19 February 2016

Friesland, Frisians and the Frisian language

Medieval Frisian treasure
Translated from "De NSB - Ontstaan en opkomst van de Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging, 1931-1935" (2009) by Te Slaa & Klijn (p.706):

Regional commissioner Van de Weide ascertained, that Frisian students were interested in the old-Germanic culture: "The Frisian core, which indeed promotes the ideas of Prof. Wirth is also very much pro-Hitler and pro-German; in general they are hostile towards the NSB*, because they see it as too specifically Dutch, too metropolitan and not folkish; they are thus more attracted to groups like Dinaso**."
* Dutch National-Socialist Movement
** Union of Diets (Flemmish-Dutch) National Solidarists

'Open' Friesland - state-funded genocide

Below a selection of earlier posts about Friesland, Frisians and the Frisian language, now and in history.


Oct.15: Joachim Hoppers (1523-1576) was a Frisian lawyer and professor who worked for the Spanish king (Philip II). He appears to have written about Frisia's ancient history, but I have not found that text yet. According to the "Chronique", he wrote that the Frisians stem from the "High-Nordic peoples or Hyperboreans" and were the first to have received the secrets of writing.
When Friso died, he left his travelling journal, contracts, his covenant with various German cities,documents about the division of Friesland, among other things. When his son Adel succeeded him, he was said to have improved some of the written laws. Winsemius (1586-1644) adds a note saying that this is questionable, as Tacitus suggested that the Germanic tribes didn't read and write.

Oct. 4: transliteration of relevant parts "Chronique van Vrieslant" by Winsemius (1622)

Oct. 1: Genealogy of Frisian kings in "Staatkundige Historie" by van Mourik (1756)

March 12: from "The Edge of the World" by M. Pye (2014)


Oct. 27: Two fragments from article about this book (Pye, see right above):
... those Vikings, the Frisians before them and the Hanseatic merchants after them invented for themselves the conditions for modernity: international trade, money, credit, mathematics, law, the stock exchange, pensions and much else.
Mr Pye asks his readers to imagine a time before fixed national borders, when identity was not so much a matter of race, but of "where you were and where you last came from". The sea was a thoroughfare, quicker than rutted roads. It made it easy for "Scandinavians to be in York, Frisians in Ipswich, Saxons in London".
A central theme of this book is the re-invention of money and its role in the development of abstract, scientific and, eventually, secular thought. As a sea-trading people, the Frisians needed portable cash, not the gold and treasure of chiefs and kings, often hoarded and inert. They began minting silver coins, as a currency, an exchange.

Value became an idea, detached from the intrinsic nature of a thing. It could be calculated for different categories of goods, and more than that, it could be written down, arithmetically juggled, turned into ratios and equations. A new way of thinking was born, transactional and everyday, and yet with momentous philosophical implications.

Oct. 30: Dr. Ottema to L.F. Over de Linden, 19-05-1877:
Concerning the manuscript it is important, specially because Suffridus Petrus, de Scriptoribus Frisiae mentions in his introduction, that Friso left several writings, one of them a travel diary and biography; that he had written them in the Frisian language and with Greek characters, and that his successors wrote just like that, until the times that the Roman script became current in Germania.

He did not mention how or where he had learned about that (as was not his habit), but he can not have sucked that out of his thumb.

Something must have come to his knowledge of Frisian notes, from the times in which the Ovira Lindas wrote, and that travel diary (about the journey from India to Friesland) may be related to Ljudgert's diary.

Informations like this from Suffridus used to be considered as fabulations, but among those fabulations there may turn out to be more truth than was presumed. It is also acknowledged that Suffridus Petrus never lied, but that he would have copied from earlier sources.
March 21: Dorestad in the 9th century was the most strategic Frisian trading centre:
Posted Image
A modern reconstruction (2012); source: Friese Graafschappen tussen Zwin en Wezer ~ een overzicht van de grafelijkheid in middeleeuws Frisia (ca. 700-1200), by Dirk Jan Henstra:
Posted Image

March 20: more maps "Tussen Zwin en Wezer"


Nov. 13: transliteration of parts of frisian Chronicle by Ocko Scarlensis

March 12: translated fragments from "Het Geheim van het Oera-Linda-Boek" (the secret of the OLB) by Murk de Jong (1927).

