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Thread: The Religion of the Franks

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    Senior Member Psychonaut's Avatar
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    The Religion of the Franks

    Not a lot is known about the pre-Christian religion of the Franks. What clues we do have, however, paint an interesting picture that highlights the similarities as well as the differences from the closest cousins of the Franks, the Saxons.

    Here are a few bits that I've picked up:

    While he was probably not the principle God of the Franks, an Odinic heiti did manage to survive in the name of Ascaric, a very early (c. 300 A.D.) Frankish king. His name is formed from the words "asc" (ash) and "ric" (king), which is a clear reference to Odin as the spear God.

    Then there is the curious figure of Merovech, the semi-legendary Merovingian patriarch. In his Historia, Fredgar says that Merovech's mother was "attacked" by a bestea Neptuni Quinotauri similis (beast of Neptune that looks like a Quinotaur). Now, the word Quinotaur means a bull with five horns. This is sometimes seen as an allusion to a bull-headed sea creature bearing a trident.



    This creatures alleged fatherhood of Merovech is especially interesting when you consider that the last fully Heathen Frankish king, Childeric I, was entombed with a huge golden bull's head. Could this be indicative of some sort of bovine deity similar to the Norse Auðumbla, or perhaps to the bulls that draw the chariot of Nerþus that Tacitus describes?



    Referencing Childeric's tomb, we are also left with the puzzling situation of the bees. His tomb contained around 300 golden bees, looking like this:



    The fact that there were so many seems to underlie the importance of this image. The bee is often connected to fertility deities, but it could also mirror the Cretian mythos in this instance and have a connection to some sort of myth about mead.

    Does anyone have anything to add to this list?
    "Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time."
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    Senior Member Anfang's Avatar
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    Thank you for posting this. I have not reserached or endeavored to seek out much about the Franks because of their actions as Christers later.
    I guess i hold a Saxon grudge.
    The presence of the golden bees in the tomb does not nescesarily mean it has have any connection to mead, unless you have some other evidence.


    (Off topic )Pshychonaut, is there any good commercially available mead to be found?
    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    Referencing Childeric's tomb, we are also left with the puzzling situation of the bees. His tomb contained around 300 golden bees, looking like this:



    The fact that there were so many seems to underlie the importance of this image. The bee is often connected to fertility deities, but it could also mirror the Cretian mythos in this instance and have a connection to some sort of myth about mead.

    Does anyone have anything to add to this list?[/QUOTE]

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    The following is from The Journal of Germanic Mythology and Folklore.Issue 4..

    Abstract: “This article deals with the particular traits of Frankish paganism and how it differs from general assumed Germanic practices. We analyze here the gods worshipped by the Salian Franks in the period ranging from their settlement on Roman (358 A.D.) ground up to the death of Childeric I (481). It is proposed that the Frankish pantheon then was centered in fertility gods whose cult was central for the community religious experience.”


    Germanic Paganism among the Early Salian Franks

    By Eduardo Fabbro, M.A., University of Brasilia


    What gods did the early Franks worship? When Gregory of Tours tells us about the generation that preceded his hero Clovis, he assures us that they followed ‘idolatrous practices’, for they did not recognize the true God.1 With that, Gregory simply attests the Franks where not Christians, and as far as he is concerned, that would be enough. As far as we are concerned, the bishop of Tours believed his hero worshipped Jupiter and Mars and other Roman gods,2 which takes us no further into understanding Frankish paganism. Whether this was a case of interpretation romana or actually a true description, has little to do with the majority of countryside Franks’ beliefs. The religion of Clovis before his allegiance to catholic faith has been disputed far and wide, but he was for sure no regular Frank we can rely upon.3 The more prosaic of his countrymen would probably be regularly attached to their traditional religion.

