List of rulers of Frisia

(Redirected from King of the Frisians)

Of the first historically verifiable rulers of Frisia, whether they are called dukes or kings, the last royal dynasty below is established by the chronicles of Merovingian kings of the Franks, with whom they were contemporaries. In these contemporary chronicles, they were styled dux, a Latin term for leader which is the origin of the title duke and its cognates in other languages (duc, duce, doge, duque, etc.). They were independent until the death of Radbod at the earliest.

Flag of Frisia, with seven lilies

After coming under Frankish rule, Frisia was governed by counts the power of these counts was very limited due to the decentralized nature of the region specifically due to the terrain. Following the Treaty of Verdun and Treaty of Meersen the Frisians east of the Vlie came under the rule of the Saxon kings of East Francia, The Saxon counts that formally owned parts of Frisia generally held little power in the region and relied on local nobles to exploit the territory in exchange for power and protection. The Frisians were ruled by Frana and Skelta, members of the local nobility that were sometimes elected but most times appointed by counts. about halfway into the 12th century, with the declining power of counts and the increasing autonomy the Frana and Skelta were replaced with the Grytmen in middle Frisia or Redjeva further east of the Lauwers. The Grytmen were ultimately turned into Mayors by Thorbecke in 1851.

Finn, son of Folcwald, is a semi-legendary figure. He was killed by Hengest, who later migrated to Britain and founded the Kingdom of Kent. For rulers prior to Finn the later Frisians developed a rich store of legend and myth, and these too are listed here in chronological order.

Frisian KingdomEdit

House of FrisiaEdit

Note that the house and several members of the house of Frisia may be mythological, many people have claimed to be descendants of historical figures and many people have tried to create a continuous dynasty, rather than accepting that most likely a lot of historical figures were unrelated perhaps elected rather than inheriting titles. It has also been suggested that there were several smaller Frisian kingdoms, rather than one large kingdom.

After the Migration Period, the Frisian Kingdom emerged around 600 AD, north of the Frankish Kingdom. The Frisians consisted of tribes with loose bonds, and were not the same Frisii from Roman times. Under Redbad the Frisian kingship reached its maximum geographic development, covering most of the area of what is now the Netherlands and the coast in northern Germany. In 722 the Frisian land west of the Vlie (what is now Holland, Utrecht and Zeeland came in Frankish hands. In 734, in the Battle of the Boarn, the area west of the Lauwers (nowadays Friesland) resulted in a Frankisch victory and the end of the Frisian kingdom. Only the Frisians east of the Lauwers (Groningen and East Frisia) remained independent. In 772 they lost their independence as well.

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Finn Folcwaldingca. 400legendary figure mentioned in the Beowulf son of Folcwald 
Audulf
  • Adolf
ca. 600627known from coins 
Adgillis I
  • Adalgis
  • Aldegisel I
650/77679 
Redbad I
  • Radbod
679719son of Adgillus I, several historians have come to identify him as Ráðbarðr 
Poppo
  • Bubo, Bobba
719734son of Redbad I. Only rules east of the vlie 

After Poppo's defeat all of Frisia is considered technically part of the Frankish Empire, however some sources continue the kingdom east of the Lauwers

Radbod II participates in the Saxon rebellion but is defeated, he is thought to have fled back to Denmark, the Kingdom of Frisia was now dissolved

Frankish FrisiaEdit

 
Division of Frisia by the Lex Frisionum

Poppo's defeat generally marks the conquest of Frisia by the Franks, following the defeat Frisia is divided in three parts:

  • West Frisia, the region from the Scheldt to the Vlie roughly the modern region of Holland conquered in 719
  • Middle Frisia, the region from the Vlie to the Lauwers roughly the modern territory of the province Fryslân conquered in 734
  • East Frisia, the region from the Lauwers to the Weser conquered in 775

It is further divided in Gaue

In 775 the Franks under Charlemagne took control of what remained of the Frisian territory (East Frisia) and incorporated it into their kingdom. Counts appointed by the Frankish rulers were:

West Frisia 719-1101Edit

House of JutlandEdit

House of GodfridEdit

  • 882–885, Godfrid, reconquered Rorik's domain

House of West FrisiaEdit

Godfrid was ambushed and killed, count Gerolf is believed to have been one of the nobles involved in the attack as he is rewarded shortly after with most of Godfrid's domain: the coastline from Vlie to Meuse and upriver the Gaue Nifterlake, Lek & IJssel and several properties in Teisterbant

