Thietmar of Merseburg - Encyclopedia




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THIETMAR (DIETMAR or Dithmar) of Merseburg (975 1018), German chronicler, was a son of Siegfried, count of Walbeck, and was related to the family of the emperor Otto the Great. Born on the 25th of July 975 he was educated at Quedlinburg and at Magdeburg and became provost of Walbeck in 1002 and bishop of Merseburg seven years later. He took some part in the political events of the time; in 994 he was a hostage in the hands of the Northmen, and he was not unfamiliar with the actualities of war. He died on the 1st of December 1018.

Thietmar wrote a Chronicon in eight books, which deals with the period between 908 and 1018. For the earlier part he used Widukind's Res gestae Saxonicae, the Annales Quedlinburgenses and other sources; the latter part is the result of personal knowledge. It is rough in form and the author shows no power of discriminating between important and unimportant events; yet the chronicle is an excellent authority for the history of Saxony during the reigns of the emperors Otto III. and Henry II. No kind of information is excluded, but the fullest details refer to the bishopric of Merseburg and to the wars against the Wends and the Poles. The original manuscript of the work is preserved at Dresden and has been published in facsimile by L. Schmidt (Dresden, 1905). It. has been edited by J. M. Lappenberg in Band III. of the Monumenta Germaniae historica, Scriptores; and by F. Kurze (Hanover, 1889); and has been translated into German by J. Laurent (new ed. revised by W. Wattenbach, Leipzig, 1892). See F. Kurze, Bischof Thietmar von Merseburg und seine Chronik (Halle, 1890); and W. Wattenbach, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen, Band II. (Berlin, 1904).

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