    1 Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum in MGH, SS, Rer. Merov. T. 1, P.1 (hereafter, H.F. II, 10) Throughout the author has frequently relied upon the translation by Lewis Thorpe (Hardmondworth, U.K.; Peguin Classic, 1974)

    These Franks would probably partake in a traditional pagan religion – whose main lines were shared throughout the whole Germanic horizon. Through the similarities between continental and Scandinavian religion – which represents almost the totality of the sources we have - it has been possible to reconstruct the basic elements of Germanic traditional religion. The question here is how far can we push Scandinavian religion – detached in space and time – into Frankish context? It is argued
    here that the Frankish pantheon expressed a variation of this Germanic structure that was especially devoted to fertility gods, whose cults were praised with sacrifices and whose blood was supposed to run in the royal line.

    Thus, among the Franks, the fertility function overlapped that of sovereignty, and joined the warrior character in the depiction of the kingship. We shall first specify the limits of the research, thus presenting what we will take for early Salian Franks for this inquire. As a guide to establish the gods the Franks worshipped, we shall bring up the traditional Germanic pantheon as it is seen in Scandinavian sources. Once this structure is established, we are going to try it in the Frankish evidence in order to attest to what extent it is applicable and what novelty did the Franks experienced.

    3 For the discussion on Clovis conversion, the best introductory reading would be still TESSIER, Georges. Le Baptême de Clovis. Paris:Gallimard 1964. Also, DALY, William M. Clovis: How Barbaric, How Pagan. In: Speculum vol. 69 n. 3 jul. 1994. pp. 619-64, for a different approach.


    For this survey, we will consider a part of the Frank people, those called Salians, in their first hundred years of existence. The Roman sources from the third century on reveal us the Franks as a western Germanic people found around the banks of the lower Rhine. The Salian, more specifically, were those Franks established in Roman soil as dediticii after being defeated by the emperor Julian in 358.4 After fighting an invasion in Toxandria, in today’s Netherlands, the roman emperor choose to
    keep the Franks into the empire, repopulating the area. For such, he settled the invaders for a deditio, i.e. a surrender, which would render them the possibility to occupy legally the territory, under an inferior status.5 Julian intended to use the Frankish first-rated ‘fantassins’ in the Roman army – and for such acquisition he was later praised by Libanius6 – and to repopulate the area, deserted after the third century’s invasions.

    4 Ammianus Marcellinus. Rerum Gestarum in: NISARD, M. (Dir.)Collection des Auteurs Latins. Paris: Librairie de Firmin Didot Frères. 1855. (Hereafter Rer. Gest.17, 8)

    If we take the words of Claudian, in his panegyric to Stilicho, those Franks – henceforth known to the Romans as salii, probably due to their vicinity to the Sea7 –, half a century later, had developed from a bunch of settled marauders into an organized society that tilled the land and over the neighboring Romans no threat.8 The Salian tribes constituted a loose confederacy, that stood up together in order to negotiate with Roman authority. Each tribe was made up of extended familiar groups, gathered around a
    particular family, seen as specially renowned and noble.

    5 WOLFRAM, H. Das Reich und die Germanen. (English translation by Thomas Dunlap The Roman Empire and its Germanic People. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997) pp. 56-7.
    6 Libanius, Oratio., III.
    7 WALLACE-HADRILL, J.M. The Long-Haired Kings. Toronto:University of Toronto Press,1962; p. 149.
    8 Claudian, Pngy. Stilicho, vv. 222-24.(in: Claudianus: Panegyricus Stilicho in: CLAUDIANUS, Claudius. Claudian. London: W Heinemann, 1956.)


    These royal families constituted the agglutinating element of the tribes, forming a nucleus of tradition that provided a particular identity and a sense of belonging. Within the Salian confederation, these families fought for supremacy, trying to establish themselves as the paramount royal line. Among these royal families we ought to
    highlight one of famous descent. This particular family come to the light of our documentation in the early fifth century, headed by a certain Chlodio, and will in time (we do not know exactly when) become the Merovingians.

    For the present survey, we will take into account the first three Merovingian’s generations as our temporal limit, ranging from early fifth century up to the death of Childeric (481). The reason we limit then our research is that, with Clovis, who inherited the kingship after Childeric, the Franks underwent a new process of ethnogenesis that gave birth to the medieval Merovingian kingdom for the sixth century on. At the core of the process, stood the conversion of Clovis to Christianity and his relegation of Frankish paganism. That does not mark the end of paganism, but, henceforth, it withered.