Middle Frisia 734-1222Edit

  • 734?-754-768, Alfbad (Praefectus Abba), governed at least Oostergo
  • 768–793, Theoderic (Diederik), killed in the Uprising of 793, his domain is unknown but likely somewhere in between the Vlie and Weser
  • 810-834 & 839-???, Gerulf the elder, plausible son of theoderic, Reeve of Frisians from Vlie to Weser
  • c.820, Deodred (Diederik), plausible son of Gerulf the elder, held lands in the Westerkwartier
  • 824?-834-855, Gerhart, plausibly related to Deodred, ruled in Westergo
  • 855–870, Wiccing, also held lands in Westerkwartier
  • 870-873?, Albdag, defended Oostergo against Rodulf Haraldsson
  • -885-, Gardulf, mentioned together with Gerulf the younger and plausibly related
  • 921–945, Reginbert, Ruled in Franeker the traditional seat of government for Westergo and likely family of the Reginingen that held considerable property across Middle Frisia and the west Frisian Islands
  • 945–966, Gerbert, son of Reginbert

House of BillungEdit

House of BrunswickEdit

House of NordheimEdit

Otto III fails to establish his rule in Frisia and the land reverts to the bishop of Utrecht, Utrecht and Holland fight over the rights to middle Frisia and from 1165 rule it in condominium, failing to agree on a ruler the Frisians are left to rule themselves.

House of HollandEdit

  • 1203?-1222, William of Frisia, in 1178 William's brother Baldwin becomes bishop of Utrecht while his other brother Dirk VII is Count of Holland so Holland and Utrecht agree to make William ruler of middle Frisia, his power in Frisia fades after his victory in the Loon War and his descendants would not inherit it. Many Frisians followed William in the Fifth crusade as documented in De itinere Frisonum.

Upstalsboom TreatyEdit

East Frisia 775-1220Edit

House of FrisiaEdit

After Radbod II east Frisia is firmly in the hands of the Frankish kings, they divide the region in at least two parts. how the region between the Lauwers and the Eems is defined remains unclear. the western part of East Frisia was centered around the mouth of the Eems roughly corresponding to Emsgau and Federgau. While the eastern part was centered around the mouth of the Wezer encompassing Rustringen, Astergau, the Nordendi and the Wangerland, assumed to be the county of Riustringen that Harald Klak received.

 
Rough outline of the four counties of Frisia east of the Vlie

FivelingauEdit

House of MeginhardEdit

House of BillungEdit

House of Werl [de]Edit

House of BrunswickEdit

Not much is known about the region following the Brunonen, it eventually joins into the Upstalboom treaty. The city of Groningen, at the time in Drenthe becomes very powerful. It quickly becomes an important member of the free Frisian lands and towards the end of the 14th century comes to rule over the Ommelanden. Groningen joined the other six provinces in Februari 1595 and formed the seventh province of the Seven Provinces

EmsgauEdit

House of Ekbert [de]Edit

  • 822–855, Cobbo the Elder, possible son of Ekbert duke of Saxony at the time

House of Werl [de]Edit

  • -899- Adalbert
  • Herman
  • c.947-955, Hendrik
  • c.955-986, Herman I
  • 997–1024, Herman II
  • c.1031-1038-1070, Bernard & Adalbert, ruled Emsgau & Federgau respectively
  • c.1092-1096, Koenraad

Given to the Bishop of Bremen

House of CalvelageEdit

  • c.1100-1134 Herman or Herman II
  • 1134–1175, Otto I
  • 1175-c.1220, Herman III

The house of Calvelage likely never stepped foot in east Frisia and lost their belongings when the region entered into the Upstalboom treaty, continues in Potestates

RiustringenEdit

House of JutlandEdit

House of StadeEdit

House of BillungEdit

Directly ruled under the following dukes of Saxony

House of OldenburgEdit

Following the end of house Billung in 1106 the east of Riustringen is slowly being conquered by the county of Oldenburg, the remainder joined into the Frisian alliance, continues in Potestates

Dux & MargravesEdit

DuxEdit

Dux should not be confused with Duke, the Frisian Dux was a military commander responsible for the defence of the Frisian territory, particularly against the Norse raiders.

MargravesEdit

PotestatesEdit

mythologicalEdit

Most of the early potestaats are completely legendary.

generally acceptedEdit

From here the evidence for their existence is considerably better supported

In 1464, Ulrich I of East Frisia was raised to the status of Count by Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and East Frisia became a separate county. Continues in List of counts of East Frisia

  • Juw Dekama, 1494-1498 (died 1523) (only governed Oostergo)

With the victory of the Schieringers against the Vetkopers, the office passed to the dukes of Saxony:

StadtholdersEdit

In 1515, George of Saxony sold Friesland to the future Emperor Charles V. The Habsburgs appointed the following governors:

In 1523, Jancko Douwama is imprisoned, this and the end of The Frisian Peasant Rebellion generally marks the end to the Frisian Freedom

In 1581, Friesland and six other provinces revolted and formed the Dutch Republic. The office of stadholder became hereditary in the House of Oranje:

