Post-classical history

Helmold of Bosau (d. after 1177)

A German cleric and author of the Chronica Slavorum.

Born around 1120, in his youth Helmold joined the Augustinian canons in Segeberg in Holstein. As a result of Slavic attacks, the canons later had to move to Neumünster. Helmold then went to Braunschweig to receive further education. On his return, his friend and mentor Bishop Gerold of Oldenburg and Lübeck made Helmold a priest in Bosau around 1156.

Helmold probably began writing his chronicle shortly after 1167, incited, as it seems, by an erupting conflict between the newly elected Bishop Conrad I of Lübeck and Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony. The chronicle, dedicated to the canons of Lübeck, describes in great detail the Christianization of the Slavic peoples northeast of the river Elbe from the time of Charlemagne until 1171, emphasizing the importance of the Saxon mission and expansion in the region. Helmold recounts the frequent rivalries between the Saxons (notably Duke Henry the Lion), the archbishopric of Hamburg-Bremen, and the kings of Denmark as background to the crusades against the Slavs. His writings undoubtedly influenced later chroniclers, but they also provoked others, such as the Danish chronicler Saxo Grammaticus, into presenting events differently.

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