E31 – The (second) Saxon War

King Henry IV embarks on his ambitious castle building project around Goslar, Otto of Northeim delivers a rousing speech, Saxons rebel, royal bones are thrown in the rubbish, brother fights brother…and more! Listen here https://history-of-the-germans.captivate.fm/listen

Picture: Burg Hanstein Carl Duval (1807-1853) Wikimedia Commons


In 1065 king Henry IV begins his personal rule. After 9 years of regency imperial power is much diminished. Under the rule of Anno of Cologne and Adalbert of Hamburg-Bremen prelates and lords are raiding the imperial purse. When the barons force the young king to dismiss his main adviser, he realises that the previous model of kingship no longer works. He cannot rely on the oaths of fealty sworn by his counts and dukes, nor can he put faith in the Imperial Church System his predecessors could draw on.

The royal lands around the rich silver mines of Goslar are the nucleus for his new, territorial power base. Mighty castles on the tops of mountains project royal power, a governor, rather than a count heads his administration, and most of the castles’ garrison and administrators are ministeriales, unfree men trained in war.

This new policy clashes with the Saxons, the stem that already stood in opposition to Henry’s father and plotted to murder him when he was a child. In 1073 Otto of Northeim delivers his famous speech that turned disaffection into outright rebellion. In 18 months, Henry IV’s Saxon War will become a rollercoaster hurtling from unconditional surrender to triumph – but is the triumph going to last?

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  1. Otto of Nordheim’s rousing speech to the assembled nobles at Wormsleben is a rare solace in these troubled times.
    Can you link us to your inspired translation of this text or, in lieu of that, any text of it in any language❓
    I haven’t been successful in finding one this evening. Many thanks for your efforts in this remarkable podcast series❗️

    1. Hi Sean, the translation is in the transcripts which you can find on the page on Henry IV. The translation is mine based on a translation of Bruno’s “Book of the Saxon Wars” p.26 from Latin into German by Wilhelm Wattenbach (1847). You can find here: https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=_2gIAAAAQAAJ&pg=GBS.PA26&hl=en. I cannot find an English translation anywhere. I used Deepl.com to help with the translation, which is an amazing tool! (p.s. they do not pay me to say that)

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