The "Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg" has long been recognised as one of the most important sources for the history of the 10th and early 11th centuries, and especially for the history of the Ottonian Empire. A passionate man-of-affairs, Thietmar had opinions on everything, from politics to the shocking character of contemporary women's fashion. He offers striking portraits of his contemporaries, including members of his own family, and reveals his personal feelings with a readiness unusual for a medieval author. Thietmar's testimony also has special value because of his geographical location, in eastern Saxony, on the boundary between German and Slavic cultures. He is arguably the single most important witness to the early history of Poland, and his detailed descriptions of Slavic folklore are the earliest on record.
David A. Warner is Associate Professor of History at the Rhode Island School of Design.