Thietmar (Dietmar) of Merseburg

views updated


Bishop and chronicler: b. July 25, 975; d. Merseburg, Germany, Dec. 1, 1018. Descended from the noble Saxon house of Walbeck and related to the imperial family, Thietmar was educated at Quedlinburg and Magdeburg. After ordination in 1004, he was appointed second bishop of Merseburg (1009), a see reestablished by the Emperor Henry II to facilitate the conversion of the West Slavs. Eager to revive the ancient boundaries of his diocese, he began (1012) a chronicle of Merseburg; its eight books were later enlarged into a history of the Empire covering the days of Henry I, the Ottos, and part of the reign of Henry II. This work is an important source for the period in which Thietmar was a contemporary witness, especially for the Church in central Germany and its relation with the West Slavs, with whose language Thietmar was familiar. The writings of widukind of corvey and the quedlinburg Annals were his sources for the period of the early Ottos. The chronicle is useful also for its insights into the folk practices and beliefs of his day; it was later revised at the abbey of Corvey.

Bibliography: thietmar of merseburg, Chronicon, ed. l. schmidt (Dresden 1905), autograph reproduction; ed. f. kurze, Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum Germanicarum 54 (1889); ed. r. holtzmann, Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum Germanicarum new series 9 (1935). m. manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters (Munich 191131) 2:265268. w. wattenbach, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter, ed. r holtzmann (Tübingen 1948) 1.1:5258. n. fickermann, "Thietmar von Merseburg in der lateinischen Sprachtradition," Jahrbuch für die Geschichte Mittelu. Ostdeutschlands 6 (1957) 2176.

[o. j. blum]