Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Frisian: Fryslân
Fres, Frisia

A province in the northern part of the Netherlands, bordering the North Sea to the north.

Wace says that it was part of Arthur’s empire, and Layamon adds that it was ruled by Kailin. The Alliterative Morte Arthure names its king as Frederick, who joined Mordred’s rebellion against Arthur.

Friesland | 0 to the 9th century AD

Pre-Roman Period | Before 0 AD
The region that would later become Friesland was inhabited by various Germanic tribes, including the Frisians. These tribes had their own languages, cultures, and social structures. The Frisians were known for their seafaring and trading activities.

Roman Period | 1st – 4th centuries
During the Roman Empire, the region was not directly controlled by the Roman Empire, although there were some Roman incursions and influences along the northern frontier of the empire. The Frisian coastal areas were part of the Roman province of Germania. The Romans had some contact with the Frisians, and there are mentions of Frisian involvement in trade and conflicts during this period.

Migration Period | 4th – 9th centuries
The Migration Period saw significant movement and migration of various Germanic tribes, including the Frisians, across Europe. The Frisians maintained their distinct identity and were not assimilated by other groups during this time.

Frisian Kingdom and Frisian Freedom | 7th – 16th centuries
The Frisian Kingdom, also known as the Kingdom of the Frisians, was a political entity that existed during the early medieval period in the coastal regions of what is now the Netherlands and parts of Germany. The Frisian Kingdom developed during a time when various Germanic tribes inhabited the coastal areas of the North Sea. Unlike som neighboring regions that became part of the Carolingian Empire, the Frisians maintained a significant degree of independence and self-rule.

The concept of “Frisian Freedom” refers to the period during which the Frisians enjoyed a level of self-governance and autonomy. The Frisians developed their own legal codes, the most notable being the Lex Frisionum (Law of the Frisians). This legal compilation reflects the social and legal structures of the Frisian society.

Relations with the Carolingian Empire
The Frisians were not subjected to the direct rule of the Carolingian kings, and they were able to maintain their own legal and political institutions. While Friesland maintained a degree of independence, there were interactions with the Carolingian Empire. Charlemagne, for instance, sought to assert control the Frisians, leading to conflicts.

Trade and Seafaring
The Frisians were known for their engagement in trade and seafaring activities. They established trading relationships with neighboring regions and played a significant role in the maritime trade networks of the North Sea.

Viking Age | 8th – 11th centuries
The Viking Age brought about increased contact between the Frisians and Norse seafarers. The Vikings came to trade, but there were also conflicts during this time.

During the early medieval period, Christianity reached the Frisian Kingdom. Missionaries from the Frankish Empire, including Saints Boniface and Willibrord, played a role in converting the Frisians to Christianity. This had cultural and societal implications, as it brought changes to religious practices and social structures.

Roman de Brut | Wace, c. 1155
Brut | Layamon, late 12th century to mid-13th century
Alliterative Morte Arthure | c. 1400