Frisians are a Germanic ethnic group indigenous to the coastal
parts of the
Netherlands and northwestern Germany. They inhabit
an area known as
Frisia and are concentrated in the Dutch provinces of
Friesland and Groningen and, in Germany, East
Frisia and North Frisia
(which was a part of
Denmark until 1864). The
Frisian languages are
still spoken by more than 500,000 people; West Frisian is officially
recognized in the
Netherlands (in Friesland), and
North Frisian and
Saterland Frisian are recognized as regional languages in Germany.
4 See also
5.1 Works cited
6 Further reading
7 External links
Frisii enter recorded history in the Roman account of
Drusus's 12 BC war against the Rhine
Germans and the Chauci.
They occasionally appear in the accounts of Roman wars against the
Germanic tribes of the region, up to and including the Revolt of the
Batavi around 70 AD. Frisian mercenaries were hired to assist the
Roman invasion of Britain in the capacity of cavalry. They are not
mentioned again until c. 296, when they were deported into Roman
territory as laeti (i.e., Roman-era serfs; see Binchester Roman Fort
and Cuneus Frisionum). The discovery of a type of earthenware
unique to 4th century Frisia, called terp Tritzum, shows that an
unknown number of them were resettled in
Flanders and Kent,
probably as laeti under Roman coercion.
From the 3rd through the 5th centuries
Frisia suffered marine
transgressions that made most of the land uninhabitable, aggravated by
a change to a cooler and wetter climate. Whatever
population may have remained dropped dramatically, and the coastal
lands remained largely unpopulated for the next two centuries. When
Frisia received an influx of new settlers, mostly
Angles and Saxons. These people would eventually be referred to as
'Frisians', though they were not necessarily descended from the
ancient Frisii. It is these 'new Frisians' who are largely the
ancestors of the medieval and modern Frisians.
By the end of the 6th century, Frisian territory had expanded westward
North Sea coast and, in the 7th century, southward down to
Dorestad. This farthest extent of Frisian territory is sometimes
referred to as
Frisia Magna. Early
Frisia was ruled by a High King,
with the earliest reference to a 'Frisian King' being dated 678.
In the early 8th century the Frisian nobles came into increasing
conflict with the
Franks to their south, resulting in a series of wars
in which the
Frankish Empire eventually subjugated
Frisia in 734.
These wars benefited attempts by Anglo-Irish missionaries (which had
begun with Saint Boniface) to convert the Frisian populace to
Christianity, in which
Saint Willibrord largely succeeded.
Some time after the death of Charlemagne, the Frisian territories were
in theory under the control of the Count of Holland, but in practice
the Hollandic counts, starting with Count Arnulf in 993, were unable
to assert themselves as the sovereign lords of Frisia. The resulting
stalemate resulted in a period of time called the 'Frisian freedom', a
period in which feudalism and serfdom (as well as central or judicial
administration) did not exist, and in which the Frisian lands only
owed their allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor.
During the 13th century, however, the counts of Holland became
increasingly powerful and, starting in 1272, sought to reassert
themselves as rightful lords of the Frisian lands in a series of wars,
which (with a series of lengthy interruptions) ended in 1422 with the
Hollandic conquest of Western
Frisia and with the establishment of a
more powerful noble class in Central and Eastern Frisia.
Frisia became part of the
Seventeen Provinces and in 1568
Dutch revolt against Philip II, king of Spain, heir of the
Burgundian territories; Central
Frisia has remained a part of the
Netherlands ever since. The eastern periphery of
Frisia would become
part of various German states (later Germany) and Denmark. An old
tradition existed in the region of exploitation of peatlands.
As both the Anglo-
England and the early
Frisians were formed
from largely identical tribal confederacies, their respective
languages were very similar.
Old Frisian is the most closely related
language to Old English and the modern Frisian dialects are in
turn the closest related languages to contemporary English, together
forming the linguistic category of Anglo-Frisian.
The Frisian language group itself is divided into three mutually
West Frisian, spoken in the Dutch province of Friesland
Saterland Frisian, spoken in the German municipality of
south of East Frisia
North Frisian, spoken in the German region of North
Frisia (within the
Kreis of Nordfriesland) on the west coast of Jutland.
Of these three languages both
Saterland Frisian (2,000 speakers) and
North Frisian (10,000 speakers) are endangered. West Frisian is
spoken by around 354,000 native speakers and is not threatened.