    The Germanic gods are well known to us, not only from the Nordic stories (and anecdotes) but from several other sources. We can take the account of Bishop Adam of Bremen as a starting point. In the fourth book of his Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum, in which he describes Sweden, he tells us of the Temple of Uppsala. There three golden statues were worshipped, representing the three major gods. In the middle was placed the most powerful god Thor, beside him stood Wodan and Fricco.

    There, attests Adam, Thor is said to rule over the air, the thunder and lightning, the winds, the lull and the fruits of the earth; Wodan, which means wrath (id est furor), rules wars, and provides virtue against the foes; the third is Fricco, which gives openhanded peace and pleasure to the mortals.9 Thor, Wodan, and Fricco correspond
    to the triad þórr, Ođinn and Freyr of the Nordic Pantheon, and would stand as the dumézilian Indo-European tripartite system for the Germans. According to Georges Dumézil, Ođinn would represent the first function, sovereignty/magic; þórr the second, war; and Freyr, together with he feminine counterpart Freyja and Njörđr, the third function, fertility.10

    9 Adam of Bremen, Adami Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum (in. Pertz, Georg Heinrich (ed.) MGH, inde ab anno Christi quingentesimo usque ad
    annum millesimum et quingentesimum, Stuttgart u.a. 1846, Bd.: 7) IV, 26.

    10 In order to account for the sources, Dumézil defended a militarization of the Germanic ideology, placing the higher functions, the first and the second,
    sometimes a step down: thus, Uppsala’s Wodan as a god of was and Thor linked to fertility. DUMÉZIL, Georges. Mythes et Dieux des Indo-Européens. Paris: Flammarion. 1992. pp. 147-9.



    Dumézil’s tripartite structure seems to have a large application throughout the Germanic world, though perhaps not as rigid as he would have it. The relation toward the gods answered to specific needs of groups and confederations, and we can expect some degree of variation. Its application varied from time to time and from people to people, emphasis being given to specific gods (such as Thor in Uppsala) while others were cast aside (as Ođinn among the high German dialect speaker11). An important factor seems to have been the adoption of some gods as ancestors of successful royal line, those were specially linked to the people and enjoyed special favor among them.

    How far this pantheon is attested to the Salian Franks? The sources are specially reticent for them, as the most common source for Germanic pantheon – the interpretatio germana of the days of the week – is here lacking: the Franks did not impose their names for the days, leaving us with no idea of how their gods were called.
    Still, assuming that to some degree they ought to have had similar mythologies to other Germanic peoples, we can search for signs in what we know about Frankish religion.

    11 MOGK, E. Wôdan – Ođinn in PAUL, Herm. Grundriss der Germanischen Pilologie Karl J. Trübner. Strassburg 1891. pp. 1066-1070. The High German (Oberdeutsch) interpretatio germana of roman week days has no translation to dies mercurii, which Low German (Niederdeutch) and Nordic dialects translate to a variation of Ođinn’s day (Wôdenesdæg, werndei, Ođinsdagr). Already in Notker, High German translates dies mercurii as mittawecha, modern German Mittwoche, ‘middle of the week’. (p. 1067).
    That may imply that a cult of Ođinn was unknown to them.


    There are some signs that may attest a cult of Ođinn among the Salian Franks, or at least among the Merovingian. The grave of Childeric, found in 1653 near Tournai, preserve some interesting evidences that may associate the cult of Ođinn with the Frankish monarchy. Childeric was buried fully armed, with sword, spear and franscisca – the Frankish battleaxe. Such a funeral wargear, as remarks Wallace-Hadrill, usually distinguishes kings that fought under the aegis of Ođinn.12

    We shall draw attention to the spear, a traditional symbol of Ođinn, which was found with the remains of the king. Childeric. In the grave was also found a sealring with a representation of the king together with the inscription CHILDERICI REGIS. The representation of Childeric expressed his kingly attributes: the long hair is clearly visible, as well as a spear. The same symbol is use by Theodebert I (†555) in the first coins minted by the Merovigians. A similar usage is attested by Gregory of Tours in the surrender of Guntram to Childebert.

