Talk:Wulfstan of Hedeby

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Untitled[edit]

This is not about Wulfstan and we don't know how it relates because there are no appoximate dates for his life in the article. --rmhermen

Haithabu , centrally located on the Jutland Peninsula had been a Frisian and Saxon trading place. In 808 Charlemagne placed Abodrites on south eastern Jutland and the Baltic Sea, removing Saxons, who opposed Charlemagne's Frankish Christianization attempts. The trading center was named Hedeby by the Danes , who then took over.

Franks, Jutes, Frisians, Saxons, Slavs traded there until it was destroyed by Vikings ,who destroyed other towns, such as Hamburg and Jomsburg.


It says the date in the Truso article with link to Wulfstan 890 (876?) Alfred the great lived from 849-899. H.J. --- It needs to be in this article not just on some link. Imagine that I hadn't read about Truso and was just looking for background on Wulfstan or that I came from the page on Alfred the Great. ---rmhermen

Hi H.J., et al.-- since not everyone looking at this article will be getting there via the Truso article, you really need to put the dates in both places. This is supposed to be helpful, not a treasure hunt ! ;-) also, I'm wondering if Wulfstan of Haithabu is the most common name in English -- Was he a saint? Do we call him Wulfstan of Hedeby? Or is he Wulfstan of somewhere in Alfred's kingdom? Also (to H.J. again), it would be very helpful if, when you write about someone this early, you could put in your source. For example, now we have "reportedly" -- It would be so much better if you could write it in this way (or similarly) -- According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle(or whatever source it is -- what is the source?)... This corresponds exactly to the "Nach..." in German, and historians really rely on phrases like this. JHK

HJ: I have a problem with your assertion that this trip which Wulfstan took was at the behest of Alfred the Great. There is no evidence for this. In fact, the only thing which is documented from near-primary sources is the account of the journey plain and simple. I think it is very tempting to make speculations about it being to do with the Vikings, but frankly there is no evidence to support this approach. Professor Sir Frank Stenton, probably the foremost authority on the period, merely notes that Wulfstan visited Alfred's court and Alfred wrote down the account of the voyage. I have seen this document and concur: if this was for his (Alfred's) benefit, it seems likely he would have made some mention of the fact and the purpose in the document: he is instead singularly unilluminating. sjc

Hi sjc -- I actually changed H.J.'s wording to behest because it was my best inference as to what was meant. Helga, I think that there are a couple of things we need to consider here -- First, as best as can tell, Wulfstan was from England and was a trader. Second, his account was added by Alfred the Great to Alfred's own translation of Orosius' fith century history. Third, Wulfstan's account, as written down by Alfred, may be the first written instance of the word Denmark/Danemark.

I know that you have done a lot of research to write this article. I do need to point out that not all books are equal as sources. The book you cite is put out by a printer that specializes in regional history and genealogy. They seem to have some interesting titles, but many are also the kind of titles one finds in a "vanity press," a place where the author often helps to pay for the publication of his work. Again, it is better to trust books that have been reviewed critically. Do you know of any such reviews for this book? It would be really interesting to hear what other Prussian historians or sociologists think of this book.

I'm going to go ahead and strip this down to what we really know -- doing nothing about the title, but I really see no evidence that Wulfstan thought of himself as from Hedeby (which is what we call Haithabu in English -- even if he DID say Haithabu, we would still say Hedeby) JHK


I do not know or have seen any original records . Perhaps the Haithabu Museum has more answers ? And Sjc , who mentions Professor Sir Frank Stenton as an authority. I do not know , if the name Denmark was actually used in those reports. That he was from England is mentioned in the timeline from the Netherlands with the map, which I posted (also the date 876) ,but from all I have read previously, it always says, that it is not known, where he actually came from, only that he went to Alfred's court . To the name, it matches the West Saxon names of Aethelstan etc, but I dont think, that it says anywhere if that was his actual or only name. H.J.

the primary source I'm refering to (aargh, preposition at end of clause) is Alfred's translation -- the one mentioned in the article. That's the source that Baumann had to have used. There may also be something in Adam of Bremen's works. I would trust sjc on this if he's read up on this in Stenton's works. Stenton is one of the foremost authorities in the field -- although there are younger scholars out there, I don't know of any who have found reason to dispute his authority. Let's leave Wulfstan as coming from England -- and maybe consider changing the article title to reflect that. BUT -- let's wait and find out what to call it, because we don't want to have people look up Wulfstan the 11th c. Archbishop of York and get this Wulfstan. JHK

Ok H.J.

