Battle on the Lechfeld
|date||August 10, 955|
|output||East Franconian victory|
|Parties to the conflict|
Horca Bulcsu ,
|10,000 armored riders:
3,000 of them from the retinue of the king ( Saxony ), 3,000 Bavarians , 2,000 Swabians , a good 1,000 francs , almost 1,000 Bohemia
|unknown (the numbers vary between 10,000 and 100,000)|
The battle on the Lechfeld on August 10, 955 was the end of the Hungarian invasions and Otto the Great's greatest military victory . The Hungarian horsemen had devastated large parts of Central Europe with their raids since 899. The battle takes the name of the area where the fighting took place. The exact location of the battle on the Lechfeld is, however, controversial among experts.
The victory on the Lechfeld was one of the largest military conflicts in the East Frankish-German Empire . The battle is often referred to as the "birth of the German nation". Otto always succeeded in asserting his supremacy in the East Franconian Empire against internal and external enemies, which among other things led to his being proclaimed Pater patriae , "Father of the Fatherland", after the battle ; a victory that subsequently earned him the imperial crown.
In 955 the armed conflict between Magyars and Eastern Franconia had lasted for about 60 years. In the previous year, almost the entire south of the empire rose up against Otto in the Liudolfin uprising , which was used by the Magyars for their furthest march to date via Bavaria and Belgium to northern France, back via northern Italy and Croatia . On December 17, 954 Otto I held a Reichstag in Arnstadt, Thuringia , which ended the conflict with Liudolf with his formal submission. In addition, Otto's son Wilhelm was elected Archbishop of Mainz . This created the domestic political prerequisites for the coming conflict with the Hungarians. But that did not end the uprising in the south. At the Battle of Mühldorf am Inn in 955, Count Palatine Arnulf was killed. Archbishop Herold of Salzburg fell into the hands of Duke Heinrich I of Bavaria and was blinded on his orders .
Hungarian ambassadors met Otto in the spring of 955 , ostensibly to affirm their friendly sentiments. But they should probably spy on his strength after the uprising. In any case, shortly after their departure, it was reported that the Hungarians had crossed the borders of the empire and were calling the king to a field battle .
Battle for Augsburg
Initially, the train of the Hungarians led into the Bavarian region between the Danube and the Alps as far as Augsburg, where they probably set up their main camp on the Gunzenle . Here they began with the siege of the city of Augsburg.
“Immediately in the following year, of course, in the year 955 after the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, such a multitude of Hungarians broke in as none of the people living at that time, it was heard, had seen anywhere before. They occupied and devastated Bavaria from the Danube River to the Black Forest, which was part of the mountains. When they crossed the Lech and occupied Alemannia, they burned down the churches of St. Afra, plundered the whole province from the Danube to the forest and burned most of [the land] up to the river Iller. But they besieged the city of Augsburg, which at that time was surrounded by low, towerless walls and not solid in itself. "
This siege of the Hungarians is unusual, considering their previous behavior of quickly conquering large cities or bypassing them. Apparently they were not interested in a quick attack with profitable plundering, but they were trying to gain control over Bavaria and Swabia. It can also be assumed that they were called to help by some opponents of Heinrich I in the Liudolfin uprising . Although the city was poorly fortified, the Augsburgers succeeded in repelling the Hungarians at first. Most fiercely contested was the east gate, the defense of which was personally supervised by Bishop Ulrich , who had held the city against the Hungarians as early as 924. Only when one of the leaders fell did the attackers break off their attacks.
The following night, Bishop Ulrich had women from the monastery march through the city in processions to pray for the Mother of God . The next day the Hungarians appeared at the gates with siege equipment. Whipped on by their leaders with whips , they overran the wall again until they were called back by a horn signal.