Page 34, a quote from F. Binkes in "De Vrije Fries" (the free Frisian) #1 (1839):
"There are two kinds of people, that are most harmful for the practice of history: those who believe everything and those who believe nothing. The first present us anything they find, without sifting, ripe and green, plausible and improbable; but the second reject anything that at their own first sight seems to have no historical certainty. They cut all this out with a so-called skeptical trimming knife, that is often very blunt, or used very awkwardly by them."
To this M. de Jong adds the following comment:
The author [Binkes] does not hesitate to declare, that the unbelievers have harmed old Frisian history infinitely more than the naive believers.
On the same page dr. de Jong gives a similar quote from J.H. Halbertsma in "De Vrije Fries" #11 (1868):
"Frisian history to her great misfortune has mostly fallen in the hands of ultras, who either rigorously rejected the old sagas as worthless fiction, or accepted them as historical truth".
Page 74:
The only megalithic tomb ['hunebed'] of Friesland, that - as a memory of the Stone Age - would be much older than Adela, on the Van Swinderen estate in Rijs (Gaasterland), was destroyed immediately after its discovery in 1849, even before the archaeologist Dr. Jansen had heard about it.
And (paraphrased):
Dr. J.H. Halbertsma explained the phenomenon, that in Friesland so little antiquities are found:
The glory-addiction, that results in erecting monuments for oneself and others, was unknown to the sober and solid nature of the Frisians, as they chose to BE great, rather than APPEAR great.

Dec. 7: From "De Rand van het Rijk" by Lendering & Bosman (2010), p.109
Four tribes lived in the northern coastal area. The 'minor' Frisians lived west of the Flevo-lake in what is now North-Holland, and the 'major' Frisians lived in present Friesland. [...] More to the east, the Romans distinguished the minor and major Chauks: the first tribe lived in the provinces Groningen and Ostfriesland, the second between the mouths of Weser and Elbe. The names suggest at most a political division, as the four tribes shared the same economy, that was characterised by varied agriculture and trade on distant shores.
Many Latin texts show that the Romans had much difficulties navigating the North Sea.
The Frisians must have been excellent ship builders and navigators.

Nov. 23: Old-Frisian RHYMESAGA: transcribed, translated and published by Montanus Hettema (1832)

Nov. 21: Petrus Wierdsma (1729-1811), from unpublished notes, as quoted by Montanus Hettema in his experimental Frisian-Dutch dictionary of 1832.
Nowaday Farmers-Frisian, Old-Frisian and Anglo-Saxon are in my opinion the same language, the only difference being, some changes as caused by time, as is the destiny of all living languages.
If one would compare Old-Frisian to the current dialect of the Frisian farmers, one can clearly see the similarities. The nowaday dialect is specially supported by the work of Gijsbert Japiks, who on purpose, and to save the dialect, spelled according to it and not according to the old ways. One can read his own foreword about that.
some relevant fragments from G.Th.Jensma "De Gemaskerde God" (2004; p.40-42)
According to Hettema, Newfrisian as spoken by 19th century farmers, was virtually the same language as the Oldfrisian of the known medieval lawtexts. He even dared say that this Oldfrisian was actually a much more pure variety of Frisian, than the Newfrisian of his time, because the latter had been bastardised in time by strange (Hollandic) influences. The consequence of this remarkable view was, that he wanted written Newfrisian to be based on historical Oldfrisian grammar and spelling.
The idea that languages were once more pure and had worn out in time was common in the 19th century, although of older humanist origine. Hettema shared this idea with important Dutch and foreign linguists like Jacob Grimm, Matthijs de Vries, Joost Halbertsma and Eelco Verwijs, to name just a few. (This view was abandoned later under the influence of Darwinism and other ways of thinking about evolution.)
In that time (certainly until 1875) Frisian had no certain spelling. Every writer used his own. One of them was Sytstra, who said: "To spell Frisian in strange letters is a disgrace", and he introduced an Oldfrisian spelling, the so-called 'Iduna-spelling'. The Frisians had to learn to become themselves again: Oldfrisians. [...] The introduction of the Iduna-spelling led to a readability problem, because most Frisian writers until then were used to spell phonetically, in 'Hollandic' letters. This resulted in a huge gap between spelling and pronounciation, because the latter could no longer be the criterium for spelling. Although Sytstra's spelling met with fierce criticism here and there, it was very succesful until 1862, when he and his comrade Tiede Roels Dijkstra both died.
In my opinion, the OLB-language originated from this extreme, archaizing stand. The lords purists must have been pleased, as the OLB-language is exactly what they were striving for. It's probably not a coincidence that in 1871 Hettema immediately accepted the book. Shortly before publication of the OLB, he was shown photo's of a few pages. Based on the script, he concluded that it could not be a really old text. Otherwise, he could only conclude that the language was 'the' Frisian (of all times), because the only difference he saw between Old- and Newfrisian was the way of spelling. He considered the OLB-spelling to be beautiful, fantastic, even better: "... the spelling... is, in my eyes, much more conform the old and most regular, and much better and orderly, than of those, who nowadays write the language; one would wish, that this spelling were reintroduced.

