Saxon East Mark

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Representation of the area of ​​a "Saxon East Mark" around 965 as a green area delimited in the north by a red line on the basis of a map from Gustav Droysen's General Historical Handatlas from 1886.
The division of the "Sächsische Ostmark" after 965: Nordmark, Mark Lausitz, Mark Meißen, Mark Merseburg and Mark Zeitz (spatial extension from 965 to 983)

The Saxon Eastern March , also Geromark , Elbmark or Sorbenmark was, after the political ideas of order of 19th and 20th century one of Elbslawen populated area east of the middle Elbe and Saale , the 937 to 965 of the Margrave Gero on behalf of Otto I was conquered and administered. According to the current state of research, such a margravate with Gero as royal administrator did not exist.

Based on the constitutional theses of the legal historian Georg Waitz , historical studies in the 19th and 20th centuries explained the state order of medieval empires by transferring the constitutional situation of the 19th century to the Middle Ages. After that, emperors and kings, as absolute rulers, had an apparatus of officials made up of counts and dukes who were subordinate to them and who were subject to instructions and who administered clearly defined areas on behalf of the king. The Ottonian rulers in particular conquered the eastern border zones of their empire upstream of the empire and systematically divided them into brands. These border areas were then placed under the administration of a margrave whom the ruler would have given special military powers. In fact, Gero is referred to several times as margrave ( marchio ) in the Ottonian royal documents from the period from 941 to 953 . However, he received the title of margrave solely as a sign of a rise in social rank within the hierarchy of the East Saxon nobility. The appointment as margrave was not associated with the transfer of an official territory or the granting of special military powers. Instead, Otto I intended to compensate for the reduction in his presence in Saxony, the core area of ​​his rule. To this end, he installed Gero, one of his closest confidants, as a middle power between the nobility and the king, without having to give up his own powers by appointing a duke or snubbering other Saxon nobles by awarding a ducal title.

In his history of Saxony, Widukind von Corvey repeatedly reports of Gero's military campaigns in the Slavic settlement area east of the central Elbe and the Saale. These messages were interpreted as meaning that Gero, as a margrave, ruled over a huge territory that bordered the Elde and Ucker in the north or even the Baltic Sea and in the east stretched along the Havel and Spree to the Oder , while in the south it extended to the Dominion of the Bohemians was enough. Research believed to have found evidence of the existence of such a trademark area in the two founding documents of the dioceses of Havelberg and Brandenburg , which speak of a “Mark des Gero” or “Geromark”. Thietmar von Merseburg also mentions Gero as marchio orientalis ("Eastern Margrave"), from which modern historical science derived the name "Saxon East Mark". Today it is known that the Havelberg charter is a forgery and the Brandenburg charter is at least falsified. The name Geros in Thietmar von Merseburg does not force one to assume a margraviate of Geros on the other side of the Elbe and Saale, especially since there are no known possessions of Geros in the Slavic areas. Instead, it is emphasized today that in addition to King Otto I, the Bohemian and Polish rulers also vied for supremacy in the politically unstable area between the Elbe and Oder. After Otto I came to power, the Saxons suffered severe defeats, especially against the Bohemian armies. In the remaining areas, Gero enforced the Saxon claim to recognition of their supremacy by forcibly collecting tributes.

After Gero's death in 965, Otto I is said to have divided the “Saxon East Mark” into the North Mark , the Lausitz mark , the Meißen mark , the Merseburg mark and the Zeitz mark . In the founding deed of the Archdiocese of Magdeburg from 968, Wigbert , Gunther and Wigger I, three counts, mostly uniquely designated as margraves , who Otto I exhorted to respect the rights of the archbishopric. Later, with Hodo I. and Dietrich von Haldensleben, other counts were referred to as margraves. The research tried to assign them to all of them on the basis of occupied or developed properties in the supposed Mark Geros margraviates and named them after the suffragan bishops Meißen, Merseburg and Zeitz mentioned in the Magdeburg founding charter , the Mark Lausitz after the core area of ​​Hodos Wirken and the Nordmark after the relative Location of the then remaining area of ​​the supposed "Saxon East Mark". None of the invented names can be found in contemporary written sources.

As marchia orientalis ( Ostmark ) in the Salzburg annals of 856 the Bavarian Ostland was designated. In the year 1061 the annals of Niederaltaich described the official area of ​​the Babenberger Ernst the Brave as orientalis marcha Boiariae ( Bavarian East Mark ).


  • Andrea Stieldorf : Brands and Margraves. Studies on border security by the Frankish-German rulers (= Monumenta Germaniae historica. Writings. Volume 64). Hahn, Hannover 2012, ISBN 978-3-7752-5764-0 (also: Bonn, University, habilitation thesis, 2007-2008).


  1. ^ Andrea Stieldorf: Brands and Margraves. Studies on border security by the Frankish-German rulers (= Monumenta Germaniae historica. Schriften. Vol. 64). Hahn, Hanover 2012, ISBN 978-3-7752-5764-0 , p. 245 sees the function of Geros Margrave title in the “designation of a special confidante of the ruler” without it being an “institutional representative body”.
  2. ^ Andrea Stieldorf: Brands and Margraves. Studies on border security by the Frankish-German rulers (= Monumenta Germaniae historica. Schriften. Vol. 64). Hahn, Hannover 2012, ISBN 978-3-7752-5764-0 , pp. 238–241.
  3. ^ DO I, 76: marchia illius (= Geronis ducis et marchionis) .
  4. ^ DO I, 105: marca illius (= Geronis ducis ac marchionis) .
  5. ↑ Proponents of forgery assume that the two dioceses were only founded in the 960s. Overview of the dispute with Lutz Partenheimer : From the Heveller Principality to the Mark Brandenburg. In: Joachim Müller, Klaus Neitmann , Franz Schopper (eds.): How the Mark came about. 850 years of the Mark Brandenburg. Symposium from June 20 to 22, 2007 in Brandenburg an der Havel (= research on archeology in the state of Brandenburg. 11 = individual publication by the Brandenburg State Main Archives. 9). Brandenburg State Office for Monument Preservation and State Archaeological Museum, Wünsdorf 2009, ISBN 978-3-910011-56-4 , pp. 298–323, here p. 306, note 61. Older literature on DO I, 76 and DO I, 105 from Theo Kölzer : Supplements to the MGH Diplomata , the 2005 status of the Havelberg founding document as a forgery and that of Brandenburg as unauthorized.
  6. Annales Iuvavenses ad. a. 856, ed. Harry Bresslau , in: MGH SS 30/2, Leipzig 1934, pp. 727–744, here p. 744.
  7. Annales Altahenses (maiores) ad a. 1061; in orientalem marcham Boiariae , ed. Edmund von Oefele (MGH SS rer. Germ. [4]), Hannover 1891, p. 57.