Battle of Lechfeld

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The Battle of Lechfeld (10 August 955), often seen as the defining event for holding off the incursions of the Hungarians into Western Europe, was a decisive victory by Otto I the Great, King of the Germans, over the Hungarian leaders, the harka (military leader) Bulcsú and the chieftains Lél (Lehel) and Súr. Located south of Augsburg, the Lechfeld is the flood plain that lies along the Lech River. The battle appears as the Battle of Augsburg in Hungarian historiography. It was followed up by the Battle of Recknitz in October.

Contents

Sources

The most important source is the monography of Gerhard Saint Ulrich of Augsburg, who denotes the series of actions from German point of view. Another source is the chronicler Widukind of Corvey giving us important details. The chronicle of Gesta Hungarorum written by Simon of Kéza, provides insight from the Hungarian side.

Background

Many decades of Hungarian raiding had highlighted the inability of the later Carolingian kings of Germany to demonstrate that they were kings in more than name.

The Hungarian invasion came at a time when Otto had just put down a revolt in Franconia. There were some stirrings of unrest among the Polabian Slavs on the lower Elbe, so Otto had to leave most of his Saxons at home.

There is no reliable source on the size of the armies and the numbers are still disputed. The mostly accepted view is that Otto called up about 8,000 men[1]. The eight 1,000-strong legiones (divisions) included three from Bavaria, two from Swabia, one from Franconia and one from Bohemia under Prince Boleslav I. The eighth division, commanded by Otto and slightly larger than the others, included Saxons, Thuringians and the king's personal guard.

According to chronicles, the Hungarian army amounted to 25-50,000 men, but a more realistic figure is 10-25,000 men.

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