JHK: there is no mention of Denmark, just the bare description of the trip having taken seven days sjc


JHK Karl Baumann lists many sources, the older ones:

Toeppen u.a.:       Scriptores rerum prussicarum ,Leibzig 1861
Johann Voigt:       Geschichte Preussens,Koenigsberg 1827 
Chr. Hartknoch:     Alt-u. Neues Preussen,Frankfurt u. Leibzig 1684
Lukas David:        Preussische Chronik 1583
Aug. v. Kotzebue :  Preussens aeltere Geschichte, Riga 1808
Peter von Dusburg:  1326
Heinrich Gerlach:   Nur der Name blieb, Droener-Knauer (1812)
Numerous authors :  1900-2000

H.J. -

Doesn't he refer to Alfred? I'm glad you posted this -- now maybe I can explain a bit about sources.

Toeppen -- This is probably an edited collection of Primary sources. The actual sources themselves, plus whatever commentary by T. and his partners. They would have taken as many versions of the original documents as they could, compared them, and came up with what they decided was the "most original" version. Peter could be both primary and secondary -- if he's writing about Prussia in his time, it's probably first-hand knowledge. If he's writing about Prussia's past, then it's more secondary -- except that it's ALSO primary, because it tells us what someone in 1326 thought was true.

All of the 19th century stuff is going to be dubious -- at this time, there were two simultaneous movements going on in European historiography -- especially true in Germany. One was a focus on editing Latin sources for antiquity and the middle ages -- perhaps the best primary source collection for the Middle Ages, the Monumenta Germanica Historiae, was begun then. However, even in the MGH, there is a subtext -- Everything Frankish, Lombard, etc, is included, not necessarily because these were Germanic peoples, but partially because it was a way to take real scholarship and use it to say, "See -- all of you people are really descended from Germans, that is, US, and so you should be under German (the state) rule." Perhaps not that blatant, but there you have it -- Just think about the fighting over Alsace-Lorraine -- Franks are French? Franks are German? That's why we take this stuff with a grain of salt. The other force, of course, was the rise of Nationalism...

The Early modern stuff is kind of halfway between the two -- they could be legitimate histories based on the knowledge available at the time -- we know a lot more now, partially because linguists and archaeologists have really broadened our knowledge. Also, at the time these things were written, it was perfectly common to re-write history to make a patron look good -- so we take the patron into consideration (it happens everywhere -- Shakespeare re-wrote history to make the Tudors and Stuarts look better -- and we talk bout that when discussing his plays) -- Still, they're very valuable because they tell us what people either believed or wanted others to believe at the time they were written.

Sorry to be so boring, but I really do want to try to give some meaningful examples of how historians look at sources -- anybody else want to jump in? JHK

Not jump in (very nicely explained, by the way), but suggest you use this to start the entry on primary source over at History. Maybe it should be an essay on 'sources in history' instead of separate entries for 'primary' and 'secondary'; your point about Peter is a good one. Peter, insofar as he is writing about the time before his own birth, is secondary. He is a primary source about events he has witnessed and a primary source insofar as one is studying attitudes of the 14th century. --MichaelTinkler, who is glad he thought of dragging other people along into the whirlpool of wikipedia
Today I am looking for jobs -- but I will get on it! JHK, (aka she who has been dragged!)

JHKVery nice explanation of primary source etc .

On the trip of Wulfstan, I believe that Adam von Bremen possibly wrote about it. I have not seen the original, but I know that he recorded four books ,which included "Vinland" and he wrote about Prussians. Does anyone have the contents of Adam von Bremen's 4 books,ref Prussia ? The early Prussian chroniclers also had Christian, first Prussian bishop's history accounts. H.J.


To # 12.230.209 You stated Hedeby and stated Latin: Haithabu. Please let me know your source . Thank you H.J.


Coming in one year later, I would like to add that Wulfstan is usually known as Wulfstan of Hedeby in English, and that the title therefore very well can stay. However, it could simply be noted in the article that we don't know where he actually was from. He seems to indeed proably have been English, but that does not exclude him being from Hedeby as Hedeby seems to have been under English control during longer periods. Regebro 22:19, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)