Oct. 27: From "The Frisian Society as frontrunner in museological understanding - 19th Century initiatives to musealization of folks-culture in Friesland" by Ad de Jong (2002)
The braiding of the hair in Hindeloopen, according to J.H. Halbertsma a tradition that was already described by Roman writer Tacitus, and that is characteristic for the free Frisians.
In two rooms [of the Palace of Justice in Leeuwarden] the Antiquarian Cabinet of Friesland was situated... [...]
In there the traditional garments from Hindeloopen were kept, that honorary member dr. Joost Hiddes Halbertsma (1789-1869), the famous Frisian linguist and literary man, had collected and donated to the Cabinet. [...]
Collecting traditional garments was still an unknown phenomenon in the rest of the Netherlands.
Halbertsma was intrigued by the culture of Hindeloopen. [...] His first notes date from 1820. [...]
The casques from Hindeloopen [...] were so capacious, that long braids could be rolled and placed under them, so there was no need to cut the hair. Halbertsma explained: "Because of those long braids the Frisian women were not just the women of a free people, but of the most distinguished women of the Germanic races; this in contrast to the unfree, who were forced by the old Germans to wear their hair short." With this Halbertsma made a direct connection between the Frisian popular culture and the description of habits of the old Germans by Roman writers. [...]
The Frisian Cabinet received many objects from folks-culture as a gift from Halbertsma, like garments and household goods, mostly from Hindeloopen.
for longer fragment (Dutch), see Halbertsma & Hindeloopen

Sep. 5: Frisian Pleasure Garden (J. Starter, 1621); scans and poetry

July 17: The Puzzler, on 15 July 2011 - 12:10 AM, quoted and commented:
"... Their tentative existence in the 4th century is confirmed archaeologically by the discovery of a type of earthenware unique to 4th century Frisia, called terp Tritzum, showing that an unknown number of Frisii were resettled in Flanders and Kent...

The lands of the Frisii would be abandoned by c. 400 due to flooding caused by a marine transgression and laid empty for a century, when changing environmental conditions again made the region habitable. At that time settlers would repopulate the region and come to be known as 'Frisians'. Medieval and later accounts of 'Frisians' refer to these 'new Frisians' rather than to the ancient Frisii.
In the 3rd and 4th centuries the population of Frisia steadily decreased, and by the 5th century the population had dropped dramatically. The coastal lands would remain largely unpopulated for the next two centuries. When conditions improved Frisia would receive an influx of new settlers, mostly Saxons, and these 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." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frisii
I think that's interesting - it's like the ancient FRISII disappeared from history and were replaced by another form of Frisian.

This is important indeed and it agrees with something discussed earlier; Albert Delahaye's theory that the western half of present 'the Netherlands' was mostly uninhabitable because of flooding between the Roman and the Frankish occupation. That is: in most of the first millennium AD.

Some toponyms of Westfriesland are strikingly similar to ones in Westflanders and Calais region (also think of Delahayes long list of "fries-" toponyms in that region). As Joël Vandemaele argued, some of what is described in the OLB (and its language) has more continuity in Westflanders (Belgium) than anywhere in the Netherlands (e.g. supposed Frya worship and the spelling of Frya itself ~ ~ ~ more research needed as Vandemaele did not provide sources for this).

