THE LIFE OF THE EMPEROR CHARLES

[7] Post cuius finem Saxonicum, quod quasi intermissum videbatur, repetitum est. Quo nullum neque prolixius neque atrocius Francorumque populo laboriosius susceptum est; quia Saxones, sicut omnes fere Germaniam incolentes nationes, et natura feroces et cultui daemonum dediti nostraeque religioni contrarii neque divina neque humana iura vel polluere vel transgredi inhonestum arbitrabantur. Suberant et causae, quae cotidie pacem conturbare poterant, termini videlicet nostri et illorum poene ubique in plano contigui, praeter pauca loca, in quibus vel silvae maiores vel montium iuga interiecta utrorumque agros certo limite disterminant, in quibus caedes et rapinae et incendia vicissim fieri non cessabant. Quibus adeo Franci sunt irritati, ut non iam vicissitudinem reddere, sed apertum contra eos bellum suscipere dignum iudicarent. Susceptum est igitur adversus eos bellum, quod magna utrimque animositate, tamen maiore Saxonum quam Francorum damno, per continuos triginta tres annos gerebatur. Poterat siquidem citius finiri, si Saxonum hoc perfidia pateretur. Difficile dictu est, quoties superati ac supplices regi se dediderunt, imperata facturos polliciti sunt, obsides qui imperabantur absque dilatione dederunt, legatos qui mittebantur susceperunt, aliquoties ita domiti et emolliti, ut etiam cultum daemonum dimittere et Christianae religioni se subdere velle promitterent; Sed sicut ad haec facienda aliquoties proni, sic ad eadem pervertenda semper fuere praecipites, non sit ut satis aestimare, ad utrum horum faciliores verius dici possint; quippe cum post inchoatum cum eis bellum vix ullus annus exactus sit, quo non ab eis huiuscemodi facta sit permutatio. Sed magnanimitas regis ac perpetua tam in adversis quam in prosperis mentis constantia nulla eorum mutabilitate vel vinci poterat vel ab his quae agere coeperat defatigari. Nam numquam eos huiuscemodi aliquid perpetrantes inpune ferre passus est, quin aut ipse per se ducto aut per comites suos misso exercitu perfidiam ulcisceretur et dignam ab eis poenam exigeret, usque dum, omnibus qui resistere solebant profligatis et in suam potestatem redactis, decem milia hominum ex his qui utrasque ripas Albis fluminis incolebant cum uxoribus et parvulis sublatos transtulit et huc atque illuc per Galliam et Germaniam multimoda divisione distribuit. Eaque conditione a rege proposita et ab illis suscepta tractum per tot annos bellum constat esse finitum, ut, abiecto daemonum cultu et relictis patriis caerimoniis, Christianae fidei atque religionis sacramenta susciperent et Francis adunati unus cum eis populus efficerentur.


Saxon War

[7] At the conclusion of this struggle, the Saxon war, that seems to have been only laid aside for the time , was taken up again. No war ever undertaken by the Frank nation was carried on with such persistence and bitterness, or cost so much labor, because the Saxons, like almost all the tribes of Germany, were a fierce people, given to the worship of devils, and hostile to our religion, and did not consider it dishonorable to transgress and violate all law, human and divine. Then there were peculiar circumstances that tended to cause a breach of peace every day. Except in a few places, where large forests or mountain ridges intervened and made the bounds certain, the line between ourselves and the Saxons passed almost in its whole extent through an open country, so that there was no end to the murders thefts and arsons on both sides. In this way the Franks became so embittered that they at last resolved to make reprisals no longer, but to come to open war with the Saxons [772]. Accordingly war was begun against them, and was waged for thirty-three successive years with great fury; more, however, to the disadvantage of the Saxons than of the Franks. It could doubtless have been brought to an end sooner, had it not been for the faithlessness of the Saxons. It is hard to say how often they were conquered, and, humbly submitting to the King, promised to do what was enjoined upon them, without hesitation the required hostages, gave and received the officers sent them from the King. They were sometimes so much weakened and reduced that they promised to renounce the worship of devils, and to adopt Christianity, but they were no less ready to violate these terms than prompt to accept them, so that it is impossible to tell which came easier to them to do; scarcely a year passed from the beginning of the war without such changes on their part. But the King did not suffer his high purpose and steadfastness - firm alike in good and evil fortune - to be wearied by any fickleness on their part, or to be turned from the task that he had undertaken, on the contrary, he never allowed their faithless behavior to go unpunished, but either took the field against them in person, or sent his counts with an army to wreak vengeance and exact righteous satisfaction. At last, after conquering and subduing all who had offered resistance, he took ten thousand of those that lived on the banks of the Elbe, and settled them, with their wives and children, in many different bodies here and there in Gaul and Germany [804]. The war that had lasted so many years was at length ended by their acceding to the terms offered by the King; which were renunciation of their national religious customs and the worship of devils, acceptance of the sacraments of the Christian faith and religion, and union with the Franks to form one people.

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