By Perchtold , one of the rebels in the Liudolfin revolt, the Hungarians had been warned of the approaching East Frankish army and were now rallying for a field battle. The Augsburgers, for their part, sent every dispensable man to the nearby Otto camp.
|1-3||Baiern under the commanders of Duke Heinrich von Baiern , who himself, already terminally ill, did not take part in the battle.|
|4th||Franconia under Konrad the Red|
|5||Legio Regia, immediate entourage of the king, mainly Saxon and Frankish knights in the immediate service of the king, Otto with Saint Michael's banner and holy lance|
|6-7||Swabians under Duke Burchard|
|8th||1000 Bohemia with entourage|
The location of Perchtolds Castle (the travel castle ) and the chronological information given by the chroniclers suggest the area around Ulm or Günzburg as a possible location for the assembly camp of the East Franconian troops . There, units of the Bavarians , the Franks and the former rebel Konrad the Red arrived. Otto's main power of the Saxons had to be left to a large extent as a defense against the Slavs in the east (around 2000 men). Even the Lorraine associations (as many troops) did not come to the agreed meeting point.
In the last marching camp before Augsburg, the city's defenders joined the army. Otto then set the next day for the field battle and ordered a general fast in preparation.
Ambush in the forest
On the morning of August 10th, the feast day of St. Lawrence , the Bavarian and Frankish soldiers assured each other of their loyalty in an army peace ceremony and set off for the battlefield . Although the route of the march was covered by trees (among other things, the Rauhe Forst, west of Augsburg) to protect themselves from the arrows of the Hungarians, they managed to bypass the army and roll up from behind; in the process they routed Bohemia and Swabia and captured the entourage . However, since they went over to looting immediately after their success , Konrad the Red and the warriors from the fifth group were able to repel the Hungarians.
The meeting on the Lechfeld
Little is known about the course of the actual battle. An encouraging speech by Otto and his rushing ahead first seem to be fiction . At least we learn from the sources that Bishop Ulrich's brother, Dietpald von Dillingen , fell. And Konrad the Red was fatally struck in the neck by an arrow as he loosened the straps of the armor and drew air. A summer thunderstorm could have been decisive in the battle - Widukind reports of great heat - so that the Hungarians 'miracle weapon, a composite bow, would have literally got out of hand due to the heavy rains, which would have significantly lost the power of the Hungarians' cavalry. However, this event is not mentioned in Widukind, where one could assume that he would not have suppressed it as divine intervention in the war, and so the influence of the weather on the battle remains questionable. Overall, it seems likely that Otto pursued a tactic similar to that of his father Heinrich I in the Battle of Riyadh in 933 in order to get the Magyar horsemen within reach of his armored riders .
Cut off routes of retreat
At the end of the battle, the Hungarians were in retreat - so numerous (at least around 20,000 men) that the Augsburgers initially assumed a renewed attack when the horsemen stormed their city. Widukind von Corvey reports of the brave resistance of some Hungarians who, however, could no longer turn the battle around. Gerhard von Augsburg reports in his: Vita Sancti Uodalrici , “that those who saw them coming from the bulwark of the city of Augsburg believed they were returning without being affected by the struggle until they saw that they were passing the city hurry to the other bank of the Lech river. ”Hence one could assume that some Hungarian generals had succeeded in breaking off the battle in order to avoid complete annihilation, or that the retreat was only feigned to move Otto's warriors out of their order of the battle as the Hungarian army had already succeeded in the Lechfeld battle in 910 . If so, her plan didn't work this time. The older Sankt Gallen annals even report a second battle in which the Bohemians defeated the withdrawing Hungarians. In fact, however, they tried to get to their camp on the Baier bank of the Lech . But here too the rains of the previous days had a fatal effect. The Lech and the other rivers flowing from the Alps to the Danube were so swollen that crossing over in a short time was not possible under the threat of the enemy. Therefore, some scattered units tried to find shelter in the surrounding villages. The few warriors who were able to escape these massacres were ambushed in the hinterland at occupied ferries and fords . They were slain or drowned. While on the run, the leaders Bulcsú , Lehel and Sur were captured and brought together with other nobles to Heinrich I in Regensburg , who had only returned to his rule in May 955 as a result of the failed Liudolfin uprising. He left her hanging as one of his last official acts before his death on November 1st.
For the Hungarians, the catastrophic outcome of the battle brought about a fundamental change in society. After the class of the cavalry warriors had lost a lot of power, the Magyars mixed more and more with the local Slavs and became settled. They cleared the areas in what is now Austria and retreated to what is now western Hungary. Grand Duke Géza asked Otto for missionaries and disempowered the old warrior nobility , the opposing party of the Arpad . His son Stephan the Holy finally married the Bavarian princess Gisela from the house of the East Franconian emperor .
