Stedingers, a community of Frisians who were settled in the vicinity of Bremen and Oldenburg at the beginning of the 13th century, and who were deprived of liberty and independence because they refused to render tithes to the Church. A certain priest became dissatisfied with the amount of the fee paid at confession by the wife of a prominent man, and when administering the sacrament he placed her money instead, of the host in her mouth. Convinced that her sins prevented her from swallowing the supposed host, she carried it in her mouth to her home, where she discovered its nature. Her husband was indignant at the insult offered his wife, and reported the case to the superiors of the priest, but obtained only unworthy reproaches in reply. He therefore considered himself warranted in punishing the offender, and took his life. The clergy now assumed the attitude of an injured party, and complained to archbishop Hertwig II of Bremen, who demanded the rendition of the murderer and the payment of an immoderate fine, and accompanied his demand with violent threats of punishment in case of refusal. As the action of the criminal had been already approved by the Stedingers, they refused obedience; and when the archbishop imposed increasingly heavy burdens, and even pronounced the ban over the country, they renounced the authority of himself and his chapter, refused further tithes, and declared that they would thenceforward recognize no authority over them save that of the civil government (1204 sq.). The archbishop, having already in 1197 obtained the promise of pope Innocent III that a crusade should be inaugurated against the Stedingers if required for their subjection, now collected an army (1207) and marched against the rebels, but was appeased with money and promises. He died in the following year, and his successors renewed the war, prosecuting it with varying success during forty years. A large army raised by archbishop Gerhard II was utterly defeated and its base of operations, the Castle of Schluter (Castrum Sluttere), stormed in 1230. Enraged by the disaster, the bishop and his associates now called upon the world to combine for the destruction of the contumacious heretics, and did not hesitate to spread abroad the most contemptibly silly and impossible stories, which could only find credence in a superstitious and spiritually enslaved age. The pope was nevertheless induced by such calumnies to pronounce the general ban of the Church over the unhappy community, and to cause a crusade against it to be preached. Forty thousand soldiers assembled at Bremen to avenge the injury sustained by the Church, and the most powerful ally of her enemies, duke Otto of Luneburg, was detached from their cause through papal influence and the fear of the imperial interdict. The Stedingers nevertheless prepared for resistance; and when the attack was made and irresistible numbers prevailed against them, four hundred of them laid down their lives in the conflict before the field was lost; and in another place a wing of the great army was actually defeated, and its purpose of destroying the dikes of the river Weser and drowning out the population prevented. The prisoners taken by the crusaders were, however, numerous, and all miserably perished at the stake. The country was devastated with fire and sword, and rapine and licentiousness were the governing motives of the army of the Church. A final battle took place on May 27, 1234, near Altenesch. Eleven thousand Stedingers drove the mighty host of their adversaries before them, but, having lost their formation in the pursuit, were themselves taken in flank and rear by the cavalry under count Cleve. Half of them fell on the field, or were drowned in the stream. Of the remainder, some fled to the free Frisians and became fully identified with them, and others submitted to the authority of the Church. Their country was divided between the, archbishop of Bremen and counts Otto II and Christiami III of Oldenburg. The archiepiscopal Church in Bremen celebrated the bloody triumph with a procession, and ordained an annual day of commemoration, fixing on the fifth Sunday after Easter for that purpose, besides causing a chapel to be erected near the scene of the victory. The abbot Hermann of Corvey exhibited his joy by the erection of two other chapels in the same neighborhood. All the writers prior to the Reformation who mention this war condemn the Stedingers as heretics, and it was reserved for the days of Protestantism to vindicate the fame of these champions of liberty. On May 27, 1834, a simple but durable monument was dedicated to their memory on the site where once stood one of the abbot of Corvey's chapels. See Monachi Chronicles. in A. Matth. Analect. 2, 501; Chron. Rastad. ap. Langeb. Scriptt. Rer. Danic. vol. 3; Stadeus, Chron. ad A. 1197; Wolter, Chronicles Brem. ap. Meibom. vol. 2; Godefr. Monach. S. Pantol. ad A. 1234, ap. Freher-Struve, 1, 399; Ep. Gregor. IX, in Raynald, anno 1233, No. 42, complete in Ripoll; Bullarium Ord. Proedicat. 1, 52, and Ep. Gregor. IX ad Henrici Friderici Imp. Filium, in Martene, Thesaur. 1, 950; Mansi, 23, 323; Bisbeck, Die Nieder- Weser u. Osterade (Hanov. 1789); Kohl, Handb. d. Herzogth. Oldenburg (Bremen, 1825); Muhle, Geschichte d. Stedingerlandes im Mittelalter, in Strackerjan, Beitr. zur Gesch. d. Grossherzogth. Oldenburg (Bremen, 1837), vol. 1; Crantz, Metropolis, lib. 7 and 8; Schminck, Expedit. Cruc. in Stedingos (Marb. 1722); Ritter, Diss. de Pago Steding et Stedingis Soec. XIII Hoereticis (Viteb. 1725); Lappenberg, Kreuzzug gegen d. Stedinger (Stade, 1755); Hamelmann, Oldenb. Chronik; Von Halem, Gesch. d. Herzogth. Oldenb. vol. 1; Scharling, De Stedingis Comment. (Hafn. 1828). See also general histories of the region and the Church, e.g. Schröckh, pt. 29; Gieseler, Lehrbuch, vol. 2, pt. 2, p. 599 sq.

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