    12 WALLACE-HADRILL, J.M. Op. Cit. p. 163.

    Guntram is said to have delivered a spear to his brother, saying that “this is a sign (indicium) that I have handed the whole of my realm over to you.” 13 The appropriation of the spear as a symbol of kingship suggests an affinity to a cult of Ođinn among the frank kings, though it cannot attest it. The symbolism of the spear might have
    been as well borrowed from neighbors without a cult of Ođinn. The association of Ođinn with kingship went far and wide into the Germanic world, and a cult of Ođinn would probably come along with the new forms of kingship that seem to have been established from the third century on. But the new institutions did not have to be bought in a closed pack. A troubling sign for those who support a cult of Ođinn among the franks would be the lack of a genealogical association of the god with the Merovingians.

    Most Germanic confederations linked to Ođinn established the god as the head of their dynasty, so have done most the Saxons in Britain or the Amal Goths.14 So far as we know, the Merovingians have never claimed to be descended from Ođinn.15 This, however, does not rule out a cult of Ođinn among the Merovingians. Also, it has
    to be taken into account that a considerable number of other royal families coexisted with the Merovingians during the fifth century. Some of their projects of kingship could possibly have held a cult of Ođinn before been cast into oblivion by Clovis. The evidences, though, rest inconclusive.

    13 H.F VII, 33.
    14 For the Saxons Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People; I, 15. For the Goths, Jordanes, Getica XIV (in: Jordanes, Romana et Getica. M.G.H. AA. t. V,Berlin, 1882), where the dynasty is said to have sprung from Gapt, whom Dumézil has convincingly argued to be no another than Ođinn; cf. DUMEZIL, Georges. Les Dieux des Germains Presses Univ France, Paris 1959 & Mythes et Dieux des Indo-Européens. Paris: Flammarion, 1992, p. 50.
    15 WALLACE-HADRILL, J.M. Early germanic Kingship in England and on the Continent. London: Oxford University Press.1971, p. 18.



    Whether we can attest that the Merovingian dynasty was consecrated to Ođinn or not, we cannot deny its sacral character. Up to the end of their power they had some sacred role among the Franks. Einhard, a later author, tells us how they used, once a year, run the country in an ‘old fashioned’ cart pulled by bulls.16 This tradition seems to be present from the early Merovingians on. The bulls that pulled the cart were taken as special animals, as the kings they would transport. Hence, the theft of those animals would impose a sanction twice and a half higher than that of the regular gelded ox.17

    16 Einhardi Vita Caroli Magni, 1. In MGH, Scriptores rerum Sangallensium. Annales, chronica et historiae aevi Saxonici, Hannover 1829 .
    17 Pactus Legis Salicae, III § 7 & 11. (In: MGH. Pactus legis Salicae, Hannover 1962).


    The bull played an important part among the Merovingians. In the grave of Childeric was found the head of a bull, craftily made out of gold. The journey of the cart dragged by bulls along the country, mocked by Einhard as a sign of the decay of the Merovingians, seems to represent the persistence of a very old fertility ritual, attached to the sacred person of the Merovingian king. Tacitus mentions some similar ritual among Germanic tribes of the North Sea area, like the Reudigni, Aviones, Anglii, Varini, etc.

    These tribes worshipped a Goddess called Nerthus, which Tacitus rendered as Terra Mater, Mother Earth, and she was believed to dwell on an island of the sea, and she would from time to time run the countries in a decorated cart, pulled by cows. Her priests would feel her presence and drive the cart with all the reverence. Within
    the days the cart runs among the folk, there would be peace and delight. After that, the cart would be would be cleansed in a lake by slaves, who would be sacrificed immediately afterward, keeping the secrecy of the ritual.18

    18 Tacitus, Germania 40; in: Cornelii Taciti de vita Iulii Agricolae, de origine et moribus germanorum. Edited by J.H. Sleeman. Cambridge: University Press. 1939.


