordered the wooden statue of the fourheaded Wendish god Svantevit to be burned (this event was depicted in a wellknown Danish historical painting from the 1880s):

Click the image to open in full size.

The following decades the remainder of the Wendish territories were conquered by Denmark, again allowing the Danish king Canute VI to employ a great number of Wends in his forces when he extended his conquests towards the Baltic terrorities of the Prussians and Estonians.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old June 11th, 2015, 02:44 AM   #5

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Falster is another island where, if I recall, they found traces of Wendish settlements - primarily based upon the names of the communities.

https://books.google.com/books?id=Um...hl=en&sa=X&ved
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Old June 11th, 2015, 02:46 AM   #6
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However inspite of being christianised and conquered the Wends practiced piracy on large scale to the end of 14th century and their main victims were hanseatic ships. The duke of Mecklenburg was officially accused for supporting piracy. Mecklenburg that time was part of the German empire but its dukes were of Slavic-Wendish descent as well as the people living there. The founder of ruling dynasty was Nyklot, wendish prince whose descendants were christians and were germanised but still supported piracy in his state. He was coming from the Obodrite tribe and his descendants were ruling Mecklenburg till 1918!

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niklot"]Niklot - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

"After the death of the Obodrite prince Henry, a Christian, Niklot renounced Christianity in support of the traditional pagan beliefs. Niklot began his open resistance when Lothar III, Holy Roman Emperor, granted the Obotrite realm to his Danish vassal [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canute_Lavard"]Canute Lavard[/ame]. Together with Pribislaw, the son of Henry of Alt-Lübeck, Niklot fought against Lothar and Canute. After the murder of Canute in 1131, Niklot and Pribislav partitioned the Obotrite territory, with Niklot receiving the eastern lands. In order to weaken Pribislav in the following years, Niklot allied himself with Saxon lords, especially Count [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_II_of_Holstein"]Adolf II of Holstein[/ame], allowing Slavic pirates to attack the Danes."

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Old June 11th, 2015, 03:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosquito View Post
They were also sucesfull in raiding Saxony and other German states. In the 11th century they have raided and completelly destroyed the biggest scandinavian trading center - Hedeby in Jutland.
The Hedeby of 1066 which was destroyed by the East Slavs was a shadow of its former self. It never recovered from the destruction in 1050 by Harald Hardrade of Norway. It was a personal feud between Harold, King of Norway and Swein, King of Denmark. Both had served together in the Varingian guard yet, on their return home, Swein had attempted to kill Harald.

The population of Hedeby had started to move across the Schlei to found Schleswig in 1050, after the attack by Hardrade so it is wrong to describe the Hedeby of 1066 as the biggest trading centre. It is, by then, operating on a vastly reduced scale.

Ironically, Hedeby originally was a small trading centre and it was not until about 808 when the Dane Godfried, sacked the slavic centre of Reric and resettled the slavic merchants in Hebeby that it became prosperous. This was also due to the cooperation of the Frisians who had been allowed to settle on the north sea coast of Jutland and who operated the transport of goods from [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollingstedt"]Hollingstedt[/ame] down the Treen and into the Eider.

Hafen Hollingstedt - Haithabu-Danewerk (in german)
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Old June 11th, 2015, 03:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by authun View Post
The Hedeby of 1066 which was destroyed by the East Slavs was a shadow of its former self.
This is an example of mistake in wikipedia which you have now repeated.

Hedeby wasnt destroyed by East Slavs (who were that time Kiev Rus and other duchies of Rus) but by Wends.
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Old June 11th, 2015, 03:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosquito View Post
This is an example of mistake in wikipedia which you have now repeated.

Hedeby wasnt destroyed by East Slavs (who were that time Kiev Rus and other duchies of Rus) but by Wends.
Well in that case it should read "The Hedeby of 1066 which was destroyed by the Wends was a shadow of its former self." It doesn't detract from the fact that it had largely been destroyed 16 years earlier, by the King of Norway.

But why do you claim that it was Wends? The Wikinger Museum Haithabu, the Vikingeskibsmuseet in Roskilde and Ribevikingecenter in Ribe do not make the same claim as you do. What are you using as your source and, if it is strong enough, why don't you get the Wiki entry changed if it annoys you that much? The german wiki states it was western slavs but the claim is unreferenced so, why favour one wiki page over another wiki page?

Last edited by authun; June 11th, 2015 at 03:44 AM.
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Old June 11th, 2015, 03:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by authun View Post
Well in that case it should read "The Hedeby of 1066 which was destroyed by the Wends was a shadow of its former self." It doesn't detract from the fact that it had largely been destroyed 16 years earlier, by the King of Norway.

But why do you claim that it was Wends? The Wikinger Museum Haithabu, the Vikingeskibsmuseet in Roskilde and Ribevikingecenter in Ribe do not make the same claim as you do. What are you using as your source and, if it is strong enough, why don't you get the Wiki entry changed if it annoys you that much? The german wiki states it was western slavs but the claim is unreferenced so, why favour one wiki page over another wiki page?
If anything else than maybe simple logic? Eastern slavs were far.. Wends were close, there are no known raids of eastern slavs on Denmark, Eastern slavs unlike Vends were already christians, had organised states and completelly no buissiness in Hedeby. In that time period they had problem with civil war and Polish invasion. And they would have write about it because unlike Wends they already had their chroniclers and knew writing. Not to mention the fact that they were no longer "Eastern Slavs" but had state named "Rus" aka "Kiev Principality".

the author of the wiki article probably mean that Hedeby was destroyed by Slavs from east(of Denmark) and has written East Slavs....

and after their raid Hedeby was no longer a trading center, neither big or small....

Last edited by Mosquito; June 11th, 2015 at 04:06 AM.
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