Therefore, it's likely that the most significant e-migration from "ancient Frisii" (or Fryans) from what is now North-Holland, was directly southwards, while most of the re-migration in the late-first and early-second millennium also took place from here (Westflanders, NW-France).

Whether they re-migrated to Westfriesland/ North Holland because the land became more habitable again, or because they fled from the Christenings (and just reclaimed the land), I don't know. Probably it was a combination of this.

The 'Frisians' in what is now Friesland will be a more Danish/ German mix.

There is indeed quite a cultural difference between the Dutch province of Friesland (the nowaday 'real' Frisians), and the region Westfriesland in the province of North-Holland (*).

In the OLB and in the so-called fantastic Frisian historiography, Westfriesland is much more important than in the 'official' history. Medemblik would even have been the capital of 'old-Frisia'.

There's been many ancient archaeological finds in North-Holland, dating back thousands of years, but there is indeed no continuity. Not much happened during the first millennium AD.

That's the problem, and probably the main cause of why OLB is misunderstood and not taken seriously by mainstream science in NL.

(*) I'll mention two significant differences:

1) While "Friesland" has a long tradition of (orthodox) Bible-worship, in Westfriesland the church was never very powerful and churches started closing already in the late sixties.

2) While "Friesland" always had a strong 'nobility-culture' (dutch: "adel"); inheritance of accumulating wealth and power, Westfriesland did not have this (in the last few hundred years).

While OLB at first sight might be Frisian nationalistic, it's almost the complete opposite as it will be an uncomfortable read for both Frisian Bible-worshippers and Frisian nobility.

Aug. 23: Abramelin, on 12 August 2011 - 10:45 PM, quoted and commented:
"The Firaesi (Latinization) or Phiraisoi (original Greek) are a people listed in Ptolemy’s Geography (2.10). ...
The Firaesi are not mentioned elsewhere in history"
Any kid with some knowledge of the Frisian history would see the obvious connection (Frisii = Firaesi / southern Sweden).

(added 2016 feb. 19:)
The Ancient Roman historian Claudius Ptolemy described, in his work Geographia, the island of Scandia. This island, located to the northeast of the Cimbrian penninsula (present day Denmark), is now known to be not an island at all, but rather the southern area of the Scandinavian peninsula: specifically, Sweden. The western area of Scandia was inhabited by the Chaedini; the eastern region by the Favonae and Firaesi; the northern region by the Finni; the south by the Gutae, and Dauciones; and the central area by the Levoni and Hill-Levoni. (source)

April 9: One of the most important reasons why OLB is rejected by most Dutch scholars seems to be that the language is relatively easy to understand.

Since the oldest known texts in Dutch, Frisian, Saxon etc. are more difficult to understand, people assume, that anything older should be even more difficult than, or more different from our 'modern' language.

What they don't realize is that while the written history (written language) had been thoroughly destroyed in a few hunderd years of cultural genocide, the spoken language may have stayed almost the same for people who did not migrate and mix too much.

In the late Middle Ages, the only people who could read and write, had learnt this in Latin (not counting the few exceptions like Liko and Hidde, who risked their lives writing in the old language).

At some point they tried to write down the commonly spoken language (that was much older than Latin), but they had no more examples, they had to construct or actually reconstruct the spelling.

So instead of the evolution of language being linear or exponential (from very primitive to very advanced), it was actually more cyclic; at some point very advanced, and then as a result of wars, migrations and mixing of cultures, it became confused and partly forgotten, while later, in times of relative peace, it was reconstructed again.

Because of the similarities in the North-European languages, we can conclude that they must have had the same (or at least a shared) origin, much older than any known written source.

Nowhere ever have I seen one convincing example of "modern Dutch" in OLB that would prove that it cannot be as old as it says it is.

