They alternately fought with and served as tributaries to the Frankish kings and their successors in the East, acknowledging finally the suzerainty of the Holy Roman Empire in 1170, after which the region underwent rapid Germanisation. However, through the late 15th century, most villagers were still speaking Slavic dialects (Polabian language).
In common with other Slavic groups, they were often described by Frankish sources as Wends.
The Danes took considerable steps to protect themselves from the depredations of the Christian Frankish emperors, principally with the building of the Danevirke, a wall stretching from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea.
Charlemagne removed pagan Saxons from east Jutland at the Baltic Sea— the later Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg areas— and moved Abodrites (or Obotrites), a group of Wendish Slavs who pledged allegiance to Charlemagne and who had for the most part converted to Christianity, into the area instead.
To speed transit between the Baltic and the north Sea canals have been built across the peninsula, notably the Eiderkanal in the late 18th century and the Kiel Canal, completed in 1895 and still in use.
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