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Thread: Christian Massecre at Verden

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    tWebber
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    Christian Massecre at Verden

    The Massacre of Verden, Bloodbath of Verden, or Bloody Verdict of Verden (German Blutgericht von Verden) was a massacre of 4,500 captive rebel Saxons in October 782. During the Saxon Wars, the Saxons rebelled against Charlemagne's invasion and subsequent attempts to christianize them from their native Germanic paganism. The massacre is recorded as having occurred in what is now Verden in Lower Saxony, Germany.

    An entry for the year 782 in the Royal Frankish Annals records that, after Charlemagne lost two envoys, four counts, and around 20 nobles in battle with the Saxons, Charlemagne responded by massacring 4,500 rebelling Saxons near what is now Verden. Regarding this massacre, the entry reads:

    When he heard this, the Lord King Charles rushed to the place with all the Franks that he could gather on short notice and advanced to where the Aller flows into the Weser. Then all the Saxons came together again, submitted to the authority of the Lord King, and surrendered the evildoers who were chiefly responsible for this revolt to be put to death—four thousand and five hundred of them. This sentence was carried out. Widukind was not among them since he had fled to Nordmannia. When he had finished this business, the Lord King returned to Francia.[1]

    Historian Alessandro Barbero says that, regarding Charlemagne, the massacre "produced perhaps the greatest stain on his reputation". In his survey on scholarship regarding Charlemagne, Barbero comments on attempts at exonerating Charlemagne and his forces from the massacre:

    Several historians have attempted to lessen Charles's responsibility for the massacre, by stressing that until a few months earlier the king thought he had pacified the country, the Saxons nobles had sworn allegiance, and many of them had been appointed counts. Thus the rebellion constituted an act of treason punishable by death, the same penalty that the extremely harsh Saxon law imposed with great facility, even for the most insignificant of crimes. Others have attempted to twist the accounts provided by sources, arguing that the Saxons were killed in battle and not massacred in cold blood, or even that the verb decollare (to decapitate) was a copyist's error in place of delocare (to relocate), so the prisoners were deported. None of these attempts has proved credible.[2]

    Barbero comments that the incident would be little more than a footnote in scholarship were it not for controversy in German circles due to Nationalistic sentiment before and during the Nazi era in Germany. He concludes that "in reality, the most likely inspiration for the mass execution of Verden was the Bible", citing the biblical tale of the total extermination of the Amalekites and conquest of the Moabites by David (after the Moabites were defeated, two out of three are recorded as having been stretched out and killed).[citation needed] Barbero says that, in turn, Charlemagne likely "wanted to act like a true King of Israel". Barbero further points out that a few years later, a royal chronicler, commenting on Charlemagne's treatment of the Saxons, records that "either they were defeated or subjected to the Christian religion or completely swept away."[3]

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    Charlemagne is looked upon rather dimly by the East, because he was a major impetus behind Rome mandating use of the filioque in the Nicene Creed and because he was an iconoclast.
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