The Saxons are descendants of the Macedonians?

MedievalThe Saxons are descendants of the Macedonians?

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Many sagas and legends still accompany today the Macedonians under Alexander the Great. But even in the Middle Ages there were more legends about Alexander’s army spreading around. According to some authors, the Saxons are descendants of Macedonian warriors of Alexander the Great. It was probably much more about adorning oneself with the fame of Alexander than about real history politics.

According to the legend of origin of the Germanic Saxon tribe handed down by Widukind of Corvey (born around 925 or 933/35; † February 3 after 973 in Corvey), these descended from Macedonian warriors of Alexander the Great, who after the death of the Macedonian king traveled across the sea and landed on the coast of the country Hadeln. From there they and their descendants, the Saxons, would have displaced the Thuringians who settled in what is now Lower Saxony and took their land in possession.

This legend also found its way into the Annolied (“Song of Anno”) and the Sachsenspiegel of Eike of Repgow around the year 1220 (a medieval German administrator who compiled the Sachsenspiegel code of law in the 13th century, who was born between 1180 and 1190 in Repgow; † after 1233). According to Eike of Repgow, after the death of their king Alexander, the Macedonians set sail from Babylon on 300 ships, of which eighteen went to Prussia, 12 to Rügen and 24 to Holstein.

Picture: Alexander in the Sachsenspiegel of Eike of Repgow. The dead King Alexander lies on the beach of Babylon while his men sail by ship to Holstein and transform into Saxons. Source: Alexander the Great: Life and Legend by Alexander Demandt, 2011

Johannes Hartlieb, also called Hans Hartlieb, (a physician of Late Medieval Bavaria, born around 1400; † May 18, 1468 in Munich) wrote in his Popular Folk Book Alexander published 1450 (“Die histori von dem großen Alexander”) of a relationship with the Diadochi. According to him, Ptolemy came to Saxony via “Reussen, Littau and Prussia” and became her progenitor. This work “Alexander” of Hartlieb is a prince mirror, which Hartlieb commissioned by Albrecht III. and Anna of Braunschweig. Hartlieb translated a Paris manuscript of the Historia de preliis Alexandri Magni (around 950) by Archipresbyter Leo von Naples and supplements this Alexander novel with his own comments and additions, so that Alexander is presented as an ideal image of a ruler and thus serves as a model for the noble recipients. The folk book Alexander was published in 22 manuscripts and 18 print editions.

In his book “The History of the Works of the Learned, Or, An Impartial Account of Books Lately Printed in All Parts of Europe” from 1699, also Henry Rhodes took up the story in his collected works from several authors, and wrote i.e. he translated from Suffrido Petro‘s work “De Frisiorum antiquitate et origine Libri Tres” the story about the Macedonian-Saxon connection:

This he insists upon at large in this Third Book, and thinks it the more probable, because the Story of Saxo, the Founder of the Saxon Nation, agrees with it. He says all Authors, Crantzius excepted, agree. That the Saxons were some Remains of the Macedonian Army; and that before they came into Germany, they were called Macedonians; for this he quotes the German Chronicle, printed at Mentz, in 1482. the Annals of Freezland, and others.”

Sources:

  • The History of the Works of the Learned, Or, An Impartial Account of Books Lately Printed in All Parts of Europe Vol. 1, H.Rhodes, 1699
  • Alexander the Great: Life and Legend (Alexander der Grosse: Leben und Legende), Alexander Demandt, 2011

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