For Otto, the victory on the Lechfeld initially meant a consolidation of his rule. In gratitude, he consecrated a diocese in Merseburg to the name saint of August 10, St. Lawrence, to whom he attributed the victory , and St. Laurentius / Lorenz became one of the most important and most venerated saints in the West. In the period that followed, the Byzantine Empire established diplomatic relations with the East Franconians. On February 2, 962 Otto was finally crowned emperor by the Pope in Rome . With the marriage of his son Otto II to the East Roman princess Theophanu , the emperor in Constantinople also recognized the East Frankish imperial dignity.
For the common people, the battle on the Lechfeld marked the end of a time that was mainly characterized by constant incursions by the Magyars, Vikings and Slavs . After a time in which one lived in the near expectation of the apocalypse and the second coming of Jesus at the end of the millennium, an epoch of earthly expectations for the future began.
The banner of the Archangel Michael shown in the battle on the Lechfeld by Otto's Legio regia and the positive outcome of the battle meant that the Archangel was chosen to be the patron saint of Germany.
Archaeological evidence of the Lechfeld battle
On December 1, 2013, it became known that an amateur archaeologist had come across the remains of a magnificent Hungarian harness on the Lechfeld near Todtenweis , 15 km north of Augsburg. Historians consider the eye-catching ornaments and the silver and partly gold-plated buckles and pendants to be particularly remarkable. These valuables indicate the possession of a Hungarian leader. Both the State Archaeological Collection and the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation described the find as the first direct archaeological evidence of the battle.
The fastening system on the Lechrain near Augsburg
According to some researchers, most of the individual battles in the battle on the Lechfeld took place on the eastern side of the Lech between Thierhaupten and Mering. The Lech Plain is about 30 to 70 meters below the adjacent hill country.
In fact, on the Lechrain between Thierhaupten, Mering and Landsberg there is a real system of early medieval ramparts ( Hungarian ramparts ) of various sizes. Shortly after Thierhaupten, Eselsberg is on a hill. A few kilometers to the south, the Pfarrerschanze offers the typical image of a larger Hungarian wall. Only about 1000 meters to the south lies the large high medieval Palatine Castle near Sand on the Lechrain, which could also originally go back to a Hungarian fortification.
The next clearly early medieval fortification is the ring wall in Ottmaringer Holz near Kissing . Between Sand and Kissing are the castle sites at Mühlhausen and Friedberg as further possible locations of Hungarian fortifications that were built over in the High Middle Ages . Shortly before Friedberg, something set back from the Lechrain has been preserved in the ring wall in Kirchholz near Haberskirch . Behind Mering, the “Hartwald” protects the fortifications of the “ Vorderen ” and “ Hinteren ” Schlossberg. The concept of the Mittelstetten ring wall near Mittelstetten in the Fürstenfeldbruck district is reminiscent of the two neighboring “castle mountains”. The two ski jumps in Westerholz near Kaufering are located directly on the Lech high bank . The larger of the two systems is also often interpreted as being from the Hungarian period.
In the hinterland, there are some other ramparts, presumably from the early medieval period, in the area. The most extensive is the " Schwedenschanze " near Aichach, whose fleeting outer wall system is comparable to the ring wall in Ottmaringer Holz near Kissing. Michael Weithmann even saw evidence of such a Hungarian protective castle in the trenches of the high medieval ancestral castle of the Wittelsbach family ( Wittelsbach Castle ). About 40 kilometers east of the Lech plain above the hamlet of Wagesenberg near Pöttmes, the earthworks of one of the most impressive Hungarian fortifications in Bavaria have been preserved ( Schanze Wagesenberg ).
These fortifications could be the castles mentioned by Widukind von Corvey , which are said to have been mostly manned by Bohemian troop contingents. Widukind is not regarded by many historians as a particularly reliable source. His statements about the fortifications on the Lechrain are, however, confirmed by the numerous, unusually well-preserved castle complexes with distinctive wall-ditch systems.
However, the question arises here why the Magyars should have confronted the East Franconian associations on the plain directly below this line of fortifications - which was probably originally created to secure the border between the Alemanni and Bavarian tribes . The Hungarian scouts and army commanders must have noticed this downright trap. It is speculative whether this castle system was designed as planned to defend against Hungary. Older weir systems were certainly reactivated and expanded at short notice.
