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A question regarding Christian/Pagan military alliance in First Millenium Central Europe



Des Essientes 7 | 1,296    
1 Mar 2011  #1

I seem to remember reading about an interesting incident which occurred before all the Western Slavs had been converted to Christianity. At the time German Christian forces had allied themselves with a Slavic tribe that was still Pagan in order to conquer a different Pagan Slavic tribe. The Pagan tribe that had allied with the Germans fought under the banner of the Great Earth Mother Goddess. Before the battle started one of the German knight's Christian zealotry got the better of him and he threw a rock at the banner of his Pagan allies piercing it. The Pagans complained about this incident to the Holy See and received a written apology from the Pope himself! I recently re-read the book that I thought contained this strange anecdote, but it was not in there. Thus I ask anyone on the forum with knowledge about this period in Slavic or Roman Catholic history if they have heard this story?


Daisy 4 | 1,237    
1 Mar 2011  #2

Christians fighting alongside pagans sounds extremely unlikely
OP Des Essientes 7 | 1,296    
1 Mar 2011  #3

Indeed it does, but I distinctly remember reading about this. War can bring about strange alliances, just look at the Allies in WW2. I really wish there was someone on this forum who could tell me if they have heard of this incident. The Administration's taking this out of the History category, when it obviously belongs there, and placing it in the Off-Topic Lounge hopefully will not prevent a learned person from seeing it.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 7,938    
1 Mar 2011  #4

I seem to remember reading about an interesting incident which occurred before all the Western Slavs had been converted to Christianity. At the time German Christian forces had allied themselves with a Slavic tribe that was still Pagan in order to conquer a different Pagan Slavic tribe.

I'm quite sure you mean the invitation of the polish King to the Teutonic Order to subjugate the pagan tribe of the Prussians, don't you.

(The beginning of a long and happy relationship!)
But Poland had been christianized by then...

At these times european pagans could choose between beheading, burning at the stake and/or drowning if they wanted to stay loyal to the old gods.

No alliances!
OP Des Essientes 7 | 1,296    
1 Mar 2011  #5

I'm quite sure you mean the invitation of the polish King to the Teutonic Order to subjugate the pagan tribe of the Prussians, don't you.

You are wrong. It was an actual alliance between Christians and Pagans to defeat a Pagan Slavic tribe not the Pagan Old Prussian Balts. Read my entire post. The converted Poles would not have been fighting under a Goddess banner.
Daisy 4 | 1,237    
1 Mar 2011  #6

The converted Poles would not have been fighting under a Goddess banner.

Why not? Much of so called Christianity contains pagan imagery, why do you think there are so many green men carved in churches? Nothing Christian about that
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 7,938    
1 Mar 2011  #7

You are wrong. It was an actual alliance between Christians and Pagans to defeat a Pagan Slavic tribe not the Pagan Old Prussian Balts.

Okay....maybe you will believe other sources:

In 1230, following the Golden Bull of Rimini, Grand Master Hermann von Salza and Duke Konrad I of Masovia launched the Prussian Crusade, a joint invasion of Prussia to Christianise the Baltic Old Prussians. The Order then created the independent Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights in the conquered territory, and subsequently conquered Courland, Livonia, and Estonia. The Dukes of Poland accused the Order of holding lands rightfully theirs.

During an attack on Prussia in 1233, over 21,000 crusaders took part, of which the burggrave of Magdeburg brought 5,000 warriors, Duke Henry of Silesia 3,000, Duke Konrad of Masovia 4,000 [...]

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Prussians

It was Christians against Pagans...no christian/pagan alliance!
OP Des Essientes 7 | 1,296    
1 Mar 2011  #8

Why not?

Christianity, regardless of appropriating some Pagan aspects, does not believe in the Goddess. Although it is true that the Virgin centered Roman Catholicism one finds in Poland, and elsewhere, has surely succeeded because it appeals to people whose religious sensibilities are descended from Goddess worshipers. The event I am referring to in this thread occurred at a time when most of the Western Slavic tribes were still Pagan, and still powerful, and the Christians in the region could not yet afford to be arrogant towards them, hence the Pope's apology.

Bratwurst Boy this occured long before the 13th century and is not related to the Prussians.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 7,938    
1 Mar 2011  #9

Bratwurst Boy this occured long before the 13th century and is not related to the Prussians.

Erm....

During an attack on Prussia in 1233, over 21,000 crusaders took part, of which the burggrave of Magdeburg brought 5,000 warriors, Duke Henry of Silesia 3,000, Duke Konrad of Masovia 4,000, Duke Casimir of Kuyavia 2,000, Duke Wladislaw of Greater Poland 2,200 and Dukes of Pomerania 5,000 warriors. The main battle took place at the Sirgune River and both sides had heavy losses. The Prussians took the bishop Christian and imprisoned him for several years.

Numerous knights from throughout Catholic Europe joined in thePrussian Crusades, which lasted sixty years. Many of the native Prussians from Sudovia who survived were [...]