Fictional rulersEdit

A description of a course at the University of Amsterdam states ""One of the characteristics of Frisian historiography and literature from the Middle-Ages up to the nineteenth and twentieth century is the existence of a comprehensive corpus of fantastic, apocryphal and mystified historic works, which deal with the origins and identity of the Frisians. Well known examples are medieval myths of origin like the Gesta Frisiorum or the Tractatus Alvini, sixteenth-century humanistic scholarly books by e.g. Suffridus Petrus, Ocko van Scarl en Martinus Hamconius and nineteenth-century forgeries like the Tescklaow and the infamous Oera Linda Book."[1]

The 17th century chronicle Frisia seu de viris rebusque illustribus, by Martinus Hamconius, purported to list the ancient kings of Frisia, beginning with Friso who had allegedly migrated from India during the time of Alexander the Great. A 19th century work, the Oera Linda Book (authorship uncertain but considered to be a hoax), embellished these stories further by describing an ancient and glorious history for the Frisians extending back thousands of years, during which time they were supposedly ruled over by a line of matriarchs known as folk-mothers, founded by the eponymous goddess Frya, ancestress of the Frisians.

Goddess and Folk-mothersEdit

According to the Oera Linda Book.

  • Frya, ?-2194 BC (eponymous ancestress of the Frisians, who supposedly inhabited all of Northern and Western Europe)
  • Fasta, 2194-after 2145 BC (appointed by Frya when the latter ascended to the stars during a terrible flood)
  • Medea
  • Thiania
  • Hellenia
  • (unknown)
  • Minna, fl. 2013 BC (faced an invasion of Finns from the east, who settled in the Frisian lands in Scandinavia)
  • (unknown)
  • Rosamond, 1631-? BC (the Frisians in Western Europe revolted and became the Celts)
  • Hellicht, fl. 1621 BC
  • (unknown)
  • Frana, ?-590 BC (murdered by the Finns during an invasion)
  • Adela (de facto), 590-559 BC (supposedly ordered the compilation of what became the Oera Linda Book)
  • (vacant)
  • Gosa, 306-before 264 BC (elected after a long vacancy, Frisian rule confined to approximately the modern Netherlands)
  • (vacant)
  • Prontlik, fl. c. 60 BC (puppet folk-mother appointed by King Asinga Ascon)

Kings (Oera Linda Book & others)Edit

According to the Frisia seu de viris rebusque illustribus (and the Oera Linda Book).

  • Friso, 313-245 BC (Adel I Friso (de facto), 304-264 BC) (established a militaristic hereditary monarchy)
  • Adel, 245-151 BC (Adel II Atharik, 264-? BC)
  • Ubbo, 151-71 BC (Adel III Ubbo)
  • Asinga Ascon, 71 BC-AD 11 (Adel IV Asega Askar, or Black Adel) (reviled for employing foreign troops and bringing plague)
  • Diocarus Segon, 11-46
  • Dibbaldus Segon, 46-85 (? Verritus) (forced to accept Roman protection, and may have visited Rome in person)
  • Tabbo, 85-130 (? Malorix)

DukesEdit

According to the Frisia seu de viris rebusque illustribus.

  • Asconius, 130-173 (title downgraded to duke as a Roman client)
  • Adelboldus, 173-187
  • Titus Boiocalus, 187-240
  • Ubbo, 240-299
  • Haron Ubbo, 299-335
  • Odilbaldus, 335-360
  • Udolphus Haron, 360-392

Kings (Merovingian chronicles & others)Edit

According to the Frisia seu de viris rebusque illustribus (and Merovingian chronicles).

  • Richardus, Uffo, 392-435 (? Finn Folcwalding)
  • Odilbaldus, 435-470 (? Sibbelt)
  • Richoldus, 470-533 (? Ritzard)
  • Beroaldus, 533-590 (? Audulf)
  • Adgillus I, 590-672 (Aldegisel, ?-680)
  • Radbodus I, 672-723 (Radbod I, 680-719)
  • (Poppo, 719-734) (not listed in the rebusque)
  • Adgillus II, 723-737 (Aldegisel II)
  • Gondobaldus, 737-749 (Gundebold, or Aldegisel III)
  • Radbodus II, 749-775 (Radbod II)

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Historical Frisian Literature: Fakes and Forgeries, myths and mystifications in Frisian Literature Universiteit van Amsterdam (in Dutch)

ReferencesEdit

  • Ancient Holland: The History of the Lowlands
  • Petz, G.H. (ed). MGH Scriptures. (Hanover, 1892).
  • Jaekel, H. (1895), Die Grafen von Mittelfriesland aus dem Geschlecht König Ratbods
  • van Blom, Ph. (1900), Geschiedenis van Oud-Friesland.
  • Fries Genootschap van Geschied-, Oudheid- en Taalkunde en de Fryske Akademy, (1970), De Vrije Fries (50th ed.), Leeuwarden
  • Henstra, D.J. (2012), Friese graafschappen tussen Zwin en Wezer, Assen: van Gorcum, ISBN 9789023249788
  • Lawætz, P. (2019), Danske vikingekonger - én slægt med mange grene, https://vikingekonger.dk/