    The goddess Nerthus described by Tacitus is related to the Scandinavian fertility god Njörđr, who has kept the name (proto-Scandinavian Nerthu-) and the connection to
    the Sea. Both have dwellings on islands of the Sea, distribute joy and peace, and are related to wealth.19 In the Scandinavian Mythology, though, the god on the cart is Freyr rather than Njörđr, and at least in Sweden, where the cult of Freyr was most popular, up to the end of paganism there was still a cortege, where a cart
    was drawn around the country with an image of Freyr, who was supposed to take part in the festivities celebrated to him.20

    Such seem to be the case with the Merovingian trip around the kingdom. As their Scandinavian counterparts, they seem to have changed the goddess into a god, changing altogether the cow for a bull –not an unusual fact for fertility gods, and mostly, not an unusual fact for Germanic sea divinities.21 This connection between the bull, a fertility god and the Merovingians is better understood under the light of a myth that we know from the seventh century historian known as Pseudo-Fredegar. Interpolating
    Gregory of Tours, he tells us a story about the conception of Meroveus, after whom the dynasty would be named.

    19 DUMEZIL, Georges. Les Dieux des Germains. Op. Cit. p. 121.
    20 DAVIDSON, H.R. Ellis. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe 1964 (portuguese translation by Marcos Malvezzi Deuses e Mitos do Norte da Europa. São Paulo: Madras. 2004.) pp. 80-1.
    21 DUMEZIL, Georges. Les Dieux des Germains. Op. Cit. p. 122.



    According to him, as the Frankish king Chlodeo was taking a summer bathe with his wife, when she was attacked by some short of sea beast, which Fredegar described as something like Neptune or the Minotaur, and thus it was unknown if Meroveus was conceived out of the man, Chlodeo, or the Beast, the Minotaur.22 Whether the legend merged the two concepts – the sea God and his symbolic animal – into one or whether the Christian author did it, we have good evidence that links the Merovingian dynasty, at its very foundation myth, with a cult of fertility, probably connected to early Germanic Nerthus or late Scandinavian Njörđr/Freyr. Thus we catch the Frank kings riding through the country, re-enacting the blessing journey of their divine ancestor.

    The cult of fertility gods seems to have been very significant in the North Sea area, already by the first century. Tacitus mention the cult of Nerthus by some minor tribes at south Denmark, but we are led to believe a far larger cult to Freyr existed. Pliny tells us that one of the Germanic races was called Ingævones, comprising the Cimbri, the Teutoni and the Chatti.23

    Tacitus, who also knew of Ingævones, located them by the North Sea, as opposing to Hermiones in the inland and Istævones elsewhere.24 The name Ingævones came probably of a common cult of a god named Ing, which correspond to the Scandinavian Freyr.25

    22 Pseudo-Fredegar, Hist. III, 9. (in: M.G.H. SS. R. M. t.II, Hannover 1888).
    23 Pliny. Naturalis Historia, IV, 28; (in: Perseus Digital Library: http:// www.perseus.org )
    24 Tacitus, Germania, 2.


    The Franks - even though belonging to the Germanic tribes usually called ‘forest Germans’, i.e. those spread at the Rhine- Weser line26 - had a long time relation with North Sea people – mostly the Saxons, with whom they used to sea-raid the empire in the late third century.27 With them the Franks shared a special dedication to the worship of Ing-Freyr, whose cult can still be discerned in the time of Clovis. The royal line, which was seen as connected to the god, named some of its members after him, as did Clovis with the first born son with Clotild, who was called Ingomer.28

    Curiously, after the conversion the names referring to IngFreyr are mostly feminine, as Ingoberg, wife of Charibert or Ingund, daughter of Sigibert and Brunhild.29

    25 Freyr is often named by variations of Ing: Yngvifrey in Ynglingasaga (c.10), which according to Snorri Sturlason will name Freyr sprung Swedish dynasty Ynglingar; also Ingunarfreyr in Lokasenna c. 43.
    26 Cf. GEARY, Patrick. Before France and Germany. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988; p.51.
    27 Eutropius, Breviarium ab urbe condita, IX, 21 in: M.G.H. AA. t. II, Berlin 1877.
    28 H.F. II, 29. The child died just after the baptism.
    29 H.F. IV, 26 & V, 38.



