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Widukind
Widukind2 b.jpg
Born 730
Died 807
Title Saxon Leader
Spouse(s) Geva of Westfold

Widukind or Wittekind (c. 730–807) was a Saxon leader, duke of Saxony and the chief antagonist of Charlemagne during the Saxon Wars. He was the son of the Westphalian chief Warnechin and of Gunilda of Rügen. He married Geva of Westfold (c. 770-800), daughter of the Danish king Goimo I and sister of the Danish kings Ragnar and Siegfried.

Widukind was the moving spirit in the struggles of the Saxons for their independence and continuation of their traditional faith. Frankish accounts of the Saxon Wars give only scant outlines of his character. After Charlemagne subdued the Saxons in 777, Widukind found refuge with his wife's relatives in Denmark. When Charlemagne went to Spain in 778, Widukind returned and revived the rebellion, and the Saxons raided Frankish regions. Several more times Widukind had to flee, and eventually Charlemagne subdued the Saxons and inflicted terrible punishment at the Bloody Verdict of Verden where 4,500 tribal leaders were allegedly beheaded (modern research questions these reports; see the article about the Verden trial for details).

The bitter struggles involved Wends and Frisians as well and continued until Charlemagne succeeded in persuading Widukind to accept Christianity. Widukind was baptized in 785 along with many of his people. The Pope ordered a general feast of thanksgiving. Widukind took no part in further Saxon wars. He soon became one of the heroes of legend and eventually appeared as a saintly figure (becoming "Blessed Widukind") and the builder of many churches. He is believed to have been buried at Enger near Herford around 808. However, the monumental tomb in the church of Enger is not from the 9th century, and so it is doubtful if the corpse inside is actually that of Widukind.

According to myth Widukind rode a black horse before his baptism and a white horse afterwards. The black horse is depicted in the coat of arms of the district of Herford, while his white horse is depicted on the flags of the North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony states of Germany.

Widukind is also a Dutch fraternity located in Nijmegen which was founded in 1945.

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