Dreingau is the medieval name of one of five 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...

 pagi (i.e., boroughs) in what today is the Münsterland
Münster (region)
Münster is one of the five Regierungsbezirke of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, located in the north of the state, and named after the city of Münster. It includes the area which in medieval times was known as the Dreingau....

 in Westphalia
Westphalia is a region in Germany, centred on the cities of Arnsberg, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Minden and Münster.Westphalia is roughly the region between the rivers Rhine and Weser, located north and south of the Ruhr River. No exact definition of borders can be given, because the name "Westphalia"...

. During the Middle Ages documents referred to it as Dreine, Dreni, Drieni, Dragini, Dragieni, Drachina or Treine. The name came into use around the year 800, and is hardly used anymore today. It has survived only in the name of the town Drensteinfurt
Drensteinfurt is a town in the district of Warendorf, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is situated approx. 15 km north of Hamm and 20 km south of Münster...

, and in the name of a regional newspaper, the Dreingau-Zeitung.


The origins of the name Dreingau are disputed; it might derive either from a medieval term denoting a "fertile land," or might describe a "dry land". Considering that the Saxon pagi still held extensive marshlands at this time, both interpretations might well be equivalent.

Although the sources are frequently inconsistent or ambiguous in assigning various places to the Dreingau, the consensus is that the pagus was of roughly triangular shape, with the Lippe
Lippe River
The Lippe is a river in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is a right tributary of the Rhine and in length.The source is located at the edge of the Teutoburg Forest in Bad Lippspringe close to the city of Paderborn. It runs westward through Paderborn, Lippstadt and then along the northern edge...

 between Lippstadt
Lippstadt is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is the largest town within the district of Soest.-Geography:Lippstadt is situated in the Lippe valley, roughly 70 kilometres east of Dortmund and roughly 30 kilometres west of Paderborn...

 and Lünen
Lünen or Luenen is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located north of Dortmund along the Lippe River. It is the largest town of the Unna district, and part of the green Münster area....

 forming the southern border, and with the city of Greven
Greven is a medium-sized town in the district of Steinfurt, in Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia and close to the city of Münster.-Geography:Greven is situated on the river Ems, approx...

 as the anchor point in the North. Close to the Lippe river was the large forest Ihtari (later known as Ihteri and then Ichtern). South of the Dreingau was the pagus Bracbant, home to tribes of the Bructeri
The Bructeri were a Germanic tribe located in northwestern Germany , between the Lippe and Ems rivers south of the Teutoburg Forest, in present-day North Rhine-Westphalia around 100 BC through 350 AD....

; to the West was Bursibant around Rheine
Rheine is a city in the district of Steinfurt in Westphalia, Germany. It is the largest city in the district and the location of Rheine Air Base.-Geography:Rheine is located on the river Ems, approx. north of Münster, approx...

; other neighboring areas were the Skopingau centered on Schöppingen
Schöppingen is a municipality in the district of Borken in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located approx. 10 km south-west of Steinfurt....

, and the Stevergau around Coesfeld
Coesfeld is the capital of the district of Coesfeld in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.-History:Coesfeld received its city rights in 1197, but was first recorded earlier than that in the biography of St. Ludger, patron and first bishop of the diocese of Munster who was born north of...


Notable places mentioned in medieval documents in the context of the Dreingau include the village Wernina (now Werne
Werne is a town in the Federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in the Unna district in Germany. It is located on the southern edge of the Münsterland region near the Ruhrgebiet...

), Seliheim (now Selm
Selm is a town in the district of Unna, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is situated approximately 20 kilometers north of Dortmund and 25 kilometers west of Hamm.- Geography :The town belongs to the southern part of the Münsterland...

), and Liesborn Abbey
Liesborn Abbey
Liesborn Abbey was a Benedictine monastery in Liesborn in what was originally the Dreingau. Liesborn is now a part of Wadersloh in the district of Warendorf in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.-History:...

 but interestingly there is little mention of Münster
Münster is an independent city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the northern part of the state and is considered to be the cultural centre of the Westphalia region. It is also capital of the local government region Münsterland...



The Dreingau had been a theatre of war even before it got its name. In the times of the expansionist drive of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 against the Germanic people the Battle of the Lupia River
Battle of the Lupia River
The Battle of the Lupia River - the Lippe River flows westwards through the Ruhr Valley in North Rhine-Westphalia. The battle was fought in 11 BC between a Roman force led by Nero Claudius Drusus and the Sicambri. Drusus defeated the Sicambri, and some of the defeated were moved to west of the...

 in 16 BC and the Battle of Idistaviso
Battle of the Weser River
The Battle of the Weser River, sometimes known as a first Battle of Minden, was fought in 16 AD between Roman legions commanded by Emperor Tiberius' heir and adopted son Germanicus, and an alliance of Germanic tribes commanded by Arminius...

 in 16 AD mark the period when the Dreingau area was either a staging point or a battlefield. It figured centrally in the Saxon Wars
Saxon Wars
The Saxon Wars were the campaigns and insurrections of the more than thirty years from 772, when Charlemagne first entered Saxony with the intent to conquer, to 804, when the last rebellion of disaffected tribesmen was crushed. In all, eighteen battles were fought in what is now northwestern Germany...

 of Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 from the 772 onward. During the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

 the Dreingau was devastated by troops led by Christian the Younger of Brunswick.

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