Battle of Recknitz
The Battle of Recknitz was fought on 16 October 955 between the forces of Otto I of Germany allied with the Rani
Rani (Slavic tribe)
The Rani or Rujani were a West Slavic tribe based on the island of Rugia and the southwestern mainland across the Strelasund in what is today northeastern Germany....

 tribe on one side, and the Obotrite federation under Nako and his brother Stoinegin with their allied and tributary Slav
Polabian Slavs
Polabian Slavs - is a collective term applied to a number of Lechites tribes who lived along the Elbe river, between the Baltic Sea to the north, the Saale and the Limes Saxoniae to the west, the Ore Mountains and the Western Sudetes to the south, and Poland to the east. They have also been known...

 neighbours on the other in the region of present-day Mecklenburg
Mecklenburg is a historical region in northern Germany comprising the western and larger part of the federal-state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern...

. The battlefield was probably near Pantlitz in Ribnitz-Damgarten
Ribnitz-Damgarten is a town in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. It is situated at the Ribnitzer See . Ribnitz-Damgarten is the largest town of the district Vorpommern-Rügen, but not its capital.-Geography:...

. The German victory over the Slavs followed up on the August victory at the Lechfeld over the Magyars and marked the high point of Otto's reign. A thirty-year peace followed, only ending with the Slavic revolt in 983
Great Slav Rising
The Great Slav Rising von 983 was an uprising of the Slavic Lutici und Obotrite people living to the east of the Elbe in modern north-east Germany...

 pushed by Emperor Otto's II
Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto II , called the Red, was the third ruler of the Saxon or Ottonian dynasty, the son of Otto the Great and Adelaide of Italy.-Early years and co-ruler with Otto I:...

 defeat at the Battle of Stilo
Battle of Stilo
The Battle of Stilo or Cape Colonna was fought on 13 or 14 July 982 near Crotone in Calabria between the forces of the Emperor Otto II and his Italo-Lombard allies and those of the Kalbid emir of Sicily, Abu al-Qasim...



While King Otto was distracted by his campaigns against the Magyars, his contemptuous vassals Wichmann the Younger
Wichmann the Younger
Wichmann II the Younger was a member of the Saxon House of Billung. He was a son of Count Wichmann the Elder and his wife Frederuna, probably a sister of Queen Matilda...

 and his brother Egbert the One-Eyed
Egbert the One-Eyed
Egbert the One-Eyed was the second son of Wichmann the Elder and the younger brother of Wichmann the Younger. He was thus of the elder line of the Billung family. His nickname derives from the fact that he lost an eye in battle, an injury for which he blamed Otto I and which partly explains his...

 instigated a Slav revolt in the Billung March
Billung March
The Billung March or March of the Billungs was a frontier region of the far northeastern Duchy of Saxony in the 10th century...

. The Obotrites invaded Saxony
Duchy of Saxony
The medieval Duchy of Saxony was a late Early Middle Ages "Carolingian stem duchy" covering the greater part of Northern Germany. It covered the area of the modern German states of Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Saxony-Anhalt and most of Schleswig-Holstein...

 and sacked Cocarescemier, killing the men of arms-bearing age and carrying off the women and children into slavery. According to Widukind of Corvey
Widukind of Corvey
Widukind of Corvey was a Saxon historical chronicler, named after the Saxon duke and national hero Widukind who had battled Charlemagne. Widukind the chronicler was born in 925 and died after 973 at the Benedictine abbey of Corvey in East Westphalia...

, in the aftermath of Lechfeld, Otto pressed hard into Slav territory, where Wichmann and Egbert had sought refuge. Otto razed the Slav population centres and soon had encircled them; he offered to spare his enemies if they would surrender. A Slav embassy came to an assembly Otto held in Saxony and offered to pay annual tribute in return for being allowed self-government; "otherwise," they said, they would "fight for their liberty." Reuter argues that this is indicative of a change in German governing practice: a change from overlordship, which the Slavs were willing to accept, to lordship, which the Slavs protested.


The army of the day was drawn from every regnum (duchy
Stem duchy
Stem duchies were essentially the domains of the old German tribes of the area, associated with the Frankish Kingdom, especially the East, in the Early Middle Ages. These tribes were originally the Franks, the Saxons, the Alamanni, the Burgundians, the Thuringii, and the Rugii...

) of the German kingdom
Kingdom of Germany
The Kingdom of Germany developed out of the eastern half of the former Carolingian Empire....

, even Bohemia. Otto's German army included approximately 7,000 Saxon
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

 cavalry and 1,000 Frisian
The Frisians are a Germanic ethnic group native to the coastal parts of the Netherlands and Germany. They are concentrated in the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen and, in Germany, East Frisia and North Frisia, that was a part of Denmark until 1864. They inhabit an area known as Frisia...

 infantry. Stoinegin's Slavic force had 8,000 infantry and 1,000 light cavalry
Light cavalry
Light cavalry refers to lightly armed and lightly armored troops mounted on horses, as opposed to heavy cavalry, where the riders are heavily armored...

. During the battle, Stoinegin was chased into a wood, run down and killed by a soldier named Hosed, who was handsomely rewarded after presenting Otto with the Slav's severed head.


Approximately 1,100 Saxons lay dead and 2,000 wounded on the field. The Slav side lost 4,500 dead and 2,000 wounded. After the battle, Stoinegin's head was raised on a pole and hundreds of captured Slavs were executed before sundown. Stoinegin's counsellors also had their tongues cut out.


  • Reuter, Timothy
    Timothy Reuter
    Timothy Alan Reuter , grandson of the former mayor of Berlin Ernst Reuter, was a German-British historian who specialized in the study of medieval Germany, particularly the social, military and ecclesiastical institutions of the Ottonian and Salian periods .Reuter received his D.phil from Oxford in...

    . Germany in the Early Middle Ages 800–1056. New York: Longman, 1991.
  • Thompson, James Westfall
    James Westfall Thompson
    James Westfall Thompson was an American historian specializing in the history of medieval and early modern Europe, particularly of the Holy Roman Empire and France...

    . Feudal Germany. 2 vol. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1928.
  • Leyser, Karl. "Henry I and the Beginnings of the Saxon Empire." The English Historical Review, Vol. 83, No. 326. (Jan., 1968), pp 1–32.
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