March 20: translated from website by Dr.W.Bruijnesteijn van Coppenraet, with some notes by me between [...]:
According to the usual theory, Frisia in the time of the Roman occupation was roughly the present Netherlands north of the old Rhinestream (the limes). Climatologically it was a regression period and a huge sweet water lake, Flevo or Almere [in OLB: "Flymar"], was in the centre. After the Romans left (ca.250 AD), and without doubt related to the increasing transgression, that wasted much of their lands, the Frisians moved their territory more to the in-lands: southwards with Zeeland and the river area [and Flandres?], east to the Weser (East-Friesland) and later (8th century) even up to Sleeswijk. (...) Neighbours were south the Franks and east the Saxons. The Frisians also founded a colony in Brittania, Northumberland, from where in the 7th and 8th century missionaries came to their old lands [mostly to Flandres?]. The Franks always hated the Frisians. Already ca. 574 the Frankish king Chilperik I was praised for his terror against the Frisians:

You are the terror of the far Frisians and Suevans,
who are not only unprepared for war,
but even ask for your protection.


The assumption that Utrecht already existed in the period 600-640 and was temporary in Frankish hands is based on quicksand. In 697 Frisia started to finally really fall apart and Frisia citerior, the southern part up to the Rhine, was taken by the Frankish Pepin II. Ca. 719 his successor Karel Martel crossed the old limes en marched up to the Almere. In 736 the same Karel Martel attacked the Frisians in the back with a fleet and by winning the "Borne battle" he occupied the area up to the Eems river. The remaining eastern area, already disintegrated and taken over by the Saxons, finally was taken by the Franks, together with all of the Saxon lands, between 770 and 800 by Charles 'the great'. The terms Frisia and Frisii remained in use, but now as a Christian people, submitted under Frankish rule. After a period of invasions by the Normans [attempts to free the Frisians?], the whole area of the Frisians, from Walcheren to Eems, was part of the "Imperium Danicum", the empire of the Vikings, during the second half of the 9th century, but this was under supervision of the Frankish emperor.
The highly indoctrinating traditional science, that has evolved from the primitive historiography of the late Middle Ages, often gives an unsatisfying view on the geography of our lands in the first millennium. At the other side, the vision of Albert Delahaye, who radically moved the geography to North France, is also far from satisfying. A "semi-traditional" view, that accepts that Delahaye went too far with his revision of the historical geography, but that also accepts that the Nether-lands in that area was subject to heavy transgressions and therefore mostly flooded, at least climatologically not habitable, is presented in publications by Kreijns and Pirson, Van Veen and Bruijnesteijn v.C.
March 7: Translation of IJpelaan's Frisi, Normanni and Saxoni

Feb. 12: Translation of IJpelaan's Willibrord (7th and 8th century) and 12th century forgeries of documents to claim churches, relocating Willibrord to Holland

Jan. 2: from: "Warfare in Holland 1000-1375" (English summary) by Ronald de Graaf (2004, dutch title: “Oorlog om Holland 1000-1375“)
Holland, slowly awakening under the name of Western Frisia, grew in four centuries from a little countship in the delta of the great rivers, lying along the borders of the sea, into a considerable region. In the 11th century one could not see any difference between a count and other local rulers, and the territory of the count was not entirely cultivated. The location of Holland in the centre of communication lines, was strategically favourable with a view to its own commerce and the control of alien trade.
In the 11th century Utrecht was very powerful. Owing to the location of the city on the crossroads of the rivers the Vecht and the Old Rhine, trading relations with England, the Rhineland and the Baltic could be profitable. In politicis, the bishops could depend on the support given by the German King. When the little Westfrisian countship strived for independence - for instance by imposing an illegal toll on passing mercantile ships to and from Utrecht - it seemed only a matter of time before the elephant had crushed the gnat. But the attackers, together with episcopal allies from Münster and Luik, lost the battle at Vlaardingen in 1018 (because of waterbarriers and panic), and a succeeding campaign in 1046. When in 1049 and 1061 two Westfrisian counts died - the first was trapped in an ambush, and the second fell in action - the end of the countship was in sight. Joined by Flemmish forces, count Dirk V had to reconquer it entirely. But he was successful. In 1101, the name 'counts of Holland' was used for the first time. During the preceding years, the subregion 'Western Frisia' was disengaged from the other part of the county. It would take tremendous efforts to get it back.
From antiquity on, Holland and Western-Frisia had belonged to Frisia. At the end of the 11th century, both regions apparently had grown apart, probably because around 1064 the bishop of Utrecht had driven the counts off the theatres of war in Holland. In 1132-1133 the warlike count Dirk VI decided to solve in a military way the problem of avoiding the autonomy of Western-Frisia. This was the start of a long series of bloodshed and pillage, raids and expeditions. At least twenty of these clashes emerge from the sources. They contain several constant factors. The farmers in Western-Frisia adopted a military strategy: the kind of warfare we survey with the word 'guerrilla'. They had an extra reason for fighting, because fields and pastures were drowned by waterfloods between 11-13th centuries. The Southern Sea, which drove the Western Frisians away from the Eastern, came into being in this time.

