Any member of a group of Slavic tribes that by the 5th century AD had settled in the area between the Oder and Elbe rivers in what is now eastern Germany. They occupied the eastern borders of the domain of the Franks and other Germanic peoples. From the 6th century the Franks warred sporadically against the Wends; under Charlemagne in the early 9th century they began a campaign to subjugate the Wends and forcibly convert them to Christianity. German annexation of Wendish territories began in 929 but collapsed during a Wendish rebellion in 983. A German Crusade against the Wends in 1147, authorized by the church and led by Henry the Lion, inflicted great loss of life. The Wends thereafter offered little opposition to German colonization of the Elbe-Oder region; themselves enserfed, they were gradually assimilated by the Germans, except for a minority in the traditional region of Lusatia (in eastern Germany) who are now known as Sorbs.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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