Today there exists a tripartite division of the Frisians, into North
East Frisians and West Frisians, caused by Frisia's constant
loss of territory in the Middle Ages. The West Frisians, in general,
do not necessarily see themselves as part of a larger group of
Frisians, and, according to a 1970 poll, identify themselves more with
the Dutch than with the East or North Frisians. Therefore, the
term 'Frisian', when applied to the speakers of all three Frisian
languages, is a linguistic, ethnic and/or cultural concept, not a
Ancient Germanic culture portal
Frisian church in Rome
East Frisian (
East Frisian Low Saxon
West Frisian Dutch
List of Frisians
List of Germanic tribes
^ Minahan, James (2000). One Europe, many nations: a historical
dictionary of European national groups. Greenwood Publishing Group.
p. 769. ISBN 0313309841. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
^ Danver, Steven L. (10 March 2015). Native Peoples of the World: An
Encyclopedia of Groups, Cultures and Contemporary Issues. Routledge.
p. 307. ISBN 1317464001.
Frisians are a
Germanic people that
Germany and the Netherlands
^ Interfriesischer Rat / Ynterfryske Rie - Start
Cassius Dio Cocceianus (229), "Book LIV, Ch 32", in Cary,
Earnest (translator), Dio's Roman History, VI, London: William
Heinemann (published 1917), p. 365
^ Potter, Timothy W.; Johns, Catherine (1992). Roman Britain.
Exploring the Roman world. Berkeley: University of California.
p. 190. ISBN 9780520081680.
^ Grane, Thomas (2007), "From Gallienus to Probus - Three decades of
turmoil and recovery", The
Roman Empire and Southern Scandinavia–a
Northern Connection! (PhD thesis), Copenhagen: University of
Copenhagen, p. 109
^ Looijenga, Jantina Helena (1997), "History, Archaeology and Runes",
in SSG Uitgeverij, Runes Around the
North Sea and on the Continent AD
150–700; Texts and Contexts (PhD dissertation) (PDF), Groningen:
Groningen University, p. 30, ISBN 90-6781-014-2 .
Looijenga cites Gerrets' The
Anglo-Frisian Relationship Seen from an
Archaeological Point of View (1995) for this contention.
^ Berglund, Björn E. (2002), "Human impact and climate
changes—synchronous events and a causal link?", Quaternary
International, 105 (1), Elsevier (published 2003), p. 10
^ Ejstrud, Bo; et al. (2008), Ejstrud, Bo; Maarleveld, Thijs J., eds.,
The Migration Period, Southern
Denmark and the North Sea, Esbjerg:
Maritime Archaeology Programme, ISBN 978-87-992214-1-7
^ Issar, Arie S. (2003), Climate Changes during the Holocene and their
Impact on Hydrological Systems, Cambridge: Cambridge University,
^ Louwe Kooijmans, L. P. (1974), The Rhine/Meuse Delta. Four studies
on its prehistoric occupation and Holocene geology (PhD Dissertation),
Leiden: Leiden University Press, hdl:1887/2787
^ Bazelmans, Jos (2009), "The early-medieval use of ethnic names from
classical antiquity: The case of the Frisians", in Derks, Ton;
Roymans, Nico, Ethnic Constructs in Antiquity: The Role of Power and
Tradition, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University, pp. 321–337,
^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "St. Willibrord". Catholic
Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
^ Kortlandt, Frederik (1999). "The origin of the
Old English dialects
revisited" (PDF). University of Leiden.
^ "Die friesische Volksgruppe in Schleswig-Holstein" (in German). Diet
of Schleswig-Holstein. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
^ Matras, Yaron. "Frisian (North)". Archive of Endangered and Smaller
Languages. University of Manchester.
^ Tamminga, Douwe A. (1970). Friesland, feit en onfeit [Frisia, 'Facts
and Fiction'] (in Dutch). Leeuwarden: Junior Kamer Friesland.
Tacitus, Publius Cornelius (n.d.), "Germania", Internet Medieval
Verhart, Leo (2006), Op Zoek naar de Kelten, Nieuwe archeologische
ontdekkingen tussen Noordzee en Rijn (Searching for the Celts, new
archaeological Discoveries between
North Sea and Rhine) (in Dutch),
Matrijs, ISBN 978-90-5345-303-2
Greg Woolf, "Cruptorix and his kind. Talking ethnicity on the middle
ground", Ton Derks, Nico Roymans (ed.), Ethnic Constructs in
Antiquity: The Role of Power and Tradition (Amsterdam: Amsterdam
University Press, 2009) (Amsterdam Archaeological Studies, 13),
Jos Bazelmans, "The early-medieval use of ethnic names from classical
antiquity. The case of the Frisians", in Ton Derks, Nico Roymans
(ed.), Ethnic Constructs in Antiquity: The Role of Power and Tradition
(Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009) (Amsterdam
Archaeological Studies, 13), 321-329.
"Frisians". Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). 1911.
Fryske Akademy, the Frisian Academy (in West Frisian) (in Dutch)
Lex Frisionum in Latin, Dutch and English
History of the Frisian folk
Ethnic and national groups in the Netherlands
Arabs in the Netherlands
Bold denotes ethnic groups that (partly) originate in historic parts
of the Netherlands