For geophysical reasons most battles were fought in the surroundings of Alkmaar. For almost 150 years Holland played into the hands of their enemies, by only attacking them when the cattle were in stables, the harvests cropped and the granary full. The knights did not dare to invade Western-Frisia, because their horses were hindered by the many ditches, brooks, lakes and wet soil. On account of these environmental factors, the Dutch were trapped in many a Westfrisian ambush.

It was not until 1282 that Floris V defeated the Westfrisians, by means of a fourfold military-strategical concept. He had castles built along the border and then launched a surprise attack over the Southern Sea. His offensive started while the cattle were in the pastures and the crops in the fields, so that most of the Frisians were needed in their farms. After winning the battle he consolidated his victory by building compulsionary castles, according to a containment plan that was developed with geometrical precision. Finally he helped his enemies in their struggle against the sea, by means of well constructed and maintained dikes as in Utrecht and Brabant. He let them have as many of their ancient rights and customs as possible.
The count of Holland received an official confirmation of his rights on (Eastern-) Frisia in 1165. Owing to the energetic support of both the countal and episcopal claims, Barbarossa saw no alternative and devided the region by a Salomon’s judgement. This condominium worked, as it seems, rather well between 1165-1197 and 1204-1212. Market- and tollrights and the endowment of goods and appointments were equally divided. By frana and asega the bishop exercised his power; the count worked by way of a zendgraaf, vice-comes or sherrif. Much less than in Holland and rather less than in Sealand, the local nobility in Frisia, the so-called hoofdelingen, became feudalized.

Nonetheless, they were willing to submit themselves to certain Dutch claims. Ever since the reign of Floris V, Utrecht no longer demanded its old rights persistently. In the year 1233 the Frisians in Franeker lifted the count on a shield on condition that the local nobility would not lose their allodia or receive their fiefs from him. Although they acknowledged the Dutch sherrifs, they demanded that the office be held only by people born in Frisia. The background of these conditions was their fear of being oppressed by Holland, as clearly happened - in their opinion - in Western Frisia, when Floris V erected compulsionary castles.

Jan. 30: Chronyk van Friesland (1742) transliteration of parts


Oct. 16: from "The Oera-Linda-Book in Germany and here" by Dr. M. de Jong (1939):
When we don't limit our view to the controversies that kept us busy here in Holland, we must admit, that the OLB begot a significance because of the war in Germany, that no one ever could have dreamt of. In the spiritual revolution, that occurred there in the last decennia and is still unfolding, it played an important role. The OLB has been the highlight of passionate discussions about national-socialist principles and philosophy. A model for living and history, women’s place in society, democracy and authority, pacifism, the Slavic East front, racial theory and the Nordic race, even the Jewish question, were discussed. It’s a remarkable fact, that the OLB seems to appeal to profound feelings, that the German people have developped in their fight against alien influences and in favour of their own Germanic culture. Science had already succesfully resisted against the Christian-Latin historiographic image of old-Germanic civilisation’s inferiority and of the blessings brought to the supposed barbarians by the Romans and the Roman Catholic church. The aureole of great-christener Charles “the Great” faded away. People hoped to find traces of their own old civilisation, their own spiritual heritage, even an original Nordic monotheism.

This now, many believed to find, in the footsteps of Herman Wirth, together with lots of other ancestrial heritage, in the OLB, specifically in the so-called Wralda-mysticism.

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