Lutici

The Lutici or Liutizi[1] (known by various spelling variants) were a federation of West Slavic Polabian tribes, who between the 10th and 12th centuries lived in what is now northeastern Germany. Four tribes made up the core of the federation: the Redarians (Redari, Redarii), Circipanians (Circipani), Kessinians (Kessini, Kycini, Chizzini) and Tollensians (Tholenzi). At least in part, the Lutici were a continuation of the Veleti. In contrast to the former and the neighboring peoples, the Lutici were not led by a Christian monarch or duke, rather power was asserted through consensus formed in central assemblies of the social elites, and the Lutici worshipped nature and several deities. The political and religious center was Radgosc (also referred to by several other names, e.g. Riedegost or Rethra).

Lutician federation
10th century  1168
A black bull's head, the symbol supposedly associated with Redarians and their capital Rethra
StatusIndependent federation of Polabian Slavic tribes
Capital
none, only political/religious centre:
Common languagesPolabian Slavic
Religion
Polabian[lower-alpha 1] Slavic paganism, the known major cults: Roman Catholicism (missionaries, some nobles)
GovernmentPetty monarchies and pagan theocracies
no sole ruler/leadera 
LegislaturePopular assembly of social elites
History 
 Formed
10th century 
 Conquest of Rethra, collapse
12th century
 Conquest of Arkona by Danes
 1168
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Confederation of the Veleti
Billung March
(Duchy of Saxony)
Rani of Rügen
Holy Roman Empire
Northern March
March of Brandenburg
Duchy of Saxony
March of Lusatia
Today part ofGermany
  1. ^ In addition to tribal princes/chiefs and pagan high priests as local rulers.

The Lutici were first recorded by written sources in the context of the uprising of 983, by which they annihilated the rule of the Holy Roman Empire in the Billung and Northern Marches. Hostilities continued until 997. Thereafter, tensions with the empire eased, and in 1003 the Lutici entered an alliance with the emperor against duke Bolesław I of Poland. However, by 1033 the alliance broke apart, and a German–Lutician war broke out that lasted until 1035, when the Lutici became tributaries of the empire again, but otherwise retained their independence. A civil war between the core tribes began the decline of the Lutici in 1056/57. The neighboring Obodrites intervened and subdued the northwestern faction.

In 1066, the Lutici succeeded in stirring up a revolt against the Obodrite elites, in the course of which John, the bishop of Mecklenburg, was captured and sacrificed at Radgosc. As a consequence, the bishop of Halberstadt and the emperor sacked and destroyed Radgosc in subsequent campaigns, and its role as the leading pagan cult site was taken over by the Swantewit temple at Arkona. Another civil war in the 1070s led to a further decline of the Lutician federation, who then were unable to resist conquests and looting by their neighbors in the following decades.

During the first half of the 12th century, the settlement area of the Lutici was partitioned between Obodrite principalities, the later Duchy of Mecklenburg (west), the re-constituted Northern March, which became the Margraviate of Brandenburg (south), and the Duchy of Pomerania (east). The Lutici were converted to Christianity, and in the 13th century were assimilated by German settlers and became part of the German people during the Ostsiedlung.


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