Possibly the actual main scene of the Lechfeldschlacht is to be located west of the Lech in the area between Augsburg and Günzburg . In view of the archaeological situation, this opinion, advocated by some historians (Georg Kreuzer), is entirely plausible. The district home keeper Walter Pötzl identifies the area between Steppach , Stadtbergen , Pfersee , Kriegshaber , Oberhausen and Neusäß as the ideal area for a field battle. However, according to Pötzl, the main camp of the Hungarians is said to have been on the eastern side of the Lech, i.e. under the castle-occupied Lechrain.
Since the end of 2008 there has been more discussion about the actual scene of the Lechfeld Battle. The “955 - Information and Presentation Pavilion Königsbrunn” has been built on the Lechfeld, in the center of which a large tin figure diorama with over 12,000 hand-painted tin figures recreates the course of the fight. After the municipalities of Königsbrunn , Friedberg, Mering, Kissing and Augsburg had applied for the location of the museum, the center of Königsbrunn was selected as the museum location in autumn 2009, in the immediate vicinity of the Mercateum long-distance trade museum there , the largest accessible, based on historical map material, Globe of the world.
Hungary period fortifications on the Wertachleite
On the western side of the Lech there are far fewer comparable castle complexes to be found. However, the Haldenburg near Schwabegg (city of Schwabmünchen ) is considered a particularly characteristic large castle of this era. Shortly after the battle on the Lechfeld, the Siebnach castle stables could have been built , the structure of which was probably derived directly from the Haldenburg.
To the north of the Haldenburg there are two archaeological monuments of unknown date on the Wertachleite near Straßberg (Bobingen) . Here, in particular, the Strasbourg wall section is viewed as a possible smaller Hungarian protective castle.
A short time after the battle, the Hungarian side began to create myths about the outcome. A second battle is said to have been successful, in retaliation many times hostages were executed in Hungary or the captured Lehel killed the German Kaiser with his horn.
In the Middle Ages , German historians endeavored to supplement a court hearing before the executions in order to preserve the appearance of a justification.
In Bavaria there are various legends about the Lechfeld Battle, for example about the Holy Bishop Ulrich von Augsburg, who over time became a participant in the battle. In Straubing , the story of a young archer is told who was enfeoffed with the Grafschaft von Bogen in gratitude for his bravery . In Keferloh 's men should Counts of Ebersberg herded the captured horses of Hungary and sold, was established whereby the Neukeferloher Rossmarkt to life.
Since the chroniclers of the early Middle Ages often incorporate passages from the Bible and ancient writers into their reports , their explanations gave reason for different interpretations. The size of the German army varies between 3000 and 26,000 men, the Hungarian army is said to have numbered 128,000 men, according to a source. If you consider that at that time already 50 armored knights were referred to as "armed forces", the lower figures usually seem more plausible. This is clear from the sources of the Widukind von Corvey . He speaks of "to a certain extent" eight legiones of which Otto I's army is said to have consisted. He gives the Bohemian legio with a thousand men, but describes the fifth legio as the largest, also with a strength of a thousand men.
In its aftermath, the importance of the battle on the Lechfeld increased. It was stylized as a German battle of fate and artistically embellished from various sides and used for propaganda purposes.
One of the first depictions of the battle comes from the chronicle of Ludwig the Great from 1358, in which Lehel struck down the German emperor with his horn (see above). Following the fashion of the time, other depictions from the 15th century show stylized armored riders fighting with Orientals, such as the legends of the Augsburg saints from 1454 and two depictions in the Chronicle of Sigismund Meisterlin in 1457 by Hektor Mülich and 1479 by Konrad Bollstatter .
With the advent of printing , the battle also became the subject of reproducible media. A woodcut from 1488 in the Chronicle of Johannes von Thurocz shows lancers and orientals. Also a woodcut by Hans Weiditz the Elder. Ä. from 1520 depicts the battle as a battle between contemporary mercenaries and Orientals, similar to the chronicle by Sebastian Münster from 1559, which only shows mercenaries.
