1168 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
to make his headquarters among the North men. Within a year, however, he again
crossed into Saxony and incited his countrymen to another revolt. In 782 Charlemagne's
armies were twice defeated on the banks
of the Weser, and the king himself was
obliged to take the field. Unable to meet
his great enemy, Wittikind again fled to the
Northmen, and the brunt of the king's hostility fell upon those who had participated
in the revolt. Four thousand five hundred
of the Saxons were brought together at
Werden, on the river Auer, and were all beheaded by the orders of Cliarlemagne. Having thus soaked the river banks in blood, the king retired into France and made his
winter quarters at Thionville.
The terrible vengeance taken by the
king of the Franks was by no means sufficient to terrify the now desperate Saxons.
On the contrary, their anger and determination rose to a greater height than ever. During the winter of 782-83 the tribes again
revolted, and held out against the attest
persistent efforts of Charlemagne till 785.
In the latter year the king's victories were
more decisive, and it seemed that the pagans
must finally submit. The king took up
his residence at. the castle of Ehresburg,
and from that stronghold sent out one expedition after another to overawe the rebellious tribes.
Charlemagne had now learned what the
barbaric despair of the pagan Saxons was
able to do in war. Nor did he lack that
kingly prudence upon which the desire for
personal vengeance was made to wait in patience. He adopted diplomacy where force
had failed. He sent across the Elbe a distinguished embassy to the place where Wittikind
had his camp, and invited that austere warrior and his friend, the chieftain Abbio, to
come to him under protection and to confer
on the interests of Saxony. At first the great barbarian feared to trust himself to the
good faith of his foe, but was finally
induced to accept the invitation. He accordingly presented himself to the king
at the palace of Attigny, and so considerate
was the reception extended by Charlemagne,
and so favorable the proffered conditions
of peace, that Wittikind was induced to
accept them for himself and his countrymen.
He accordingly professed the Christian faith
and underwent the rite of baptism. He
received at the hands of Charlemagne a
full amnesty and the title of Duke of Saxony, though the sovereignty was thenceforth to be lodged with the king of the Franks.
Wittikind ever faithfully observed the
conditions to which he had pledged his
honor. So exemplary was his life, so tractable his disposition under the teaching of
the priests, that some of the old chroniclers
added his name to the calendar of the saints.
In the year 807 he was killed in a battle with
Gerold, and the tomb of
the old Saxon hero is still to be seen at Ratisbonne. Nor is the tradition wanting that
the great House of Capet, destined, after
two centuries, to supplant the Carlovingian
dynasty on the throne of France, had Wittikind for its ancestor; for the legend runs
that he was the father of Robert the
Strong, great-grandfather of Hugh Capet.
But the pacification of Saxony was not
completed by the actions of Wittikind. The
old spirit of paganism was not to be extinguished by a single act. Through a series
of years insurrections broke out here and
there, and were suppressed with not a little
difficulty and bloodshed, in some, instances
the king found it necessary to remove whole
tribes to other territories, and to fill their
places with Christian, or at least Frankish,
colonists. Nevertheless it was not doubtful after the surrender of Wittikind, that
the conquest of Saxony was virtually accomplished, and Charlemagne might with
propriety consider the country beyond the
Elbe as an integral part of his growing
The task of Charlemagne on the German
side of Gaul was by no means completed.
Many of the populations which had already
been subdued continued in a state of turbulence, and the utmost vigilance of the king