Widukind was the moving spirit in the struggles of the Saxons for their independence and continuation of heathen faith. Frankish accounts of the Saxon Wars give only scant outlines of his character. After Charlemagne subdued the Saxons in 777, Widukind found refuge with the Danes. Charlemagne went to Spain in 778, and Widukind returned. Saxons took revenge and plundered Frankish regions. Several more times Widukind had to flee and Charlemagne terribly punished 4000 Saxons at Verden. The bitter struggles involved Wends and Frisians as well, and continued until Charlemagne sought to induce Widukind to submit to Christianity peacefully. Widukind was baptized in 785 along with many of his people. The pope ordered a general feast of thanksgiving. Widukind took no part in further Saxon wars. He soon became one of the heroes of legend. Later he appeared as a saintly figure and the builder of many churches. He is regarded to have been burried at Enger near Herford around 808. However, the monumental tomb in the church of Enger is not from the 9th century, and so it is doubtful if the dead body inside is actually Widukind.
According to myth Widukind rode a black horse prior to his baptism, and a white horse afterwards. The black horse of Widukind is depicted in the coat of arms of the district of Herford, while his white horse is depicted on the flags of the North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony states of Germany.