Finally, in the 17th century, a demand for independent depictions of the battle began to develop. In this context, a devotional picture by Wolfgang Kilian from 1623 can be seen, on which angels are shown handing a cross to Bishop Ulrich in front of the battlefield. A commemorative picture by Daniel Manasser from 1624 shows the bishop in a baroque frame on the battlefield behind the battle. Similar to the devotional picture by Wolfgang Kilian, an elaborately designed copper engraving by Bartholomäus Kilian from 1664 shows how Bishop Ulrich was presented with a cross in the middle of the battle, including a contemporary city view of Augsburg. The Hungarians shown here clearly show Ottoman features.
The paintings in the “Historical Gallery” in the Maximilianeum were created from 1852 under the direction of Leo von Klenze and show the main moments in world history . The battle on the Lechfeld is also represented in a painting by Michael Echter entitled “The Battle of Hungary near Augsburg”.
Wall and ceiling painting
Through the veneration of saints by Bishop Ulrich, the battle on the Lechfeld found its way into churches in the form of frescoes . In the years 1716–1721 there was a painting in the parish church of St. Ulrich in Hohenfels , probably by Cosmas Damian Asam , which shows King Otto together with the bishop in battle. In 1751, in the Ulrichsbergkirchlein near Deggendorf, W. Haindl painted Bishop Ulrich giving the Lord's Supper to King Otto before the battle . He follows a legendary model of Dominicus Custos from 1601. In the following time the bishop was portrayed more and more as a participant in the battle. In a ceiling fresco in the Church of St. Ulrich in Seeg by Johann Baptist Enderle from 1770, Ulrich and Otto can be seen rushing to battle. Another baroque ceiling fresco from the parish church of St. Ulrich von Eresing finally shows the saint in the fray. In the 19th century the battle was still a motif for ceiling frescoes, for example in 1856 in the church of Königsbrunn by Ferdinand Wagner . Here Ulrich prays with the urban community. Behind it you can see the siege of Augsburg and the field battle.
However, wall paintings on this subject are not only found in churches. Paintings of the weaver's house in Augsburg in 1608 by Johann Matthias Kager also showed Ulrich and Otto in battle, but have not survived. Today only a fresco with weathering damage can be recognized from this cycle, on which Otto and Ulrich move into the city after the battle. In 1846 a fresco by Julius Frank was created in the old Bavarian National Museum (today: Museum Five Continents ) , on which Ulrich can be found next to Otto in battle. More modern is the depiction of the young Count zu Bogen in battle on a mural in the old town hall of Bogen and the mural in the town hall of Kissing, on which Otto in the battle and Ulrich in front of the town can be recognized.
Probably the most popular depiction of the battle, the so-called Ulrichskreuz from 1494, shows the saint receiving a cross from angels during a failure. This is an engraving on the setting of the cross relic of St. Ulrich and Afra by Nikolaus Seld, which is now kept in the Heiltumskammer in Augsburg . In the form of the order of the Crux Victorialis , which was awarded to cavalrymen from the 16th to the 18th century , the Ulrich cross shows Ulrich and Otto in battle.
Representations in the literature
The events of the battle on the Lechfeld were also the subject of historical novels , for example in Schwabenblut - An old-time heroic novel from 1928 by Florentine Gebhart and in "Wolfsfrau and the battle on the Lechfeld - A thriller from the Ottonian era" by Torsten Kreutzfeldt from 2001.
Ortisei Festival Week 1955
On the 1000th anniversary of the battle in 1955, the so-called Ulrichsstein with stone mosaics by Hans Selner and Hanns Weidner was erected on the Lechhauser Lechbrücke . The diocese of Augsburg took the commemorative year as an opportunity to oblige the faithful to papal teaching, ecclesiastical moral law and tradition as part of an "Ulrichsjahr" and to gather behind their bishop Joseph Freundorfer (1949–1963). A festival week took place from July 2 to 11, 1955, which was mainly shaped by the Western movement . At the opening, Federal President Theodor Heuss , who was greeted by Prime Minister Wilhelm Hoegner on Ulrichplatz, named the victory on Lechfeld as the first all-German achievement in history. Prominent political representatives included Hasso von Manteuffel , Walter von Keudell , Hans-Joachim von Merkatz and Rudolf Lodgman von Auen . The presence of Robert Schuman underlined the European dimension of the event. At the closing rally in the Rosenaustadion , Heinrich von Brentano gave his first public speech as foreign minister in front of an audience of 60,000. At the height of the Cold War , when the Federal Republic of Germany joined NATO and Austria became neutral in 1955, when part of the German public, including prominent Catholics, wanted to see the model for solving the German question, Brentano implored the Catholics to join not to slacken the defense of freedom against “the new paganism” of “secular fanaticism”. This was aimed not least against the suppression of Christianity, the Church and any freedom in the Soviet Union and in the GDR, which had been shaken by a new church struggle since 1954. The mediaevalist Theodor Schieffer , on the other hand, opposed a superficial actualization of the event of 955, which he understood and appreciated on the basis of his very own assumptions.
