Gottschalk the turning point

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Depiction of Gottschalk on a window of the provost church St. Anna in Schwerin

Gottschalk (Latin Godeschalcus , Godescalcus , outdated also Gottschalk der Wende ; * around 1000 ; † June 7, 1066 in Lenzen ) was an Abodritic velvet ruler from the Nakoniden noble family , under whom the Abodritic Empire was converted from a tribal state into a territorial state. He supported Christianity in his territory and was killed in an anti-Christian uprising. In the Roman Catholic Church he is venerated as a saint , in the Evangelical Church as a martyr .


Youth and Exile

The son of the Christian Abodrite prince Udo was brought up in the monastery of St. Michael in Lüneburg . Perhaps it got its name after the abbot of the monastery at the time, Gottschalk, who later became the bishop of Skara . Udo was slain in 1028, whereupon Gottschalk left the monastery. It is unclear whether he actually waged a campaign of revenge for the murder of his father, as Helmold von Bosau claims.

In 1030 he was captured by Billunger Bernhard II. He was exiled and went to England , where he became a follower of King Canute the Great of England and Denmark . After his death in 1035 he became a follower of Sven Estridsson , who later became King of Denmark (1047-1076), whose daughter Sigrid he married.

Velvet ruler of the Abodrites

In 1043 the Polaben prince Ratibor , who had won the position of velvet ruler in the tribal union of the Abodrites and actively threatened Denmark, was defeated by King Magnus . Thereupon Gottschalk left Sven Estridsen, came to an understanding with Magnus and went back to his homeland. He was able to assert himself there and dominate the Abodritenland and areas beyond.

Mission and administrative organization

In order to assert himself against the predominantly pagan tribal nobility, Gottschalk, like his Naconid ancestors, leaned on the Saxon Duke Bernhard II and the Archbishop Adalbert of Bremen and supported their missionary efforts in the Slavic region, not least because he was modeled on his German neighbors and Poland hoped for the Church as the future pillar of its rule. The dioceses of Oldenburg for Wagrien, Ratzeburg for Polabia and Mecklenburg for the Abodrites, as well as some monasteries such as in Lenzen , arose in his countries .

Gottschalk fundamentally redesigned the abodritic kingdom formed by the sub-tribes of the Wagrier, Polaben, Abodriten, Linonen, Kessiner and Cirzipanen and established 18 castle-supported administrative districts, all of which were under his direct rule, by eliminating the sub-tribal princes.


After Archbishop Adalbert had been overthrown in 1066, an uprising broke out in the Abodritic Empire, led by the pagan aristocratic class led by Gottschalk's brother-in-law Blusso. In the course of this uprising, Gottschalk was slain on June 7, 1066 in Lenzen . His widow Sigrid fled with their son, who later became Prince Heinrich , to live with Sven Estridsson in Denmark. The first Mecklenburg bishop Johannes was murdered in Rethra in the further course of the uprising in 1066 . Gottschalk's other son Budivoj fled to the Billung duke Ordulf and was finally lured into a deadly trap by the head of the pagan nobility Kruto in Plön .

Gottschalk's vision of a Christian Elbe Slavic state based on the model of Poland finally tried to realize again his son Heinrich, who in the end was victorious over Kruto.

Remembrance day


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Ruth Bork: The Billunger. With contributions to the history of the German-Wendish border area in the 10th and 11th centuries. Dissertation, masch., Greifswald 1951, p. 128.