    The cult of IngFreyr among the Franks involved some short of animal sacrifice. A special boar – the symbol of Freyr among the Scandinavians30 - was gelded and prepared for the ritual, which was probably held during winter solstice and during special occasions when the blessing of fertility was called for: births, marriages, harvests, etc. We know nothing of how the boar was to be prepared for the sacrifice, but the fact that the process would raise the fine for stealing the boar in a hundred denarii.31

    That has covered all we know of specifically Frankish sacrificed until the recent discovery of a large sacrificial burial round Childeric’s tomb. Excavations made between 1983 and 1986 found three tombs near the king’s grave, containing a largenumber of sacrificed horses that Michel Rouche reads as a sign of a belief in Valhalla.32 This may be one of many possible explanations. The horses may, as Rouche believes, symbolize Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse of Ođinn, and the ride of the deceased warriors to Valhalla. Horses are also known to have been consecrated to Freyr, such as the holy horses kept at Thrandheim, in Norway.33 They could have been sacrificed in the honor of the god at Childeric’s burial.

    30 BOYER, Régis. La Vie Quotidienne des Vikings. Paris: Hachette, 1992, p. 273.
    31 Pactus Legis Salicae, II, § 16-17.
    32 ROUCHE, Michel. Clovis. Paris:Librarie Arthème Fayard, 1996, p. 197.
    33 Flateyjarbók, I, 322 apud DAVIDSON, H.R. Ellis. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe 1964 (portuguese translation by Marcos Malvezzi Deuses e Mitos do Norte da Europa. São Paulo: Madras. 2004.) p. 83.


    Nonetheless, the slaughter of horses could also be just a sign of wealth, attesting the power of the royal line to keep on. At least we come to þórr. Even though the god was the most popular in Scandinavia, as we can see for its central position in the Uppsala temple described above, we could find no trace of a Frankish þórr cult. It would be unwise to rule out the belief in some divinity related to þórr only by an argument a silentio, but so far, there is not much further we can go. The existence of a cult of
    þórr, its pattern and extent, remain a big question mark on early Frankish religion.

    The disposition of Frankish pantheon converges to the notice of Claudian34 that the Salians were, from the end of the fourth century on, settled and producers rather than a warrior band. The same picture we can produce from sixth century Pactus Legis Salicae, whose titles are mostly concerned with the protection of cattle and tilled land. Thus, their pantheon gives emphasis to the worship of fertility divinities, identified with Scandinavian Njörđr/ Freyr.

    One can conceive two faces, or maybe two gods, representing this function. From one side, represented by the bull, we have a fertility god connected to the royal line. The kingship, seen as issued from this particular fertility god, received its sacral character mainly from these rituals of fertility. This sacral character devoted to life was joined by another force, devoted to violence and death, represented by the warrior cult to Ođinn. Thus, the origin of the kingship was based on a marriage between a ruling
    warrior king and a fertility deity, and it is such myth we hear the echo on Fredegar’s story about Meroveus. On the other hand, we see a collectively appropriated practice connected to the ritual sacrifice of the boar, which would symbolize the other expression of this fertility cult. Such cult rules the needs of the community’s
    preservation and is thought to assure the fertility of man, cattle, and crop.

    34 See above p. 2 and note 8.

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    Senior Member Hrafnmann's Avatar
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    Indeed there is apparently little left of the Frank's indigenous ways. We can assume either two things: one, the xians were very successful in eradicating all traces of heathenry; or two, xianity wrapped a fuzzy gauze over the entire nature of the conflicting ways. Evidence show it is much more the latter than the former.