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- ↑ According to Wolfgang Hebold: 50 classics: victories and defeats. Gerstengerg Verlag, 2002; Augsburg city archives and Adi Briegel: Bavarian-Swabian history. Publishing house for Swabian regional studies, 1959.
- ↑ Lechfeld - Birth of the German Nation
- ↑ Triumpho celebri rex factus gloriosus ab exercitu pater patriae imperatorque appellatus est. See Widukind III, 49.
- ↑ Matthias Becher: Otto the Great. Emperor and Empire . Munich 2012, p. 186.
- ↑ Vita Uodalrici I, 12. Quoted from Matthias Becher: Otto the Great: Kaiser and Reich. Munich 2012, p. 187.
- ↑ Matthias Becher: Otto the Great. Emperor and Empire. A biography. Munich 2012, p. 187.
- ↑ Widukind III, 48.
- ^ Charles R. Bowlus: The battle on the Lechfeld. Jan Thorbecke Verlag, Stuttgart 2012, chapter "The way to Lechfeld", subchapter "Stormy weather"
- ↑ Matthias Becher: Otto the Great. Emperor and Empire. A biography. Munich 2012, p. 193.
- ↑ Matthias Becher: Otto the Great. Emperor and Empire. A biography. Munich 2012, p. 193.
- ↑ Matthias Becher: Otto the Great. Emperor and Empire. A biography. Munich 2012, p. 194.
- ^ Till Hofmann: Todtenweis. Sensational find: first evidence of the battle on the Lechfeld . In: Augsburger Allgemeine . December 2, 2013, accessed February 28, 2014.
- ↑ Focus online: Milestone of German history - archaeologist finds evidence for “Battle on the Lechfeld” from December 4, 2013, accessed on February 28, 2014.
- ↑ Michael Weithmann: Knights and Castles in Upper Bavaria. Dachau 1999, p. 98.
- ^ Regine Kahl: 12,000 tin soldiers recreate the battle of the Lechfeld , Augsburger Allgemeine , January 22, 2009; Link to the leaflet of the 955
- ↑ Widukind, Saxony history III, 44.
- ^ Matthias Springer: Life in Saxony at the time of the Ottonians. In: Matthias Puhle (Ed.): Otto the Great, Magdeburg and Europe. Volume 1, Mainz 2001, pp. 199-208, here: pp. 202f.
- ↑ Illustration of the illustration by Konrad Bollstaetter , illustration of the illustration by Hektor Mülich
- ↑ Illustration of the woodcut from 1488
- ↑ Illustration of the painting by Michael Echter ( Memento from February 16, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
- ↑ Illustration of the fresco on the homepage of the Hohenfels market
- ↑ Illustration of the fresco in Ulrichsbergkirchlein. Archived from the original on October 6, 2007 ; Retrieved January 31, 2006 .
- ↑ Illustration of the Kissinger mural
- ↑ Illustration of the Crux Victorialis
- ↑ Federal Archives 1955
- ↑ Guido Müller, Vanessa Plichta: Between the Rhine and the Danube. Occidental thinking between Franco-German mutual agreement initiatives and conservative-Catholic integration models 1923–1957. In: Journal of European Integration History. 5, 1999, pp. 17-47, here: p. 39 ( online ).
- ^ Matthias Pape: Lechfeldschlacht and NATO accession. The Augsburg “Ulrichsjahr” 1955 as an expression of the Christian-Occidental European idea in the Adenauer era. In: Journal of the Historical Association for Swabia. 94, 2001, pp. 269-308.
Coordinates: 48 ° 10 ′ N , 10 ° 49 ′ E