Nope...definitely nothing to do with Prussians....riiiiight!
Daisy 4 | 1,237    
1 Mar 2011  #10

Christianity, regardless of appropriating some Pagan aspects, does not believe in the Goddess

So why is the major Christian festival of Easter named after a pagan goddess? What I'm saying is, just because the people carried a banner depicting a pagan goddess, doesn't mean they had not been made to convert. Even in the 21st century Christianity is still rife with pagan imagery and customs, these people may well have been Christians, but when it came to something as important as a battle, they reverted to a banner of a goddess they trusted to protect them.
OP Des Essientes 7 | 1,296    
1 Mar 2011  #11

Nope...definitely nothing to do with Prussians....riiiiight!

Why are you so sure this is about the crusade against the Prussians? I have explained that this occurred centuries before. I have already tried to find mention of this on the internet but without any luck. I read about this incident in a book in my University library. You will not find it mentioned on Wikipedia. This is the reason I posted the thread here in hopes that an historian with knowledge about the pre-Christian Western Slavs would read it and recognize the incident.

these people may well have been Christians, but when it came to something as important as a battle, they reverted to a banner of a goddess they trusted to protect them.

That is possible Daisy but I distinctly remember it being explained as an alliance between unconverted Pagans and Christians.
NomadatNet 1 | 457    
1 Mar 2011  #12

Christmas, December 20-25, was actually a Pagan holyday, marks the starting day for longer nights (exactly know today as December 21.) Birthday of Christ is unknown. Also, calendars are pagan calendars, based on moon and sun gods in paganism. Seasons are based on pagan earth god. Etc. What Abraham religions (judaism, christianity and islam) brought is heirdoms/inheritences as people were city-ized enough in the first millenium and Abraham religions were about heirdoms. Even Zion-ism (Zion is a hill name in old Jerusalem) and Church (bride of Christ, is another hill name there) were about heirdoms. Fights were about who would be getting those hills when the king died. Later, these Abraham religions were used by poor ordinary folks of other places also as tools to revolt against the wealthy palaces of kings, so, again, heirdom/wealth fights in cities. (Christianity started in 50 AD actually, by St Paul, a tent maker in Pisidian Antiochia, a city with a palace on a hill and with a Moon God temple and poor folks broke the water ducts to capture the palace.)
OP Des Essientes 7 | 1,296    
1 Mar 2011  #13

Yes Nomad since "the sheperds were in the fields with their flocks" and Palestine is chilly at night at the end of December, it is highly unlikely that the Nativity occurred on Dec. 25th. The date was chosen because of the Winter Solstice festivals of the Pagan world in a successful attempt to redirect the festivities into a Christian mode.
NomadatNet 1 | 457    
1 Mar 2011  #14

Pagan religion center was here, Asia Minor, Anatolia with four season. So, Pagan calendars were not originated in Palestine, a two season region. There are many Moon temples around here. Also, Shamanism, Tengrism (old Turkic religion) too was a Pagan religion and it was brought to here and mixed with Western Paganism. Calendar in old Turkics is not much different. Based on Natural events, moon travel, sun travel, earth conditions and so on. Abraham religions, including Christianity, adopted important days of Pagan religions to be able to spread among ordinary folks.
Ziemowit 8 | 2,637    
2 Mar 2011  #15

Thus I ask anyone on the forum with knowledge about this period in Slavic or Roman Catholic history if they have heard this story?

I've never heard this story. My first thought, however, was that this event could have happened in the times of margrave Gero [c.900 - 965] who fought frequent battles against the Polabian Slavs on the territory of the future DDR. In Wikipedia I've found the following passage:

In 939, an Obodrite attack left a German army routed and its margravial leader dead. Gero in revenge invited thirty Slav chieftains to a banquet whereat he killed all but one, who managed to escape by accident. In response, the Stodorani revolted against German overlordship and chased the Germans across the Elbe, but Gero was able to reverse this before Otto's arrival in Magdeburg later in the year. He subsequently bribed Tugumir, a baptised Slav prince, to betray his countryman and make his people subject to Germany. Soon after, the Obodrites and the Wilzes made submission.
OP Des Essientes 7 | 1,296    
2 Mar 2011  #16

Thank you for your insight Ziemtowit. You put me on the path to what I believe may be the Christian/Pagan alliance I read about. The Obotrite tribe did have a military alliance with the Franks from the 9th century through the 12th and they fought wars against both the Pagan Saxons and the Pagan Western Slavs known as the Veleti. The Obotrites were not converted to Christianity until the 12th Century by St Vicelinus. So the incident I read about may have occurred during a Frankish/Obotrite campaign against the Veleti.
Gielie    
27 Jun 2016  #17

Ok, it's 2016 now, I just happened to stumble upon this thread...
I believe I migth have an answer for you. I am now reading ' Medieval Warfare' and in that book they describe a pagan force fighting alongside Ottonian Franks. They were marching to and in battle under their own pagan banners, much to the dismay of Saxon chruchmen like Brun of Querfurt and Thietmar of Mersebrug. The Slavic pagans were of the Liutizi tribe.

Apparently it was Henry II, a Ottonian king fighting against the Polish chrisitan Dukes...
So it may or may not be this event you were talking about, but it proves that weird or temporary alliances like you described existed...

Hope I was of any help!



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