    There are many things to content with in this issue (many highlighted by Lyfing‘s extensive quotes), so like many it is best to examine the earliest accounts of the Franks. Although the records are silent on any specific god names we would recognize as Germanic, we can take the tack that the Franks merely absorbed the names of the Romano-Celtic gods but maintained the cultural significance of their own northern gods; hence we have reference to Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, etc.

    However we have to keep in mind that the Frankish invasion wasn’t wholly destructive and displacing; we do have consider the reality that many non-Germanic peoples and their ways remained in place so this can blur the inquiry. What we can consider is the (traitorous) actions of Frankish leaders and subsequently those who derived power from them. It was purely political advantage to curry the favour of the Gallo-Roman bishops who held administrative control of within Gaul, and conversion allowed Frankish kings to get control over them. Many of the early Frankish kings and chieftains were very concerned about the reaction of their folk with regards to the changing of faiths, and on more than one occasion they had to appease angry crowds when xians interfered with their heathen rites and customs. Coupled with this is also the fact that cities were the strongholds of xianity based on the aforementioned administrative powers.

    The countryside was where heathenism and forms of paganism resided, and given the accounts of various xians, it was stubbornly adhered to, to the point that there were always relapse after 'apparent' conversion, or attempts at conversion were completely ignored altogether. The result was that xianity had to assume heathen cultural aspects from ideas to iconography, and mould them to their own purpose. If you want to find Frankish heathenry it is perhaps best to look at very early Frankish xianity for at that point it is but a veneer. If one could compare concepts of the xianity of the Gallo-Roman bishops (a confused mess of churches and not an idea of 'one' church) to that of early Frankish xianity, the result would reveal a glimmer of Frankish heathen past.

    The archaeological record bears this out to a degree with regards to the 'need' for grave goods, the symbolism contained on various items, and curious funereal rites. There is also the source of looking at local customs regarding lakes, wells, and other natural features. These customs were never successfully stamped out but merely refocused upon xian themes. The prevalence of idols and the parading of them, along with offerings at shrines containing idols; the proclivity to search for signs and omen via soothesayers, etc.; and the drunken cerebrations involving song and dance are all favourite rants of xian authorities in Frankish territories. Many xians also learnt how to subsume the gods and heroes by giving them a time and place in history from which lessons containing xian values could be employed to convert the heathen. Since ancestry and pastness as a whole was important to the Germanic mindset and the establishment of identity (self and folk), this technique worked well enough when all other attempts of xianizing failed.

    So you can see, there are many prongs of attack when searching for heathenry of the Frankish or any given Germanic folk. For some it is easier than others but given the right tools one can garner some sense of its nature.
    Last edited by Ahnenerbe; Sunday, February 6th, 2011 at 04:30 AM. Reason: Annoying spelling mistake.

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    Fascinating thread, Psychonaut.

    It is indeed a shame that not much is known about the Franks.

    Hail to our Frankish kin!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Psychonaut View Post
    Referencing Childeric's tomb, we are also left with the puzzling situation of the bees. His tomb contained around 300 golden bees, looking like this:



    The fact that there were so many seems to underlie the importance of this image. The bee is often connected to fertility deities, but it could also mirror the Cretian mythos in this instance and have a connection to some sort of myth about mead.

    Does anyone have anything to add to this list?
    I'm sorry I can't find a better source right now for this (should be studying), but I do remember seeing some convincing evidence that the fleur-de-lis is actually derived from bee symoblism, which has obvious importance for France and its history.

    "Of all the floral devices used in Heraldry the most famous is the fleur-de-lis now generally identified with the iris. Its floral character has been altogether denied by some writers who have professed to trace its origin to the head of a lance, spear or sceptre, to an architectural finial; to a frog, bee, a sacred monogram, etc. (The student who is interested will find all suggestions stated, and refuited, in the excellent work of M. Rey: Histoire du Drapeau, Paris, 1837, and can hardly failed to be surprised at the prodigious number of treatises which have been published on the subject).

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