Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Widukind of Corvey

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Historian who lived in the tenth century in the Benedictine Abbey of Corvey, Germany. He was a Saxon, he began in 967 his Res gestae saxonicae sive annalium libri tres, devoted particularly to Henry I and Otto I, as stated in the dedication to Mathilde, Abbess of Quedlinburg. Unlike the earlier chroniclers, he did not connect the beginning of his account with the time of the Roman Empire, but commenced with the primitive history of his nation. He relates with much enthusiasm the tribal sagas, tells of his heathen ancestors in their battles with the Franks, and describes the introduction of Christianity. After this, he shows how, after they became Christian, the Saxons conquered all other nations, including the Franks, in the reign of Henry I, maintained the supremacy victoriously, in spite of the revolt of various tribes, during the reign of Otto, and finally ruled all Christendom. His work has become a very popular one; but in his efforts to be brief and to imitate the classic writers, especially Sallust, he is frequently impossible to understand. The work is of great value, because it is often the sole authority for the events mentioned, and because it describes persons truthfully and reliably, although only so far as they come within his range of vision; whatever was outside of Saxony was incomprehensible to him. His opinion of the Emperor Otto is incorrect, neither has he any conception of Otto s labours for the benefit of the Church Widukind is silent respecting the founding of the Archdiocese of Magdeburg, and he does not speak of the pope at all. When he mentions France and Italy his statements are meagre and incorrect. The work was edited by G. Waitz in Mon. Germ. Hist. Scriptores", III, 416-67, and was also published in the "Scriptores rerum germanicarum" (Hanover, 1882).

PATRICIUS SCHLAGER