Tribes of Europe: The Frisians
The Frisian's are a tribe of ancient Europe, who have often been overlooked in the history of Europe. They never really dominated any great extent of territory and where often subject to the aggression of other European tribe's such as the Frank's. The Frisian people still exist today as part of the people's of Holland,Germany, Denmark and Belgium. Their original land's included part's of Denmark, Germany and Holland and there are around 1.5 million Frisian people making up the population of Europe.
The ancient Frisian's battled the Roman's in the First century AD, and in the Third Century appeared to have settled in Roman lands as Auxiliarie's for the Legion. The Frisian's suffered with the rising level's of the North Sea, this saw many of their settlement's lost along the European coastline. It is thought that their population suffered due to the wetter condition's and the Angle's and Saxon's took much of the Frisian lands. The other Germanic tribe's would have intermingled with the remaining Frisian's and created a similar culture to the old Frisian one.
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Conflict and Great Britain
The Frisian's saw the exploitation of the relatively undefended British Isle's as the answer to their survival. The Frisian's were beginning to feel the pressure of the other Germanic tribes vying for territory after the Roman Empire had declined. The Clovis led Frankish forces were consolidating their hold on their Empire, and the Northern part's of the continent would offer the Frank's more important Ports to increase their wealth.
Small groups of Frisian's looked to escape the growing tensions and create a Germanic haven along the River's Humber, Tee's, Tyne and Forth. We know that the Frisian's were a minor partner in the colonization of Britain but a few British place name's bear slight evidence to Frisian settlement. One theory suggest's the Scottish town of Dumfries means "town of the Frisians". We know the Dane's, Roman's, Pict's and Saxon's had all staked a claim to the town over the years, so it's a possibility.
The influence was more keenly felt in the language of the British people, the Old English language was more closely related to the Frisian tongue than any of the other Germanic tribes. If a modern Frisian were able to speak to a English peasant from the 6th Century AD, they would be able to understand each other almost perfectly.
The Frisian's were a Germanic culture that worshiped the God's we usually associate with the Viking period. One of the Norse Gods who was of particular interest to the Frisian's was Foresti, Foresti was the Norse God of Law and his legend among the Frisian's mirror's that. One Frisian legend tell's of the Holy Roman King Charlemagne demanding that the Frisian's write down their own code of Law's. After a week of no progress the Christian King gave the Frisian's a dire ultimatum, They could choose between Death, Slavery or been set adrift on the cruel North Sea until they could form one. The 12 lawmaker's chose the last option and while they sat in the boat and prayed, a stranger with a golden axe came to their aid. He threw his axe and created a sacred spring on an Island off the Frisian coast, he then dictated to them laws to appease Charlemagne.
Charlemagne disliked the idea of the Pagan Saxon's and Frisian's along his Christian Empire's border's and for the majority of his latter years, was fanatical in the conversion or defeat of these two Germanic tribes. It was Charlemagne who instigated the wide spread rejection of the old ways in favour of Roman Catholicism. The Frisian's defeated in battle had little choice but to bow down before the victorious Christian King.
Timeline of the Frisian's
Revolt of Batavi
War against Roman's
Settled in Roman Germania
Invited as Serf/Colonists
Settlement in Kent,England
Expanding Kingdoms into Holland and UK
North Sea rises
Frisian High King created
Converted to Catholism
Defeated by the Frank's
Counts of Holland weakness
Holland asserts control
Becomes part of Holland
Loss of power
Division of Frisia
The Dutch revolt
Due to Frisia losing it's influence to the Lord's of Holland in the Thirteenth Century and the King making politic's which was rampant throughout the European Continent in the age of Empire's, the Frisian people where separated and traded away. Their culture and heritage was systematically stripped from them to the point that Three separate Frisian groups existed. The Western group had been assimilated into the progressive Dutch state and they embraced the security that the new union offered. The Germanic Frisian's were also easily included in the German states they inhabited, their traditions and language were very similar.
This has caused the Frisian culture to fragment and there is no real progressive movement for the Frisians to push for self determination at all cost's like some other minority people's do. The majority of Frisian's are bi-lingual and happy in their role of their chosen society. Of the Three Frisian groups of language, two of them are in danger of disappearing. There are half a million speakers of the Western Frisian language but mere thousands of the remaining types of language. We are fortunate that the Frisian language's are similar to other Germanic languages and that there is enough of a population that has survived to continue Frisian rich heritage.
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