Martyr Prince of the Wends; d. at Lenzen on the Elbe, 7 June 1066. His feast is noted for 7 June in the additions of the Carthusians at Brussels to the martyrology of Usuardus. He was the son of Udo, Prince of the Abrodites who remained a Christian, though a poor one ("male christianus", says Adam of Bremen, Mon. Germ. SS., VII, 329), after his father Mistiwoi had renounced the faith. He was sent to the monastery of St. Michael at Lenzen for his education. Udo, for some act of cruelty, was slain by a Saxon. At the news Gottschalk cast aside all Christian principles thinking only of revenge, he escaped from the monastery, crossed the Elbe, and gathered an army from his own and the other Slavic tribes who then lived on the northern and eastern boundaries of Germany. It is said that thousands of Saxons were slaughtered before they were aware of the approach of an army. But his forces were not able to withstand those of Duke Bernard II. Gottschalk was taken prisoner and his lands were given to Ratibor. After some years he was released, and went to Denmark with many of his people. Canute of Denmark employed them in his wars in Norway, and afterwards sent them to England with his new Sweyn. In these expeditions Gottschalk was very successful. He had now returned to practice of his faith, and married Sigrith, a daughter, some say, Canute, others of King Magnus of Norway. After the death of Ratibor and his sons he returned to his home, and by his courage and prudence regained his princely position. Adam of Bremen calls him a pious and god-fearing rnan. But he was more; he was an organizer and an apostle. His object in life seems to have been to collect the scattered tribes of the Slavs into one kingdom, and to make that Christian. In the former he succeeded well. To effect the latter purpose he obtained priests from Germany. He would accompany the missionaries from place to place and would inculcate their words by his own explanations and instructions. He established monasteries at Oldenburg, Mecklenburg, Ratzeburg, Lubeck, and Lenzen; the first three he had erected into dioceses. He also contributed most generously to the building of churches and the support of the clergy. In all this he was ably seconded by Adalbert, Archbishop of Hamburg, and numerous conversions were the result of their efforts. But a reaction set in. Some of the tribes refused to adopt Christianty, and rose in rebellion; Gottschalk and many of the clergy and laity fell victims to the hatred of Christianity.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online